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Vendor Showcase Recap: Using WBS Schedule Pro – By Critical Tools

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Jim Spiller’s showcase session, Using WBS Schedule Pro, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello everyone and welcome to today’s MPUG Vendor Showcase session. You’ve seen WBS Schedule Pro presented by Critical Tools. My name is Kyle and I’ll be the moderator today. Before we begin, I would just like to remind everyone that this is a vendor showcase session, which is a little bit different then a typical MPUG training webinar. The presenter will discuss and demo a third party product in a no pressure, stress-free environment for you.

Kyle: These products are not out of the box functionality for projects but they do require a product trial or a purchase to use them. This session is eligible for one PMI PEU in the technical category. Like all MPUG webinars, a recording will be posted to MPUG.com shortly after the live presentation ends. All MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn that PDU credit.

Kyle: All the sessions you watch on demand can be submitted to your webinar history and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted. Within your history you can print or download your transfer and certificates of completion including the one for today’s event. If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at any time using the chat question box on the go to webinar control panel. We do plan to answer those questions for you throughout the session today.

Kyle: All right. We will go ahead and begin. We’re very happy to welcome back Jim Spiller today. Jim is the president of Critical Tools, the makers of WBS Schedule Pro Software. Jim has been a part of the product management software business since 1985 and for the past 20 plus years with Critical Tools. Jim helped design and develop the software that you’ll see demoed today called WBS Schedule Pro. With that said, I’d like to welcome you Jim and I’ll hand it over to you get us started with today’s presentation.

Jim Spiller: Thanks Kyle. Hello everyone. Let me push this button to show my screen. I assume everybody can see the screen and hear me. If not, Kyle will let me know.

Kyle: All good.

Jim Spiller: All good? Awesome. Thanks. Again, if you have any questions throughout the webinar, chime in, let Kyle know, he’ll relay a message to me. If you have any questions just go ahead and ask them as we’re going along rather than when we get off the topic and I have to come back to it. It’s okay to interrupt. Kyle will find a nice spot to chime in.

Jim Spiller: Today we’re going to cover a lot of ground discussing our software, WBS Scheduling Pro. What it is, what it can do, how it works with Microsoft Project, how it can be used by itself and so forth. A brief history of the tool. The tool, in it’s first form, was released way back in 1994, so a long time ago. It was produced as an add-on to Microsoft Project to simply create work breakdown structure charts from Microsoft Project Plans.

Jim Spiller: It was real simple at that time. It was called WBS Chart Pro. It just took a Microsoft Project plan and created a work breakdown structure chart just like this. This is the tool. This is a work breakdown structure chart that was produced in WBS Schedule Pro but their early versions of this was simply a tool to go from Microsoft Project to a work breakdown structure and printed out and that was it.

Jim Spiller: As time went on, we added the capability to create the charts first and then go back to Microsoft Project. We also added other types of charts to the tool. One of those is a network chart, which if you’ve ever used a network chart in Microsoft Project, they’re too be desired. We created this other tool a couple of years later called PERT Chart Expert that was used to create nice looking network charts from Microsoft Project plans.

Jim Spiller: Then, a few years ago in 2014, we took those two tools, which were always separate tools for the first 20 years or so, that would be a Schedule Pro to do work breakdown PERT Chart Expert to do network charts and we combined those into one tool called WBS Schedule Pro. WBS Schedule Pro now contains WBS charts, network charts, it even has a Gantt chart similar to Microsoft Projects Gantt chart but it’s a little simpler and it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. It does have a Gantt chart.

Jim Spiller: What we’re going to do today, is we’re going to talk about WBS Schedule Pro. What it is, it’s a planning tool. It does task-planning, task-scheduling to manage your project utilizing a WBS chart, a network chart, and even Gantt charts just like you can in Microsoft Project. We’re going to talk about how you can use the tool both as a stand alone planning tool, so you can use WBS Schedule Pro by itself.

Jim Spiller: One of the things we did over the years was we created the ability to do scheduling in the tool by itself. It didn’t really take data from Microsoft Project, it can use the data and calculate things like critical path and float and slack and all that stuff all by itself so you can create the self-contained plan. It can also be used with Microsoft Project.

Jim Spiller: It is still an add-on to Microsoft Project and it can be used to create nice looking charts from your existing Microsoft Project plans or, what a lot of people use it for, is to create plans first in WBS Schedule Pro. It’s a little bit easier to create your plans and work breakdown structure chart and then transfer those plans to Microsoft Projects. We’ll show you a little bit of both. How to use the tool by itself and how to use the tool with Microsoft Project.

