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Microsoft Office Project 2003
Have you ever created an early Project plan — maybe to get approval for the project — only to find it unworkable when you started tracking progress? With the right start, you can ensure that the plan you create at the beginning of your project is an effective management tool throughout the project. Use the five-step process outlined in this article to make sure you don't go down the wrong path. This process assumes that you have already defined the project start date, applied the appropriate base calendar, and set up the default task type and other settings in the Options dialog box (Tools menu). If you haven't done so, see the related links in the See Also section of this page. Then perform the following five steps:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Create a task list and work breakdown structure (WBS) Indent or outdent tasks to finalize the WBS Enter task durations or work estimates Create dependencies between tasks Assign resources
You can do all of these tasks by using the default view in Project, the Gantt Chart. The Entry table, which is the default table for the Gantt Chart, is also perfect for this process. The following steps will tell you when to insert additional columns.
Step 1: Create a task list and work breakdown structure (WBS)
Failing to understand the importance of the work breakdown structure (WBS) is one of the biggest mistakes that planners make. The WBS is the hierarchical list of the project's phases, tasks, and milestones. It's the core of the project schedule. The WBS is critical because it drives the scope of the project. The scope translates into the timeline and budget. Taking the time to map out the WBS will save you significant time later by helping you to avoid rework and false starts. To build your WBS, start by listing the major pieces (summary tasks) of your project, and then map out the minor pieces (tasks) within each major piece. Continue to break down each piece until you have sufficient level of detail to support your plan. What's sufficient detail? Consider these factors:
• • •
What level of task do you want to track and report status on? Team members will need to give you status on tasks, and you'll need to report status on them. If you break down work to one-day tasks and your project is months long, you and your team will be spending a lot of time entering and tracking status. What level of detail gives you early warning about risks? You want to break down your tasks so that you can identify problems early enough to do something about them. Can you effectively identify dependencies between tasks? If work on one thing can't start until work on another is finished, you need each work item to be a separate task so that you can indicate that dependency. To enter summary tasks To enter tasks
When you enter new task names. NOTE Usually when people talk about tasks in Project they're referring to subtasks. and the smaller phases of work. it's time to create the hierarchy. The project summary task summarizes the entire project. It is a good practice to give milestone tasks a name that conveys completion or reaching an important point in the project lifecycle. Project calculates the duration for summary tasks. and then click the View tab. and they don't have additional subtasks indented under them. To structure the task list Here's an example of a complete outline. Subtasks represent the actual work a resource will do. called summary tasks. You can stay in the Task Name field and use the Indent and Outdent buttons on the Formatting toolbar to establish the right outline levels. based on indentation. On the Tools menu. . you gain the ability to summarize data. with outline numbers displayed. Summary tasks have subtasks indented underneath them. Summary tasks consolidate information about the tasks below them. The key? Project differentiates between major phases of work. click Options. select the Show project summary task check box. Step 2: Indent or outdent tasks to finalize the WBS After you enter tasks in the Task Name field. Project automatically assigns them an initial duration of one day and schedules them to start at the project start date. Let Project do it for you. By using up to nine outline levels. Be sure to also add milestones — markers of important completion points — at the end of each major activity to help measure progress and for benchmarking. called subtasks. For instance. A summary task's duration represents the total time it will take to complete the work for all of its subtasks. and when they talk about phases or summary tasks they're referring to summary tasks. NOTE Don't enter a task representing the project as a whole. Under Outline options for.
