Microsoft Project

//Microsoft Project

How to Create a Resource Calendar in MS Project


The resource calendar in Project lets us take the resources' non-work  time into account. There are religious, working-two-jobs, and a few other reasons why this might come into play. So once the project calendar is established, we can create a variation of it as a resource calendar. We start by double-clicking the resource name in the Resource Sheet. We go to the Resource Information, and make sure we’re on the General tab of the dialog box. If the resource has a range, or ranges, of dates during which s/he will be available, we set them in the Resource Availability space at [...]

How to Create a Resource Calendar in MS Project2019-09-30T11:58:15-04:00

How to Use the Organizer in Microsoft Project


The Organizer is one of the lesser-known features in Project. And it’s a shame that this one is overlooked. It can be a major help in both building templates and making already-built elements easily available. One common example is calendars. If you build a company calendar, and want it in other projects, you can copy it anywhere with the Organizer. Since calendars can take some work to create, they are among the most frequently-copied items in the program. First, we open the source and destination projects. Any two can be used. We then go to the View tab, and either Task [...]

How to Use the Organizer in Microsoft Project2019-09-30T13:46:52-04:00

How to Create a Template in Microsoft Project


A template in Project, as in most other programs, is a blank form. We fill in the spaces, as on a tax form or license application. The more complex the job, the more complex the form. So when we’re managing a project, any help we can get doing a bunch of similar projects is really good. The key is having a project file that’s mostly or entirely complete—i.e., the project is done. Because if we know the project ran successfully, we can frequently use it to guide others of the same sort. So we open the file in question, and see [...]

How to Create a Template in Microsoft Project2019-09-30T14:04:58-04:00

How to Use Summary Tasks in Microsoft Project


When we create a project plan, summary tasks are like the main points in a term paper outline. They mark off the highest-level things we need to do in the project. They’re the main stages or phases we look at. So they’re a useful tool for visually organizing the project, in a user-friendly way. The good news is, we don’t have to insert them immediately. We can start by just writing down what we need to do, and clean up later. Here we have a list of tasks for doing some house painting. (Yes, I’ve done this for real. Yes, that’s [...]

How to Use Summary Tasks in Microsoft Project2019-09-30T14:26:02-04:00

How to Create Calculated Fields in Microsoft Project


Project allows for things like calculated fields and other custom data. It holds some fields “in reserve” aside from the ones set up for task names, durations, etc. This way, users can insert data the program couldn’t know about in advance. (I mentioned custom text fields a while back, but a calculated field is a slightly different thing.) Having some experience with formulas, in the style of Access or Excel, will help. And making sure one has a clear idea of what needs to be calculated is important, naturally. We start by calling up the Custom Fields box. It’s under the [...]

How to Create Calculated Fields in Microsoft Project2019-09-30T14:26:59-04:00

How to Format the Gantt Chart in Project


Recently, I had a question about formatting the Gantt chart from a student who mentioned the issue of color-blindness. Since various kinds of this problem exist, knowing how to get around it can be helpful, just in case. As critical tasks are highlighted in red, it could be an issue. The Gantt chart, after all, depends at least in part on color, or so we normally think. But there are ways around it. To start the process, we go to the Gantt Chart Tools Format tab, and click the Format button in the Bar Styles group. We then have to go [...]

How to Format the Gantt Chart in Project2019-09-30T16:21:08-04:00

How to Create a Calendar in Project (and Why)


When setting up a plan in Project, it’s very important to get the calendar organized first, before adding tasks, resources, assignments, or almost anything else. Why? Because a project timeline dictates many of the scheduling details, and the calendar controls the schedule. Getting to the dialog is easy—we click the Project tab, slide to the Properties group, and click Change Working Time. Once there, we usually want to click Create New Calendar at the top right, since copying an existing one and modifying it leaves the originals for later use. We can then change the name of the copy, say, to [...]

