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This course is about learning how to use Microsoft Project to create an effective project schedule, and the goal is to teach you how to do this in four weeks. You want to take this course because it boils down the complexity of MS Project into five key components and keeps you out of unnecessary distractions that are strewn throughout the tool. It is based on my sixteen years of using and teaching MS Project. You won't find any material better than this if your goal is to be able to use MS Project to run real projects, and be able to complete it in a four week time frame!
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|Section 1: Key 1 - Navigation|
|This video covers how to access and setup the default program options .|
|This video introduces the ribbon tabs in MS Project.|
|This video exercise is on how to create a basic schedule.|
|This video continues the review of the Ribbon Tab.|
|How to use the zoom controls to zoom in and out of your Gantt Charts is covered here.|
|How to use the controls to change the Gantt Chart timescale is covered here.|
|This exercise reviews the skills just learned on how to control and manipulate the Gantt Chart timescale.|
|In this lecture the controls used to navigate the Gantt Chart view are the focus.|
|In this lecture the final sections of the Ribbon tab needed for the Five Keys Method are covered, the Format tab and how to use Table Columns.|
|This lecture demonstrates how to use the Text1 field for assigning tasks and thus effectively sidestepping the complexity of using the Resource Feature.|
|This lecture demonstrates all the key navigation features learned in this section of the course and closes out Key 1, Navigation.|
|Section 2: Key 2, Part A - Task Linking Mechanics|
|This lecture covers the basics of task entry.|
|This lecture covers the common problems encountered when entering tasks.|
|This lecture covers the nuances of entering task durations.|
|All the different aspects of linking tasks is covered in this lecture.|
|To be effective in creating schedules, you have to know how to setup this customized Task Linking Dashboard view.|
|With the basics of task linking in place, what is needed next is to understand some of the finer points of task linking, such as the autolinking feature, and others.|
|This lecture covers using lag and lead time on your task links, which are important ways to improve and fine tune your project schedule.|
|There are four different ways tasks can be linked together. The first two, Finish to Start (FS), and Start to Start (SS), are covered here and are the most commonly used.|
|This lecture covers the third link type, Finish to Finish (FF).|
|This fourth and final link type, Start to Finish (SF) is covered in this lecture. This is an unusual link type but is extremely useful as demonstrated here.|
|To close out this section on Task Linking, the ALAP Trap is covered. This involves a common mistake some users unknowingly make and in the process cripple their project schhedules. This problem and Just in Time linking is discussed and thus closes out this section.|
|Section 3: Key 2, Part B - The Application of Task Linking in Schedules|
|The previous section covered the mechanics of task linking. With that foundation in place we now begin to explore how Microsoft Project uses task linking in approaches such as the critical path method.|
|In this lecture the algorthm and the mathematical calculations behind the critical path method is presented. Fortunately Microsoft Project does all of this for you automatically, but it is important to understand what is happening in these calculatioins in order to be able to effectively schedule your projects.|
|In this lecture we cover how to actually use the Critical Path and its calculations to manage your project schedules effectively and efficiently.|
|Now that you understand how to use the Critical Path to make your project schedules be more effective, in this lecture additional ways to view the Critical Path are presented to make it easier for you to exploit this important technique.|
|In addition to the Critical Path, adding resources to key tasks (a.k.a. Crashing) is a way to reduce a schedule. This lecture demonstrates how to perform "resource crashing" with the Five Keys Method and still not need to use the complex resource feature in MS Project.|
|Odds and Ends: Now that you have seen several ways to build better schedules, you now need to know how to fix accidental split tasks.|
This lecture introduces the next most important tool in creating effective schedules in MS Project, the Outlining feature. Also covered is how to deal with a trap that occurs when creating outlines; this trap is called the Manual Scheduling Summary Task Trap.
