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.
A review from a MS Project learner in my course: "I know the above tag is a oxymoron but then it is.
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
Learn Microsoft Project 2016 to create INCREDIBLY POWERFUL project schedules.
From another learner:
"Thanks for this superb course - I needed to get fully hands on with MS Project fast - and this course has me up and running like nothing else. Have become quite proficient and have others in the office asking my help. Highly recommend this course." - by Chia Lin
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Important information before you enroll:
"Excellent course. A well-chosen level of information: from the basic (but not obvious) to advanced (but without a huge amount of details, which are not possibly to remember). Very good way of communication. No inconveniences often encountered in other courses like the useless movements of the mouse, clicking on everything what’s possible, repeating sentences several times etc...Thank you very much." - by Mr. P. Nowakowski
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In this lesson, we will dive directly into the course by creating our very first simple project plan.
I will start by firing up Microsoft Project. You will see the splash screen briefly while the software loads up.
This first screen you see now is called as the "Backstage". And this screen will help you create a new file for your project.
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!
OK - now our plan has 10 tasks all together. You can get all of these docs from the exercise files - and recreate this exercise.
One simple thing to notice is that Microsoft Project highlights the changes made in the last step with this light blue color - that you can see here. It is nothing but a visual indication to you...
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."
Take this self-practice Quiz. - and test your fundamentals.
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.
Project Plan Design/Philosophy:
You want to create a plan so that:
a. You do not miss out any due diligence while purchasing the car
b. You want to do everything systematically - in the right order
c. All necessary tasks have to be completed - financial, legal, safety
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.
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.
Take this practice quiz to test your learning.
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.
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.
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.
Take this practice quiz to test your own learning.
The learning objectives of this section are:
1. You will learn an important technique to create a new Project file by importing from an Excel file. This is very important when you run teams in a corporate setting - and in many other real life scenarios.
2. You will do the next hands-on exercise from start to finish - which will be different from earlier projects because you will be using a vendor to do the bulk of the project.
3. You will learn about recurring tasks - a very common usage in your projects.
4. You will learn visual task formatting techniques.
5. Finally, we will look at some simple task manipulations.
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.
For these situations, Microsoft Project 2016 makes this possible very easily - and you can import all that data into a project plan.
In this lesson, we will do 3 main tasks - that is summarize, assign and link all the tasks into a complete Project file!
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.
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.
Sometimes, you will want to change the default look and feel of your Project Schedule. For example, you may want to highlight some important task on your schedule - or you may want use some company standard branding for your file - or you may want to increase the legibility of your schedule before you share it with the outside world.
For any reason that you want to change the look and feel of your schedule - you will find all the tools you need in the "Format" tab on the ribbon - to customize every imaginable visual aspect of your schedule.
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 -
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.
On the screen I have the "Overview" text file. As always, this describes the scenario of the project - and you should read and understand the background. We will be using the template technique to create a new file this time.
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.
You had previously seen that our schedule had the "red man" overallocation warning indicator in several places. This means that the resources have been allocated more work than can be worked in a single day! We will see now how to analyze and resolve these problems on the schedule.
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).
In order to accurately analyse your project’s progress, two things must happen. First, you must set your baseline when your schedule is complete before any work begins. Then, you must accurately track the actual progress on your project.
In this and the next few lessons we will see different ways that you can start tracking your project. We will first see the fastest ways to track status though this may not give you as much control over the details.
We continue from the previous lesson - and we will see more techniques and analysis of overallocation issues in project plans.
In this lesson, you are going to learn a new technique called as "adding lag and lead times to tasks".
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.
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".
I will demonstrate this through an example. On the screen, I have the currently running exercise file - and I will select two simple tasks - #17 and #18 - 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 at these - 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 - 'Estimate the competition'. Currently it is automatically scheduled by Project to start as soon as possible, that is when task one ends - on 23rd of March.
Now if the resource assigned to this task can only start this task on 28th 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 it is. On that basis, 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. This is an extremely common newbie mistake - of introducing unintentional date constraints in the schedule.
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.
Views within Microsoft Project determine how information is displayed. A View actually contains a Filter, Group, Table and a Screen.
So every View actually references a Table. The View may then manipulate the data within that Table by Grouping it, and / or Filtering it and specifing which screen gets displayed.
Tables within Microsoft Project are made up of sets of columns containing fields of information describing the tasks or resources within each row of the table.
Tables can be applied to Sheets or Views.
There are separate tables for tasks and for resources (for example, there is an Entry table for tasks and an Entry table for resources). A table within MS Project would be similar to a sheet within MS Excel that has pre-defined columns.
Tables are great for you to create, read, update and delete project related data and values.
We have seen in an earlier lesson that Project comes built-in a few dozens of pre-designed Tables.
However, for your particular project schedule, you might want to something extra - you might want to add a column or perhaps remove a column - or even re-order the sequence in which the columns appear.
Well actually, it is easy to all of these - and we will learn them in this lesson.
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.
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.