This MICROSOFT PROJECT 2013 COURSE IS APPROVED BY PMI® for 5 PDU POINTS IN CATEGORY 'B'. This course "Microsoft Project 2013: Get Promotions, Respect and Mastery!" is intended for project managers who are just starting out, as well as experienced project managers who are new to Microsoft Project 2013.
In short, when used properly, Microsoft Project 2013 will make you a ROCKSTAR. Some outcomes will be: getting on fast-track for promotions, earning the respect of your peers, seniors and juniors alike.
Course Update 20 Dec, 2016:
Microsoft Project is a powerful Project Management tool. It automates the process of organizing, scheduling, recording, calculating, tracking, reporting, and analyzing schedule data for any project. The tool will help you achieve your project goals on time and within budget. You will learn all this and MORE in this course.
For the new PM: MS Project can appear very intimidating to a new user. For a new Project Manager who is learning the art of project management - having to learn the software tool can be very taxing without someone to hold your hand and walk you from start to finish.
For the experienced PM: This course will make your skills really shine. You know that there are so many aspects to a project - the schedule, resourcing, quality, costs, reporting. And everything must be reported from a microscopic to a 20,000 ft level at the drop of a hat. This course will allow you to do just that.
What you will get from this course:
GREAT EMAIL FEEDBACK AND REVIEWS:
"Life Long Learner(LLL) - A part of me !! First and foremost thanks for a course which worth more then just certain $. I have been on MSP 2010 for a long now, so I thought of upgrading to whats new in 2013. I have been through your course and indeed a complete package that an professional would expect. I have been doing project coordination for a company , and now completed with my PMP in June. Project management is something I love doing, by completing the course it good to be upgraded on application side also. Also i am collecting PDU's for PMI's CCR. So this course offered me to learn a new MSP 2013 along with PDU's."
"I really think you've done a really great job. And you are a pure Ms Project expert. I will go back to the course for sure, when I will have a specific Ms Project cases"
"I reported your course completion to gain the PDU for PMP in category B (I reported 5 PDU) and it was very quickly approved."
Hi, I am Srikanth and let me congratulate you on your desire to learn Microsoft Project 2013.
MS Project 2013 is one of the most user friendly and widely used project tools in the world. I will help you get to speed organizing, scheduling, recording, calculating, tracking, reporting, and analyzing schedule data for literally any project. Project 2013 will help you achieve your project goals on time and within budget.
In this course you will look at short topic specific video lessons - starting at the very basics - and moving on to more advanced usages. I will explain how you can create a new project schedule from scratch - setting up new tasks, managing different types of resources that you use on the project and how you can setup their costs and availability.
Then we will discover the power of Microsoft Project in linking tasks, showing true life dependencies, constraints, analysing risks and being able to create fantastic reports for senior management, peers, team members and any other stakeholders.
Whether you are a project manager who is starting out or well experienced juggling multiple projects - Microsoft Project 2013 is a very powerful tool in your bag and ally by your side.
So, lets get started and your efforts invested in this course will pay you rich dividends.
At the beginning, let me clarify that this course will deal with teaching you how to manage projects using Microsoft Project. However, it does not cover project management in depth. You can find pointers to this in the description area or ask me questions in the forums. I will also be sharing useful tips and pitfalls from experience both on the video lessons and in other resource areas of this course.
Microsoft Project 2013 versions comparison page: https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/compare-microsoft-project-management-software
Get your FREE 60-day trial here: https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/try-or-buy-project-management-software
There are different editions of Microsoft Project 2013 available - as you can see on this Microsoft Office Products site. If you have to make a choice to purchase - this is the place where you can compare. As you can see, Project Pro (with a cloud subscription based payment model), Project Professional and Project Standard are the options available for typical Project Management related activities. In this course we use Project Professional. There is also a 60 day trial download available if you wish to evaluate the product for yourself - you will need a Microsoft Live account - which you can create for free.
Welcome to the new section - where we will first get familiar with the user interface that Microsoft Project offers. Before you start creating project schedules like a pro - it is important that you understand the functionality of the tool itself.
On this screen you will see the various features of the Interface. This screen may look intimidating to a new user because of the number of buttons and controls - but this is very natural and one should not fear - as over the next few videos I will walk you through all aspects of the interface and make you familiar and comfortable with it.
So let us look at them one by one:
a. Microsoft Fluent Interface (also known as the Ribbon) - if you have used any MS Office product like Word or Excel - you would already be familiar with this interface.
b. Quick Access Toolbar - this is a customizable toolbar - similar to those found on Internet Explorer and similar products. As the name suggests, this is designed to give you rapid access to the commands that you use the most.
c. Mini Toolbar
d. Contextual Menu - accessed by right-clicking at different locations on the interface. Options on this menu will change dynamically depending on the context where you right click.
e. Status Bar: By default, the status bar includes a Task Mode for New Tasks control, quick links to the Gantt Chart, Task Usage, Team Planner, and Resource Sheet views, reports and Zoom control. Right-clicking on the status bar brings up a contextual menu which shows several other options.
f. Backstage: When you click on the File Tab (notice this tab is in a different colour) - you enter what is called by Microsoft as the Backstage View. Here you have commands and controls to manage file operations and also manage options for controlling behaviour of MS Project itself.
We will look in-depth into these in the following lectures of this section.
Ribbons are a familiar interface feature on all Microsoft products now - such as Word, Excel or Outlook.
You will find the ribbon design to be very intuitive after using it for a short while - because they are structured around the same way somebody managing a project would go about constructing, updating, analysing and reporting a live project.
The key tabs are classified under tasks, resources, projects and reports. View tab and Format tab revolve around how information is presented both on the screen and in other formats.
The File tab (which is in a different colour) - leads to view called Backstage and we will see about this - in detail in a video lecture later. Backstage deals with file management, print facilities and also important configuration settings for Microsoft Project 2013.
Now let us look at the ribbon tabs one by one.
Task tab - This is the tab where you can create new tasks, view information, link tasks together, update work completed. Of special mention is the 'scroll to task' - which makes viewing tasks easy on the Gantt Chart .
Resource Tab - various types of resources allocated to a project can be configured here, tasks can be allocated to resources, resources can be balanced for work allocation - and making sure over allocations don't occur.
Report tab is a new addition to Project 2013 - which brings in a whole lot of pre-designed reports including the burndown report, project overview report etc. You can also create your own customized reports and make them available over any other project you manage.
The Project tab is used to configure the key parameters of the project being managed. For example - the project start dates, working days and hours for different types of resources. When the project is running you will find the baselining options particularly useful to monitor progress and view plan changes over time.
The View tab helps you analyse project information in a variety of ways on the screen. You will find it particularly helpful when juggling with a large number of tasks, resources and timelines.
The Format tab is a bit special - because it is dynamic and the buttons change depending on the view that you are looking at. If you notice - there is a coloured label over Format tab that changes to indicate which view is active and the buttons change according to the view that is active. Again, the Format tab is useful for a graphical visual presentation of the data that is being worked on.
When you feel you are short on screen space - you can collapse the ribbon. Just click the up-arrow icon on the bottom-right of the ribbon here. When you want to restore the ribbon - just clcik on any tab. If you want to keep it permanently ON - just click the pin icon.
Typically while creating a new project, more time will be spent on the Task tab than others. You will find that a few buttons are used much higher than others - and in the proceeding lectures we will see how to configure the interface for easier and faster access.
When you first load Project 2013, you will see this screen - with a lot of options on the right side of the screen on how to create a new project. You can choose from either creating a new project with options from the right side of the screen OR on the left side you might see a list of recent projects if you have already opened project files earlier.
For this lesson I am going to load an existing recent project file like so - and we can look at the backstage view.
To enter into the Backstage - you have to click on the File tab - and by default the the first tab 'Info' is shown. The Info tab is where you can get high-level status about your project and make related changes. This is a convenient place to reference the location of your document, and copy it to the clipboard.
You can also view and edit key properties of your project here. For example, you can click on the Status Date to directly edit inline. We will look at this in more detail in subsequent lessons.
The New tab brings together a number of ways to start a new project file, Blank new project, many types of online and offline templates, New from existing project, from Excel workbook, or from a SharePoint task list.
Print tab combines print preview with changing common print settings, providing a convenient all-in-one interface for printing.
The Open tab - lets you browse your computer for existing files - and also Project 2013 is now integrated with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud based storage space. You will be required to have an account to use this feature.
Let us look at the export features available. To share project details with stakeholders you can create read-only versions of your project in PDF and XPS formats. XPS is a Microsoft designed format that is functionally similar to PDF and needs an XPS viewer to view it.
Options tab takes you to Project's options interface, where you can control the behaviour of the entire application. While we will keep returning to the Options dialog box several times in this course - there are a few options that control the backstage view and we will look at them now.
First click on the Advanced tab - go to the group marked "Display" - and here we have an option marked "Show this number of Recent Projects". By default this is marked to 25 - and you might choose to change it to your convenience and screen resolution.
The next option is more interesting - called as "Quickly access this number of Recent Projects". I will turn this checkbox ON - and when I return to the Backstage - voila! at the bottom of the left side I see 4 of my most recent projects available as single click links! This is a fast and convenient way to keep returning to the projects that you are working on.
