Microsoft Project Essentials Tutorial:  How To Use Microsoft Project Guide

Section 2: Commonly Used Practices: Applicable to versions of Microsoft Project 2007 and 2003

Specific Tool Training: Applicable to version Microsoft Project 2007

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

In this section of the Microsoft Project Essentials Tutorial, we are revisited by Bill Raymond and Sam Huffman. This time, Sam starts the videos out by giving us information and tips on how to communicate and how to use reporting tools in Microsoft Project. Sam first dives into what Views, Tables, and Filters are, showing the user how to use the View Bar shortcut to switch quickly between task views and resource views. Attendees learn how to use both the Task usage view, which shows details of specific work being done in a task, and the Resource usage view, which shows what tasks each resource is working on. Both these views also help to identify problems with tasks and resources, such as the over-allocation of a certain resource. I think that knowing the views as a beginning user is the best way to jumpstart into using this program. It will really help me keep track of which resources are listed for which tasks, as well as whether the resources are adequate for each task.

Sam also mentions how to edit or create new filters. One specific way to change filters that I thought was a great tip was the Highlight filter. This filter will highlight all tasks or resources that meet a certain criteria chosen by the user, such as, for example, critical tasks. This filter helps a new user distinguish, in the table, what tasks they are looking for or what tasks might be affecting another task.

One other item that I thought was helpful in the Views section of the video referred to a Relationship Diagram. The Relationship Diagram shows the predecessors and successors for a certain task. This gives the user the ability to look up a task and quickly identify the tasks that must be completed before and after it without searching through the entire task sheet.

Sam also talks about reporting and various helpful reports in the video. One of the best reports mentioned is the To-do list. This allows the user to compile and print out the list of tasks that need to be accomplished by each resource. This is handy for the project manager because he can hand these reports out to the various resources. I also recommend viewing the video because Sam goes into detail about how to export the project file into other programs as well as how to turn it into a PDF.

The second hour of the video is presented by Bill Raymond. Bill’s topics are about updating and tracking the status of a project. This is a great section for newer users to review because Bill goes into how you can update and track your progress and compare it to the original plan set at the start of the project. One of the things I think new users should learn to do is set a baseline. The Set Baseline tool allows you to see on the Gantt chart the difference in progress from the original plan to the current status. Bill also talked about a feature that will highlight changes made to the project if an item is changed, for example, how a change in the duration of one task affects the start times of other tasks. This makes it so easy for new users to track what kind of changes are made, as some may be very subtle. Bill also mentioned how to update the project by percent complete. Although I think this is important, I think a better way to update a project is to use the Actual Work and Actual Costs windows. This allows the user to put in the actual hours worked on a specific task, leaving Project to then calculate and update that percent complete value. I think the latter makes it easier for new users, who may not be familiar with updating tasks, to accurately show the status of each task. I strongly recommend new users view that portion of the video.

The final topic dealt with comparing results using custom fields and formulas. Although I think this section may be a little advanced for beginning users, I think it’s helpful that Bill showed how to make fields into graphical indicators. This makes viewing the sheets a little easier on the eyes and makes it easier to identify problem areas. All in all, I think this video is great for users who are familiar with MS Project but are still new to how it works. I recommend users view it as it gives great tips on how to progress with your project.