MS Project Training


Part 1 -The Basics of Project Scheduling

Overview and Context

  • Participants’ Backgrounds, Needs, and Expectations
  • What is a Project?
  • Recurring Theme 1 – Simplicity, Transparency, and No Loss of Control
  • Recurring Theme 2 – Effort versus Accuracy — the Asymptotic Curve

Customizing the Microsoft Windows Environment

  • Using Windows Explorer
  • File Name View Options

Opening Microsoft Project and Customizing the User Interface

  • Verifying the Version Number and the Application of Service Releases/Service Packs
  • Help Facilities — Too Much? — How To Turn Off
  • A Tour of the Screen – Names & Definitions
  • Notice lateral scroll bars at the bottom of both sides of the screen
  • Menu Bar, Tool Bars, Icons, and the View Bar. (P2010: Ribbons)
  • Turning Off Personalized Menus
  • Customizing Tool Bars (P2003-2007) and Ribbons (P2010)

Starting a New Project

  • Selecting a Project Start Date
  • Start Date versus End Date Scheduling
  • Entering Tasks – Observe What Project Does
  • Adding and Hiding Columns, and a Quick Discussion of Project’s Data Base

Durations and the Time Scale

  • Duration Defined
  • Elapsed Duration
  • The Time Scale — Various Ways to Manage It
  • The Third Timescale Level

Outlining a Project

  • Summary Tasks and Detail Tasks (“Parent” and “Child” Tasks)
  • Properties of Summary Tasks
  • Outline Levels
  • The “Line Zero” Project Summary Task
  • Viewing Outline Numbers
  • WBS Numbers and Outline Numbers — Differences
  • Viewing Outline Levels – Preview of Filters

Linking Tasks

  • Standard Links (FS) using the Link and Unlink Icons
  • Selecting Adjoining Tasks with the Shift Key
  • Selecting Non-Adjoining Tasks with the Control Key – The Order Matters!
  • Linking Graphically – Slightly Dangerous
  • Three Other Types of Links (SS, FF, and the bizarre SF)
  • Entering Links in the Task Information Box and Other Forms
  • Power Linking by Typing Directly into the Predecessors or Successors Columns
  • Linking Summary Tasks — Controversy and Confusion (“Hidden Hands”)

Adding Lags to Links

  • Lags: Positive, Negative, and Percentage
  • Combining Lags with SS and FF Link Types
  • Documenting the Reasons for Lags with Notes
  • Small Negative Lags versus Large Negative Lags
  • An Alternative to Lags

Date Constraints

  • Constraints Frequently Set in Error – By Typing or Pasting Dates
  • Eight Types of Constraints – Most of These Should be Avoided
  • When Constraints Conflict with Links – a Switch Determines Who Wins
  • When are Date Constraints OK to Use?
  • Documenting the Reasons for Constraints with Notes


  • The Purpose of Milestones – When Are They Useful?
  • Conflicting Definitions with Other Applications like MPM
  • The Milestones Filter

Working with Project Tasks

  • The Deadline Feature
  • More About Notes – Capacity and the Ability to Insert Objects
  • Adding Hyperlinks to Tasks, and How they Compare with Notes
  • Recurring Tasks
  • Splitting Tasks
  • Moving Tasks Around in a Schedule – Methods and the Level Problem
  • Moving Columns to New Positions
  • To Autolink or Not To Autolink Inserted or Moved Tasks
  • Saving Work with Autosave, and Version Control Issues
  • The Language of Tasks: When Verbs, When Nouns
  • How Logic Flows Through an Unconstrained Schedule
  • How Detailed Should Schedules Be?

The Critical Path

  • Understanding The Critical Path
  • Different Views that Show the Critical Path
  • Adding the Critical Path to the Gantt View with a Wizard
  • Microsoft’s Critical Path Options in the Tool Box (Tools-Options-Calculation)
  • The Impact of Date Constraints on the Critical Path
  • The Impact of Task Progress on the Critical Path — The Different Effects of FS and SS Links
  • The Impact of Deadlines on the Critical Path — A Departure from the Classic Definition of “Critical”
  • Elapsed Durations, ALAP Tasks, and their Effect on Critical Path


  • What Kind of Schedules Really “Need” Filters? — Large Ones!
  • Filters (1) – The “Show” Button is a Kind of Filter – Very Useful for Top-Down Analysis
  • Filters (2) – Auto filters are a Second Kind of Filter – Quick and Easy, and They Can Be Combined
  • Filters (3) – The Filter Box Lists All Standard and Custom Filters Available
  • Creating and Saving Custom Filters – Very Powerful, Very Useful for Special Views
  • What is a Highlight Filter?
  • Linking a Filter with a View