So, in conclusion, you can get familiar with Backstage very quickly and it's full screen view that is very convenient.
In this lesson we explore some ways to customize the interface to our preferences.
The first thing we will look at is to customize the ribbon. Let us look at a case where you want to modify the tab sequence on the ribbon. The current sequence of tabs is - Task - Resource - Report - Project. Now, say you don't want the Report tab here - and you want it placed further down the line.
To do this change, you can first right click anywhere on the ribbon - and choose "Customise the Ribbon" - and the Project Options dialog box opens up. You can see in the right side box, is the listing of the Main Tabs on the Ribbon. All you have to do now is to select the 'Report' row and click the down arrow - bringing it to the location that you prefer.
When you click OK, you can now see the Report tab has been moved further down the line - to its new location - and nothing else has changed. You still have the same controls available as before in all the tabs - only the order has changed.
Suppose you want to add a new Tab of your own - where you can place all the command buttons that you most frequently use in one single tab.
You can do that by going back to the "Customise the Ribbon" option - and in the dialog box - choose 'New Tab'. When you click it, you can see a custom tab and a custom group were created together.
The first thing you will want to do is to rename them appropriately... I will give their names as "LearnGood" and "My fast buttons". Now on the left side box - I can choose the commands that I use the most and Add them to the group that I created. Hint: make sure the correct Tab and Group is kept selected.
Before you exit this dialog box, make sure your tab is placed properly in the list. I will move them to one end here and click OK button.
Now I have added four command buttons to my custom tab. If you don't need the tab any more, you can choose to 'remove' it in the same method.
There is an even faster way to get access to your most used commands - and that is through customizing the Quick Access Toolbar. This area on the top here is called the Quick Access Toolbar and it is designed to provide exactly what it's name suggests - a quick access to your favourite commands.
When you find a favourite command, just right click it, and then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar. Now the command is only a click away.
There will be some commands that you can not directly right click - if you frequently create PDFs, or do something else that requires going to the File tab, here's how to add that command to the Quick Access Toolbar.
Click Customize the Quick Access Toolbar, and then click More Commands. In the Choose commands from list, click 'Commands not in the Ribbon'. Select 'Publish as PDF or XPS' and click Add. Do not forget to click OK. And now you can see the PDF button is available on the Quick Access Toolbar.
When a command is no longer your favourite - you can remove a command by right-clicking it on the Quick Access Toolbar, and then clicking Remove from Quick Access Toolbar.
To conclude, in this lesson we saw multiple ways in which you can customize the command interface - adding / modifying both the Ribbon and Quick access toolbar. As you get more familiar working with Project 2013 - you will want to set things up exactly the way you like - and Project makes it very easy to do so.
In this section we will learn how to create new project files and then we will configure the project file to hold the first important parts of project information. Microsoft provides multiple ways to create a new project file.
There are three primary ways in which to create a new project file - 1. Creating a project file from scratch 2. Create from an existing Template and 3. Create from an Excel Workbook. In this video we will look at the first option of creating a blank project file. And in subsequent lessons we will explore the other ways. But this is not an exhaustive list - there are more ways in which you can create project files - like from a Sharepoint task list, or an XML file - but these methods are used much less frequently. And the same techniques that you will learn in the course lessons will be employed elsewhere - so you are covered.
OK, so in this lesson we will be creating a project file from the beginning. When you start Project this is the first screen that you will see. The first option on the right side says "Blank Project" - and this will give us a clean slate project file - and we just need to click it.
So - we have created a blank project file. You will see a message on the status bar "New tasks created in Manual mode" - we will look at that in a later lesson - so you can safely ignore it for now. But keep in mind that during the life of a project, various messages are displayed in the status bar - and you need to keep an eye on it.
Let us understand this screen a little bit. The view that you see on the screen now is the most important view on Project - it's the moneymaker!!. This view is called as the Gantt Chart View. You can see there are 3 windows (top, left and right)- and they are related to each other. This is the screen where project scheduling is created and we will revisit this completely in the section dealing with tasks.
As a best practice, one of the first things to do when you create a new project is to configure the basic project information. So, let us click on the Project Tab and then on the 'Project Information' button. The Project Information dialog box opens up. There are 3 key things to notice here - the 'Start date' box, the 'Schedule from' box and the 'Calendar'.
One of the key reasons to use Microsoft Project is because of it's auto-scheduling features. Now, this box 'Schedule from' is asking us whether we have to set 'Project Start date' or 'Project Finish date' should be set as the scheduling default. Now, the first option of using 'Project Start date' as a scheduling default will be a little obvious - but when will we need to schedule from the Finish date? That is not so obvious. This type of reverse scheduling MIGHT be useful in situations when you have a hard deadline to finish the project.
In this case we will set the 'Schedule from' box to Project Start date - and you can use this in most cases - even when you have hard fixed deadlines. Scheduling from the end date is recommended only when you are more experienced using Project's auto-scheduling features.
Finally we will look at the calendar box. The project calendar defines the working time for your project: which days are working days, which hours are considered working time in a typical workday, and which days are non-working time (such as holidays and so on). Project comes in with a default calendar called as the Standard Calendar and this is what you see selected by default here.
The Standard calendar has working times set as Monday through Friday and 8am to 5pm with a one hour for lunch. In a future lesson we will see how to customize this for individual projects or individual resources. But for now we will just go with the Standard calendar.
And now to click OK. And we are done with doing the basic setup for a project file that has been started from scratch.
Now, once this much has been done, it is ideal to save the project file. And to do so, we first have to enter into the Backstage - by clicking File tab. Now, because this is the first save, even though I click the Save button - Save As is opened - and here I will save it on my Desktop.
In this lesson, we will look at creating new project files from Templates.
When you start Project, you will see Microsoft's featured templates on the right side of the screen. Or you can even search for some industry specific templates on the search box at the top. If you find something resembling what you want to do - you can load that template with a click.
I am going to show an example now - I want to create a project file for a software project based on Agile. So here I search for Agile - and I have one result returned. A preview is also shown - with some info on the template itself. I can also set the project start date conveniently here. In a previous lesson we had seen that this was one of the first things we have to set. And when I click on create - the template is downloaded and a project is created.
Now let us step back for a moment and understand what actually this is about.
So what exactly are templates?
A template is a project that has been specially designated to be used more than once - by you or somebody else. A template has special characteristics, one being that it is saved into a special location reserved for templates.
Templates are specifically useful for establishing consistent and repeated activities in a project so you do not have to start a project from scratch every time. For example, if you were in construction, you might be building condominiums, and each condo project requires similar activities. You could set up the project once with all of the tasks already entered, and save it as a template to be used over and over for each condo project.
As another example, suppose you are working on a major acquisition project; you can easily make a template that has custom fields that can be used by both the buyer and the
seller. Project templates do not have to be very detailed or include all project information. Instead, project templates need to contain the common and repeatable project details that you can easily modify to fit to the new project you are creating.
A template can help you to set standards for projects within your organization, especially if the project structure and setup can be reused by several different project managers. A template enables you to reuse common tasks, project information, customized fields, calendars, and notes in a template project. It also lets you set up shared standard resources and equipment lists.
Most organizations repeatedly deliver similar projects. Templates can be extremely useful for capturing the best practices developed into repeatable standards and reporting, giving new projects a jumpstart to success. The top two levels of the WBS can often be used consistently across an organization. The project management elements can be standardized, as can many other cross-cutting elements. Standard templates will minimize the amount of startup work required to determine process use for each project and will also improve the organization's ability to control scope on the elements that are consistent across projects.
But please note: If you choose to create your project schedule from an existing template, you have to modify the data that is stored in the template to tailor it to your specific project. To do so, use the same methods described in the upcoming lessons.
You can also designate a location to store your templates conveniently. To do this, let us again go to the Options. First click the File Tab, then Options. The Project Options dialog box opens up.
Here look for the Save tab - in the Save Templates section you will find the "Default personal templates location". In this box I will browse a new location on my computer like so - and click OK.
What this does is - if I now go back to New tab in backstage, I can see a new heading has been created for my personal templates - and this location will hold the templates I have stored. This is just another convenient method to access your template.
So, in this lesson we saw the power of templates - and when it will be a good idea to use them. As you get more familiar with Project, you can start creating your own library of templates for future usage.
This lesson will teach you how to import tasks data from excel files (works exactly same for CSV or XML files also).
In the "Downloadable resources" tab, you can download the following:
Please feel free to ask questions in the discussion area.
One of the first major assumptions you have to make in any schedule is how much time is available to complete tasks. You need to account for all holidays, vacation time, and all other foreseeable non-working time to build a schedule with any degree of accuracy.
Microsoft Project provides the calendar tool to allow a project manager fine tune the project calendar with a great deal of flexibility.
We can control the working times on our project by first going to the Project tab and then clicking on Change Working time. A dialog box pops up - where you can see how working hours are currently allocated on your project.
The "project calendar" defines the working time for your project: which days are working days, which hours are considered working time in a typical workday, and which days are non-working time (such as holidays and so on).
