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This course is the FIRST, ONLY, and most comprehensive Microsoft Project course that brings the THREE ASPECTS TOGETHER - 1) Microsoft Project 2) Project Management Principles AND 3) hands-on exercises. NO OTHER book, tutorial or course offers these unique set, anywhere on the internet.
Before you read further, see what my students are saying about my Microsoft Project courses:
"Full marks - met and exceeded expectation. Gladly recommend to anyone grappling MS Project. The PDUs are a great bonus too..." - Leila Barton
"One of the best course.... Thanks instructor for shaping our career" - by Taha Syed
Microsoft Project is a beast of a software application - almost 30 years of history! Released mid-1980's on MS-DOS. So, it has every imaginable feature built into it by now - and then even some more.
My promise to you: By the end of this course - you will be incredibly comfortable with Microsoft Project - and you will be able to use Project like a BOSS. You will be able to create, manage and track world class schedules - with complex requirements of resources, allocations, budgets, reporting and tracking - all the way to project completion!!!
Do you want to Master the World's Most Popular Project Management tool? Learn Microsoft Project 2016 in this Comprehensive Course.
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A complete course is a detailed to perfection which i did not came
across many courses. Srikanth as a tutor/ trainer is very good. Highly
Recommended !!!!!" - by Hasib Patel
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|Section 1: Welcome & Introduction: Exercise 1|
In this lesson, we will dive directly into the course by creating our very first simple project plan.
Continuing with our 1st Microsoft Project exercise - in the previous lesson, we saw how to create simple tasks. Now, I will take a moment to fill up the rest of the tasks that I have lined up for this plan. And I will do it through the magic of video editing - to save your time!
|Section 2: Get the FUNDAMENTALS RIGHT!|
Learning Objectives of this Section
In this lesson 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.
As you already know, work on any project is broken up into tasks. In simple terms, you can say tasks are smallest units of work in a project. 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.
Now we come to the next important concept in Microsoft Project - RESOURCES. To execute any project we will need resources!
Resources are typically people included in your project plan. However, a resource could also include anything and everything that is used to complete a project, including, equipment, facilities and other materials (like cement or Web servers or software).
Although it is possible to create a schedule in Microsoft Project without assigning resources to the tasks. In the first exercise that we did, we did not use resources - BUT doing so will mean that we can tap into a lot more of Project's capabilities.
In the last few lessons, we learnt first what tasks are - and how to create them in your project. We followed that - with the important concept of Resources - and then, we also saw basic types of resources.
Now, in this lesson - we will learn how to tie the two together - that is - tasks and resources. When you assign a task to a resource - you are creating an ALLOCATION. This is a simple enough concept but it is very important to understand clearly.
When you as a project manager, decide that developer John will code the login page - you are making a task allocation to a resource.
In this lesson, we will begin an extremely important concept. That is "Task Dependencies".
In real life projects, almost every task will depend upon some other task. For example, let us again look at our earlier simple exercise. You can download and use this file - check that it is "Exercise 1 - TASK DEPENDENCIES" file.
In this section, over the last few lessons, we have been establishing the absolute fundamental concepts of Microsoft Project. We progressed from the basic interface of Project, then tasks, Views, Resources, Allocations and in the previous lesson - Task dependencies.
Now, finally, we come to the most important concept - project schedule.
"A schedule consists of a list of times at which tasks, events, or actions are intended to take place in the chronological order in which such things are intended to take place."
|Quiz 1||5 questions|
Take this self-practice Quiz. - and test your fundamentals.
|Section 3: Microsoft Project Plan : Exercise 2: Purchase New Car Plan: SIMPLE LEVEL|
READ this file before starting the next exercise.
SCENARIO and OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT PLAN - "Purchase a new car":
You want to purchase a new car. There are many tasks involved and you want to make a plan.
You want to create a plan so that:
In this lesson, we will dive into our next exercise by creating a new project schedule. To follow along with this lesson, download the attachments with this lesson.
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.
In this lesson, we will understand an important concept used in Microsoft Project: VIEWS.