Sorting and Grouping

  • When Would Sorting be Useful
  • Sorting (1) – The Quick Sort — Several Choices in the Menu
  • Problems and Limitations with the Quick Sort
  • Sorting (2) – The Full Sort — Managing the Two Check Boxes
  • Restoring Original Line Order with the Sort by ID Option
  • The “Grouping” Function

Customizing Fields

  • Changing Field Names – 2 Ways
  • The View-Specific Change Technique — Double Click Column Header
  • The Durable Change Technique — Customizing the Field
  • Limiting Entries into Optional Fields with Data Validation
  • Adding a Formula to an Optional Field
  • Adding “Stoplight” Graphics to an Optional Field
  • Separate Customization Choices for Summary Tasks

Other Views and Display Options

  • The Calendar View
  • The Network Diagram View (Formerly Called “PERT” View)
  • The Relationship Diagram View
  • Splitting the Screen, and Managing the Two Split Halves
  • The “Arrange All” Function — For Managing Multiple Open Projects


  • The Standard Reports
  • Editing and Customizing Reports
  • Using the Gantt View instead of Microsoft Project’s Reports

Adding Graphics and Multimedia Objects to the Gantt Area

  • Adding a Text Box
  • Adding Clip Art
  • Adding Sound and Video Objects

Formatting for Printing

  • Wrapping Text to Handle Long Task Names
  • What Columns Will Appear in Print — a Big Problem Resolved
  • Gantt Bar Appearances – the Bar Styles Dialogue Box
  • Adding and Removing Text and Dates from Gantt Bars and Milestones
  • Link Appearances — Suppressing Links in Large Schedules
  • The Scaling Option – Get More Space with the Percent Scaling Tool
  • Building Headers with Variable Inserts
  • Building Footers with Variable Inserts – a Suggested Standard
  • Turning the Legend On and Off
  • The Final Setup Tab: Showing Notes, Blank Pages, Etc.
  • Last Look at Zooming – Where is the Print Date Range Dialogue Hidden?
  • Extra Polish: Adding Logos to Headers for Special Presentations
  • Formatting Options are Stored in Views

Exporting Project Images and Data to Other Applications

  • Exporting Gantt Views to Word and PowerPoint with the Camera Icon
  • Exporting with the Print Screen Key and ALT-PrintScreen
  • Exporting Data to Excel — the Outline Level Problem
  • Exporting Data to Access — the Choice of Power Users

The Organizer

  • Overview of the Organizer: the 2-Library Concept
  • What Project Does when it Looks For a New View or Filter, etc.
  • Where Modifications are Saved – the Local Library
  • What the Global Library is (GLOBAL.MPT), and Why it is Useful
  • Making Custom Filters, Views, etc. Available to Other Schedules on Your Computer
  • Sharing Custom Filters, Views, etc. with Friends and Colleagues
  • More about Views – What They Contain and What They Don’t


Part 2 – Working with Resources

The Resource Sheet

  • Entering and Naming Resources – Two Ways
  • Maximum Availability — What it Means
  • Showing Availability as a Percentage or Decimal
  • Human Resources, Fixed Cost Items, and Material Resources
  • Resource Rates and Costs
  • Adding Resource Notes

Assigning Single Resources to Tasks

  • Many Ways to Assign Resources
  • Virtues of the Resource Assignment Icon and Box
  • Adding a Resource at Less than its Maximum Availability
  • Filtering on Resources
  • Look at Project Total Cost as Resources are Added: The Statistics Box

Assigning Multiple Resources to Tasks

  • Whiteboard Lecture: The Project Triangle — Relationships Among Scope, Resources, and Time
  • Creating a Schedule for Each Task Type, With and Without “Effort Driven”
  • Watch What Happens When the Second Resource is Added – Another Big Problem Clarified

Special Tools for Resource Assignment and Cost Estimating

  • The “Usage” Views: Resource Usage and Task Usage
  • Resource Editing and Contours
  • The Concept of “Assignment”
  • Assignment Information Options
  • Five Cost Schedules

Managing Resource Workloads

  • Viewing Resource Workloads and Task Assignments
  • The Resource Graph — Note Peak Units Problem Versus Total Work
  • Analyzing Resource Conflicts With Split Screen Views
  • Whiteboard Notes: The Manager’s Knowledge and Options
  • Replacing a Resource