You can also quickly show various outline levels by clicking Show on the Formatting toolbar. Thus. 8h for hours. Work is the amount of effort or person hours needed to complete a task. 1 day = 8 hours. Click Expand or Collapse beside a summary task to show or hide (respectively) its subtasks. but you should decide whether you want to use a work-based or a duration-based method of scheduling. NOTES • Project has the ability to display the outline as a Network Diagram. Step 3: Enter task durations or work estimates You can specify the time that you estimate it will take to complete the tasks by entering either work or duration. Duration is the amount of actual time that will pass before the task is completed. Or you can use the Visio WBS Chart Wizard to view the outline in a more traditional chart or tree format. resource assignments drive the duration for each task. Entering work or duration is straightforward. 20 days = 1 month. 8w for weeks. . if a task takes 16 hours of work and one person does the work. So make the correct conversions when entering values. However. see the related links in the See Also section of this page. It's important to understand that work and duration are measured in working days. by default. • You can easily collapse and expand summary tasks to hide or show different levels of detail. after the dependency structure has been established as described in the next step. Task work or duration can be entered directly in the Work or Duration field in any table or dialog box that displays those fields. 5 days = 1 week. You can use either method. the amount of work is the same either way.The outline numbers reflect the hierarchy or outline structure of the Project plan. If two people do the work. type 8min for minutes. its duration is one day. For example. For example. This scheduling approach is called effort-driven scheduling. 8d for days. and then stick with that method. it is calculated as 6 weeks rather than a month. If you are using a work-based estimating approach. This means that if you type 30 days in the Duration field. NOTE You can enter different time units on a task-by-task basis by simply typing the time unit after the number. and 8mo for months. For more information about network diagrams and the Visio WBS Chart Wizard. its duration is two days (assuming an 8-hour work day).
you can change the default time unit. which is assigning resources. Note that if you choose this approach. enter work estimates in the Work column. Project does not allow these values to be entered for a summary task. it will change in every other location automatically. If you are following a work-based scheduling approach. Note that a summary task’s duration value shows the total amount of time it will take to complete the subtasks. . To change the default time unit for duration or work When you enter work or duration in a plan. To enter task durations The durations of summary tasks span to include the earliest start and latest finish of their subtasks. If you change the duration in one place. and dialog boxes in Project. it is important to enter it at the subtask level because summary tasks are calculated fields. NOTES • • You can change the duration of a task in many different views. To enter work You can enter task duration or work values. while the summary task’s work values show the total number of hours that will be spent working on the subtasks. To mark a task as a milestone. Project redraws the task’s Gantt bar to show the duration against a timeline. As task durations change. type 0 in the Duration column. durations will not be calculated until you complete step 5.If most of your duration or work estimates will be weeks or months long. or both. tables.
Step 4: Create dependencies between tasks One of the most critical steps in scheduling is to create task dependencies. even though you have not yet assigned your resources. Next. The challenge planners have is to ensure that all tasks are in the dependency chain. The most common dependency is Finish-to-Start (FS). This step makes the difference between a plan that can be used as an effective management tool and a plan that can only be used as a presentation tool. . Project adjusts the schedule. Here is a good rule of thumb: every task should have a predecessor unless it is driven by the start date of the project. see the related links in the See Also section of this page. There are many ways to set dependencies in Project: To enter predecessor task IDs in the Task Form To use the Link Tasks button To enter task IDs in the Predecessors column As you set the dependencies. When linking tasks. For more information about lead and lage time. or links. which means that the predecessor task must finish before the successor task can start. or if they are dependent but there needs to be a gap between them. you can easily identify the critical path and understand the driving factors for the project end date. Yet another way to link tasks is to enter task IDs in the Predecessors field. Another way is to select two tasks. One way to create task links is to enter predecessor task IDs in the Task Form. This is where Project shows its power as a tool for managing projects. After the dependencies are set. You can also easily make changes to one task and immediately see the ripple effect it will have on the rest of the plan. you can specify different types of dependencies. To display the critical path If you want to further highlight the critical path. A dependency occurs when the start or finish of one task depends upon the start or finish of another. which identifies the path on which no slippage can occur without effecting the end date of the project. you can customize the view. Every task should have a successor unless it is the last task or milestone in the project. NOTE If two tasks need to overlap one another. and then click the Link Tasks button. use the Lag field. Most tasks are dependent upon other tasks. you might want to display your critical path.