Views display, in a particular format, a subset of the information that you enter in Microsoft Office Project.
To explain this - let us take an analogy. For this analogy, imagine that you are a Project Manager who has undertaken the construction of a new commercial building. For this building, there will be several different domains that you will be planning and designing for - for example, architectural views, floor layout plans, the electrical layout, the plumbing layout, the sewage plans, the interior design, the construction details, civil engineering plans - and so on and so forth.
In this lesson, we will start building out the 2nd exercise. There are 2 key things we will do in this lesson.
The first is that we will create tasks that make up our project schedule. Secondly, we will get a deeper understanding of the extremely important Gantt Chart view.
I urge you to also fire up Microsoft Project, keep you project exercise files handy - and follow along with this video lesson.
In the previous lesson, we added the tasks list to our Exercise 2.
At this stage of the project plan - the most common next course of action - is to do effort estimation - and then to reflect that into our project plan.
For the purpose of keeping our example simple, I am going to make 2 simple assumptions. The first assumption is that only 1 person (that is, me), is working on this project. The second assumption is that I will directly feed in the duration instead of the actual efforts.
In the previous lesson, we added task durations to all tasks in our schedule. Then we did a brief discussion on recognizing work estimates versus durations.
And now, in this lesson, we will complete the exercise - by adding resources and then building out the task dependencies.
The first thing that you will do next - is to make task allocations by assigning the tasks to resources.
There are many easy ways to assign tasks to resources - the simplest way is to directly go to the row and type in the resource name.
Congratulations - you have now finished the first 3 sections of the course. In this video, you will see the big picture view of what you have learnt so far.
You started the course by diving directly in Exercise 1 - which was intended to give you a lot of confidence with Project. Once you completed the simple exercise - you then went through a crash course of the building blocks of Microsoft Project - the basic interface, Tasks, Views, Resources, Allocations, Task Dependencies and Schedules.
Then in this current section, you took Exercise 2 - which was again a simple category project plan. This was intended to reinforce everything you had learnt so far. I trust you also have downloaded each of the files from the lessons and followed along with the lessons.
If you have doubts or seek some clarification about the lessons, do not hesitate to ask questions in the discussion board. I typically respond very fast. Asking questions, will reinforce your OWN learning - and help ALL other learners who have the same clarifications in their mind!
|Quiz 2||4 questions|
Take this practice quiz to test your learning.
|Section 4: Microsoft Project: IMPORTANT CONCEPTS|
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.
So far in our exercises we have been using Automatic tasks. I have also recommended that you change the setting to be defaulted to "Automatic scheduling" when you create new schedules.
But then what are Manual Tasks and when are they to be used? We will explore that in this lesson. You can download the exercise file with this lesson - check the file name "4.2 Project exercise 2 - Manual Tasks.mpp" as the file to be used.
|Section 5: Microsoft Project Plan : Exer 3: Office Shift Project Plan - BEGINNER LEVEL|
READ this file before starting the next exercise.
Welcome to this new Section of the course.
In this section, you will dive right into the next Microsoft Project Hands-on Exercise - which we will start and finish over the lessons in this section. This new Exercise is more complex than the ones you have seen so far.
Before you start the lessons in this section, you should download the files attached to this video - Exercise Overview text file - AND the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Excel sheet for the exercises - to be downloaded now, before you start the next lesson. I have both of these open on the screen right now. If you find them in a zipped format - just uncompress them using your favourite tool - then store them on your hard disk - and use them along with the lessons.
In this lesson, we start Exercise 3. In the downloads tab of this lesson - you will find the necessary exercise files.
First, open the Project Overview text file and read through it. The goal of this exercise is to create a project schedule for an office shift - that you as the Project Manager will be overseeing.
In the previous exercises, 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.
Almost ALWAYS, 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".
In this lesson we continue with creating the exercise. Download the file with the lesson - "5.4 Project Exercise 3 - task dependencies continued.mpp" to follow along.
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". To follow along, download and open the exercise file with this lesson. We are continuing with the same Project Exercise 3.
