Microsoft Project: Formatting a Gantt Chart for Summary Task

Recently a student posed a question during a Microsoft Project class. How does one format the bars of a Gantt chart to look the same for each unique summary task? Something that may look like this.

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It begins with creating a custom flag field for each summary task. In Microsoft Project a flag field is a basic Boolean value. A simple yes/no field to identify further action. They are created using the Custom Fields button on the Format tab within the Gantt Chart Tools of the ribbon.

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The Custom Fields button opens a separate dialog box with many options. Our first choice will be to select flag from the drop down list of data fields in the upper right-hand corner. We are presented with twenty (20) flag fields. Our example uses five (5) and each one needs a unique name.

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That can be accomplished by selecting a flag, clicking rename, and supplying the new value.

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Once our five (5) flags have been named we can click OK to close the Custom Fields window.

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Next we need to mark our tasks as active (yes) or inactive (no) using the flags we just created. Insert a new column in the sheet view of the Gantt chart using one of our flag fields.

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The entire column defaults to no but we will select the first task of our named summary and change its value to yes.

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Once selected we can use the auto-fill handle (just like in Excel) to copy our yes across the remaining subtasks.

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We will insert a column for each of our summary tasks and repeat the process described above.

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The great thing is, once the tasks have been flagged we can hide the additional columns we just inserted.

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At this point we are in the home stretch. There is only one more step necessary to finish. We need some custom bar styles to match our flagged tasks and that is done by choosing the Format tab within the Gantt Chart Tools of the ribbon and selecting Bar Styles from the Format button in the Bar Styles group. You can also double-click a blank area within the chart side of the Gantt Chart View.

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In the Bar Styles dialog box we will scroll to the bottom of the list and add a new entry for each of our summary tasks using the name we gave to each flag. Shape, pattern, and color can be applied to each group and of course the flag number will be selected in the Show For … Tasks column.

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Once complete, clicking OK will supply our newly flagged and formatted Gantt bars with the shape, pattern, and color we just set up.

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Changing Microsoft Projects Default Task Duration

In a recent Microsoft Project class a question arose concerning the default task duration, which is set in days. This student had recently been working on a deployment project and the default duration was too broad. It needed to focus on a smaller time-frame and it made perfect sense to set the task duration to hours.

An excellent question and the answer couldn’t be easier.

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To change the default duration for the tasks in a project we need to use the backstage options Microsoft Project makes available. By choosing the File tab and selection Options we are taken to the Project Options dialog box.

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Once there we are presented with eleven options along the left side of the dialog box. Scheduling is the third option on the left and the one we are looking for.

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In the Schedule section we will find Scheduling options for this project, and Duration is entered in will reveal the five choices we have:  minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months.

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Also notice that the Scheduling options for this project can be set for only this project or for All New Projects.

Once the duration has been changed simply click the OK button in the lower right corner and you will be returned to you open project. Any value entered in the duration column will now default to hours unless you specify otherwise.

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Understanding Task Dependency Types in Microsoft Project

Dependency Types in Microsoft Project

When creating schedules in Microsoft Project the first thing that a Project Manager would typically do is to input the tasks involved in a project. These tasks then need to be linked to show the relationship between them. These links create task dependencies.

There are 4 different types of task dependency:

  • Finish-to-Start (FS): The finish date of one task drives the start date of another.
  • Start-to-Start (SS): The start date of one task drives the start date of another.
  • Finish-to-Finish (FF): The finish date of one task drives the finish date of another.
  • Start-to-Finish (SF): The start date of one task drives the finish date of another.

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Missing Resources when Using Microsoft Project Resource Pools

If you work with Microsoft Project and have ever leveraged the power of Resource Pools across multiple projects, you may have encountered a strange behavior when assigning those resources.

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When you share resources between a Resource Pool file (a dummy project file that typically has no tasks but is merely a container for holding resources) and another project file, sometimes the resources don’t show up when it comes time to make the resource assignments. (more…)

Microsoft Project 2010 Download

Microsoft provides a free trial download of Project 2010.  You can use it to evaluate the software before you buy.  To see  why Project 2010 is the most advanced version yet, visit this article from Microsoft: Top Ten Benefits of Microsoft Project 2010.  And visit these Microsoft Project 2010 Demos to see more of the new features in action. And if you are interested in becoming more proficient in Microsoft Project 2010 or Microsoft Project Server 2010, visit our Microsoft Project 2010 Training and Microsoft Project Server 2010 Training pages.

Tech Certifications in Highest Demand for 2011

Tech CertificationWhether you are an established technology professional or just breaking into the field, knowing which technical certifications are in highest demand can help you grow your career – and your income!. The following list of technical certifications highlight those that are expected to be in high demand in 2011. These results are based on analysis done by the technical recruiting and placement firm, Robert Half Technology and include factors such as hiring trends and feedback from CIOs and other senior executives at firms across the U.S.  This list includes a brief overview of each technical certification and links to resources for learning more about them.

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Project 2010 Training and Project Server 2010 Training

microsoft project 2010Microsoft Project 2010 has many new features including now sporting the same interface (including the ribbon) as the rest of Microsoft Office. But the changes go much deeper than that. Some other Microsoft Project 2010 New Features include:

  • Project Team Planner – a resource scheduling view that lets you see at a glance what team members are working on and allows you to easily assign or reassign work.
  • Project 2010 Timeline View – provides a concise overview of your entire schedule.
  • Zoom Slider – Like other Microsoft Office products you can now easily zoom in or out of a view using a simple slider tool.
  • Manual Scheduling – allows you to tell Project 2010 not to automatically adjust task dates when you change the project calendar or task dependencies. (more…)