This approach takes the least effort to enter and maintain. you can assign named resources. If you are early in the project-planning stage. It provides more accurate information up front. • Use Project to forecast resource requirements and track what work resources actually do on tasks. This approach requires the most effort because updates must be entered on tasks.To format task names and Gantt bars of tasks on the critical path This view is formatted to show tasks on the critical path with red task names and Gantt bars. and also requires assigning the correct work and unit values up front in the planning process. such as Programmers. Eventually. Use Project to forecast resource requirements. You can also assign material resources such as computers. After you understand what types of resources you need. you might want to use generic resources. Step 5: Assign resources How and which resources you want to assign depends upon your scheduling and tracking needs. It is also important to determine what types of resources you need to assign. To assign resources by using the Resource Name field To assign resources by using the Task Form To use resources by using the Assign Resources dialog box . such as Judy Lew. or other types of material (unit) costs. it does not give you any real insight into the status of work during the course of the project. but it also allows you to see how work on tasks is progressing during the course of the project. There are three possible approaches: • • Use Project to show responsibility for tasks. but it does not provide information about the status of work during the project. This approach requires additional effort to enter and maintain assignments. To add resources to your project by using the Resource Sheet After you add the resources to the project. However. you will want to assign actual resources. Make sure you understand what approach you need early on in the planning cycle to avoid significant rework of your plan. For example. you can add them to your project schedule. or generic resources. software. you can begin to assign resources to tasks.
When you master the six factors that affect the calculation of time in Project 2003. Factors that affect how project calculates time In this article • • • • • • • Introduction Establish the project start date Enter task durations Determine task dependencies Define and apply calendars Change task constraints Assign resources with task types Introduction Scheduling tasks in your project plan to reflect the reality of your situation. If you change the task type to Fixed Duration. This helps to build and maintain a more effective and manageable plan. the duration will remain fixed. This allows you to create multiple assignments at one time. you will have the necessary framework to develop and maintain your project plans. you can change this date to reflect the plan that you are creating. finish date. This article gives tips and techniques for using the six key factors that affect the calculation of a task's start date. of dates and duration — in Project are: • • • • • • Project start date Task durations Task dependencies Project calendars Task constraints and deadlines Resource assignments and task types When you understand how these six aspects of scheduling affect your project plan.Some ways to assign resources to tasks include selecting resource names from the Resource Name field or in the Task Form. as set in the Project Information dialog box. TOP OF PAGE Establish the project start date The first scheduling factor that Project considers for a task is the project start date. and work or units will change. You will also know how to troubleshoot and eliminate any problems that occur when you optimize your plan for time. You can assign many resources to many tasks. . which is one side of the project triangle. If your task type is Fixed Units and you are using effort-driven scheduling. you're ready to present your plan and to use it to track and manage your project. not summary tasks. Assign resources to the subtasks. you will be well on your way to having an optimized project plan. Another way to assign resources is to display the Assign Resources dialog box. The six key factors that drive the calculation of time — that is. The date on which you create the project plan becomes the default project start date. Next Step That's it! Now. or one resource to many tasks. can be a challenge. as well as your customer requirements. and duration. However. NOTES • • • You can select multiple resources and multiple tasks at the same time by holding down CTRL while you click to select them. the duration of the task will shorten as you assign more resources. many resources to one task.
click Current Date. 5. select a solid line in the Type box. Under Normal. Under Line to change. On the Format menu. your project plan will be easier to work with if you schedule from the start date. You can then adjust the project start date to create what-if scenarios and compare the results. You might want to display both your project start date and the current date in the Gantt Chart view to easily visualize where you are in the project now compared with where you were when the project started. You can apply a deadline or a Must Finish On (MFO) constraint to a milestone that signifies the end of the project. Although "backward scheduling" from the project finish date can be useful for initial planning that is based on an imposed deadline. 6. By default. select Blue in the Color box. 4. click Project Start. 2. To create a blue gridline to represent the project start date and a red gridline to represent today's date: 1. Under Normal. enter the project start date. On the Project menu. Under Line to change. you can use the Schedule from box to schedule from the start date or finish date. 3.The project start date is important because all of the tasks will start on the project start date until you add task dependencies or constraints. The resulting gridlines in the chart area of the Gantt Chart view show where you are today in relation to where you were on the project start date. Under Normal. NOTE In the Project Information dialog box. To define your project start date: 1. Under Normal. This can be a powerful method for quickly recalculating tasks. click Project Information. click Gridlines. the start date does not appear as a gridline in the Gantt Chart view. 7. 2. Even after you set up your project plan. you can run a what-if scenario to see the effect of delaying or moving up the start of a project. select Red in the Color box. select a solid line in the Type box. . In the Start date box.