Jim Spiller: I showed you this before. This is WBS Schedule Pro and this is a work breakdown structure chart in WBS Schedule Pro. A work breakdown structure chart is basically a way to organize the tasks in a project in a top-down or hierarchical type of chart. If you’ve ever used a Gantt chart, so if you’ve used Microsoft Project, you’ve used a Gantt chart and you indent tasks.

Jim Spiller: You indent tasks to create a structure of your project. These tasks here are a subset of this of this summary task. These summary tasks are a subset of this summary task. Really, a WBS chart is just flipping that and going more in a top-down sort of view. It’s a great way to visualize a project. It’s a great way to brainstorm it to begin the planning process by breaking it down in more of top-down fashion. It’s just a real simple, clean way of planning and displaying a project.

Jim Spiller: Along with what you saw here, the work breakdown, we also have network charts, which is a different sort of view that you can use in Schedule Pro to show the dependencies in a project. As you create your tasks and as you create your summary tasks, as these groupings are called, you can create the dependencies and the critical path to say that, “We have a task in a project, we have to do this. It takes 10 days. It’s starts after we have this start milestone. This one links to this task.” We have this flow, these links and dependencies that you do in a project. It moves more left to right in time, similar to the way a Gantt chart shows you dependencies in a timescale. A network chart is just another way of viewing a timescale dependency diagram.

Jim Spiller: What I want to do here, is show you how to use WBS Schedule Pro by itself to create a project. Eventually, we’ll get into the idea of how to create charts from Microsoft Project plans and then how to take an existing chart or a chart that you create here in Schedule Pro and then transfer that to Microsoft Project. If you really want to use it with Microsoft Project, we’ll show you why you’d want to do that and how.

Jim Spiller: First, what I want to do is just take this and get rid of it and start from scratch and show you what the tool can do for you. How to schedule the tasks in a project using WBS Schedule Pro specifically in a WBS chart and then transferring it to a network chart and then going to Microsoft Project. If you open Schedule Pro, what you get is a blank chart. You can see over here on the left, there’s the different type of charts that you can use to schedule or create a plan. When you start the program, it starts you in a WBS chart, specifically this one called WBS planning view.

Jim Spiller: The planning view is a very simple view that allows you to create a simple top-down, structure plan. The first thing you want to do in this blank chart is to insert your very first task. We’ll use this task, the top most level of the chart. We’ll call it something like project summary. From there, you kind of want to work your way down.

Jim Spiller: Maybe the second level of your plan are going to be the phases of your project. If you go back up here you can see there’s the insert button. You can hit the insert button to just insert a task after the current task or you can hit the dropdown arrow to insert items relative to the selected item, another words before or after or as a sub-task cause that’s what we want to do here.

Jim Spiller: We want to insert the next task as a sub-task to the top task. This is going to be our first phase. We’ll call this the design phase. Back to the insert button. We want to create a new task after that because we want to create another phase after the design phase so we’re going to use this button here called the task after. This is going to be maybe our programming phase. Oops. We’ll just call this program phase. And another task after that, which will be our testing phase, for example.

Jim Spiller: From there, we can go back and we can break down what each of these phases would entail by adding tasks below those. Another words, we’ll go back to the insert task. We’ll insert a task as a sub-test of the design phase and now design task 1. I can move around with the keyboard, I can move around with the mouse by selecting different items.

Jim Spiller: You can see that the selected task has a red bar around it. Everything you do is relative to the selected task. If I hover over that task, you can see it tells me a little bit about the task. If I double click on the task, I can see there’s some information that I can put in there about that task, maybe it takes five days. We can add work and cost and resources. We’ll do that later. Let’s finish planning the tasks right now. Click okay. That five days will stay there and we can utilize it later.

Jim Spiller: I can also use my keyboard to add tasks. If you’re a keyboard user and you want to add tasks fast with your keyboard, you can do that using the Alt arrow keys on your keyboard. If I am on the design task here and I hold the Alt key down and hit the right right, so Alt right arrow, I add a task to the right of that. If I hold the Alt key down again, I can add another one and another one. I go Alt down, right, right, down, right, right, down. It’s a real fast way to create tasks using the Alt arrow key combination. I can use my arrow keys to move around again. I can even delete what I’ve added real quick. Just delete. I’ll keep this task and I’ll call this design, oops, design task two. I’ll add another one real quick.

Jim Spiller: I’ll go up the programming phase and add a few tasks there. Program one, program two, okay, program three. Test phase. I’ll go Alt down, I’ll use my keyboard again. Test one. Oops. Alt right, test two. We’ll leave it at that. I’ve created a nice structure very quickly with the tasks that are in each of these phases.