Three default project calendars already exist for you to select in the Calendar field drop-down list, as follows: 24 Hour— Continuous time from midnight to midnight, 24 hours a day. Night Shift— Used for overnight work that begins at the end of one night and finishes the following morning. Standard — The standard work week 40 hours, 5 days (Monday through Friday), 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with an hour lunch break from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
You can see in this drop-down that the calendar Standard is the default Project calendar as it says so in the brackets. On the right side you can see the work hours for a particular day that is selected in the visual calendar in the middle. Now if I click the Work Weeks tab here - default is selected and you can click on the details button to examine it. As mentioned earlier for Monday to Friday on the Standard calendar the times show here - in the grayed out text.
If you want to create a custom calendar for your project you can do it here. We will see a simple example of creating a new project calendar - and then assigning it as our project calendar.
First, click on Create New calendar button - a small dialog box opens up. In this case we will just create a copy of the standard calendar and give it a new name. And click OK.
So, that creates a new calendar. But if you see here - it is not yet our project calendar. To configure that I click OK here first and return to the main window.
Again in the project tab - I will the Project Information button - and the dialog box opens. Here we can configure the default project - I just need to select my newly created calendar and click OK. The default calendar will be changed now.
To test this - I can go back and click the Change Working Time button - and we see our new calendar marked as the (Project calendar).
There are a lot of ways in which you can configure the calendar options - you can mark holidays and other non-working days. When we get to the section on resources and scheduling - we will see that individual project resources can have their own calendars. For example if you have a consultant who works for 20 hours per week on a project - you can reflect that into your project.
As a best practice, you should fill up as much information as you can about the calendar at the very beginning of the project. That is before you start creating assigning resources and doing actual scheduling work. This is to control complexity issues at a later stage.
So in this lesson we saw that project comes in with multiple default calendars that you can use. Also you need to set up work days and other holiday related information for a project as early as possible. We also saw that you can create your own customized calendars for your project and set them as default.
As you know, work on a project is broken up into tasks. These tasks are the building blocks of a project's schedule. In project management a task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time.
In this lesson we will see how you can start using Project to create your own tasks. A blank project file can be daunting, especially if you're new to project management. But with a few clicks, you can tap the power of Project 2013 to convert your to-do list into a full-fledged project for you to manage and share with your team and stakeholders.
So here on the screen, I have created a blank project file and in this lesson we will see how tasks are created. I have already saved this file and this will be available for you to download in the files section of this course.
The first thing I am going to do is - setup the project information and working times. To do that I click on the Project Tab and Project Information. A dialog box opens up. I want to change the Start date to an upcoming date - so I change that. The 'schedule from' box is correctly set to 'Project start date' - so I will leave it as it is.
I will retain the project calendar to 'standard' - no changes there for now. So I click OK and I am ready to add a few simple tasks.
When we return to the Gantt Chart view we have to make one more change - in the status bar at the bottom left - you can see a pin icon that says - New tasks: Manually Scheduled. We will want to change that to automatically scheduled. This will be explained in the upcoming lessons, so let us just do this for now.
Now I am going to add three tasks for my project.
This is my first task.
Then the second.
And the third task.
You can see that Project automatically populated a few columns for us - when I typed in the task names.
They are duration, start date and finish date. The start date is defaulted to the project start date that I had setup in the project information dialog box just a bit ago.
Also, you can notice the Duration has defaulted to 1 day with a question mark. This question mark is just Project's way of indicating that it doesn't know what the duration for the project is - and it has made it's best guess.
If you look at the right hand window pane - you will also notice that three small blue boxes have appeared on the Gantt chart - and they coincide vertically with the task names. They are the visual representations of the 3 new tasks we have created. They will always continue to coincide vertically - but might move horizontally depending on the number of tasks your screen space.
Now while we will stop here in this lesson, if you want you can go ahead and download the exercise file and play around with setting the duration and dependencies.
So in this lesson - we have seen how new tasks can be added. That tasks at the very minimum will be associated with a duration time, start and finish dates. We have also seen how Project creates a Gantt chart for you automatically. In the next few lessons we will explore tasks in more detail.
In this lesson, we will look at the types of task modes. Task mode refers to how Project will handle a task that you specify in your schedule.
There are two types of task modes for scheduling tasks - Automatic and Manual.
In the Gantt view here on the screen, you can see a column called "Task Mode" that indicates the mode for each task row. Automatic task has this blue box with a small arrow icon; and manual tasks have a push pin icon - which we will see later. Currently all the tasks on this schedule are automatic and we will shortly add manual task also for you to see.
Also, in the task bar, there is a command button that lets you specify how new tasks will be created by default. You can change it anytime.
If this control is not visible, just right like so - and enable "New task mode notification".
OK, let us now understand automatic tasks first.
For a task marked as automatic, you typically indicate the task name, duration and the predecessor task. And Project will automatically calculate when the task should occur, and when it would finish. This is similar to how things work in real life - assume you have 2 project tasks assigned to you. You can start the second task when the first task is completed. So the first tasks end date will determine when the second tasks start date will be.
Let us see how that works in project.
For task Id 3, "Client Meetings" I will mark the duration as 5 days. Then set the start date as project start date, and keep the predecessor as empty (because this is the first task).
Then for the next task "Project definition workshop", I will mark duration as 2 days, I will not touch the start or end dates - but I will only indicate that the predecessor is the previous task - that is Task ID 3.
As soon as we do this, Project auto scheduling kicks into action - and we see a few beautiful things happening.
Firstly notice, the second task's start date has now changed - how did project calculate this? From the ending of the previous task. As I just mentioned, this task will start when the previous task ends.
Secondly, the second task's end date has also changed. How did Project calculate this? From the duration that we entered.
Thirdly, if you look at the Gantt chart, you can see an arrow is now linking the two tasks together. They have been effectively tied together.
In the future, for these two tasks - the dates are coupled together and changing duration for first will automatically affect the second.
This makes a lot of sense - and this is one of the key strengths of Microsoft Project. You can imagine that when projects get complicated with hundreds of tasks - this will be a great power to have in hand. We have only skimmed the surface now and auto-scheduling shows it value when you have to make resource assignments, do rescheduling and balance work for teams.
As much as possible you should use automatically scheduled tasks but it will require you to get more familiar with how project auto scheduling works. Practice makes perfect.
Just note, that you can also break the link between the tasks at any time - just by removing the predecessor value marked for the second task here - and the two tasks will become unhooked.
Now that we have understood automatic tasks a bit - let us look at manually scheduled tasks. Here Project does not do any scheduling on your behalf. You will be required to plan the start date, duration and end date yourself.
Let me insert a new manually scheduled task to see how they work.
First, I will change the new task setting on the status bar.
Then I click on the new task button to insert a new task. My new task is created - and I will give it a name "Signoff by client".
There are 2 things to notice here.
One, Project has not pre-populated the duration, start and end dates like it did with auto schedule tasks. This is a little obvious because Project wants to indicate to you that these are to be fixed by you.
Secondly, you can see a tiny question mark in the task mode icon. This indicates that you have not yet fed any information about this task yet.
Now let us say our client commits to signoff on 15th March. And it will take 1 day for this to be communicated. I will enter these values.
Now you can see that the tiny question mark has vanished.
There are only specific times when you would want to employ manually scheduled tasks - for example - when you have very little information about a task and you dont know when it is starting or how long it will take. But you want to keep a placeholder on the project schedule. This is one instance when you would want to make a manual task.
The second example would be when for some reason or other a task should be scheduled on a very specific date. For example, software updates have to occur on midnight of last day of every month. For such tasks also you can setup manually scheduled tasks.
So in this lesson we have become familiar with auto schedule feature of Project. We have also seen an alternative with manually scheduled tasks.
I would recommend that you download this file and try out the scheduling features for yourself. There are some tasks here on the screen which you can play with. Remember again - practice makes perfect.
In the subsequent lessons, we will learn more about auto and manual tasks.
In this lesson, we will look into understanding auto-scheduled tasks a little bit more.
First, let us look at this project plan where I have a set of tasks already typed in, and marked as auto-scheduled, you can tell that by this blue box with an arrow icon.
Now, these tasks are all to be assigned to a single resource, the architect. Also, notice that the durations and start/end dates are default pre-populated by Project, when the tasks were first created.
Now, I have the actual duration estimates with me and I will enter them into the project, link them and demonstrate how Project's auto-scheduling feature works.
So let me enter the durations first - and if you keep noticing on the Gantt chart also the individual taskbars also start reflecting the durations accordingly.
Now, I have entered the durations - but they all seem to start on the same day! How do we resolve that?
We can do that by setting their dependencies. Let me do that now. And while I am doing this - please notice how the tasks on the Gantt Chart get linked to one another auto-magically.
That's not all - now Project has calculated what the start dates and end dates for each of these tasks are going to be. The blue highlighting for the cells indicate where Project changed values.
Now, let me add a new task at the end. I just have to select a position at the end and start typing the task name.
But this new task is a manually scheduled task. I can tell that by this pin icon - instead of the blue box icon. But no worries, I can just change that instantly by clicking on the task mode cell and changing it to automatically scheduled.