Click the Calendar tab. you will see only the line that represents the project start date. 5 days = 1 week. The most typical method is to enter a task's duration in the Duration field of the Gantt Chart view by using the Entry table. and Days per month boxes. On the Tools menu. . To review these duration conversions: 1. Review the Hours per day. TOP OF PAGE Enter task durations Task durations have a direct impact on the calculation of start dates and finish dates. You can enter task durations directly into the Duration field in any table or dialog box where the field is displayed. 8 hours = 1 day. and 20 days = 1 month. For example. Hours per week. FOR ENTER Minutes m Hours Days h d EXAMPLE 30m 2h 4d 6w 1mo Weeks w Months mo Remember that duration is based on working days as defined in your project calendar. The following table shows abbreviations that you can use when you enter durations. Project converts that to 6 weeks rather than to 1 month. suppose that you want to specify that a task will take 1 month to complete.NOTE If your start date and today's date are identical. 3. According to the default Standard calendar. click Options. If you enter 30 days in the Duration field. 2.
NOTE Be careful not to change these settings without also changing the corresponding project calendar settings and working times. SF. 3. If necessary. You can also easily make changes to one task and immediately see the ripple effects on the rest of the plan. With dependencies. In the Gantt Chart view. use the Lag field to create lead times or lag times between tasks. If a task can start as soon as another task starts. showing the Gantt Chart in the upper pane and the Task Form in the lower pane. To set a finish-to-start dependency by using the Link Tasks button: 1. When the task dependencies are set and the network is established. click Split on the Window menu. as well as the relationship between sequential tasks. In the Type field. and then click Link Tasks on the Standard toolbar. To set dependencies by using the Task Entry view: 1. You can also set finish-to-finish (FF) dependencies and start-to-finish (SF) dependencies. . you reflect the order in which tasks should be done. On the Standard toolbar. If one task cannot start until another task finishes. 2. or SS. In the Task Form. select the predecessor task first and the successor task next. The first task in each cluster (or "path") begins at the project start date. click below the Predecessor Name heading. In the Gantt Chart view. you can link them by using the start-to-start (SS) dependency. TOP OF PAGE Determine task dependencies One of the most critical steps in project scheduling is to establish a network for your tasks by setting task dependencies. FS. Most projects have several clusters of linked tasks. you can easily identify the critical path and understand the driving factors to the project end date. 5. select the dependency type: FF. NOTE You can select several tasks at once. This can ensure that you are alerted early enough when the project finish date is in danger of being pushed out. This creates a finishto-start relationship between all the selected tasks. click Link Tasks . Each subsequent task is linked to the predecessor (the one that comes before it) and the successor (the one that comes after it). you can link the two tasks by using the common finish-to-start (FS) dependency. 4. The Task Entry combination view appears. Consider creating a project-complete milestone in your plan to link other tasks or milestones. A task can have multiple predecessors and successors. In a task sheet (such as the Gantt Chart). 2. and then select the task that you want to link as the predecessor to the task that is selected in the Gantt Chart view. select the task to which you want to add a predecessor.
