Webinar Recap: Understanding Calendars and Scheduling in Microsoft Project

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Dale Howard’s Understanding Calendars and Scheduling in Microsoft Project webinar 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 webinar. Understanding Calendars and Scheduling in Microsoft Project. My name is Kyle and I’ll be the moderator today.

Kyle: This session is eligible for 1 PMI PDU in the Technical category and the code to claim that with PMI is on the screen now.

Kyle: Like all MPUG webinars, the recording of this session will be posted to mpug.com shortly after the live presentation wraps up and all MPUG members can watch these recordings at anytime and still be eligible to earn the 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.

Kyle: Within your history, you can print or download your transcript, Certificates of Completion including the one for today and you can access that by logging on to mpug.com, click My Account and then click on the Webinar Reports link.

Kyle: If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at anytime using the chat question box. I’m going to go to webinar control panel.

Kyle: We plan to answer those questions at the end of each session during the presentation today. All right, we’ll go ahead and begin. We’re very happy to welcome back Dale Howard today.

Kyle: Dale is the Director of Education for Projility. He has used Microsoft Project since version 4.0 for Windows 95 and he has used the Microsoft PPM tool since the first version released as project central in the year 2000.

Kyle: He is the co-author of 21 books on Microsoft Project, server and online and Dale is currently one of 28 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world and one of only six here in the US.

Kyle: So with that said, I would like to welcome you back Dale and I’ll hand it over to you to get a start with today’s session.

Dale Howard: Hey everybody, good morning. Welcome to our webinar today. Get the Most Out of Calendars and Scheduling using Microsoft Project. It is I, your old friend Dale Howard. As Kyle mentioned, I’m the Director of Education at Projility. I’m one of only a handful of Microsoft Project MVPs in the world and in the US.

Dale Howard: I’ve actually written one more book since Kyle updated my resume. I’ve currently co-authored 22 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server and Project Online and I’m actually working on book number 23 right now even as we speak.

Dale Howard: I’ve got a long history with Microsoft Project and Microsoft’s PPM tools. I am speaking to you today live, but not in person from my home in Ellisville, Missouri. I’m in the west suburb of St. Louis.

Dale Howard: A little bit about my employer, Projility, we are a Microsoft Gold PPM Partner, have been so since 2006 which is pretty rare in this day and age. We’ve got expertise in the Microsoft PPM tools and in Microsoft Dynamics.

Dale Howard: We’ve done hundreds of successful Microsoft PPM deployments. We are the publisher of the first book that covers both Project Online and Project Server 2019 for Project Managers. We have multiple locations around the country in Maryland, Florida, Texas and Southern California.

Dale Howard: All right, enough of the commercial. Let’s get on with things. Let me talk with you first about setting up the Standard Calendar in Microsoft Project. Now, the first and most important thing we should always remember is Microsoft Project is a scheduling tool.

Dale Howard: The software uses calendars to schedule every task in a project. At a minimum, I recommend that you add your company holidays to the Standard calendar in each one of your projects.

Dale Howard: If you don’t do that, your Standard calendar can create an overly optimistic project schedule that as a consequence, is very likely to slip. So let’s go ahead and do our first demo and when I’m done, we’ll ask Kyle to read me off some of your questions.

Dale Howard: So let me flip over to my copy of Microsoft Project. I’ve got a new project that I’ve created and I’m ready to do some company holidays. So to do that, you click the Project tab to display the project ribbon and then you click the Change Working Time button.

Dale Howard: Now, by default, Microsoft Project does display the Standard calendar for editing. To spare you the madness of watching me set every one of these holidays as non-working time, I’ve put in a few as a courtesy.

Dale Howard: So you can see already, I’ve got New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and then occurrences when the company holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday. All right, so here’s what we’re going to do.

Dale Howard: We’ll scroll to November and I wanted to show you first how to set recurring company holidays that occur on the same day of the week every year. So for example, Thanksgiving Day is always the fourth Friday of November.

Dale Howard: So I’ll start with 2020, I’ll select the fourth Friday. Now, to make this a company holiday, I’ll put in the name of the holiday. This is Thanksgiving Day and then I’ll just right arrow over and you’ll see that sets one occurrence of the company holiday.