Jim Spiller: Let’s take a quick look around at what else we can do with WBS chart while we’ve got a small plan here. Again, there’s a lot of WBS views over here in this WBS chart area. All those are, are just variations of WBS charts that show different arrangements and fields and properties of a WBS chart. I’ll show you what they look like and then we’ll come back to the planning view and kind of work on some more stuff here.

Jim Spiller: If we just click on the top WBS chart view, we can see that this is the same structure but the tasks are just arranged a little bit differently. What this does is it takes the summary tasks that we’ve created and puts those with boxes around them and kind of makes them more go left and right. Then it just stacks the tasks vertically under each summary. This is just a style of a WBS chart. Again, the planning view shows a style like this, where it shows boxes around the tasks and tasks horizontally underneath the summary tasks and a WBS chart view shows them stacked up vertically. This is a nice view, but we prefer to plan the project using a planning view and you can always come back to the WBS chart view if you want to display it and print it out that way. It’s more of a compact view.

Jim Spiller: Some other things you can look at with the WBS views is there’s boxes around the tasks and you can color your charts. You can show a small chart and you can show lots of detail for the tasks in the boxes. This is a nice chart to show your structure plus a lot of the details about a task, so, how many days and the WBS code. You can see that it’s automatically generating your WBS codes as you break down the project. You can show costs and hours in a WBS chart. The one thing to realize about a WBS chart, is it does roll up all the information to the subsequent levels of your WBS. If I put in 40 hours here on this task and 60 hours here on this task, 100 hours here on this task. I can do costs.

Jim Spiller: You can see how the tasks maintain the hours and the costs and it’s rolled up to the phase levels, which then again gets rolled up the summary level. This particular WBS chart shows this information. The information is always there whether you show it or not, is up to you. You can choose to just show the structure of a project or you can choose to show the structure plus some neat details about the tasks and the summary tasks in your project.

Jim Spiller: Again, the planning view is kind of where we started and the planning views and variations of that with some details. The last of the WBS type of charts is this one. This is kind of neat. It shows some neat little grids in here. Basically, any of these WBS views can be turned into another one just by using the features in the format menu. The format menu is where you go to format the style of the WBS charts. If you wanted to change this style to maybe show these particular tasks listed vertically underneath their summary, you can do things like that in the format menu. You can adjust the spacing between boxes and all that stuff too. Lots of options in a WBS chart.

Jim Spiller: Again, we’ll go back here and just show you a basic WBS chart and some other things that you can do with a WBS chart. One of those is, you can see that as you develop your project, you develop phases and sub-phases. You can hide certain items. If you don’t want to see those at that particular point in time, you click the expand and collapse button underneath the summary task to hide boxes. This allows you do create a high level view of a project. If you want to see a high level view of you project that shows just the costs, you roll everything up to the phase level. Back to the home tab, you could also do the same things with these buttons up here including you can show all summaries or expand all. This just saves you from having to click each individual one, one at a time. You just use these buttons up here to say expand all or shows summaries only or expand any individual ones.

Jim Spiller: As you’re working with and they get very large and they tend to get very large very quickly cause if you have a bigger plan, you can use this focus button right here. It’s on the home tab of a WBS chart to isolate just a particular section of your WBS, so I can work with just the design phase, I can add new tasks, I can add things just specific to this particular phase. I can remove the focus to show how that fits into the overall chart.

Jim Spiller: Again, we saw that you can take any particular task and double click to add the hours, the cost, the starts and finishes. Probably not a good idea to add starts and finishes, much for the same reason you don’t want to add starts and finishes in a Gantt chart if you’re in Microsoft Project, it tends to put in constraints when you type in hard starts and hard finishes. You want to let the dependencies dictate your start and finishes. For a WBS chart maybe you want to put in the duration, maybe the work, maybe some cost. Leave the starts and finishes for when you create your dependencies in the network chart or the Gantt chart.

Jim Spiller: After you’ve developed your WBS chart and you’ve developed the tasks and put all the information you want for the task, you might want to think about developing the schedule for your project. You can do that either in a network chart of Schedule Pro or the Gantt chart. The network chart is probably the easiest. What the network chart shows you is the groups or the phases you’ve defined and then the tasks that you listed under each of those phases.

Jim Spiller: From there you can create your schedule easily by clicking and dragging between the task you create to the dependencies that exists between the tasks. For example, if you do design two after design one, you just click in the design one task and you hover over design two and let it go, that creates the dependency. You can see that design two starts a day after design one finishes. That’s happened automatically based on the dependency you defined.