I will also change this on this status bar - so that new tasks get automatic by default.
Now suppose you want to add another task into the center - how do we do this? Easy.
Just select the place where you want your new task, right click and you get a context menu. Just choose Insert task - and you are done.
In this lesson we have further understood automatically scheduled tasks and how they develop a project schedule. In the following lessons, we will look at other types of tasks and also changing task attributes.
Very often during the planning phase of a project, you will have a lot of tasks for which you do not have complete information. But they still have to be represented in your plan.
That's when manually scheduled tasks come in very handy. In this lesson, let us see some examples of creating manually scheduled tasks.
To create a new manually scheduled task, in this project schedule, I will select the location and start typing in the name.
Let's say for this task I know the start date - and I will put that in. Now it still doesn't have a duration. Now let us see how this is represented in the Gantt. Here I see that Project has only put in a start point indicator - because Project has no clue what the duration of the task-bar is going to be. This is perfectly fine. Also if you glance at the task indicator, you will see there is a question mark saying Project doesn't have all the information it needs.
Now, let us say the testing team gets back with a duration of 5 days. I will that into the task. As soon as I do that multiple things change.
Firstly, the end date is auto calculated because Project knows the when the task starts and how long it takes. Second, on the Gantt chart, the task-bar has taken shape completely. Thirdly, the question mark has disappered from the task mode indicator.
Let us look at one more example. I will add one more manually scheduled task.
For this task I don't know the start date - but I do know the duration it takes. So let me configure accordingly.
Here if we see the taskbar on the Gantt chart - we see a another way in which Project represents this visually. You can see the ends of the task are blurred - but the duration is accurate. This is another way in which Project tells us that more information is still needed to properly fill out this task.
If we come to know of the start date for this task later and we fill this in - the ends of the taskbar take proper shape and the blurred effect goes away.
In this lesson we have seen how manual tasks can be created and used as placeholders in the project schedule. While actually using this in practice, we must try to fill in as much information as possible - as soon as it becomes available.
In projects, some tasks are scheduled to occur repeatedly. Some common examples of these type of tasks are team status meetings, project reviews or code-walk throughs.
In this lesson we will see how to automatically schedule tasks that occur with a frequency.
Let us see an example of a weekly status meeting that has to occur every Monday morning for one hour.
I will first select in the table the location where I want to insert these meetings. And then, on the ribbon's Task tab - I will click on the bottom half of the Task button. Notice that there are two parts to the button. If you click the upper half - it will simply insert a task. If you click the bottom half - a small drop down menu opens up. Here you can select the Recurring Task option.
When we do this - the Recurring Task Information dialog box opens up - where we can configure the recurring task.
Let us understand the options a little more. The first thing we would like to do is give a name to the task. I will do that now. <Weekly Project Status Meeting>
The next box is to tell the duration of this recurring task. The meetings are planned for 1 hour - so I put that in. I can put it as 1h - and Project will correctly interpret it.
Let us look at the Recurrence Pattern group a bit closely. Here you can set if your task is Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly. In the Daily option, you can choose something like "Every 3 days" and Project will correctly interpret the days on your project calendar.
If you choose Weekly, you can select on which day of the week the task occurs - you can choose multiple days if you want also - because we have check boxes here.
You can also make also change the pattern if you want. For example, if I wanted a fortnightly meeting, I would set this to Recur every '2' weeks.
I will select Mondays for now.
Let us also see how the Monthly option works for a bit. This very conveniently allows me to choose a particular date - or a particular day when the task should be scheduled. For example I can say day 2 of every month - or I can say 1st Monday of every month. I can also make this a quarterly or half-yearly if I so choose - just by increasing the month count in this box.
Yearly option has the same type of config settings as Monthly.
Now we wanted a weekly meeting for 1 hour. So I will go back to Weekly and make sure we are set right.
Now before we close this box, you can also plan the life of this task - by setting the Range of recurrence. By default, this box always fills in the project start and the calculated end date. You can also just set a number of occurrences - if that makes more sense.
Last point to note - is that you can assign a separate calendar for the recurring tasks. For example, if you want a specific meeting for the night shift only - you can select that here. However, for this example we will leave it as it is.
OK, we are all done on this and good to click OK.
You can see, now Project has cleanly inserted these tasks for me - with a nice summary task here that I can collapse. We will look at summary tasks in a lesson to follow.
Some other things to notice - Each occurrence has been given an unique name automatically. And you can see they are all represented here on the Gantt chart. Also there is new icon on the summary task to the Indicator column. It is dual semi-circular arrow icon - which indicates recurring. And if you hover upon it with your mouse - you get a handy bit of info on your task.
In this case we see 6 meetings have been scheduled automatically.
So, in this lesson we have seen how to conveniently create recurring tasks. We saw that the interface is flexible enough to set a great variety of frequency options for you.
In this lesson we discuss some tips and tricks that will prove handy to you when you are scheduling with recurring tasks.
Firstly use recurring tasks with care and as sparingly as possible. The reason for this is that recurring tasks can complicate your plan - when you start assigning resources to all tasks and levelling work loads for your resources.
So, if you find that you need to setup a daily recurring task, see if that can be made as a part of some other task and the work balanced accordingly - instead of using a recurring task on your project schedule.
Secondly, if you just need a recurring REMINDER instead of a recurring task - this is also easy to do so. All you have to do is keep the duration for the task as ZERO. I will quickly show how this can be done.
Here I create a new weekly task with Zero duration and when I click OK you can see how this appears on the plan. In this case, since duration is zero, resource work levelling issues do not occur.
Recurring tasks are given higher priority by Project, as compared to normal tasks, when Project makes different types of calculations. Such as work resource levelling. So sometimes, you may find your schedule showing over allocation to your team members and one of the first places to debug this situation would be recurring tasks.
When you start adding more and more tasks to the project schedule that you are building, you will need some way to organize your tasks.
The feature Project provides to do that is Summary tasks.
Here on this view, this entry called "Onsite Requirements Gathering" is actually a Summary Task. It is a way in which we can visually and logically club the next few tasks together.
On the Gantt chart to the right, you can see that the Summary Task is represented by a black bracket. The tasks which come under this summary task are called "sub-tasks".
In this context, we have brought the tasks of a particular phase of the project together under one Summary task called as the "Onsite Requirements Gathering". You might use Summary tasks similarly for any other logical grouping - for example for all tasks done during night shift - or all tasks done by a particular team.
There are many ways in which we can start using Summary Tasks. Let us first see a case with existing tasks.
I have these two tasks here that I will bring under a Summary task. First I select the tasks - and then on the Task tab on the ribbon - I just click on the Summary button.
Now, you can see a few things added - a black bracket that groups these two tasks on the Gantt chart. And a <New Summary Task> on the table here. We will give this a new name.
I will call this Summary task as "Test case Design".
There is one more way in which to create Summary tasks. And that is by using the indent/outdent feature. But that works more on an intuitive method - for example, when I outdent a task, it might become a summary task provided it has tasks immediately following it. You can use the indent/outdent for organizing your tasks visually - but be aware that you might create summary tasks inadvertently.
A great feature of Summary tasks is that you can capture some additional project information inside them. For example, for this Summary task "Test case design", suppose te customer has allowed us 2 weeks to get right. And my internal team has estimated 7 days as shown here - then I can capture this information like this - by directly modifying the Summary Task as 10 days.
What happens in that case is the Gantt chart now shows a new icon. A new teal coloured bar has been added. You can see the black bracket has expanded to show 10 days and the teal colour task bar is 7 days long. And there is a gap between the two - that shows a buffer period between the two.
This can also work the other way around. Suppose the QA team now re-estimates their task to 15 days. As soon as I enter this, I see the conflict highlighted on the Gantt Chart.
This is now a great way in which you as a Project Manager can quickly identify scheduling problems on the project - and work towards resolving them.
Summary tasks are an important tool in design. They allow a top-down planning approach on your building a project plan - where you start with the high level tasks and keep on breaking them into smaller and smaller tasks - until you achieve the required amount of detail.
Now we will look at some best practices.
Subtasks and summary tasks only create structure, but they don't create task dependencies. You can see this immediately in these two subtasks. You can see even though they are under the same summary task - they are not linked together. You will still have to link tasks explicitly.
When you move or delete a summary task, Project moves or deletes all of its subtasks. Before you delete a summary task, outdent the subtasks you want to keep.
Avoid assigning resources to summary tasks. Assign them to the subtasks instead, or you might not be able to resolve overallocations. We will look at this more when we come to resource allocation lessons - but this need to be kept in mind.
So, in this lesson we have see how to use summary tasks - how they can be used to organize tasks visually, hold additional scheduling information - and finally we saw some best practices for using Summary tasks.
Summary tasks are the best way to organize a task list.
When organizing the tasks for a project, you can group the tasks that share characteristics or that will be completed in the same time frame under a summary task.
You can use the summary tasks to show the major phases and subphases in the project. Summary tasks summarize the data of their subtasks, which are the tasks that are grouped beneath them. You can indent the tasks as many levels as you need to reflect the organization of your project.