Dale Howard: Now, what I’ll do next is I want to make this recur. So I’ll click the Details button and this displays the details dialog for the Thanksgiving Day, non-working time occurrence. So what I’d like to do is set the pattern to be every year and it will be on the fourth Thursday of November and I’ll make five occurrences.

Dale Howard: I usually go with five but you can certainly do 10 if that turns your crank. So when I click OK, you’ll see that I’ve now set company holidays from November of this year through November of 2024.

Dale Howard: A word of caution to you. A lot of people would expect that if their company gives you the Friday after Thanksgiving as a company holiday as well, which my company does, that you could just make a recurring holiday on the fourth Friday of November and it seems like you’d be in good shape doing that, but folks, know there’s a problem.

Dale Howard: Let me show you here. I’m going to scroll to November of 2024. Oops, look at this everybody. There’s the fourth Friday of November, but it’s not the Friday after Thanksgiving, there’s the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Dale Howard: It’s when November the 1st is on a Friday. Now generally, you’ll run into that problem every six or seven years. So if you’re if you’re not going that far out in time, you might be okay.

Dale Howard: So what I recommend you do is something like this. Select the Friday after Thanksgiving of the first year you want to do it and then put in something like this, Thanksgiving or excuse me.

Dale Howard: Friday, oops, if this guy could learn how to type, that would be good. Friday after Thanksgiving and then I would just put in the year and then go ahead and make five of those individual occurrences.

Dale Howard: Okay, so that’s the first holiday I wanted to set Thanksgiving Day and we see how to do the Friday after. Now, let’s also talk about how to set a recurring holiday when it occurs on a specific date each month.

Dale Howard: The three problem dates at a minimum are going to be New Year’s Day, January 1st, Independence Day, July 4th, and Christmas Day, December the 25th. So let’s go ahead and put in Christmas Day and right arrow over and we’ll click details, and we’ll make this yearly on December 25th and we’ll make five occurrences. Bingo.

Dale Howard: Nothing too extraordinary about that. However, when a holiday falls on a specific date each month, then what you need to do is scroll through the calendar grid and look for any occurrences of that holiday that occur on a Saturday or Sunday.

Dale Howard: So I scroll to December 2021 and look at here, Christmas Day is on a Saturday. So what I will do and here’s what you need to do, you need to set your exceptions based on whatever your company’s HR policies are regarding a company holiday on weekends.

Dale Howard: A lot of companies will do if it’s on a Saturday, you get the Friday before. If it’s on a Sunday, you get the Monday after, but there are certainly exceptions to that. I’ve known of companies where you always get the Friday before or you always get the Monday after and some companies say you just get an extra personal day, then use it as you want.

Dale Howard: So what I recommend you do is if your company has an exception like the Friday before or the Monday after, then do this. Select the date, and then type in something like this, Christmas Day 2021 and then call it Observed because that’s an observance of something that happens on a weekend.

Dale Howard: Okay, so let’s go ahead and we’ll stop right there and Kyle, I am ready for some questions if we have any.

Kyle: Thanks Dale. No questions in the queue just yet, but just a reminder to anyone throughout the session, you can send your questions over and we’ll answer those live.

Dale Howard: Yup, okay, good. That’s pretty straightforward stuff. I didn’t expect too many questions there. All right, so let’s get back to my PowerPoint. Let’s talk about the next topic, Creating New Base Calendars.

Dale Howard: After you add your company holidays to the Standard calendar in a project, then I also recommend you create any additional new base calendars as needed. You might have situations like this.

Dale Howard: You need a calendar to schedule work that only occurs on a Saturday and or Sunday. You might need a calendar to schedule work that will occur seven days a week, eight hours a day with no holidays at all.

Dale Howard: You might need a calendar that matches the working schedule of a vendor or a client. You might need a calendar for your staff who work a four-day work week at 10 hours a day or you might even need calendars for shift work.

Dale Howard: So let’s go ahead and we’ll do a little demo and then we’ll go ahead and entertain another round of questions. So let me go ahead and close this and we’ll open my next sample file and we’ll go back to the change working time dialog.