|This lecture covers indenting, linking to summary tasks, and how to use the Outline Level field column to fix messed up task outlines.|
|In this lecture, different ways to collapse and expand outlines is covered, along with how to use the Outline Level view controls. Additionally, outline numbering options are shown along with a brief presentation on WBS codes (for those that need WBS codes).|
|This lecture closes out the outlining feature by going through a variety of outlining odds and ends, such as additional ways to add summary rows and perform indenting with the mouse, and the lecture closes out by demonstrating the recurring tasks feature.|
|Section 4: Key 3 - Task Constraints|
|This lecture introduces the concept of Task Constraints, and presents the eight different constraints available, the two the Five Keys uses (MSO, MFO) and how users accidentally and unknowingly set constraints. This sets the table for this section off lectures on Constraints.|
|In this lecture we will cover the numerous ways you can expose the constraint information on your project tasks. This may be overwhelming for those of you that are new to constraints, and for intermediate and advanced users it may provide some new ways of looking at task constraints, but the main takeaway from this lecture should be that you know at least ONE WAY to see a tasks information, as managing constraints is a key schedule skill you must have if you are going to create useful schedules, and it starts with knowing how to expose a task's constraint.|
|In this lecture we start with the simplest type of constraint: The Task Deadline. We go over the basics of putting a deadline on a task and examine what happens when a task goes past its deadline date.|
Adding a deadline to a task is a great way to have Project monitor a task's finish date for you. Unfortunately, the deadline feature has a critical flaw: It can change the Total Slack calculation and actually make a task's Total Slack be a negative number! That may not sound like a big deal, but when you are counting on your schedule's critical path to keep you focused, then you need to be very careful with how you use deadlines---or you may be in for an unexpected "critical" surprise. Watch this lecture to see what I mean. The lecture concludes with some tricks and traps on removing deadlines.
|We start constraints off with ALAP, As Late as Possible, and ASAP, As Soon As Possible. We have seen these two in earlier lectures, thus this will be a quick and easy review of what these two constraints do.|
SNET, Start No Earier Than, is probably one of the most used constraints in Microsoft Project---whether it be intentionally or by accident! This lecture goes over how this constraint can be created and what it does to your schedule, and the lecture closes out by reviewing how you remove a constraint from your tasks.
FNET, Finish No Earlier Than, is the sister to the SNET constraint. This lecture goes over how this constraint can be created and what it does to your schedule. And then the lecture closes out with a demonstration of a quirk that occurs with the duraton when you enter an SNET and an FNET on the same task at the same time.
|Now that you understand how to create some basic constraints, this lecture demonstrates how you can use this knowledge to create a project schedule without using links. Now, this sort of static scheduling approach is not recommended, but seeing that you can create a schedule this way often results in an "ah ha!" effect as what constraints can do for you becomes more obvious. Again, just using constraints is not a recommended way of creating a project schedule as the goal of using Microsoft Project is go create dynamic project schedule, schedules that change in total as inputs change. So what a dynamic schedule is, is again reviewed in this lecture to close out the knowledge chunk.|
SNLT, Start No Later Than, and FNLT, Finish No Later Than, are two "not ready for prime time" constraints. There is nothing wrong with them, it is just there are better and simpler ways to do what these constraints attempt to do. In the complex world of Constraints, anything you can eliminate is a good thing. Thus this lecture goes through why these two constraints are not needed. So if you need to know that information, watch this lecture. If you are happy with knowing you have two constraints you can forget about, feel free to skim this lecture and move on.
|MSO, Must Start On, is arguably the best constraint to use in your project schedules. This lecture presents a description of how it works and what it does. In a subsequent lecture MSO is paired with the Deadline feature to show why this is such a good constraint to use for your project schedules. But before getting to that solution, you need to watch this video and understand how the MSO constraint works, and what it does.|
The MFO, Must Finish On constraint, is probably one of the biggest disappointments in all of MS Project. Seriously. It is a constraint that has great potential and should work, but unfortunately it is fatally flawed and cannot be counted on to do the job it should be able to do---hold a task in place by its needed finish date. Watch this video to see what is wrong with MFO, and then in the next video lecture we discuss how to overcome this disappointment.