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: Top Down and Bottom Up design.
A Milestone is a tool used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline. This is a way in which to mark key dates and achievements on a project - perhaps some unit of work completed, reviews done or customer approval received.
In Microsoft Project 2016 - a Milestone is represented as a Task - with NO duration. And because they have no duration - Milestones will not affect your schedule in any way - other than to help you keep track of your project.
|Quiz 3||7 questions|
Take this practice quiz to test your own learning.
|Section 6: Project Plan: Exercise 4 - Summarize, Assignments and Linking|
|READ this file before starting the next exercise.
The learning objectives of this section are:
|The key objective of the exercise is to create a corporate website for your organization. Your role is "VP of Information Technology of an Electronics Hardware company".
For this project, after making a "build vs. buy" analysis - you come to the decision of outsourcing the website development to a specialist company. Please read through this file completely to get a god understanding of the exercise.
Very often we have project data that comes in from team members - or you have your own data stored in Excel workbook. Similarly, there are situations where multiple team members are giving their own work estimates in excel workbooks and as the project manager you will need to collect and combine all of that into your project plan.
|With this lesson, you will find 2 Project files with the words "Begin" and "Finished". Now, I have the "Begin" file open on the screen - and it is exactly where we left off in the previous lesson.
In this lesson, we will do 3 main tasks - that is summarize, assign and link all the tasks into a complete Project file!
|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 through.
In this lesson we will see how to automatically schedule tasks that occur with a frequency. I have the Project file open from the previous lesson. With this lesson, you will again find 2 files attached for your download.
|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.
Recurring tasks are a frequent cause of overallocation issues on the schedule. For example I do not want a 30 minute per week recurring task - to cause overallocation on the weekly task plan for a resource.
So far in this section we have been working on the exercise project - and at this stage, it is in a completed stage. In this lesson and the next, you will have a first look at the formatting features of Microsoft Project 2016.
In this lesson, I will show some quick and handy formatting tips that I use very often.
CONGRATULATIONS - YOU HAVE REACHED MIDWAY MILESTONE OF THIS COURSE!
In this lesson - we will review together -
|Section 7: Project Plan : Exercise 5: Intermediate Level: Initiation, planning, execution|
|READ this file before starting the next exercise.
|We will be starting with the next Project Exercise - and this project will be in the Intermediate level. That is, it will have more task items and complexity than the schedules you have been seeing so far. We will use an existing Template to create the Project file. Creating and using templates is an important technique used in corporate environments.
From this section onward, not only are we creating new project schedules - but we will be taking them further into the next processes of Project Management. We will see how Microsoft Project is used in the EXECUTION processes of Project Management - in this section.
There are TWO other very important concepts that you will learn in this section.
a. The first is the technique of BASE-LINING your Project Schedule. This is like taking a snapshot of your project - for future references.
b. The second technique - is how to start TRACKING project progress into your schedule. Tracking is what converts your static schedule into a live dynamic source of project information. And this is what makes Microsoft Project a powerful ally by your side.
In this lesson, you will start with the next exercise project. The download files for this exercise will be attached with the Learning Objectives lesson. I trust you will have downloaded them.
In this lesson, I am going to introduce another important view called as the "Team Planner View" - which is categorized under "resource views". You can see Project has allocated a prominent button for this view in the ribbon directly.
|And Project allows you to use a feature called "BASELINE".
Baselining allows you to keep snapshots of your project as on a specific date - all in the same file.
And the real deal winner is that Baselines will then allow you to see variances - visually, and do all sort of impressive calculations and reporting on your baselines.
|So far, in the course we have learnt from the very basics of creating a schedule - starting with a simple To Do list, creating a simple task list on Project, then linking tasks and creating task dependencies. Then we learnt assigning tasks to resources and actually creating a schedule using the power of Project's scheduling algorithms.
We also learnt how to identify and resolve some simple issues with the schedule such as resource overallocation.
All of these activities are typically done in the initial phases of the project. And this is where many project managers typically stop using Project - and they are missing out on the most powerful of utilities of the application.