Dale Howard: I did want you to notice that I’ve got all of these different holidays all created on my calendar [inaudible 00:12:34] is actually, we’re going to take the day off on that one. So I just wanted to show you, here’s all these different exceptions that I’ve created.

Dale Howard: Wow, that’s pretty thorough and that doesn’t even include federal holidays. So what I want to show you now is creating a couple of calendars that will help me to schedule work only on a weekend or to schedule work seven days a week. So first, let’s do a weekend only calendar.

Dale Howard: So to create a new calendar, you click the Create New Calendar button and then you either create a new one from scratch or you make a copy of an existing one. Well, I want to create a new one from scratch and I’m going to call this weekend work only. Bingo, and I click OK and it creates a new blank calendar.

Dale Howard: The default working time is 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday only. Now to change the working schedule on a calendar, it’s not entirely obvious, what you have to do is you have to click the Work Weeks Tab and then you have to click the Default line item in the data grid.

Dale Howard: That default line item is how Microsoft Project knows 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00 and then you can click the Details button to be able to change the working schedule for that calendar.

Dale Howard: So what I’ll do is this, I’ll select Sunday, hold down the control key and select Saturday and then I will select the options set days to these specific working times. So I’m going to say we’re going to work from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There we go. That’s for Sundays and Saturdays.

Dale Howard: Now, the Monday through Friday part of it I’ll select those days, but I want those to be non-working time. So I’ll select the option set days to non-working time, click OK, bingo. There’s the new calendar.

Dale Howard: If I click on any Sunday, I see it’s 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00. If I click on any work day notes, all non-working time and Saturday is working time again. Now let me click OK and that will basically finish the calendar in Microsoft Project and it saves it in the project for me, create a calendar that I could use for scheduling work seven days a week with no holidays, that’s specifically for fast-tracking a task where we’ve just got to work on it as many days in a row as we can just get her done so to speak.

Dale Howard: So I’ll click the Create New Calendar button again, except this time, I’m going to make a copy of a calendar and the one I’m going to copy is the new weekend work only calendar because it’s already got Saturdays and Sundays set as working time and I’m going to call this the 7×8 Work Week calendar. I’ll click OK.

Dale Howard: Now it’s a copy, so we can see Sundays and Saturdays are marked as working time. I’ll go to the Work Weeks tab, make sure Default is selected, click details, this is so simple. I’ll select Monday through Friday and I’ll select the option, use project default times through these days and very faintly in the background, you can see the default time is 8:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 5:00.

Dale Howard: So when I click OK, look, every day of the week is a working day. Alrighty, so Kyle, let’s go back to you and let’s see if anybody has questions about that content.

Kyle: Dale, we did get a question that came in. I’m not sure if we should save it for later or not, but Julie was curious, “If you do this in one project, how you would repeat that for other projects you may have that it would apply to.”

Dale Howard: Oh Julie, very good question. I’m going to address that in the very next section of this webinar. So I’ll show you how to do that in just a moment. So good. Kyle, did we have any others that slipped in while we’re talking?

Kyle: Let’s see. We do have one from Karen asking, “Can the weekend calendar be applied for maintenance work done on the weekends?”

Dale Howard: Say that again, please? Can it be applied for maintenance work …

Kyle: That’s done on the weekends?

Dale Howard: Oh, that’s done. Yes, absolutely. In fact, that would be the purpose of a weekend work only calendar and it will have to be applied as a task calendar and guess what? I’m going to be discussing task calendars just a little bit later in our webinars.

Dale Howard: So you folks are right on. I think you can see where this webinar is headed. Good. Kyle, any others before I continue?

Kyle: Nope, that was it Dale.

Dale Howard: All right, beautiful. Okay, so let me get back to my PowerPoint. Next thing I wanted to talk with you about is setting the working schedule on a calendar and we’ve already seen this a couple of times, but you may need to change the working schedule on any calendar if it is different than the normal 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday working schedule.

Dale Howard: You would certainly need to do this for a four day by 10 hour work week calendar and for shift calendars as well, but where you don’t need to do it is if your work schedule only differs slightly from 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00.

Dale Howard: For example, I had a student one time who insisted, “Well, our schedule is 8:00 to 12:00 and 12:30 to 4:30.” And the student wanted to change the schedule in all of his projects for that.