Jim Spiller: What I’m going to do now is I’m going to stop these little hover things from appearing. I’m going to go in here under file options and I’m going to go to settings. I’m not going to go to settings, I’m going to go to advanced. I’m going to say disable the tool tips. It’s a little distracting so that’s just one of the options you have. You can hover over a task and it displays those hover tips and sometimes they get a little distracting so I turn those off.

Jim Spiller: To complete the dependencies in your project, you just continue to click and drag between items in your chart. I can click from a task in one phase to a task in another and it creates dependencies across phases. I can even create a new task that’s dependent on a task that exists in here by just clicking in one task and outside into white space will create a dependency to the task that you initially started on. I can quickly create some dependencies here. I’ll create a new task. We’ll just call this the end and I will create a zero duration task, which would be a milestone. You can see that milestones are curved corners, that’s just one of the options you can have in a network chart is to have your milestones as curved corner boxes as opposed to sharp edge boxes. You can put your durations in here.

Jim Spiller: You can see that it constantly calculates the critical path. The critical paths would be the longest path of work to the end of the project. You can see it goes through these red tasks here. What this looks like in a Gantt chart, you just click on a Gantt chart option and you can see that this is the Gantt that exists in WBS Schedule Pro. It looks a lot like Microsoft Projects Gantt, if you use that. It’s a little simpler to use and it doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles that Microsoft Project has but maybe you don’t need all those. You can zoom in and zoom out on a Gantt chart just like you can in Microsoft Project. Again, you can go back to your network chart, back to your WBS chart at any time.

Jim Spiller: That’s a quick overview of how to create a project in WBS Schedule Pro. That’s all by itself. It’s a stand alone project. You could save this and continue to use it all by itself in WBS Schedule Pro or if you wanted to get real fancy and you had Microsoft Project and you wanted to use it with Microsoft Project, you can take this information and transfer it to Microsoft Project. You can do that by clicking the button here that says go to Microsoft Project. And what that does, is it takes this current project, it tells you it’s currently self-contained but transferring it to Microsoft Project is going to take all the data out of here and put it into a Microsoft Project plan.

Jim Spiller: That’s important to know that when you work with Microsoft Project and WBS Schedule Pro, that the data exists in Microsoft Project so once you put it into Microsoft Project, it is an MPP file. That’s where the data is. You can’t look at a WBS chart without opening the corresponding Microsoft Project file if you transfer your data to Microsoft Project. I will do that. I will give it a name. I’ll just call it junk. It will take this project and put it into Microsoft Project where it will remain there. You can go back and forth.

Jim Spiller: Another key distinction is, when you have the project in Microsoft Project, anything you do in the Microsoft Project plan, if I add new tasks, if I change durations here in this particular task, I have the ability now to go back to the WBS chart or the network chart in WBS Schedule Pro and you’ll see how everything gets updated. In Microsoft Project, if you integrate the two tools, you’ll see some buttons up here at the top of the chart or at the top of the Microsoft Project window that allow you to go back to the WBS Schedule Pro, either the WBS chart or the network chart or the Gantt chart or the task sheet in WBS Schedule Pro, which is just the grid portion, the spreadsheet portion.

Jim Spiller: You can have a tab in Microsoft Project where you can click to go back to any of the type of charts that you were working with in WBS Schedule Pro. We’ll go back to the WBS chart in WBS Schedule Pro and you can see these new tasks I’ve added here. Everything is dynamic and also everything I do in WBS chart affects Microsoft Project. I can take things in Schedule Pro and move them around, add new tasks, delete tasks. If I delete that, I’m deleting it in Microsoft Project.

Jim Spiller: One of the nice tools in WBS Schedule Pro is the ability to rearrange things. I didn’t show you that before but we can show you that now. In Schedule Pro, it’s really easy to rearrange things just by clicking and dragging. If I wanted to put this testing phase before the programming phase, I would click on it, drag it. You can see when I place it on of another section, it puts these little right arrows, that’s placing it relative to where the arrows go. So, if I want to put it to the left of the programming phase, I would let it go here. Now, if I go back to Microsoft Project, you can see that it was done that way in Microsoft Project. It put the testing phase before the programming phase. Again, back in Schedule Pro, I can put the testing phase back over here. Again, it has updated Microsoft Project. It has to close these down in order to work properly with Project but you can open them back up. It’s real dynamic. Whatever you do in Project, affects Schedule Pro.

Jim Spiller: One of the nice things you can do in Microsoft Project, is use the filters in Microsoft Project. We have people who have very large projects, several thousand-task projects, that they just want to see a small portion of their projects. A lot of our users use this with their network charts in Schedule Pro to filter out a small portion of their plans in Microsoft Project and just show a network chart of that small portion of their Microsoft Project plan. To do that, you simply use the filters that exist in Microsoft Project to filter, let’s say, on critical tasks for example. Now this is a smaller section of your Microsoft Project plan that when I go to Schedule Pro, it shows just the filtered portion of the Microsoft Project plan so I can work with just this section. Add new tasks, for example, or print out just small section of your Microsoft Project plan. Again, back in Project, I can remove the filters to show the whole project.