There are two methods for organizing your task list:
With the top-down method, you identify the major phases first and then break the phases down into individual tasks. The top-down method gives you a version of the plan as soon as you decide on the major phases.
After you decide on a method for organizing your tasks, you can begin outlining them into summary tasks and subtasks in Project 2013.
Summary tasks can be identified on the table by a small triangle next to their task name. It is very easy to expand or collapse the summary task. Just click on the triangle to do so.
Currently you are seeing the high level top-down view of the project as all the subtasks have been collapsed and you can only view the summary tasks.
There is an easy way to view the complete set of subtasks and we shall do that now. First go to the View tab - and click on the Outline button.
In the dropdown, select All Subtasks option - and the complete set of subtasks open up.
In some situations you might want to view or print only a certain level of depth of the project. For example when reporting to senior management on the progress of the project - you might want to present only the top 2 levels of the project.
That can be done very easily by clicking on Outline and selecting what level of details to be shown.
There are another couple of ways that you can view the task list. For example, suppose you want to remove all the summary task from the view and only see the actual work tasks - you can go to the Format tab and in the Show/Hide section here, click the checkbox for Summary Tasks.
That will hide all the rows that contain Summary tasks - and only show the work tasks. Also notice that all the tasks are now at the same indentation.
Getting the summary tasks back again will be to turn the check box on again.
There is a root level summary task that denotes the entire project - and it can be turned on by clicking the Project Summary task. Like this.
So, in this lesson, we have seen how Summary tasks help us make a complicated task list easier to understand, to present to various stakeholders and generally more manageable.
One final point to understand is that Summary task values don't always add up. Some summary task values (cost and work) are the total of the subtask values, others (duration and baseline) need not always add up - because of the way the project might be scheduled.
What is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?
WBS is the hierarchical and iterative decomposition of the complete work of the project into manageable work packages. Once the scope of the project has been defined the Project manager with the assistance of the team has to break up the scope iteratively into smaller and smaller pieces of work.
Why is creating the WBS important?
The WBS ensures 2 things - firstly 100% of the scope is addressed - and secondly nothing other than the scope is addressed.
The vast majority of projects that fail - do so because the scope and requirements are not clear. The use of the WBS is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that a project comes in on time, within budget, and with the quality and functions that were expected. Do not skip this step.
Show me a sample of the WBS.
In this sample you see the first and the second iteration of the WBS. Initially, we have broken down according to the phases that will occur on the project - this is logical to begin with. You might also notice that Waterfall methodology is used here. However, any other methodology you were using, the WBS process does not change.
In the second iteration, the one more level of breaking up is done. There are some simple rules to breaking down the work - we will look at them shortly.
Think of your WBS as an outline of the work, designed in a tree diagram. The lowest level of the WBS contains the work packages—that is, the tasks and actions to complete the work. You can create this diagram using Microsoft Office Excel, Visio, or any other tools, or you can draw it on a whiteboard. No matter how you choose to build it, creating a WBS is a project management best practice and an opportunity to
brainstorm and organize before creating the actual schedule.
You can download a simple WBS sample from this course's download section.
Who creates the WBS?
You as the project manager own the WBS. Typically, the first and second level of the WBS is created by the Project Manager. Subsequent detailing needs to be done by the person best suited to do it - in this case, the Architect, Technical Lead, Creative lead and the Quality lead.
When should you create the WBS?
You should create the WBS after the scope has been defined and definitely BEFORE creating the project schedule.
In this lesson, we have seen what the WBS is, why it is important, who should create it, and when it is to be created. In many cases, the first 2 or 3 levels of a WBS can and will be re-used in an organization. So it is great practice to create one for yourself and keep using it as a template.
In this lesson, we will see the 10 most important rules - or tips and pitfalls to creating the WBS. There is only one way to become good at creating WBS - and that is to practice and practice. This lesson will teach you some very important guidelines on how to create a great WBS.
Rule 1. create wbs with your team - not alone - as you want their complete involvement and understanding
Involve your team in the planning stage of the project. Build the WBS interactively by first defining what deliverables need to be created. You will have a more complete WBS and a team that understands what they need to do.
Rule 2. wbs should have atleast 3 levels - highest level is the project itself
For medium to large projects you might have several levels more - depending upon both the complexity and the size of the components.
Rule 3. Don't confuse WBS to a task
WBS is a work component that will be decomposed into tasks. This is also a pitfall that awaits many project managers. For example the "Registration Page" is a WBS item - but not "Write bad password lockout logic". The latter is a task and you should not look at tasks while creating WBS.
Rule 4. Naming Convention: Name a WBS item as a noun (and not a verb)
This makes it very easy to identify WBS items and tasks on the project schedule in the future. Again taking the same example - "Registration Page" is a noun - but "Write bad password lockout logic" uses a verb at the beginning.
Rule 5. The WBS lists your work breakdown, the task list is the breakdown of the WBS into actions
This is almost a repeat - but is a very frequent pitfall - to elaborate on this, tasks belong to the Project Schedule - don't do task breakdown while doing the WBS. Schedule comes AFTER the wbs.
Rule 6. The 100% Rule:
Each lower level of decomposition must represent all of the work of the higher-level element; conversely, all higher-level scope must be reflected in one of the lower-level elements. This is called the 100% rule, which ensures that all of the scope has been captured and that nothing unnecessary is included.
Rule 7. WBS is almost never complete or right in the first iteration.
The more you learn about your project - the more you will alter your WBS. This is absolutely great - and you should be prepared for this.
Rule 8. Tasks have to be small enough to be assigned to individual resources - NOT the WBS
Please read this carefully. You should decompose WBS items only enough that they make logical sense as a component and not more than that.
Rule 9. The lowest level of the WBS—the work package — will be represented by a summary task on your Project plan.
This is a great tip especially if you are going to use a tool such as Microsoft Project to create your Project Schedule in the next step. Each of your WBS work packages should become a summary task. Summary tasks are collections of logically grouped tasks.
Rule 10. The 8/80 Rule:
This is the single most asked question everywhere about WBS decomposition: "When should I stop?" The answer to this given in a thumb rule: the 8/80 rule says that "All work packages should be greater than 8 hours and lesser than 80 hours". This should give you a fair indication of when you can stop working on the WBS.
So, in this lesson, we have seen 10 rules or tips and pitfalls of how to create the WBS - and also on when to stop. The next step after WBS is to create the project schedule. Please ask your questions in the comments section - share your own WBS with the rest of the learners on this course. It is very helpful if you share and also see the WBS that others are creating to improve your skills on the WBS.
In the previous section, we have seen how to create tasks in Project. We have seen different types of tasks, task modes, different ways of creating tasks and different ways of organizing them.
In most cases, the tasks in a project are related to each other, and the relationships between them drive the schedule for the project. You will find very few tasks in isolation, if any at all.
The relationships between the tasks are called "task dependencies" or "task links".
Project offers four kinds of task dependencies: finish-to-start (FS), start-to-start (SS), finish-to-finish (FF), and start-to-finish (SF).
The next step in building a project schedule is to create dependencies that reflect your actual project scenarios.
Let us first see the simplest way in which to create a dependency. First select the tasks to be linked - here on this screen I have some tasks that we can see being linked in various ways.
The first 2 tasks "Get Budget Approval" and "Initiate Project" - are syntactically to be linked. I will select them both and on the Task tab, in the Schedule section, click this icon called Link.
The icon looks like a chain link - and does precisely that. It creates a dependency between the two tasks. You can see that in the Gantt Chart, an arrow mark has appeared from the end of the first task to the start of the second task.
When you click on the link button - it creates a finish to start (FS) link by default. This is the most common type of dependency and is the default type of dependency that Project uses. In a finish-to-start dependency, the second task in the relationship can't begin until the first task finishes.
So, in this case, the project initiation (i.e. task two) can start when the budget approval is completed (i.e. task one).
Let us now look at the other types of dependencies.
There is another view that Project provides us for conveniently setting a Task's details. Select task ID 4 and click on the View tab. Now, you can see a checkbox called Details in the Split View section.
When you turn this checkbox on - the Task Form split window opens up. This window can be toggeled OFF or ON at any time by going to the details button as shown just now.
If you get "Resources and Successor" here, just right click and select "Predecessor and Successor".
Now, first confirm in the Name box that you are working on the correct task. Then in the Successor Name column, click to open a drop down box, with all the task names. Select the ID 5 task "IT Infra Plan for Approval".
Once that is done, we can click on the "Type" column to select the type of dependency link. I will select the Start-to-Start (SS) dependency. This is because, these two tasks which require getting approvals from 2 different departments - to start together.
Just to clarify, Start-to-start (SS) dependencies are used when the second task in the relationship can't begin until after the first task in the relationship begins. Start-to-start dependencies don't require that both tasks start at the same time. They simply require that the first task has begun, in order for the second task to begin.
Now, let us the next type of dependency. We will link the next 2 tasks to demonstrate a finish-to-finish dependency. If one of your tasks can't finish until another one finishes, you can use a finish-to-finish (FF) dependency between them. Finish-to-finish dependencies don't require that both tasks be completed simultaneously. They simply require that the first task be finished, in order for the second task to finish.
The second task can finish any time after the first task finishes.