Dale Howard: I was like, “No, you don’t need to do that. Does it make any difference to us whether a task finishes at 5:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m.? We’re not tracking our projects at the half hour level.”

Dale Howard: So I only recommend that you change the working schedule if there is something radically different than 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00. So let’s go ahead and demo that. Let me get another sample file open.

Dale Howard: Oh, you know what? Sorry, I think I want to keep this open. All right, maybe I should pay attention to my presenter notes. So let’s go back here and what I would like to do is create a calendar for the people in our organization who work four days a week, 10 hours a day, Monday through Thursday and Friday is always off as non-working time.

Dale Howard: I do want company holidays on this calendar. So I’ll click Create New Calendar, we’re going to make this a copy of the standard and I’m going to call this 4×10 Work Week and click OK.

Dale Howard: Now, this calendar follows the normal company holidays. So for example, there’s Memorial Day. So we’ll go to the Work Weeks tab, select the Default item, go to Details and now, here’s how we will do it.

Dale Howard: The working schedule for the 4×10 people in our company is as follows. I’ll select Set Days to these specific working times. They work 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and they work 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 8:00 to 1:00, 2:00 to 7:00, that’s a 10 hour work day, then I’ll select Friday, make that non-working time, click OK and bingo, there we have it.

Dale Howard: So if I select any day of the week Monday through Thursday, I can see it’s 8:00 to 1:00, 2:00 to 7:00, but all Fridays are marked as non-working time. Okay, now let’s go back to the PowerPoint and let’s address the first question, I believe it was Julie who asked this.

Dale Howard: What if I do all the calendars I need in a single project? What do we need to do to make them available to all other projects? And that process involves copying calendars to and even from the Global.mpt file.

Dale Howard: After you’ve created company holidays to and added them to the standard calendar, you’ve created new calendars as needed, I recommend that you copy all of those calendars to your Global.mpt file to make them available to all future projects and also, to current projects as well.

Dale Howard: Now, to get there, you click the File tab that takes and then go to the Info page in the backstage, click the button called Organizer and then in the organizer dialog, you click the Calendars tab.

Dale Howard: Now, in the Organizer dialog, what you will do is copy calendars from the right side which are the ones that are in the project you’re working on over to the left side which puts them into the Global.mpt file.

Dale Howard: So let’s go ahead and demo how to do that. So if I click File, Info, Organizer, Calendars. Look at this ladies and gentlemen, there’s the four calendars that I’ve been working with this morning.

Dale Howard: The Standard calendar is the edited calendar, we’ve got the 4×10, the 7×8 and the weekend only. Now when you click Copy, you’ll always get this warning telling you that you’re about to overwrite the Standard calendar which would have no company holidays to one that has your company holidays on it.

Dale Howard: So the correct answer would always be yes, you do want to do that. Now, let me just show you that this really did work as we hope. If I go to a new blank project and I click Change Working Time, bingo, look at this. Everybody, look, the standard calendar has all the company holidays on it and if I look at the custom calendars, there’s the 4×10, there’s the 7×8, there’s the weekend work only, bingo, all the calendars are available.

Dale Howard: Now, the other half of this process however is what do you do about your current existing projects and the main concern would be the standard calendar because if you don’t have holidays on that calendar, then here’s what you can do.

Dale Howard: You’ll go to File, Info, Organizer, Calendars and over here on the left in the Global, that’s where your company holidays are, that’s on that standard calendar, what you could do is copy the standard from the left side and the global into the current project and you’re going to end up overwriting the Standard calendar there.

Dale Howard: So let me actually I’ll go ahead and do that and I’ll show you how that works and you just click Yes and Bingo, now each existing project, you just need to do that for each of your existing projects. Okay, so Kyle, I’m ready for another round of questions.

Kyle: We did have someone curious, “Just to confirm, do you need admin privileges to edit the Global.mpt file?

Dale Howard: No, because once that’s installed on your computer, that is your personal Global.mpt file. It is similar to the file that you have in Microsoft Word. You have your … The template that’s on your hard drive that is used to create new blank Word documents, very similar to that. So nope, you don’t need any special permissions to make that happen. That was a good question. Nobody’s ever asked me that before. Kyle, any other questions?

