Tutorial Part 1: Basics of Project Management

Applicable to versions: Microsoft Project 2010, 2007, 2003

Target Audience: New Project Managers or New To Microsoft Project Software

Microsoft Project 2007 essential videos are split up into two videos, the first part covering the basics of project management and how to get started understanding the program. As a beginner with the program, I was able to pick up on helpful tips and tricks to make my experience using the software more enjoyable and less confusing. The first hour of the video was presented by William Raymond. I thought it was helpful that Bill started out by explaining the basic background to project management so the user could understand why the software was important and how it could be used to manage a project effectively.

The next set of tips that I thought was nice to have as a beginning user was the option of setting certain defaults before starting a new project. A great tip is to go to Tools, click Options, and then View, and under Outline options click the checkbox titled Show project summary task. This allows users to list the main project title in row 0. I find that most users would probably be able to figure out how to index tasks under a summary task, but a good tip mentioned was not to go deeper than three indents. Bill mentioned that this can make a project too complicated. Bill also mentioned that when adding multiple resources to a specific task, the duration period for that task would be reduced depending on the number of resources. This would be fine except that most projects want the duration to remain the same regardless of how many resources are added to the task. To change this, Bill mentioned going back under the Tools menu, clicking Options, and clicking on the Schedule tab. In this tab, the user would find a dropdown box entitled Duration task type. Setting this to Fixed duration will allow users to add several resources to a task without MS Project changing the duration type.

Another helpful setting is also under the Schedule tab. The user will find a checkbox titled New tasks are effort driven. It is best that the user unchecks this box; otherwise, additional resources may alter the duration type. After both the mentioned settings are altered, the user can make these default settings so they will apply next time the program is started.

The final points mentioned in the first hour that I thought were helpful for first-time users are points that more project managers should keep in mind during the total duration of a project. The first tip is to make sure tasks are not too long. Try to keep the duration of most tasks no greater than ten days. This may mean that the user will have to list several more tasks, but it will make keeping track a lot easier. Also keep in mind that duration times by default do not include weekends or holidays. This is programmed into the default calendar provided by MS Project. The final helpful tip to keep in mind is to try to update task progress by percent complete. This will help all users see the status of certain tasks and whether or not they are behind.

The second hour of the video was presented by Sam Huffman. Sam dove a little deeper and showed users how to get started with the program. The first helpful tip I found relates to constraints made on the project. If a user creates a field that lists constraints, most of the tasks will show “As Soon As Possible.” If the user sees this in the constraint box, they will know that there is no constraint listed for that specific task and that the project is moving fluidly.

Sam then dove into the Resource Sheet. I thought the explanation of the different resource types was a helpful tip for new users. This helps users figure out which type they want to set: hourly, unit, or materials cost. The session includes helpful tips regarding the Project Calendar and Resource Calendar. I thought these tools were a great thing for new users to understand because they allow them to make sure the calendars are set up to fit the schedule of their businesses.


Continue to Part 2→