Jim Spiller: That’s the integration with Project and Schedule Pro. Why would you want to do that? Well, Microsoft Project has a Gantt chart, that’s pretty much their main emphasis. They have a network diagram, it’s kind of clunky. It’s kind of hard to follow. Lines overlap. This is, again, Microsoft Project’s network chart. It’s pretty hard to follow so, if you really want to see a project using a network chart, try the network chart in Schedule Pros. It’s just much easier to follow and much easier to decipher, especially for the fact that we don’t overlap lines, you can clearly see what tasks are linked to what other tasks. Microsoft Project does not have any sort of WBS chart. There’s no way to get a visual of a top-down plan using a WBS chart in Microsoft Project so, you have to come to WBS Schedule Pro for that. WBS Schedule Pro has a Gantt chart, so if you’re using Microsoft Project and happy with the Gantt, you can use the Gantt in Microsoft Project. The Tag sheet, we didn’t really touch on but a Tag sheet is just a spreadsheet portion of the Gantt chart.

Jim Spiller: I’m going to stop here for a second and see if there’s any questions. Does anybody have any questions? If so, relay them to Kyle and Kyle will relay them to me. Take a short break.[crosstalk 00:27:44].

Kyle: Yeah. I did have a couple of questions regarding compatibility. The first one, asking which versions of Microsoft Project it’s compatible with? Which platforms?

Jim Spiller: Every version of Microsoft Projects, since the desktop version Project 94. Let me get back. This is Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project has a desktop client-based version now, which is the traditional version of Microsoft Project that you see here. They also have something Project Online. Now, Project Online is not Microsoft Project on the web. Project Online is a set of tools in a browser-based system that allows you to take plans created here, in the desktop client, and do things at a very high level in a browser-based system. WBS Schedule Pro is compatible with this version Project V, the desktop version of Project. Again, there is no desktop version of Project Online. Project Online is just a small set of tools. As far as this, the desktop client version of Microsoft Project, we are compatible with all versions, Project 98, Project 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2016, and 2019, so pretty much every version.

Kyle: Great. Thanks Jim. Also, another question here from Andrew, curious if it’s strictly Windows-based or if it works with other platforms as well?

Jim Spiller: Schedule Pro is strictly a Windows-based system, yes. It will work on a mac and an emulator, so we have a lot of people using Parallel and VMware and Bootcamp and Vines on their macOS. It will not work under the macOS environment natively. You have to be under Windows. It’s a large ordeal to port it over to a mac environment. Don’t know if the markets there so we’re strictly a Windows-based system at this point.

Kyle: Okay. Great. I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Jim Spiller: Okay.

Kyle: Moving on to the next one here, Moses just said, he’s been using the tool for years and it’s outstanding. It’s easy to use and said thank you as well. That’s great feedback there. Let’s see if we have other… It looks like we have some other ones coming in. Two that are somewhat similar here, one from Sue asking, what options does the software have for sharing with a project team and also with customers? We also had someone else ask if there’s printing capabilities that are available?

Jim Spiller: Oh sure. We’ll get into that and we’ll get into printing capabilities.

Kyle: Perfect.

Jim Spiller: As far as presenting the Projects, we’ll talk a little bit about that. That’s kind of a segue way into printing. To present the project, there’s full printing capabilities. When you want to print something, you just preview it and print it. You can print it to a physical piece of paper, you can print it to a PDF file. PDF file is an excellent way to distribute the tool, cause everybody’s got a PDF writer and we support all the different paper sizes that are supported by your Windows drivers or your printers or your PDF files. As far as distributing the tool, we don’t have a reader for the tool, but we can print to PDF files, which is a great way to distribute the charts that you have.

Jim Spiller: Along those lines, I was going to say something but it slipped my mind. I think I was going to talk about being a browser-based system. We’re not a browser-based system, it’s strictly a desktop system at this point. Being in a browser-based system is a little complex for a very graphical tool like this. As far as sharing the files, you could put those in a common place where people can access the files. As long as they have the tool, they can open the files. Again, presenting the files to other people would require printing. You can also copy the picture. By copying the picture, it will copy it to the clipboard. You can paste it into PowerPoint or Word or what have you. Again, sometimes the charts get very large and copying a picture to a thing like PowerPoint, which is a one-page at a time kind of system, they get real condensed.