Kyle: Great Dale. Nope, that was the only one that came in.

Dale Howard: Yup, all right, terrific. Well folks, we’re on a roll so let me go ahead and close these sample files and let me go ahead and open number three and get back to my PowerPoint. Okay, so next thing, I wanted to talk with you about the three types of calendars that are available and can be set in Microsoft Project to determine the correct schedule of your project.

Dale Howard: The first type of calendar is called the Project Calendar and the Project Calendar is used by Microsoft Project to determine the initial schedule of every task before you assign resources.

Dale Howard: Once you assign resources to a task, the Resource Calendar of each resource then determines the schedule of a task. An option you may need to use and this was another question that was already raised about maintenance work.

Dale Howard: Sometimes you need to completely override the schedule of a task with a schedule shown on an alternate calendar. So let’s say we had some maintenance work that needed to be done on a weekend.

Dale Howard: Well, based on the Project Calendar or the Resource Calendars that work would be scheduled during the week day, but you can override that schedule by using a task calendar that has weekend hours scheduled on it.

Dale Howard: So to set up the Project Calendar, you need to do this. You go to the Project Information Dialog, you click the Calendar pick list, you select the calendar, boom. If you want to use the standard calendar, you can skip that step entirely because Microsoft Project by default selects the standard calendar for you.

Dale Howard: Now, if you select any other calendar on that first dialog, then you’ve got to set the non-working time calendar to the same calendar. Now, this is the one part of Microsoft Project that I think people find confusing and many people will never find this.

Dale Howard: The non-working time calendar is the calendar used by the software to draw the gray shaded bands in the Gantt chart pane. Those vertical gray shaded bands are non-working time.

Dale Howard: If you select an alternate calendar as the Project Calendar, you need to select that same alternate calendar as the non working time calendar as well and here’s how you do it folks. You double click anywhere in a gray shaded band.

Dale Howard: Microsoft Project will open the timescale dialog with the non-working time tab selected, you click the calendar pick list and you select exactly the same calendar. Now, you may also need to … So let me … Let’s go ahead and do a demo here and Kyle, I’m going to take all the questions right after this.

Dale Howard: So let me start my demo with this. This is a project that I created using a template and in this template, the template author applied a calendar that has all of our company holidays, including Federal Holidays.

Dale Howard: However, on this particular project, I don’t need those Federal Holidays, I just need the general company holidays that most companies recognize. So what I’m going to do is I’ll click project information and see the calendar right here everybody? Calendar Federal Holidays, I’m going to change this to the Standard Calendar.

Dale Howard: That’s the calendar I was showing you and I’d been working with all along. Now, when I click the OK button, I want you to notice the schedule changed here. The schedule changed. In fact, because I’m screencasting, sometimes Microsoft Project doesn’t show the blue change highlighting, but you can see it right there. That date just changed.

Dale Howard: Now, once I selected the Project Calendar, then I need to select the non-working time calendar as well. So here’s the gray shaded bands. Now let me show you something really unusual here.

Dale Howard: Oh, there we go. And look, I scroll and now the change highlighting just showed up. Here’s what I wanted to show you. This task right here. Look, it’s scheduled to start on a Monday, but that Monday has a gray shaded band.

Dale Howard: It looks like it’s a company holiday. How can this be? Well, here’s the problem. When I double click in the gray shaded band, Microsoft Project opens the timescale dialog, non-working time tab and I can see the calendar didn’t change automatically, it’s still set to Federal Holidays in this dialog.

Dale Howard: So what I have to do is I have to pick the same calendar twice. So when I go to select Standard, look, it now says it’s designated as the Project Calendar. All right, so let’s pick standard. I click OK and now look at that, the gray shaded band went away and now you can see the schedule is correct.

Dale Howard: Okay, now let me get back to my PowerPoint and let’s go do just a little bit more content and demo and then we’ll entertain another round of questions in just a couple of minutes. So the next thing I wanted to talk with you about is adding PTO or Personal Time Off to Resource Calendars.

Dale Howard: My recommendation is that you do this for every resource in your project team as you have the time available to do it. Keep in mind, that every resource in your project team has its own calendar based on the schedule of a base calendar.