Now, we have linked these two tasks.
The last type of link is the Start-to-Finish (SF) dependency.
When you use this type of dependency, you are saying that the second task in the relationship can't finish until the first task starts. However, the second task can finish any time after the first task starts. This reverses the time order of the two tasks. You should not be using this dependency very often and should carefully validate this type of link if you are required to use this.
I will link the last two tasks with an SF dependency and you can see how this looks. Let us take a moment to see all the links on the Gantt chart. The FS link - SS, FF and finally SF links.
We have seen how to create task dependencies and create four different kind of dependencies. These four types are shown in this project on the screen, Finish to start, Start-to-start, Finish-to-finish and Start-to-Finish.
When you set up task dependencies, there may be some successor tasks that cannot be started until after a delay that follows the conclusion of their predecessor tasks. These types of delays are more common in Finish to start and Finish to finish tasks.
Such a delay is called as a "Lag time". This is a delay between two tasks that are linked by a dependency.
For example, in the first case let us assume that there will be a 5 day delay between the first task to get a budget approval - and the second task i.e. initiating the project. Let us see how to reflect that lag time.
We will first select the task on the table - and then go over to View tab. Then click on the Details checkbox to open up the Task Form. Here I can see a column called Lag.
I will enter 5d there to mean the 5 day delay and click OK.
Now you can see in the Gantt Chart, that the Lag time has been neatly replicated by the arrow and the second task has been pushed accordingly to a new date.
There is one more situation that we need to consider and that is Lead time. This is an overlap between two tasks that are linked by a dependency.
For example let us look at one more case here of which are linked by a Finish-to-start dependency. Let us say, in this case that I can actually start the second task i.e. Database design after a part of the first task i.e. Interface Design has started.
What that means is that I don't have to wait for the first task to completely finish before I start the second task. In this case, what I will do is I will again open the task Form like this - and in the Lag column, enter a negative lag. A negative lag is nothing but a lead time.
I will enter 2 days here.
And when I click OK, we can see that an overlap has been created between the two tasks on the Gantt chart. And this shows the usage of Lead time.
There are another few points to note.
Instead of setting lag and lead times in days or hours - you can do so by percentage. For example to say 1 day out of 4 - you can instead write 25%. And in this case Project will calculate accurately and reflect it in the schedule.
Secondly, leads and lag times can only be set between 2 tasks. You can not do this with more than 2 tasks at a time.
Finally, there is a an easy shortcut to set lag times. Just double-click on the link arrow in the Gantt Chart - and you can directly set a lag time.
So this is how lag and lead times can be used to fine tune our schedule in Project 2013.
When you start building a project schedule - it can quickly get difficult to analyse. This is often because of the links between tasks and also because of the number of tasks on your list.
There are some nifty ways in which Project allows you to simplify the views. This makes it easy for you to share project information to various stakeholders - such as your team members and to the higher management or your customers.
Let us first start with a great feature called as the Timeline.
To turn this feature on, we first click on the View Tab. And here in the split view section, there is a checkbox for Timeline. When you check this ON - a new window appears where the schedule is represented chronologically.
This is a great view to show different phases of a project - and captures a lot of high level information in a quick pictorial representation. There is a lot more that you can do with Timelines - like adding callouts to interesting dates or tasks - and you can do that by going to the Format tab.
Now, I will switch the Timeline OFF, while we look at more features.
In the View tab, this Data tab, allows you to sort and filter tasks in a great variety of ways. You can chop and dice the schedule information with a lot of flexibility.
For the Gantt Chart itself, the taskbars will always horizontally coincide with the table tasks. However, for schedules that extend over a lengthy period of time, you will end up scrolling left and right often.
For example, if I scroll down here, you can see that the Gantt chart taskbars goes out of view. There is a great small handy utility to use for this.
Select the task first, then click on the Task tab, on the right side of the ribbon, you will find this button called "Scroll to Task". When you click this - it will get your taskbar into view.
One more thing that comes in handy while reviewing the Gantt Chart is to use the Timescale drop down in the View Tab. This allows you to see just as much of detail as you choose at one view. For example, you can drill down into tasks right from Years at a time - to quarters, months all the way to hours.
A quicker way to do this is to use the familiar zoom control bar at the bottom right hand corner of the chart.
So, in summary, Project not allows you to build-in a great amount of detail into your project - but also allows you to sort and organize the way it is presented visually in a great amount of ways.
Microsoft Project's power lies in its ability to create and maintain automated schedules. This allows you to manage all aspects of a task list with dependencies and resource allocations.
However, some times, you will want to control the start or end dates of a project explicitly yourself. Manual tasks are one way of doing this - and you can use them for some situations and set particular dates yourself.
There is one more method to do this control - and that is through Date Constraints.
On the screen, I have two simple tasks which are linked to each other and let us see a simple example of how date constraints can be created and used.
This can be best understood by opening a view called the 'Task Details Form'. To open that view, first I click on the View tab, then click on the Split View's Details checkbox here - then, from the drop down box, select more views - and choose 'task Details Form'.
This view 'Task Details Form' shows constraints very clearly.
No for a quick moment, let us click on the Constraint dropdown and look at the options for a bit. You can see that project allows for 8 different types of date constraints - and they are structured like these in the box.
Constraints are of 3 types - flexible, semi-flexible and inflexible constraints. We will look in more detail in a while.
Let us select the first task on the work list - and we can see that when it is selected the constraint associated is "AS soon as Possible". This is the most flexible of constraints and is the setting done by Project by default for all tasks.
OK, now, let us look at the second task - 'Onsite travel'. Currently it is automatically scheduled by Project to start as soon as possible, that is when task one ends - on 6th of March.
Now if the resource assigned to this task can only travel after the 11th of March. I will change this start date for the task.
As soon as I change the date - 3 things happen.
First, the constraint has changed to 'Start No Earlier than'. Second, on the Gantt Chart the link arrow has moved accordingly.
Third, if you look at the task on the table, a new calendar icon has appeared on the Indicator column. This icon denotes a constraint - and if I hover the mouse over it, it shows the constraint description.
When it comes to scheduling, the more flexibility you have in your project's dates, the better. Given that, it is often best to leave the constraints set to As Soon As Possible, if you are scheduling from the project start date, or As Late As Possible, if you are scheduling from the project finish date.
A note of caution: It is very easy to introduce constraints on the schedule - without your intention. For example, let us say I dragged this taskbar on the Gantt Chart - Project immediately introduces a constraint.
I will remove the details split window now.
So, you should keep an eye out for constraints in your schedule. If you find something introduced unintentionally, I will show a quick way for you to remove it
Just double-click on the task - and the Task Information dialog box opens up. In the Advanced Tab, click on the constraint type and change it to 'As soon as possible'.
When you make this change - it effectively asks Project to resort to it's automatic scheduling and removes the date constraint.
So, in this lesson we have seen how we can take control over Project's auto scheduling - and introduce date constraints to better reflect our actual project.
Resources are the people, facilities, materials, and equipment that are assigned to work on a task of a project.
Although it is possible to create a schedule in Microsoft Project without assigning resources to the tasks, doing so will mean that we can tap into a lot more of Project's capabilities.
Project provides a special view to manage the resources planned and allocated on a project. To see this, we first click on View Tab and
There are three fundamental types of resource classifications that are provided by Project.
The first type - and most common, is the Work resource. Work resources are resources that are not consumed at the completion of their assigned task and are available to be assigned to future tasks. Also, work resources are assigned to tasks by units of time - such as days or hours on the task. The ultimate example of a work resource is people. Machinery and computer workstations are also examples of work resources.
The next type of resources are Material resources. These on the other hand, are consumed or used up as a task progresses. Work assignments happen by units of quantity. printing ink, software annual subscriptions, concrete and camera film are examples of material resources.
The last is Cost Resource. Cost resources represent additional costs incurred on a task. For example consider a task called "Onsite Client Meetings", - which will incur a flight, hotel stay and per diem expenses as per the company policy. Now Project allows us to tabulate these costs also.
One thing to notice is that we need not set up a monetary amount for the Cost resource in this sheet. This is because by their very nature, cost resources can fluctuate - for example the hotel stay cost can not be determined upfront and will be known only after actual reservation happens. So it is perfectly OK for the cost resources to not have monetary values here.
A last point to note about this view is that the resources defined within the Resource Sheet view detail what resources are available to the specific project you are working on. This view does not specifically define which resources are assigned to tasks, but rather which ones are available to be assigned.
Work resources are the most common type of resource types to be used on projects - and when you add a new resource, Project assumes them to be work resources by default.
Work resources are those resources that are allocated based on time - as against quantity. The most common type of work resources are people.
You can see on this table, that we have a column called as Resource Names - and correspondingly on the Gantt Chart you can see taskbars have names next to them. This is how a schedule will look AFTER resource allocations are made.
But how do we go about creating new resources and managing resources for our schedule?
Project provides a convenient view for that. Click on View tab and then the Resource Sheet.
This sheet now shows all the resources that have been created on our project - and will also allow you to create new ones conveniently.
Let's look at the columns quickly - there is a Resource Name - which is the name given to the resource. More on this in a little while.