How to Create a Calendar in Project (and Why)2019-10-02T16:31:22-04:00

How to Use the Critical Path in Microsoft Project


The use of the critical path in Project is a vital part of getting a project to finish on time. This is especially true if any juggling of the tasks, resources, and allocations has to happen once the majority of tasks are in place. It allows refinements to be done where they can have the best effect—what is sometimes called a “force-multiplier” (no Star Wars jokes, please); it simply means to make the most of what one has. The critical path is that series of tasks in which there’s no slack, time-wise. Think of a group of boxcars on a railroad [...]

How to Use the Critical Path in Microsoft Project2019-10-02T16:34:12-04:00

Using Dependencies, Lag, and Lead in MS Project


Setting up dependencies, or task relationships, is an integral part of working in Project. But many newer users ask, Which relationship should I use, and What are these “lag” and “lead” things about? The choice of dependencies, as well as using the two other items, derives from the nature of the tasks. This is the one thing you have to bear in mind, because there’s no all-inclusive formula for determining these. That said, there are a couple of general pointers you can use to figure it out. If Task A has to be completely finished before Task B can start, such [...]

Using Dependencies, Lag, and Lead in MS Project2019-10-02T16:38:59-04:00

How to Create Custom Fields in Microsoft Project


MS Project has a LARGE number of fields set up by default, for almost anything the program can track. But even with all the feedback the design team gets, they can’t anticipate everything a user might need to monitor during a project. So the team built in the ability to create, or rather modify, “custom” (unnamed generic) fields which are held in reserve for just this situation. One example might be which resources belong to which department in a company. The Group field in the Resource Sheet could be used to contain this information, but some users already employ it for, [...]

How to Create Custom Fields in Microsoft Project2019-10-02T16:42:19-04:00

Using the Cost Tables in Microsoft Project


The Cost Tables feature in Microsoft Project reflects a point which is particular to this program—it is, basically, time-sensitive. Since a business project takes a minimum, usually, of several weeks to run, the project must take time into account. And, no pun intended on this phrase, accounting for costs which might change during the run of the project is therefore an integral part of the resource data we can (and often must) enter. Fortunately, the first part is pretty easy. When creating a resource, one can (in the Resource Sheet) start by entering standard and overtime pay rates for a work [...]

Using the Cost Tables in Microsoft Project2019-10-02T16:53:56-04:00

Microsoft Project Keyboard Shortcuts


SkillForge SkillSheet Microsoft Project 2010/13/16 Keyboard Shortcuts Click here to download the PDF version.   Navigate Views and Windows In order to… Press Activate the Control menu ALT+SPACEBAR Activate the entry bar to edit text in a field F2 Activate the menu bar F10 or ALT Activate the project control menu ALT+HYPHEN Activate the split bar SHIFT+F6 Close the program window ALT+F4 Display all filtered tasks or all filtered resources F3 Display the Field Settings dialog box ALT+F3 Open a new window SHIFT+F11 Reduce a selection to a single field SHIFT+BACKSPACE Reset sort order to ID order and turn off grouping SHIFT+F3 [...]

Microsoft Project Keyboard Shortcuts2018-07-25T10:12:37-04:00

Creating Cost Resources in Microsoft Project


There’s a quirky thing about Microsoft Project, having to do with resources—more specifically, Cost resources. The other two types, Work and Material, are pretty easy to understand and use, but Cost takes a little bit of extra work to make do its thing. A Work resource is a person or a piece of equipment, someone or something that stays around. A Material resource is a consumable, such as reams of paper or toner cartridges—something we use up. Even gasoline might be looked at this way. But Cost resources, at first, seem a little more indescribable. And where to put the actual [...]

Creating Cost Resources in Microsoft Project2019-10-17T11:22:17-04:00

How to Create Subprojects in Microsoft Project


Microsoft Project was designed with the idea that one might need to set up subprojects, or projects within projects. Think of a set of manuals, or a company-wide reworking of hardware and software, or a movie (such as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Many departments have to coordinate their efforts  to  all be ready for filming at about the same time; you have an idea of why this might be. But Microsoft set the feature up with a couple of hidden little bonuses, which I’ll talk about in a moment. To start with, one simply sets up regular projects. [...]