Dale Howard: So on those individual personal calendars, you can add Planned Time Off such as vacation on the calendars of your team members as is appropriate. So let’s go ahead and take a look at how to do this.

Dale Howard: Now, before we do this, I want to show you task number 23. So let’s get that task scrolled into view. Now, this particular task is assigned to a resource named Amy McKay and then one other resource as well and what I need … Oh, and you know what? My bad.

Dale Howard: Let me, maybe if I get the right calendar open here, that would make a difference. Okay, here we go. All right. Let’s go down to … Let me do that again real quick. My bad everybody. Sorry. Yup, it looks like we’re good here.

Dale Howard: Okay, so let’s go down to task number 23. Frame new walls. This is what I wanted to show you. This task is assigned to two resources, Amy McKay and Gene Cain and you can see the task will be scheduled to be done during the weeks of March the 7th, March 14th, March 21st.

Dale Howard: It’s currently a 10-day duration and you can see the task will finish on March 23rd. All right, so here’s the deal. Amy McKay is going to take some vacation, she has reported and it’s been approved, she’ll be gone March 15th through the 19th. See that? Right in the middle of this task.

Dale Howard: So we’ll go to the Resource Sheet view, find the name Amy McKay, double click, we’ll go to the Change Working time button, that will take us to the change working time dialog. This is for Amy McKay’s Resource Calendar. Notice it’s based on this standard calendar which means that Amy gets company holidays marked as non-working time.

Dale Howard: Look, there’s Memorial Day. All right, so let me go ahead and scroll to March of 2021, the 15th through the 19th, we’ll put that in as PTO. Now on the calendar, notice how it marks each day as non-working time, I’ll click OK, I’ll click OK.

Dale Howard: I’ll go back to the Gantt chart view and task number 23. Look, the duration has changed to 15 days and the finish date changed from the 23rd to the 30th. So what’s going on here is Gene and Amy work part of the first week, then Gene works alone and then Amy and Gene work again, and then Amy works a little bit alone.

Dale Howard: In the real world, you wouldn’t allow that, you’d find a substitute for Amy McKay. Bring somebody else, it could be Terry Madison for example in this particular project, but I’m just gonna leave it that way.

Dale Howard: I wanted to show you that Microsoft Project is trying to give us an accurate schedule. Now, the question was raised about how to do maintenance work to make it occur on a weekend. In a situation like this, what you will do is you will use a task calendar as a schedule override.

Dale Howard: The schedule of each task is governed by the Project Calendar and the resource calendars of the resources assigned to the task, but you can apply a task calendar to completely override this task schedule with an alternate schedule for example to schedule the task to occur only on a weekend or to schedule a task to occur seven days a week.

Dale Howard: So let’s demonstrate how to do this. Task number 52 is our Install LAN backbone task. We have this assigned to Russ Powell. Right now, the task is scheduled for 10 days duration, that’s 10 working days and not … No work on weekends, but what we want to do is fast-track this task so that it’s work seven days a week, no company holidays involved.

Dale Howard: Let’s get her done as fast as we can. So here’s how to apply a task calendar. Double click the task, go to the Advanced tab. In the bottom half of the dialog, there is a calendar pick list item, everybody always think of this item that says calendar as the override calendar, always think of it as the override calendar.

Dale Howard: So is there any override installed right now? No, no override applied, but to apply the override, here we are, 7×8 work week. Now, when I select that task calendar, Microsoft Project activates this checkbox scheduling ignores resource calendars.

Dale Howard: We’ll see the problem is Russ Powell doesn’t work weekends. He only works Monday through Friday. So we’re going to tell Microsoft Project to totally ignore his calendar and to schedule the task entirely using the 7×8 work week calendar.

Dale Howard: When I click OK, bingo, now look, my change highlighting is showing up and there we are everybody, there is the new earlier finish date and the task is rescheduled. All right Kyle, so now let’s go ahead and do another round of questions.

Kyle: Great. Thanks Dale. We did get quite a few questions that came in so please let me know if we should move on. We could always come back.

Dale Howard: Okay, yup.

Kyle: First of all, how many calendars can be used in a schedule?