Resource Leveling

  • Definition and Overview of Leveling
  • Demonstration of Leveling with a Sample Schedule
  • Look at “Leveling Delay” in the Detail Gantt View
  • Leveling Options: Level Within Slack, and Other Options
  • Task Priority and How it Changes Leveling
  • Clearing Leveling – Doesn’t Always Remove Splits
  • Discussion: When Leveling Makes No Sense, and When it Might

Working with Calendars

  • Using Calendars
  • Creating a New Base Calendar
  • Setting the Overall Project Calendar in Project-Project Information
  • Assigning Resources to Different Base Calendars
  • Customizing Resource Calendars
  • Problem: A Day for You Isn’t a Day for Me: The Options Tab Controls what a Day of Duration Means
  • Problem: Assign Work to a Resource when the Resource Isn’t Working (First with Fixed Duration, Then with Fixed Units)
  • Assigning a Calendar to a Task
  • Resource Availability Dates


Part 3 – Tracking Progress

The Baseline

  • Definition and Use of a Baseline
  • Saving a Baseline
  • Saving Interim Plans
  • Multiple Baselines — Why? When These Are Useful
  • Clearing a Baseline — When and Why
  • Comparing the Baseline to Actual Data – Available Views and Reports

Tracking Progress with the Percent of Completion Method

  • Overview of the Percentage Method
  • Using the Percentage Icons
  • Inserting the % Completion Column
  • What is % Work Complete, and How Does it Differ from % Complete
  • Physical % Complete, and How it Differs from % Complete and % Work Complete
  • Summary Tasks Build Averages as Individual Tasks are Tracked
  • Percentages Translate to Costs in the Statistics Box and in Reports
  • Moving Up the Accuracy Curve — Add the Actual Start, Actual Finish, and Actual Work Columns
  • Still Greater Accuracy — Track the Hours by Resource, and Remaining Hours, with the Split Screen

Tracking Actual Hours with the Usage Views

  • Overview of the Actual Hours Method
  • Working in the Resource Usage and Task Usage Views
  • Why the Plan Changes to Equal the Actuals
  • How the Plan Reschedules Undone Work — Depends on Task Types
  • Dangers of the Percentage Icons when Using the Actual Hours Method
  • Conclusions about the Actual Hours Method

Earned Value Concepts

  • The Background for Earned Value
  • Cost Variance and Schedule Variance
  • Performance Indexes
  • The Earned Value Data Fields in MS Project
  • Companion Tools for Earned Value such as MPM — What Value Do They Add?
  • Does Anyone Use Microsoft Project Alone for Earned Value?

Progress Lines and Updating Tools

  • Adding Progress Lines to a Schedule
  • Using the “Update Tasks” Dialogue Box
  • Updating an Entire Project to a Status Date

Issues and Problems Arising With Tracking

  • Partially Complete Tasks Preceding Other Partially Complete Tasks
  • Tasks Won’t Move Once Started
  • Task Splitting to Reschedule Unfinished Portions


Part 4 – Working with Multiple Projects

Resource Pooling

  • Overview of Resource Pooling
  • Setting Up a Resource Pool as a Separate Project File
  • Linking into the Pool with Tools-Resources-Share Resources Dialogue Box
  • The Same Dialogue Box as Seen from the Resource Pool File
  • Split Screen Views in the Resource Pool — Add the “Project” Column for Clarity

Consolidating Projects

  • Consolidating the Quick Way with “New Window”
  • Observe the Simultaneity of the Consolidation and the Individual Project
  • Consolidating by Inserting Projects
  • The Outline Level Issue — Can’t Promote to the Top
  • What Happens When a File is Moved or Renamed

Links Among Projects in a Consolidation

  • Building Links Across Project Boundaries
  • Note the Information in the Predecessor and Successor Fields
  • Revisiting the Individual Projects — the Ghost Tasks and Line Numbers
  • Regenerating Broken Links with the Multiple Project Dialogue Box


Part 5 – Microsoft Project Server

Note: Project Server is the subject of a separate course, and is not covered in detail in this outline. Contact the instructor for options for learning Microsoft Project Server in detail.

Quick Overview of Microsoft Project Server

  • Overview of the Basic Concepts of Microsoft Project Server – Benefits and Problems
  • Overview of Project Web Access
  • Review of the Enterprise Functions Available in Microsoft Project without Project Server


Part 6 – Miscellaneous

Options for Acquiring Microsoft Project

  • The Trial Versions
  • Upgrading to the Next Version — Free Under Certain Circumstances


  • Consulting Support for Class Participants
  • Microsoft’s Knowledge Base — Bug Reports, Workarounds, and Helpful Hints

Certification and User Groups

  • Available Certification Programs for MS Project
  • The Microsoft Project User Group Community – “MPUG”
  • The PMI and the PMP Certification

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