Automating MS Project for Non-Techies

Project Management technology should never be more complicated then managing a project!  

The use of macros can enhance the efficiency of Microsoft Project significantly, but the thought of writing and recording macros to meet your unique needs can often prove challenging to those of us who are not technical programmers. This article will familiarize you, the business user, with some of the ways Microsoft Project can be customized to help you maximize its value.

Record a Macro

Macros help you to automate tasks that may be tedious and time consuming, while also reducing the potential for errors. We’ll use a simple example to demonstrate how this works – the creation and printing of a weekly status report that shows all completed tasks in your project.

When preparing this report manually each week, follow these steps:

1. Apply the Gantt Chart view to your project.

2. Filter the view to show only project tasks that are complete:

  • From the Filter dropdown list, click New Filter, and then define a custom view called Print Completed Tasks Only.
  • Set % Complete equal to “100.”
  • Click
show only project tasks that are complete:

3.Print the Print Completed Tasks Only view:

  • From the File menu, click Print.
  • Customize the printed view by clicking Page Setup. Modify the layout as shown, and then click Print:
clicking Page Setup. Modify the layout as shown

4. Remove the applied filter, changing Print Completed Tasks Only to [No Filter].

Now it’s time to automate the four steps above. From the View menu, click Macro > Record Macro.

From the View menu, click Macro > Record Macro.

In the Record Macro dialog, name your macro PWProjectCompletedTasks, and click OK. Note that once you click OK, all the following steps will be recorded until you click Macros > Stop Recording.

Run through Steps 1 – 4 above, following the process you manually follow to create and print this report. Then click Macros > Stop Recording.

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Assign a Macro to a Button in the Ribbon

Adding a button to the Ribbon to initiate this macro ensures that creating your weekly report is as simple as clicking a button.

1. Right-click in the Ribbon and select Customize Ribbon.

2. In the left column of the Project Options dialog, select the recently created macro and move it to the right column (select your preferred location there) by clicking Add.

3. Once the macro has been added to the ribbon, you can select it and click Rename… to provide a more user-friendly name and associated icon.

Customizing the ribbon in Ms Project

4. Click OK and you will see your new macro. Simply click the Print Completed Tasks button to run and print your weekly report!

Print weekly report in MS project

I dive deeper into this topic and describe how to effectively use these and other tools in a two part on-demand webinar series: Beyond Macros Revisited: Automating Microsoft Project for Non-Techies and Beyond Macros Revisited: Automating Microsoft Project for Non-Techies Part Two.

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Written by Ira Brown

Ira Brown is a leader in the field of project management and a recognized Microsoft Project expert, Project Widgets is well-known for offering add-on products for Microsoft Project and Project Online, as well as for creating custom solutions that meet their client’s unique business requirements.  This company continues to extend the scope and breadth of their offerings, thereby increasing the value they provide to customers, by creating Microsoft Project solutions that are tailored to an organization’s unique needs.  They even have several free, downloadable widgets available on their website that you can begin using right away.

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