Because Microsoft Project allows you to track, analyse, monitor and control through the entire length of the project lifecycle.
When you have created your schedule and set your baseline, you are ready to begin the Executing and "Monitoring and Controlling" process groups of your project. These two process groups overlap and will recur cyclically during the project life cycle. Work on a project begins (Execution), and you must track and analyse the actual work as compared to the baseline and make adjustments based on actual data (the Monitoring and Controlling part).
Sec 7 Conclusion and some Important Tips
|Section 8: Project Plan : Exercise 6 - Overallocations, Lag and Lead, Advanced TRACKING|
|READ this file before starting the next exercise.
|Welcome to this new section! This will be an extra interesting section - where we will begin some advanced techniques. So let's take a quick minute to see what you will be learning in this new section.
Learning Objective 1. Starting in the next lesson, you will build the next project exercise. This exercise will be to create a project plan for a New Business plan. You are currently in the Intermediate Level. As always, the starting files will be attached with this lesson - please download it and get an overview of the exercise we are to create.
Objective 2. Then I will continue on the subject of Templates which I had introduced in the previous section. You will go one step ahead and learn how to create your own templates.
Objective 3. Often times in your schedules, you will want to introduce some time gap between linked tasks - OR you might want to run some tasks in parallel. You can do this through a feature called as "Lead and Lag time" - and we will see how this can be done.
Objective 4: Going even beyond lag and lead times - you can do even more advanced control of the time behavior of tasks through what is called as Date Constraints.
Objective 5: As your project goes more and more complicated - you will want to get expert level control of Views and Tables of Microsoft Project 2016 - so I have included a few lessons which will show you just that.
So, there is a lot to cover in this section - lets get started! See you in the next lesson where we will dive into the next exercise.
|The scenario is - you are to create a project plan for starting a New Business. And of course, you will use Microsoft Project 2016 - to build the schedule!
To stress the importance of templates - I am going to use another of Microsoft's standard templates. When you fire up Project 2016 - if you are connected to the internet, then you will find the "New Business Plan" template - and that's what we will use.
We continue from the previous lesson - and we will see more techniques and analysis of overallocation issues in project plans.
|In the previous lesson, we resolved some issues with the project plan we had created from a standard template - that of unassigned resources and resource overallocations.
In this lesson, you are going to learn a new technique called as "adding lag and lead times to tasks".
|So far, we have made several changes to the file that we inherited from the standard template.
Let me enumerate the changes we have done:
1st. Resolved some unassigned tasks
2nd. Resolved some overallocations that were in the schedule
3rd. Some changes were made to the resources used in the project - we have gotten a little more specific about the job titles
4th. We have added some lead and lag times into our schedule.
All in all, now it is in a shape that I am happy to go to the next steps - of Baselining my project - then going for approvals from stakeholders and then proceeding to Execution stage. We will see this in the next lesson.
BUT now, I want to make this modified schedule available for others in the form of a NEW TEMPLATE. So that all the benefits that accrue from using templates can be leveraged by anyone in my organization.
|In this lesson, we will revise on the Project Tracking subject.
To follow along with this lesson, download the attached file. Set the project start date to about 10-15 days behind from whichever date you are viewing this lesson. This is just so that you can see project plan tracking in an execution mode.
|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 views. This makes it easy for you to share project information to various stakeholders - such as your team members or to the higher management or your customers.
Let us first start with a great feature called as the Timeline View. This is actually a very recent view in Microsoft Project.
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 only 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.
|At various times in a project, you will need to focus on different aspects of your tasks.
When you are starting a new schedule and want to start from a to-do list to create your tasks - you will use the Gantt Chart View. When you are creating resources on your project, you will want to use the Resource Sheet. If you are analysing task assignments, you will use a combination of the Gantt and the Resource Usage views.
If you’re having a problem with costs, take a look at Resource Usage view and insert various columns of cost information, such as resource rates and total actual costs.
What you see now on the screen is the most used view on Project and is called the Gantt Chart View. You can see two split windows with a table on the left and a chart on the right - but this is a single view and the data on the left will be reflected on the right side chart.