click the Nonworking time option.M. 4. select the day of the week and then. modify the times in the From and To boxes. Click New. The Type and Lag fields are available on this tab as well. to 5:00 P. click Project Information. 6. 5. 6. select the day of the week and then. To return to the full Gantt Chart view. In the From and To boxes. On the Project menu. 6. Three base calendars are included with Project: the Standard calendar. You can modify any of the built-in calendars to suit your project team's working time. 4. To change a nonworking day to a working day. Under Set selected date(s) to. select the day of the week whose working time you want to change.Specify lead time by using a negative duration or percentage amount. TOP OF PAGE Define and apply calendars Project also uses calendars to calculate the start dates and end dates of tasks. In the Name field. reflecting a working time of Monday through Friday. select the calendar that you want to apply to the project. click the Nondefault working time option. In the calendar grid. Tip You can also select a task. In the For box. open the Task Information dialog box. the Standard calendar is applied to the entire project. . click W in the calendar grid. For example. On the Tools menu.. to change the working time for all Wednesdays. make any necessary changes to the working times. Specify lag time by using a positive duration or percentage amount. 2. under Set selected date(s) to. To create a new "Saturdays" base calendar: 1. the 24-Hours calendar. To change the base calendar that is used for your project: 1. click S to select all Saturdays. 3. To change a working day to a nonworking day. For example. 2. and the Night Shift calendar. 3.M. with one hour off for lunch. type Saturday Calendar and then click OK. click the Nondefault working time option. To modify a built-in calendar: 1. under Set selected date(s) to. suppose that you are on a tight schedule and you are wondering whether having your team work on Saturdays would help meet the desired project finish date. To change the working time for the day. 8:00 A. click Remove Split on the Window menu. click Change Working Time. In the calendar grid. In the Calendar box. and then set the predecessors by using the Predecessors tab. click Change Working Time. By default. indicating how early the current task can start or finish in relation to the predecessor. You can also use project calendars to simulate a what-if scenario. 2. indicating how much time should pass after the start or finish of the predecessor before the current task can start or finish. 5. On the Tools menu. select the built-in calendar that you want to change.
You can now select your new Saturday Calendar as the project calendar in the Project Information dialog box. Instead of using date constraints to drive your schedule. it is best to set up a network of task dependencies that drives the start date and finish date for most tasks. such as a trade show or a contract deadline. TOP OF PAGE Change task constraints Project schedules all tasks by using the As Soon As Possible (ASAP) constraint unless you explicitly apply a date constraint. especially when you later try to make even the most minor adjustment. Use a date constraint only for special tasks that have a "hard-coded" date. To apply a calendar that is different from the project calendar to a specific resource. Do not enter a . Do not enter a constraint date with this constraint. NOTES • • • You can create a new base calendar if your team (or a group of resources within the team) has entirely different working times from those reflected by any of the three built-in base calendars. and then click the Advanced tab. respond to a deadline change. or run a what-if scenario. A schedule that is based on date constraints restricts the flexibility that Project has to calculate the best task dates. this creates a Finish No Earlier Than (FNET) constraint. such as Start No Earlier Than (SNET) or Must Finish On (MFO). and you can see whether it favorably affects the project's timeline. Having such date constraints in your schedule can cause frustration. and then click the Working Time tab. All other constraints are fixed on a specific date. this hinders your ability to use Project as an effective management tool. This is the default constraint for tasks. The following table lists all constraints. Open the Task Information dialog box. Open the Resource Information dialog box. In addition. Schedules the task to begin as early as it can occur. When you type a date in the Finish field. These two constraints provide the most scheduling flexibility. As Late As Possible (ALAP) is the default constraint for a project that is scheduled from the project finish date. One of the most common mistakes made in scheduling with Project is to type the dates directly into the Start or Finish date field. When you type a date in the Start field in the table portion of the Gantt Chart view. date constraints can skew the critical path calculations and limit your ability to manage the project life cycle. To apply a calendar that is different from the project calendar to a specific task. As Soon As Possible (ASAP) is the default constraint for a project that is scheduled from the project start date. Most likely you will have to manually reenter the affected task constraint dates. select the task. CONSTRAINT As Late As Possible (ALAP) As Soon As Possible DESCRIPTION Schedules the task as late as it can occur in the schedule without delaying subsequent tasks. select the resource in any resource view. Select the calendar in the Calendar box. this creates a Start No Earlier Than (SNET) constraint. In turn. Your project plan will be rescheduled according to this new calendar.