How to Create Subprojects in Microsoft Project2019-10-17T11:38:53-04:00

The Resource Usage View in Project


When planning a project, one of the problems we run into fairly commonly is overallocation of resources. It's not impossible to fix, but it sometimes helps to know exactly where the overallocation is. The Resource Usage view is one place we can see it fairly easily. With the project open, go to the View tab and click Resource Usage. The view switches immediately. Then, find the overallocated resource(s), usually a person, on the left, click a task, and select Scroll to Task in the Task tab, Editing group (Ctrl-Shift-F5 works too, if you prefer). One other trick is to use the [...]

The Resource Usage View in Project2019-10-17T15:26:58-04:00

Auto vs Manual Scheduling in Project


One small but important feature in MS Project is the Auto versus Manual Scheduling popup. It's in the Status Bar at bottom. Here's how it works: Manual Scheduling allows the user to control start date, finish date, and therefore, duration. And the program will not change the dates of a manually scheduled task. Period. It might let you know if there are potential conflicts or problems with other tasks, but that’s up to you, as far as the program’s concerned. (If you can look at the project plan, especially in Gantt Chart view, most of those kinds of problems are fairly [...]

Auto vs Manual Scheduling in Project2019-10-17T16:45:20-04:00

Using Effort Driven in Project


Microsoft Project is fairly easy to use at the basic level--entering tasks and resources, assigning one to the other, scheduling. But there are a few parts of the program that can take a little practice to use comfortably. One of these is the checkmark in the Task Information dialog box called "Effort driven". The name is fairly self-explanatory, in that a task's duration (the thing we normally concern ourselves with) can change depending on how much effort we want to put into it, in terms of resources. Specifically, how *many* resources. There is the quirk, though. This is how it works: [...]

Using Effort Driven in Project2019-10-16T16:44:06-04:00

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. 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. The Custom Fields button opens a separate dialog box with many options. Our first [...]

Microsoft Project: Formatting a Gantt Chart for Summary Task2017-01-20T16:08:56-05:00

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. 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 [...]

Changing Microsoft Projects Default Task Duration2016-12-28T10:29:53-05:00

Project – Change Currency Styles in Costs


If you’re used to changing the way currency values are displayed in Excel, you might want to exercise the same choices when viewing costs in Microsoft Project.  Although changing the look of costs can be done in Project, it’s not as immediately obvious as to how. […]

Project – Change Currency Styles in Costs2016-02-01T08:35:33-05:00

Microsoft Project – Display Estimated Durations with a Different Color in a Gantt Chart


When working with tasks in a project, it is common practice to display a duration as an estimate.  Displaying an estimated duration prepares the viewer for possible changes in scheduling.  An estimated duration takes the form of a question mark placed after the declared duration. The issue is that some project viewers fail to notice the question mark; then when durations are updated, project viewers wonder why things have changed.  One way to ensure that people’s attention is drawn to the estimated durations is to change the color of the Gantt bars to reflect an estimated status.  There is no built-in [...]

Microsoft Project – Display Estimated Durations with a Different Color in a Gantt Chart2016-01-21T21:38:21-05:00

How to Round Task Durations in Microsoft Project

2015-09-08T22:02:06-04:00 In this tutorial, you'll see how to round the duration of a task in Microsoft Project by using a custom field. You'll also see how to use this custom field in all of your projects by adding it to your Global.mpt file.

How to Round Task Durations in Microsoft Project2015-09-08T22:02:06-04:00

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 [...]

Understanding Task Dependency Types in Microsoft Project2015-09-08T22:02:16-04:00

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. 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. […]

Missing Resources when Using Microsoft Project Resource Pools2015-09-30T10:59:56-04:00