The next column is 'Type' - which is actually resource type - and can be of one of three types - work resource or material resource or cost resource.
The Initials column is a nice convenience. You can choose to show these short initials in other views. For example on the Gantt chart, choosing to show the initials instead of the full name can make the view less cluttered.
There is also a group column - which is useful to classify resources by their skillset or specific teams or any other fitting grouping. For example, if you have outside vendors or contractors, you can show that here.
There are a couple of advantages to use groups - you will see that you can filter and sort work accomplished by these groups. Another thing is that when costs have been assigned you can analyse costs by groups. So this is great when you will want to analyse the project in different ways.
There are 3 columns that we can use to set costs and are pretty much straightforward here - you can set resource costs as standard, overtime - and cost/use which is more useful with material resources.
Now let us see an example of creating a Work resource. In the Resource Name column, I will type in the name 'UI Designer'. And when I press enter, I see Project has filled in default values for most of the columns.
You can see Project defaults to "Work" resource and in this case that is what we wanted. So we will leave it as it is.
Couple of other points to note: Here we see all names in this sheet are currently generic names. That is we have Management, Developer, Tester - which are generic and not the names of specific people. This is great when you are starting a project schedule - and you want to identify the work related requirements.
At a later stage, when your schedule has acquired more stability - you can actually look at the staffing. That is, instead of generic skill set names, you can change that to real people names. This is just a best practice. You can however start with real names if you want right from the beginning.
The second point is that Project puts in the first letter of the name into the Initials column. This is not really great because you will very quickly have duplicates and it will mess up your Gantt chart views if you use initials. So, you will want to give some unique initials here.
There is one another important feature in this sheet. Based on the values you configure for your resources here, Project automatically calculates how much working time is available for each resource on this project.
How does Project do this?
The column 'Max' here actually stands for 'max. units' - and what it means is how much of the resources time is available to work on the project.
For example, if this is 100% it means that the resource will work for all their available time on this project.
And if this is set at 50% it means the resource will only work half their time on the project. For example, for a normal work week of 40 hours, if the 'Max' is set to 50% it means the resource only has 20 hours to work on the project.
Project uses this 'Max' column in conjunction with the 'Base' column to calculate the available work hours. The 'Base' here means the base calendar that is applicable to the resource. We have seen that we might have multiple calendars configured on the project - and we can also have resource specific calendars.
For example, Project makes available 3 different calendars Standard, 24 hours and Night shift.
So, the total work hours availability for a resource would be an automatic calculation based on the max availability and the specific calendar assigned.
There is another way that complete details of a resource can be recorded and made availability for scheduling.
First select the complete resource row by clicking like this. Then, double click anywhere on the row to open the Resource Information dialog box.
Here you will see 4 tabs that capture mostly everything you will want to customize for the resource. You can actually map the resource to your organizations outlook address book if you want to do so.
You can also see a small checkbox here - which you can check ON - to denote if this resource is generic or not.
There is also a tab for costs where you can setup one or multiple cost rates based on different modes of work or skillsets or time periods. I will close this box for now.
Let us go back to the Gantt chart view now - to see one more feature when working with resources.
I will scroll down to this task. Now in the Resource Names column, I can actually just type a new name - and Project will accept it. Project actually creates a new work resource for you.
Many a time, this is not what you will want. Because if the name has a typo for an existing resource - you end up with a new resource without any warning - when all you wanted to do is assign the task to an existing resource.
So, there is a way to get around this situation.
Let us open the Project Options dialog box by clicking on File tab, and then on Options.
Here in this dialog box, go to Advanced and General Options. Here we can see the control for 'Automatically add new resources'. Here it is checked ON by default - and if we toggle that checkbox, we get the behaviour we want.
That is if you add a name that was not actually already in the resource sheet for us - Project will prompt us if we want to add a new resource. And we can decide accordingly.
So, in this lesson, we have seen the resource sheet in detail. We have also created a new work resource and seen how to configure the resource. We also saw how a little of how resources can be assigned to tasks easily and how the assigned resources look on the Gantt chart.
Material resource is a type of resource that is consumed by an assignment in the project. That is after that project is completed - the same material resource will not be available again for another project.
For example, if we are printing technical manuals as a part of the project - then printing ink cartridges are a material resource on the project. And after the assignment has been completed, the print cartridges have all been used up.
We can easily create any number of material resource on our project. To see this in action, let us first go to the resource sheet.
Here I will select a new row at the bottom and type in the name 'Printer Ink Cartridges'.
When I press enter, Project makes an assumption and fills the type as 'Work' by default.
But this is not what we want - so I will change it Material. When I do this, a few column entries vanish again. You can see the calendar entry 'Base' has become empty and so is the overtime cost - as they don't make any relevance to a material resource.
I want to fill the standard rate at $500 for a carton of printer cartridges. One more thing I can do is - in this column named "Material" - I can add a small note to myself. This column actually stands for Material Label - which means it is a small label - and Project will pretty much ignore it.
So, that's how easy it is to create a material resource on our project. We can assign a material resource to a task in the schedule. But material resources never affect the schedule like work resources do. However, material resources make an impact on the costing of the project.
In this lesson, we will look at cost resources and how to use them in our project to make accurate plans for costs predicted and incurred on our project.
Cost resources are different from both both Work and material resources in a couple of different ways. First, cost values need not be determined until the actual assignment occurs.
Second, cost resources can have different values for different assignments.
This will make perfect sense when we look at some examples.
Now, let us see this project schedule on the screen. Here we have two summary tasks - the first one for an onsite visit to the customers location and the second for another trip to the organization's Head Office in another city.
Now, since visits are involved - we will want to plan, record and track the costs incurred.
The cost resource is perfect for this situation and let us see how to do this. First we head over to the Resource Sheet.
Here I already have one work resource for the Project Manager - I will change the default Initials to PM - and the standard cost to $50/hr.
Now let us add the cost resources.
First I add "Airfare" - you can see Project defaults this to "Work" resource type - and we have to manually change this to type "Cost". When we do this - there are only two fields to manipulate here - the initials and the accrued value. I will just change the initials to "airfare".
Second, I will add another cost resource in the same fashion for "Lodging".
Now, lets look at this column called "Accrue at": prorated means the cost value accrues over the length of the project. For airfare and lodging both I want the amount accrued at the beginning of the task - so I will change them to "Start".
The second thing to notice is that Project does not expect you to enter a cost value here. We can do it at the time of resource assignment. So will leave everything as it is for now.
Now, lets head over again to the Gantt view.
First I select the task "Client visit" and turn on the details split window. <View tab - Details checkbox>.
I will add the first cost resource by selecting from the drop down box here. Once I have entered the resource, I have to explicitly click on OK button before I am able to enter the cost. Now my airfare from India would be about a $1000 dollars so I will enter that.
Similarly, I will enter the lodging cost. And click OK.
If you see over at the Gantt chart, the cost numbers are starting to appear on the chart.
Now I will proceed for the task "Headoffice visit" - and in the same way add airfare and lodging. But because this is a different location, my airfare and lodging charges are totally different - at 200 dollars each.
I will close the details window now.
So, we have seen how cost resources can have different values at the time of assignment.
Now, Project provides one more great view for you to look at cost assignments. If you head over to the Resource Usage View on the View tab, you can see how the cost resources are lined up.
So, cost resources are the correct and easy way to track your expenses on a project - and the cost incurred need only be recorded when the resource assignment needs to be done to the task.
Microsoft Project is at heart a scheduling engine. A scheduling engine is a tool that helps you “model” the actions you need to perform to achieve a goal. This “model” enables you to plan actions prior to making them.
This lesson helps you gain an understanding of the background behind resource scheduling and the calculations that Project makes when you assign one or more resources to a task.
In previous sections, we have seen lessons first on creating tasks, then we saw how tasks can be linked and model their dependencies.
Subsequently we have learnt how to create different types of project resources. Now, we will see how to put them all together. Your project schedule will start to take life when tasks are assigned to resources.
In this lesson, we will see 3 different ways to assign resources to tasks. They will all accomplish the same thing - that is assign a resource to a task.
We will see the first method now.
On the screen, this is the Gantt chart View with the Entry table. I have a created tasks and linked them also - based on their dependencies. Now, I need to assign them to resources.
I have also created some resources - let us have a quick look. I will open the Resource Sheet from the view tab to see the resources.
You can see I have some work resources for people - and I have a couple of Material resources also.
Now going back to the Gantt view - on the right, there is a column on the table called Resource Names and I can I can directly assign resources to tasks here.
If I click on this cell, a drop down list appears with resource names and check boxes. I can assign one or more directly here. I will select Project Manager and press enter.
As soon as I do that, you can see the Gantt chart will also reflect the assignment. One nice thing about this is - I can just drag the assignment like this - and make multiple task assignments very easily.
Let us look at one more method to make resource assignments.
To do that, we will go to the Resource tab and click on the "Assign Resources" button.
The "Assign Resources" dialog box opens up.
Let us observe this dialog for a bit. You can see the selected task name appears at the top. In this case I have selected "Documentary summary" task. I can also click back on the table to select a different task like this and the name will change.