Schedules the task to finish on or before the constraint date. 3. scheduled. Schedules the task to finish on the constraint date. . Schedules the task to start on or before the constraint date. click Task Information. In a task sheet (such as the Gantt Chart). Use it to ensure that a task does not start after a specified date. scheduled. click the appropriate constraint. Click the Advanced tab and then. Use it to ensure that a task does not finish after a certain date. Schedules the task to start on the constraint date. in the Deadline box. Sets the early. Schedules the task to start on or after the constraint date. Schedules the task to finish on or after the constraint date. and late finish dates to the date that you type and anchors the task in the schedule. click Task Information. select the task to which you want to apply a deadline. On the Project menu. 2. select the task whose constraint you want to change.(ASAP) Finish No Earlier Than (FNET) Finish No Later Than (FNLT) Must Finish On (MFO) constraint date with this constraint. Sets the early. Use it to ensure that a task does not start before a specified date. To set a task deadline: 1. enter the date in the Constraint date box. In a task sheet (such as the Gantt Chart). 3. 4. A good alternative to setting a date constraint that affects the project schedule is to apply a task deadline. Use it to ensure that a task does not finish before a certain date. in the Constraint type list. A deadline provides a reminder of date goals without constraining the schedule itself. enter the deadline. 2. Click the Advanced tab and then. On the Project menu. Must Start On (MSO) Start No Earlier Than (SNET) Start No Later Than (SNLT) To change the constraint: 1. A flag appears when a task deadline has passed without the task being marked as complete. If you select a date constraint (any constraint other than As Soon As Possible or As Late As Possible). and late start dates to the date that you type and anchors the task in the schedule.
Likewise. and constraints. The most significant factor related to assigned resources is the task type. Fixed Duration. click Task Information. 4. hours or the level of effort) assigned to the resources on the task. To change the task type for individual tasks: 1. click the task type (Fixed Work. Project takes more resource-related factors into consideration. and they will anchor the task in place. 2. indicating how many days the project is past the constraint date. On the Project menu. These variables are tied together in a formula based on Work = Duration * Units. A good example is the so-called "envelope stuffing" task. Select the tasks whose task type you want to change.NOTES • • Certain date constraints might override other calculation tools that you have established. You can use a Must Finish On (MFO) constraint to help manage the project end date. depending on what task type has been selected for that task. A good example of this is a trade show. Project can also calculate negative slack. the duration is always the same. or Fixed Units) that you want for the selected tasks. The more resources that are assigned to a task. Effort-driven tasks are those for which the duration should be recalculated based on the quantity of assigned resources. one of the other two variables will be recalculated. TOP OF PAGE Assign resources with task types Until you assign resources. project calendar. work. 3. or the task duration. the amount of work (for example. Project can calculate whether the project finish is coming in late or early by displaying total slack. Project calculates these three variables — units. One is duration-based and the other is effortbased: • • Duration-driven scheduling is best used for tasks or projects that are driven by dates and deadlines and that will not be affected by the quantity of assigned resources. and then click the Advanced tab. task dependencies. If you change one variable. the duration increases. The task type that you choose for a task depends on the scheduling technique that you want to be applied to that task or to most of the project. such as task dependencies and project calendars. the Fixed Work task type is effort driven. In the Task type box. There are two main approaches to scheduling. task scheduling depends on the project start and finish dates. task durations. even on a nonworking day. if resources are removed from an effort-driven task. No matter how many resources you assign to the trade show task. Select or clear the Effort driven check box. . or duration — each time a resource is assigned to a task. the less time it takes to complete the task. After you assign resources to tasks in the project. The Must Start On (MSO) and Must Finish On (MFO) constraints are the two strongest. The task type indicates whether the task is driven by the number of resources assigned to the task (the default). With this constraint. By default.
not existing tasks. work remains constant within the fixed-duration time period and is redistributed each time there is a resource change that is based on the original work calculation. click Options. Changing the default task type affects only new tasks. As you continue to use Project. Click the Schedule tab. Fixed Duration or Fixed Work). you probably will want to change the default task type when you first create your project and before you enter tasks.NOTE For fixed-duration tasks. durations. you might have to rework the plan and change each task type setting. To change the default task type for a project plan: 1. calendars. 3. dependencies. and task types to adjust scheduling. Fixed Units is the default task type in Project. Otherwise. 2. If Effort driven is selected for fixed-duration tasks. On the Tools menu. click the task type that you want for your default (for example. In the Default task type box. you might consider clearing the Effort driven check box. you will learn more of the ways in which the six factors for scheduling tasks interact with each other. By understanding how Project uses the project start date. constraints. If you expect most of your tasks to be either Fixed Duration or Fixed Work. you can use the power of Project to create a realistic schedule and manage the project throughout its life cycle. .