Jim Spiller: Getting back to the person who says they’ve used the tool for a long time, if you haven’t used the latest version, we released a version earlier this year that does a lot of neat things. There’s not a lot of real fancy new features of the tool but there’s a lot of tools in this recent version that makes it nice to visualize the projects. I’m going to go over some of those. If there’s no more questions, I’ll talk about some of the newer features that we’ve added recently. Are there any other questions, Kyle?

Kyle: Nope. That was it for the moment.

Jim Spiller: All right. Some of the things we did in the current version, is we really tried to increase or improve the way the charts look. One of those is by adding different color combinations and radiant fills, and also some things on the chart that allow you to show indicators. For example, if I have a task that’s 100% complete, maybe I have some notes on the task. This is also a great feature I want to touch on, is the ability to add notes. Instead of just having a name of a task, every task can have notes. Notes can be substantial so, you can have a lot of notes. It’s an unlimited amount of notes. When you have notes on a task, you get a little indicator that says, “Oh, there’s some notes on a task,” and when a task is complete, you get a little indicator that shows that the task is complete.

Jim Spiller: This is one of the newer features of the tool that we added recently that can be turned on and off under the format tab of any of the charts, the WBS, the network, or the Gantt charts. You can see there’s these indicators. If you have a constraint on a task and you want to see what that constraint is. So, a must start on, for example, you can hover over it. Well, I turned those hover things off, let me turn them back on. The indicator allows you to just see at a glance, what’s going on with the project. Just by hovering, you can see some of the notes. You can see if a chart is complete.

Jim Spiller: Another thing we did with the tool, is the ability to, when you’re printing, you can add graphics now. This is a new feature where you can add graphics to your headers and footers, so if you want to put a company logo in a chart. Let me get rid of some of these. As I’m printing, I can edit the headers and footers to put logos. I can enter a footer, on the left side of the footer I can insert an image. Where did I put my images? There we are. I could put a company logo in now. This is a new feature, we hadn’t had the ability to put in images to printed output or subsequently, images onto the chart itself.

Jim Spiller: Putting images on the chart itself is just like the ability to add call outs, which are a way of annotating a chart. Let me talk about that for a second, then I’ll show you how to put some images on the chart itself. If you right click on any task or box in a chart, you can use something called a call out. What a call out is, is a way to just add a freeform text box to a chart. Blah, blah, blah, you get the idea. This is something that’s either attached to a box and you can point to a box, or you can add it somewhere in your chart by just adding a call out. This is more or less a freeform box that’s not attached to anything so, it’s just text that’s out there. It’s not a task, it’s not a summary, it’s just something that helps you annotate your chart.

Jim Spiller: You can see if I put my cursor over that box, it changes. One is a four cornered item, that allows you take it and move it around. The other one is the link icon, which allows you to link it to a particular item in your charts. If I link this call out, I can actually point it something, so if it refers to this, I could point it. If it refers to two tasks in a chart, you could link it to both of those. Sometimes that little thing looks funny. I can increase the size of the box just to show different sizes. I could edit the text by right-clicking and change the style of the box and so on and so forth.

Jim Spiller: You can see this is a nice way to annotate the charts and then can have it in a network chart or a WBS chart or even a Gantt chart just by adding a linked call out by right-clicking on a box and choosing that option. Subsequently, you can add images to the chart itself. For example, if you had an image somewhere and you copied and pasted it to the clipboard, you could paste it into the chart. I’ve got a nice little SpongeBob, and who doesn’t love SpongeBob? If you copy the image to the clipboard, I can go back to the chart and past the image, oops, just by using control V, which is the paste image.

Jim Spiller: Now, I can place the image anywhere in a chart. I can place it in a network chart. I can paste it in a WBS chart. I can resize it. Now it’s there. It will print with the chart. Similar to a company logo, which you put into a header and footer, you can import images into the chart itself. That’s a new feature that we recently added.

Jim Spiller: Again, that’s kind of it as far as WBS charts, network charts, Gantt charts, working with Microsoft Project. I’m still linked to this Microsoft Project plan and you can see that there’s a little icon down here on the bottom of the chart that says I’m linked. That means I can go back to Microsoft Project at any time and see the data there. Go back to either a WBS chart or a network chart and there it is.

Jim Spiller: Any other questions about printing, the integration with Microsoft Project? Anything at all.

Kyle: Yeah. It looks like we have one that checks both of those boxes actually. This was question was can we save these printable files in Microsoft Project?

Jim Spiller: No. Well, Microsoft Project saves Microsoft Project plans so, you need to be clear that Schedule Pro is a separate product that what you save is from within WBS Schedule Pro. If you’re back in Microsoft Project, you save Microsoft Project things like, their Gantt chart and their network charts and things that are a part of Microsoft Project. When you’re in Schedule Pro, you save and print things that are in displayed in WBS Schedule Pros so they’re two separate applications.