There are a couple of options hidden here - you can open it to see. You can click on the the "Available to work" checkbox to see specifically those resources who have the hours of work availability. This option is particularly useful when you are approaching the later stages of your scheduling work and you want to find resources who have free time to work on the task.
For now, we will select the Business Analyst for this task. And when it is assigned, you can see the Units and cost also populated automatically.
The nice thing about this is - I can change the units here if I want conveniently. But just to note - changing units will impact the duration of the project.
So, if I close this box now, we see that the assignment has been done correctly on the Gantt Chart.
Now, we can see the third method of resource assignment. To do this, I will open up the Task Form. This is available from the details checkbox on the View tab.
We have opened the task form now. In the left hand column, I can click in the first row and again, a resource list drop down is presented to us to make a choice.
I will select the resource. In this view, if you remember from previous lessons, we have to explicitly click OK for every resource.
Let us see one more point of interest. I will select a material resource - in this case I will select the Print material and set the quantity.
Now, when I close the split window by turning off the checkbox, on the Gantt Chart we see the resource allocation has been done correctly.
SO, in this lesson we have seen three ways of doing the same job - that is assigning resources to tasks. The second method of using the "Assign Resource" dialog has the most controls.
For the fastest way, you can use the first method of directly assigning in the entry table.
Team planner is a special tool that is provided specifically in Project Professional . It is not available in Project Standard.
Team planner helps you as a project manager to see clearly and quickly what your team is doing at any given point in the project schedule.
To go to the Team Planner view, click on the View tab - and in the Resource Views you will see this button Team Planner - so click it.
On the top left side, we see that all 7 work resources available on this project are listed.
And on the top right side, we see that each resource has a corresponding swim lane that is marked by a time line. This is where the tasks assigned to a resource will show up.
For example, for the PM, we see 1..2..3..4 tasks have been assigned.
Similarly we see Business Analyst has 1 and Sales Officer has 3 tasks assigned.
Now, looking at the PM's tasks closely, we see there are multiple colours here. This is basically to indicate completion. The first task is 100% complete and the second task is 50% complete.
Another thing to notice is that the Sales officer has two task boxes lying on top of each other. What this means is that he has 2 tasks of the same duration to be done on the same day.
This is an example of over-allocation. And this overallocation is what you as a good project manager are here to identify and avoid.
No Project makes us aware of this problem in several ways, by marking the resource's name in red - then outlining the task also in red. A quick view on the Gantt Chart View also shows that these tasks have a "red man" indicator for these tasks.
Now we can solve this problem by setting a new start time for one of these tasks.
There is one another way to prevent this problem. Click on the Format tab and you will see a button called "Prevent Overallocations".
Watch closely what happens when I click on this button.
The second task that was causing the overallocation has been moved down the timeline and adjacent to the previous task for Sales Officer - and so the over allocation has been resolved.
Also, the red warning indicators have been removed.
While this looks great, I would not recommend using this tool for 2 reasons. The first reason is that for projects even slightly more complex than this one - it becomes difficult to analyze all the changes done by automatic re-allocation.
The second reason is - suppose you make some 20 changes in the Gantt Chart view - with this feature ON, and when you come in to the Team Planner, automatically the schedule will be re-aligned if over allocations are present - and you will not know how the changes are made.
So team planner is fantastic for visual analysis - however I would not use the auto scheduling features in this view.
One of the key challenges while creating schedules with resource allocations is preventing, identifying and resolving work over-allocations.
What is an over-allocation? This is a situation when a resource is assigned more work than what is available in a work day or a work week.
Over-allocations are a much too common problem in project management. And they lead to several problems - the first one is that your schedule will be unrealistic. Secondly, over-allocations might lead to burn out situations of resources.
Project does a great job in identifying over allocations and provides you with several views in which you can analyse which resources are over allocated, what tasks are causing the over allocations and what are the dates when over-allocation is occurring.
Armed with this type of information, you can resolve the over-allocations. You can either assign the work to someone else, or you can re-schedule the work to a later date - or some other solution as suitable to the particular situation.
On the screen, we have a project schedule Gantt chart view with the entry table open.
Here the first observation is that in the Indicator column - we see a "red man indicator" for a few assignments. This is the first indicator that over-allocations are present in the schedule - and we must take action.
We must first identify which tasks, who is assigned to it and when the over-allocations are occurring. There is a great view for that - and it is the Resource Usage View.
First, click on the View tab and then on the Resource Usage button. The initial tasks shown are yet unassigned and we will scroll down until we get to the Resources listing.
Now, let us understand this a bit. The PM resource is not over-allocated because there is no red indication. Neither is the Marketing manager.
But the Business Analyst and Chief Sales Officer are in red because over-allocation has occurred.
How do we analyse this?
If you see in the Gantt Chart - the granularity on the time scale is day level. If you look at the values for 9th of March - we see 16 hours of work allocated for that particular day. This is what is causing the over-allocation.
Once this day and task is identified, now you will have to move the task to a different date OR perhaps hand the task over to a different resource.
This process is to be repeated for all the resources and for all the tasks that have been over-allocated.
When the project has many resources and it gets complicated who has over-allocations - there is a way to simplify this view.
What we need to do is filter in only the resources that are over-allocated and leave the others out of the view.
We can do that by using the filter on the ribbon. Here we can click on the small arrow for a drop-down and select "Over-allocated resources". This will only show the required rows. We can see the tasks by double-clicking on the names - and then take suitable action.
Identifying and resolving over-allocations is one of the important things that need to be done on a schedule. And Project provides multiple views and tools to identify where allocation issues are occurring and empowers you to build a realistic project schedule.
During Project scheduling, we often come across tasks that can be assigned to multiple resources.
There are typically 2 reasons for this - firstly to distribute the work load between the assigned resources such that the time taken to accomplish the task gets shortened proportionately.
The second reason might be that the resources skillsets and inputs are required only but not to make the task any shorter. The most common example of this is for meetings - where the meeting is of a fixed length and doesnt get reduced because of the number of attendees.
Microsoft Project conveniently allows you to specify which tasks are effort driven or not.
Before we look at a couple of example, let us take a quick moment to remember the basic Project work formula which is Duration = Work / Units.
OK, looking at this schedule that I have on the screen, I have some tasks which have been assigned.
Let us look at Task ID 7 - "Create Requirements Document" - which is assigned to the PM. Let me turn the Task Form on to understand this better. I switched it on from the Details checkbox on the View tab.
Now, this task is of Duration 4 days and assigned to PM only. The PM's units are 100% which means he will be working full time on this task. Also notice that this task is effort driven because this checkbox is turned ON.
Let me say, I am going to assign the Marketing Manager also to this task. When I click OK, I see a few things impacted.
Firstly, the duration reduces to 2 days from 4 days. Secondly, these changes are reflected on the Gantt chart, we see 2 resources and a shortened task bar.
You will get an extra prompt from Project - to confirm if this is what you wanted.
Let us see one more example. I will select task Id 3 - "Project definition Workshop" - this is really a meeting - and we will need to invite several people to attend. But, the length of the workshop will not reduce when a new resource is assigned to it.
In the Task Form, the first thing I will do is to turn off the effort-driven checkbox.
Next I will add the Marketing Manager and click OK. The duration remains the same. It did not become half-day just because now 2 resources are assigned to it.
I will add one more resource the Software Architect also - and click OK. Now 3 resources are assigned to the meeting - but as correctly expected the duration of the task is unaffected.
Now, by default, for most projects, what you want for majority of your tasks is Effort driven scheduling - this is a closer reflection of real-life scheduling. And, non-effort driven are generally exceptions - such as meetings and workshops.
There is a convenient setting in Project Options where you can set the default. I go to file tab and Options to open the dialog box.
Here in the Schedule tab, there is a checkbox for "New tasks are effort driven" - and you will want to keep it turned ON. As a best practice, you should also inspect this setting when you inherit a project file from another source and are required to maintain it.
Srikanth's recent leadership role as Senior Software Delivery Manager for one of the World's Largest Learning Management System implementation for online structured higher education - with more than 400,000 students pursuing online Masters/Bachelors and Certificate for one of India's largest and most diversified Education Providers with a global footprint in countries including the US, Singapore, UAE-Dubai, Malaysia etc.
Srikanth has directly managed clients including Telegraph Media Group UK, Microsoft, Yahoo, Marriott, Expedia, British Airways, Precise Media Group UK, Sequoia Media Group US, Tesco, and Hooper Holmes Inc. Managed teams sized in excess of 50, cross functional and projects/products in excess of 15 million USD.
Srikanth has over 18 years of experience in Software Delivery Management, Project Management, design and architecture, development of software solutions, spanning high-transaction enterprise level applications to standalone product development. He has extensive exposure to successful Program/Project management techniques such as PMP and Prince2; Experience in various software development methodologies like ISV Product Lifecycle, traditional Waterfall, Agile (Scrum and DSDM).Extensive experience in Proposal Engineering – effort, schedule and pricing estimations using WBS, COCOMO, pre-sales and customer relations – specially in Off shoring model. Specialties: Proposal Engineering, Product Development, Client relationships, high complexity and visibility software delivery management, architecture and design.