As we have seen from the previous lectures, there is a problem to be solved with constraints. Most schedules have certain tasks that need to be monitored by their finish date, but the MFO, Must Finish On constraint is flawed. And on other key tasks you need to watch the start date which MSO works fine, but some situations require possibly both the start and the finish to be monitored! But no constraint in Project seems to do this very well. Thus this lecture solves this problem and boils the constraints needed from the eight given to a simple list of three. But to get there, and understand why this works, you will need to watch the entire lecture.
|In this final lecture for Key 3, the key take-aways for constraints are covered. In other words, the complexity of the eight constraints is boiled down into a short list that you can remember and thus effectively use in real schedule work. The lecture also closes out with a tip on how to use Task Notes to document your constraint use.|
|Section 5: Key 4 - Project Calendars|
|Microsoft Project schedules always obey the calendar. Always. Thus understanding how this feature works can be a key to your project schedule representing the work to be done and the time frames more accurately. This module goes over the key components you need to understand and be competent with, such as creating exception holidays and modifying the work week hours. Functionality if understood that can help your projects finish earlier and deliver the value your sponsors demand. Thus Key 4 is one of the essential knowledge areas in MS Project to help you create workable schedules quickly and accurately.|
|Modifying a Project's task working times begins with understanding how to use the Working Time dialog box. This lecture introduces the basic components and concepts that are at work in the Change Working Time dailog box. With these basics in place the stage is set for learning how to modify the calendar and thus get the working time results you need--whether it be a change to the work week or an individual day such as a holiday--in your project's schedule.|
|We next move to the middle of the Change Working Time dialog box and explore the subtleties of the Calendar Legend and the Calendar Grid. The Legend looks impressive, but it merely functions as a key to understanding the Calendar Grid. And unfortunately not all of the potential legend entries are listed! This lecture goes over the missing legend icons and then delves into the Calendar Grid itself and discusses the importance of the text that appears to the right of the Calendar Grid as you select different days in the Calendar Grid. Important and often overlooked information is covered in this lecture and it provides important building blocks to understanding the Exceptions tab and the Work Week tab which follow.|
The Exceptions tab in the Working Time dialog box, is where you can create holiday like exceptions to your working schedule. The exceptions tab can also be used to create work day exceptions to your schedule like half days, or days that start at 7am. This lecture covers how to perform those changes and thus begins to unlock the secrets to working schedule changes and flexibility. This is an important video conceptually for project managers with imagination and difficult schedules that need some working time tweaks!
|The Exceptions tab option in the Change Working Time dialog box has a nifty option for entering in recurring exceptions. It works sort of like how the recurring meeting option works in Microsoft Outlook. Unfortunately, the implementation of this feature in Microsoft Project is half baked. It doesnt work for "birthday style" holidays and in versions prior to Project 2013, the "last day of the month" option is flawed and buggy. To see the problems with the recurrence option in Microsoft Project watch this lecture and learn why you should not use this feature.|
|The Work Weeks tab in the Change Working Time dialog box is the key to modifying your default work week. The default work week is what sets Monday through Friday as the work week with a start time of 8am and a finish time of 5pm, with a one hour lunch at noon. In this lecture the Work Weeks tab will be explored and you will be shown how to make a basic modification to the work week and change it from a 40 hour week to a 32 hour week. This lecture will also show you what not to do on the Work Weeks tab to avoid causing your schedule unexpected problems.|
F. Kevin Gaza, PMP
Kevin has been an enterprise project manager for fifteen years for a $2B per year Catholic Healthcare organization. In that role he has been the main author of the organization’s IT project methodology, and has been the lead project manager on a variety of enterprise projects such as a new data center, an Windows 7 and Office 2010 upgrade, and various enterprise healthcare application implementations.
Prior to the healthcare industry, Kevin worked as an independent contractor for the Indiana Secretary of State, an MIS Director at the Indianapolis Zoo, and a project engineer at Inland and Bethlehem Steel. He has taught Microsoft Project at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) every year since 1994 as an adjunct in the continuing education department. Through that work--along with the over thirty years of project work in four different industries--Kevin has developed his approach to teaching and learning Microsoft Project, called The Five Keys Method.
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