Jim Spiller: What you do in WBS Schedule Pro, is printable within Schedule Pro. The way you print from Microsoft Project, is you go to Schedule Pro, create this neat looking graph here and print that. That’s kind of the whole idea between Project and Schedule Pro is you create these plans in Schedule Pro to print them in this new and improved way.

Kyle: Okay. Great. One more question here asking about, if there’s language tools, language options and different settings for things like that where you could use different languages in the tool?

Jim Spiller: That’s a good question. Right now WBS Schedule Pro is in English only. We don’t have translated versions of the tool. It will work with any language version of Microsoft Project. We have a big resilient base and they use the Portuguese version of Microsoft Project and all of the information in Schedule Pro is displayed in Portuguese, like the durations and the work and the cost and even the constraint types that are listed. All the things that you would display in a chart, are listed in the language that you use Microsoft Project in. It’s just that the menus and the icons here are still in English. We haven’t translated the tool yet into other versions. That’s a good question.

Kyle: Thanks for the question. The next one I have here, from Andrew, asking does it work with items that are available in projects in terms of lead, lags, start and finish relationships, things of that nature?

Jim Spiller: Yeah. Actually, it works with most of the Project fields. If I double click on a task and I go to my custom tab here, you can see that it uses Microsoft Project fields. If you use the text fields in Microsoft Project, maybe you use the text field to list your departments, for example, and you want to say this is department A. It utilizes the fields in Microsoft Project so, you can see the predecessors and the successor and the actual start. These are fields that exist in Microsoft Project, so what you do here will affect those fields in Microsoft Project.

Jim Spiller: I can even insert a field to show you that it does utilize a lot of the fields that are from Microsoft Project. The outline code field, if you use that. By far, the most common is the text field of Microsoft Project. The text fields of Microsoft Project are just bare fields that you could use to type any information into. To expand on that a little bit, you can even rename the fields in Schedule Pro.

Jim Spiller: What I’ll do is I’ll close this and I’ll show you how to do that real quick. If I go the project tab and I go to the fields, I can show you that the text fields in WBS Schedule Pro can be renamed and that will carry over into Microsoft Project. You can even create value lists. Oops. To create a value list that’s linked to Microsoft Project, you have to be on Microsoft Project. You can see here. That’s a limitation of Microsoft Project. We can’t link to a value list of Microsoft Project, it’s a technical limitation.

Jim Spiller: You can rename the field and if you go back to Microsoft Project, and you show the… There’s the text field in Microsoft Project, it’s been renamed. I can show that field and I can add information to that field in Microsoft Project or add the information in WBS Schedule Pro and it will carry over. That’s a good question about the fields. We utilize the fields of Microsoft Project in WBS Schedule Pro and everything is transferred back and forth. Great question.

Kyle: Excellent. Quick question from Ben. You mentioned earlier that there is a newer release of the tool with some of these newer features. He is just curious how do you check what version of the tool he’s currently running and what is the latest version?

Jim Spiller: Sure. Great question. If you are in WBS Schedule Pro and you go to file, about, you can see the version. This is the latest version, it’s 5.1.0025. If you have any version prior to that, 5.1.0022 or whatever, anything above 5.1, you can update easily and for free by using the file menu and choosing, check for updates. If you use the check for updates feature in anything above 5.1, it will go out to our server, check for updates, update your version and you’ll be on your way.

Jim Spiller: If you have a version that’s before 5.1, which is about four years old, it doesn’t have the check for update features. In that case, you can just go to our website, download the latest, uninstall what you have, reinstall the new version and you’ll be on the latest version. Anything that was released in the last four to five years is a free update. You just either use the check for update feature or go to the website. If you go to the downloads section of our website, there’s instructions on how to update to the latest version and it’s free. If you have a earlier version of our tools, for example, the WBS Chart Pro and PERT Chart Expert versions, which were replaced by Schedule Pro back in 2014, those are upgrades that you have to pay for.

Jim Spiller: They’re pretty cheap, it’s $99 to upgrade the specific version of WBS Schedule Pro that only does WBS charts or it’s $150 to upgrade to the full WBS Schedule Pro version, which has WBS charts, network charts, and Gantt charts. If you have a really old version, it costs money. If you a version that’s four or five years old, it’s a free update so it’s kind of nice.

Kyle: Awesome. Yeah. Thanks Jim. We did have a bunch of questions that came in about as far as licensing and pricing and things like that. I’m sure you’ll share a resource where they can reach out for more info and get quotes and details on that?

