99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookMicrosoft® is one of the leading companies offering high-quality office tools and software that can help you manage your projects very effectively if you know how to get the most out of the software.

Here are five tips to help get more out of MS Project:

Create the Projects from Scratch

With Microsoft Project, all you need to have in order to create a project are your project name, target dates (both start and finish), your client’s name, and your client’s information such as location.

If you have these needed prerequisites, then you can then start defining your calendars as regards the tasks you have added that are involved in your project. For each project, you can also add logic and constraints as well as schedules. When all of these are done, you can now start formatting your output and distribute your project plan.

Use Alt Key and Keystrokes for Commands

To save time, familiarize yourself with the shortcuts or make use of the Alt command key and keystrokes to be able to view the letters assigned in most of the tabs in the menu bar and in other functions of the interface.

For example, pressing Alt followed by the letter R brings you to the Project tab of the menu bar. Furthermore, if you press the Alt key quickly followed by letter H and number 1 will bring you to the save icon from the Task tab.

You can use these shortcuts and Alt key commands to minimize the use of the mouse (or in cases where the mouse in not available or dysfunctional) and save time.

Understand and Use Filters

Like any other project management tool, understanding and using filters can help managers in a great way.

With filters, users can display a particular task with specific criteria. Meaning, users can use the filter function to choose which criteria of a specific task he or she opts to display at the specific moment. This would further help him or her understand the data in a task more. There are two types of filters in Microsoft Project.

These are the following:

  1. Built-in. Built-in filters are filters that are embedded into the software by default.
  2. Custom. Custom filters are those uploaded and customized by the user.

Track Your Progress

Microsoft® Project comes with a function that permits users to track the progress of different activities of a particular project. Three labels or stages of a project are usually used in tracking progress. These are the following:

  1. Not Started. The dates are set for the project; however, no so-called Actual Start and/or Actual Finish is inputted.
  2. In-Progress. This stage contains an Actual Start which signals that the project has already started but has not been completed or is in the process of completion.
  3. Complete. Finally, activities or tasks in the Complete stage has both the Actual Start and Actual Finish dates to serve as a proof that it has passed the completion stage.

Assign Costs to Tasks

Finally, a user can assign a cost to a specific task(s) by using the Fixed Cost function in Microsoft® Project. This Fixed Cost is added to the total cost of your project which is then further illustrated using Resource Graph function. This function enables a user to keep track of the actual cost of each task and can use such costs in providing cash flows if needed.

Eastwood Harris produces project management training materials and online training courses on Primavera P6, MS Project, PMBOK and Prince2.