Let us learn how to access views in different ways in Project.
The first thing to observe that most tabs on the ribbon, have a view access button on the left hand side. This is kind-of consistent with 3 tabs - the Task tab, the Resource tab and the View tab.
So, let us begin with the Task Tab. You can see that the views button here is actually called the Gantt Chart by default itself. That is because this view is so important and central to the way Project functions.
But there is also a bottom half to the button and if you click on it, you will see a list of other popular views that you can access. Mostly, you will want to work with one of these. However, if you still can't find the view you want - there is the 'more views' link - and if you select that - a small dialog box opens up .
I will select the Network Diagram - a network diagram explains the sequencing needed for project activities and explains the planning process. You can see we can access a lot of views from the click of a button.
Let us look at the next tab on the ribbon - the Resource tab. Again, it has View section and a view button - that has the Team Planner configured by default here. The team planner view is available on Project Professional only so we get it here.
I will go to the Team Planner view - this has been explained in a previous lesson and you might like to see it if you want to refresh. This view focusses on the team members and has swim lanes for each resource where their assigned tasks get lined up on a time-line.
This view is great to see resourcing issues and free working times.
Similar to the Task tab view button - here also, resource view button has the familiar bottom half where you can additional popular resource views - and then yet more views - with a dialog pop-up.
The View tab - is where all views get centralized. You can see we actually have two sections here dedicated to views - and these are actually the same you can access from the task and Resource tabs respectively.
But where this view tab excels is that it gives you a lot of options on how to perfectly fine-tune your view on the screen.
For example, let us look at the sections - you can chop and dice the data from the Data section - for example you can apply various filters. You can also play with the granularity of views - with the Zoom section.
Many views come with multiple split windows and you can turn details on and off - and you can have an additional timeline pane on most views - with these two popular options here.
We are not done yet - there are also more ways to access views that you want. We will look at 2 shortcut methods to access views.
The first is from the right side end of the Status bar, next to the zoom control. Here you have permanent buttons for single button access to 5 of the most popular views - the Gantt chart, task Usage, team planner, resource sheet and the reports you have built.
The other shortcut method is from the Quick Access Toolbar from the top of the screen - here if I click on the arrow for a drop down and turn ON the view link - we get an additional button option - where once again we can access the most popular view.
So, we can see Project makes it super easy for you to look at a schedule from many different perspectives as required from each different stage of your project.
The Gantt Chart view is the default and is the single most used view. And this is the view into which project opens up by default.
However, you have the flexibility to change that also. Let us go to the project options dialog - by clicking File and then Options.
Here in the General tab - you can set the default view that Project will open into - and you can customize this to whatever you want - and Project will open it the next time you launch.
Views within Microsoft Project determine how information is displayed. A View actually contains a Filter, Group, Table and a Screen.
We have seen in an earlier lesson that Project comes built-in a few dozens of pre-designed Tables.
Learn how to manipulate the tables exactly how your project will demand it. You can use this to create great tables that convey a lot of information for yourself and for all stakeholders.
You can fine tune the appearance of the table values and header in a variety of ways in Microsoft Project 2016- to make it look exactly how you wish.
|Section 9: Microsoft Project Plan : Exercise 7: Training Rollout Plan: INTERMEDIATE LEVEL|
READ this file before starting the next exercise.
|Let's take a minute now to see what the learning objectives of this section are.
Firstly, we will start and complete Project Exercise 7. As always, there is an "Overview" text file attached with this lesson - that you should download and read through.
You see it open on the screen right now. The scenario for this exercise is that you will be playing the role of a "General Manager - Human Resources". And your goal will be to build a training rollout plan for the whole organization.
But this will be a special challenge to you because - unlike all the other exercises so far - I will complete only 60% of the plan - and you have to complete the remaining 50% of the plan.
Do not be worried - I trust you have diligently worked through last 6 exercises in this course and this challenge willbe a cake walk for you :-)
Exercise description, observations, objectives, assignments and Hints.
|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 Microsoft Project 2016'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 click on the "Resource Sheet" view.