Jim Spiller: The pricing is listed on the website if you go to critical tools.com. There’s a place up there that lists pricing. We have individual licenses. An individual license of WBS Schedule Pro is $349. We have quantity discounts that start at five with a nice quantity discount. If you buy 10, it reduces the price to $280 per copy, so it’s a lot cheaper than Microsoft Project with a lot of the things that Microsoft Project can do for a pretty decent price. That’s all on the website.

Jim Spiller: Demo versions are on the website at Critical tools.com. The website here is www.criticaltools.com. There’s a free demo. The free demo does everything that you see here, so there’ no limitations in the demo unless you get a project that’s over 50 tasks. In this project I’ve got 16 items, so the demo version you can work with and do exactly the same things that I’ve done here. There are no feature restrictions. No things that are turned off. As long as you keep the projects under 50 tasks, you can see how it works with Microsoft Project and everything.

Jim Spiller: Again, demo versions are on the website, pricing is on the website. License information is on the website. We use individual licensing, it’s not concurrent so everybody who wants to use it, should have a license. Anything else along those lines?

Kyle: Awesome. No. I think you covered all the bases there and that does it for the questions that have come in so far.

Jim Spiller: Okay. We’ve got a few minutes. I’m out of things to say. We can kind of go over some of the little features that are here and there. There’s an export to Excel, so if you were using Schedule Pro by itself and you wanted to dump that out to a spreadsheet, you can do that by using the Excel export. There’s an export to Word. It’s not a dynamic export like you can go back and forth to Excel or to Word. It’s a one-time take the data from Schedule Pro, put it out to Word, which is real nice. A lot of our users will use Word to use as a WBS dictionary, so we have templates that you can use to take the data that exists in your project and dump that out into a nicely formatted Word document that you can use as a WBS dictionary.

Jim Spiller: Resources. You can add resources in the tool. It’s not a big resource management tool. I mean it doesn’t track resource hours at the resource level. WBS Schedule Pro is more of a task scheduling tool, task dependencies. You can see the resources that are assigned to a task. In other words, I can add resources to tasks by simply creating the resources and double clicking and adding a resource but as far as detail resource management, that just doesn’t really exist in WBS Schedule Pro. What I do as far as adding a resource here in WBS Schedule Pro, when I go to Microsoft Project, I can see that it does indeed add the resource to the task where you can then use Microsoft Project for some of the more fancy and more advanced resource management aspects of Microsoft Project.

Jim Spiller: Okay, SpongeBob, time to go away. Anything else? I hope that covered everything. I hope that answered your questions. I could hang out for a few minutes.

Kyle: Yeah. That was great, Jim. I really appreciate it and thanks everyone that sent in questions. We appreciate that. I think maybe just showing the contact info or the website info one more time, for any of you watching live, there’s a screenshot icon at the top of the viewer window, so you can click that and it will just take a screenshot of this and save that contact info right to your computer. All right. Thank you so much, Jim. We really appreciate your time. That was an excellent overview of WBS Schedule Pro. Anything else before we close out today?

Jim Spiller: Thanks for coming everybody. If you have any questions, just let us know. We respond to emails. Support@criticaltools.com or give us a call, the numbers on the website. Thanks for coming.

Kyle: Excellent. Thanks Jim! For everyone claiming the PDU credit today, I’ll get that info back on the screen for you now. So, you should see that come up in just a second.. If you missed any of this or would like to go back and review anything that Jim shared with us, or share with your colleagues, your company, the recording will be posted to MPUG.com a bit later today. You’ll receive an email in just a couple of hours with a link to that. MPUG members have access to our full PDU eligible library of recordings on MPUG.com.

Kyle: Also, I have two more Vender showcase sessions coming up on the calendar next week, Barbara Connor will demo a session, Making Light Work of Schedule Risk Analysis. That’s July 22, at noon eastern. The following week on July 29, at noon, Triskell Software will join us for an overview of their Enterprise Governance Software. Both those sessions are open for registration. I’ll chat a link over to you so you can get to those and sign up. Those are free and open to everyone just like today’s event. Take a look for that link in the chat box. All right. That’s it for today’s Vendor showcase session. Once again, thank you to Jim, and thank you to everyone that joined us live or is watching us on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll see you back next week for our next Vendor showcase session. Thanks.


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Written by Jim Spiller

Jim is President of Critical Tools, Inc, makers of the WBS Schedule Pro software. Jim has been a part of the Project Management Software business since 1985. For the past 20+ years with Critical Tools, Jim helped design and develop what is now called WBS Schedule Pro. Learn more about Critical Tools, Inc.

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