There are three fundamental types of resource classifications that are provided by Project.
|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 add new work resources in several ways - as we have seen in previous lessons - the easiest way is to type in a new name in the "Resource Names" column.
Project provides a convenient view for managing all your resources.
|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 training 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.
|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.
The overall project cost is calculated by Microsoft Project automatically as the sum total of all the individual task costs.
These are pretty straightforward calculations to understand.
During Project scheduling, we often come across tasks that can be assigned to multiple resources.
|Section 10: Project Plan : Exercise 8 - Commercial Office Construction - COMPLEX LEVEL|
READ this file before starting the next exercise.
Welcome to this new section of the course. From this section onwards, we have progressed into the Advanced parts of the course. What that will mean is - the project exercises will be of "COMPLEX" category. The topics that will be taught are expert level concepts. You will also be given assignments in every exercise - and the exercises will not be of "spoonfeeding" type.
|Attached with this lesson, you can find the project exercise file. I have it open on the screen right now - and it will be good for you to do the same too.
This is project plan for a civil construction of an office building. I have used a very good pre-existing template for this exercise.
You can see from this master list of exercises - we are on the 8th one now - and this is the first of the "COMPLEX" category.
First let me walk you through this exercise project - and then I will explain the assignments you will be required to work upon.
Understanding the critical path on your project is an important concept as the critical path drives your project's end date.
The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks from start to end in a project schedule. This path or sequence of links is important because if there is a delay in any of the tasks on the project schedule, it will delay the project end date.
The other tasks are not like that - in the sense that delays on those tasks may or may not cause a delay in the final end date.
How do we identify which tasks make up a critical path? This is real easy to do in Microsoft Project. In the format tab, there is a check box for Critical path - and when this is turned ON, we can see the tasks on the critical path change to a pink colour.
The critical path is important to safeguard against delays. Also, this is where we have to look to see if we have to shorten the length of the entire project.
By definition, the critical path tasks have no slack. Let us now see how to identify tasks that do have slack.
After you have created your project schedule - you may sometimes find that there are scheduling problems with your project.
These are more often related to manual tasks. Now, you might have created manual tasks, to start with, for very valid reasons such as when you do not have enough information about the tasks at the initial phases of the project.
But, the problem with manual tasks is that Project will not manage the dates for them. And so, over time, unless you have gone back and fixed it - you will find issues with your project schedule.
How to identify where the issues are?
Sometimes during a project, a resource might be required to interrupt their current task - then jump on to another task - complete it and return back to the original task.
This happens in many situations - for instance, some examples where this might happen are:
In all these situations, the resource will be required to interrupt their current task and take on the 2nd task. An offshoot of this situation is that - if not properly handled on your schedule - it will result in an resource overallocation indication.
One of the ways to solve overallocation problems is by adding a delay to tasks.
Sometimes a resource gets scheduled to work on more than one task at the same time - and this will of course lead to overallocation issues. So a simple solution to this situation will be to find a task that can be delayed with zero or minimum impact - so that the resource can work on the tasks one after the other.
In the previous lesson, we saw how a task can be split. In this lesson, we will look at delaying a task - with minimal impact on the schedule. And I will show you 2 different tools to solve these kind of overallocation problems - where delaying a task can be done.
By default, Project assumes that when a resource is assigned to a task, the resource will work with the same work load through the duration of the task.
But, in reality the situation can be different - a common working pattern is for a slow start, peaking in the middle and then tapering off for the end of a task.
This working pattern can also vary from resource to resource - and from project to project.
Microsoft Project provides a method for you to model this behaviour into the schedule. The reason for doing so, will be to add more real-life reflection into the project schedule. Another benefit is that OFTEN, resource work overallocation issues can be resolved using this technique.
But I also want to add a note of caution, upfront - that this "Work Contours" technique often increases the duration of your task automatically - by Project's builtin algorithms. It is a useful tool but should be used being well aware of the schedule impact.
In an earlier lesson we have see two beginner level convenient methods to track and update the schedule.
Before we proceed further, in this lesson, let us look at some options that project provides that we can configure to our preference. To start off, I will first set the project start date to some days back - just for the purpose of showing the demo on this lesson - you might also want to do the same.
We will now see another feature of Microsoft Project - designed to help you resolve overallocations.
The leveling feature will add delays and splits automatically to help you resolve overallocations. It is possible to apply this to the entire project or only to specific areas of the schedule that is causing problems.
On the screen now - I have the running project execise. And the best view to see this new feature is the "Leveling Gantt view". We have already seen this view in action earlier.
Open the views dropdown on the Task tab - then open the Leveling Gantt view - as always, if you do not find it in the list - just open it from the "More Views" dialog box.
Now, since we are leveling resources - change over to the "Resource" tab.
On this tab - you can see that there is a complete section - dedicated to "Leveling". I will first start by showing all the options available to us by the "Leveling Options" dialog box.
It is possible to inactivate tasks on your schedule with Microsoft Project.
By inactivating a task, you can retain the tasks on the schedule - but they will NOT impact the timelines, or cost or resource calculations.
When exactly would you want to inactivate tasks on your project? There are several situations.
For example -
In each of these situations, if you want to bring back the tasks into your schedule again - then you can just activate them again.
Let us see an example of how to inactivate tasks.
|Section 11: Project Plan : Exercise 9 - Product Marketing Campaign Launch - LEVEL COMPLEX|
READ this file before starting the next exercise.
The key focus of this new section is Project Execution and Control.
What will the capable Project Manager do during the execution of their Project? They will diligently track progress of the project periodically - to identify variances and risks. They will report "project status" back to all the stakeholders periodically - including customer, internal management and their own teams. They will strive to control the costs, timelines and quality of their project - with an eagle eye.
And also they will steer the project towards completion.
Great! And this section will show how you can use Microsoft Project 2016 as a powerful tool - to do all of this!
Let me list out the learning Objectives in this section.
1. We will be working on the next Project exercise - which is again at a complex level. Focus will be on project execution, monitoring and closing - rather than the initial phases.
So, this section will be very interesting and productive - lets get started - see you in the next lesson where we will dive directly into the next exercise.
Our focus on this section will be Project Execution, control and closing. So, in this section we will not be focusing on the initial parts of the schedule creation. By now, you will have had sufficient practice with the earlier sections of this course. And because of this, the exercise schedule is at an almost complete state.
AS further exercise for you - I have kept some assignments. And in the next lesson, I will give more hints on how to work on them.
1. Overallocations are the single most important bane of scheduling for a project manager. This problem arises when you allocate more work hours or more tasks to any resource than they can handle in the given time period. That is the definition of the problem.
2. You MAY want to retain SOME overallocations consciously on your schedule. You might do this to highlight the crunch periods of a project - when you expect your team to work extra hours - OR when you are planning overtime hours to boost up production or for any other VALID reasons.
When you have valid reasons for overallocations - you might simply be looking to increase the ASSIGNMENT UNITS of the resource allocation. You will find more about this in the lesson on overtime coming up.
3. When overallocation is showing to a TEAM - then it perhaps NOT an overallocation. I will explain this shortly. You may or may not want to resolve these issues - depending on your team and your project on hand.
4. There are many techniques to resolve inadvertant overallocations - you have seen MANY techniques in this course.
Some techniques you have already seen in this course are - debugging shedule errors, reassigning allocations, adding delays manually to tasks, balancing allocations with the resource usage view, Automatic levelling feature, Work Contours, Using team planner view, using the "Assign resources" button to view alternate resources - and so on.
The big question in your mind will be - what should be used when?
|Changes are inevitable to a project schedule and you will find many instances when you want to update your baselines.
There may be two types of situations when you will want to modify a baseline.
The first instance is when you have created baselines - but you have NOT YET added any status values into your project schedule.
This particular case is pretty straightforward - because you do not yet have any values updated such as work progress or changes to the start and finish dates - and in such cases, you can actually go ahead and OVERWRITE the existing baseline.
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.