Dale Howard: Oh, there is a limit and I don’t remember what it is, but it’s a very, very large number. So I would say just think in terms of there’s no limit to how many calendars you can have.

Kyle: Okay.

Dale Howard: That’s a good one. Yup. That’s not a concern.

Kyle: And a couple of these you definitely touched on during the demo. So you may have already answered them, but asked [inaudible 00:40:30] asked, “How did the calendars interact with the options for working time?”

Dale Howard: They do interact and that’s on the Schedule page of the Project Options dialog. I’m going to show an example in just a minute. That will show you how sometimes a calendar will seem to conflict with those options. So I’ll be showing that in the next section, but that’s a good question. Yup.

Kyle: Great. And then the next two are kind of related. First one is, “When you create a master schedule, which calendar of the subsidiary schedules will be used?” And another one asked, “So the calendar and Project Calendar overrides resource and task calendars?” So I guess questions related regarding the overriding.

Dale Howard: Okay, yeah. In a master project, the calendars involved in each sub-project will control the schedule of the sub-project. Now if there’s additional scheduling that goes beyond that, Microsoft Project will figure it out and the master project. All right, so that’s the first one. Then what was the second part of that question Kyle?

Kyle: Todd was curious, “So the calendar in Project Calendar overrides resource and task calendars?”

Dale Howard: Nope. Nope. The order of precedence is this. When you create your initial task list, the Project Calendar controls the schedule of each task. When you assign resources, the Resource Calendars control the schedule of each task, and then the final override as you can use a task calendar to completely override the schedule of the task with a new alternate schedule. So task calendar technically is the most powerful. All right, that was a good question.

Kyle: All right, I think kind of adding on to that, there was a question asking about if there’s a master resource calendar to apply to any project that the resource may be working on?

Dale Howard: What you would need to do, that’s a good question. Once you’ve set up a calendar for a resource in one project, then I … Frankly, I would go ahead and save a project schedule that includes just my project team members and nothing else, no tasks or anything else and I can go ahead and put in there, half the company holidays and everything obviously, but then I can add their PTO and so forth and then you can just copy those resources into individual projects.

Dale Howard: Now by copy, I mean, you do this. For example, Amy McKay, she’s got vacation time. What you do is you select the row ID number for the resource and when you click Copy, it copies every single detail for that resource and then you go paste it into a project and everything comes along with the resource. That’s how you would do it.

Dale Howard: The alternative is to use a tool like Microsoft Project Server or Project Online where there’s a centralized enterprise resource pool where somebody can add or administrators or designated people can add vacation to people’s calendars, and then it’s automatically distributed to every project that uses that resource in the PPM system. So good question Kyle. Do we have any others? Great?

Kyle: Great. Yeah, we have one more from Todd with regards to options that is in change working time. “How does setting default start and end time along with hours per day, hours per week, days per month, et cetera, affect the different calendars?”

Dale Howard: Good, that’s a good question. Todd, when you are working with calendars and [inaudible 00:44:54] shown on your standard calendar, whoops, let me get to a different view here. Project, change working time.

Dale Howard: All right, so here’s the standard calendar. What you need to make sure Todd is that the working schedule shown on your Project Calendar matches this schedule shown on the Schedule page of the project Options dialog, specifically, default start time and end time and hours per day, those three.

Dale Howard: You don’t need to worry so much about hours per week and days per month, but these first three, you need to make sure that your Project Calendar and your schedule options are in sync.

Dale Howard: If you are using for example, a calendar that automatically, your Project Calendar is 10 days or 10 hours a day, four days a week and that is your Project Calendar and that’s the schedule, you would need to reflect that in these first three as well.

Dale Howard: Otherwise, when settings get out of sync, all kinds of craziness will ensue. All right, and I can’t go into too much more detail on that. Todd, I’m sorry, because we’re going to run out of time otherwise, but you’ve got to keep the project options setting on the Schedule page in sync with what your Project Calendar is for the project. All right, good. Was that our last one Kyle?

Kyle: Yup, that was it.

Dale Howard: Okay, very good. So let me open one more sample file. While I’m thinking of it. Let me get back to my PowerPoint. Okay, understanding the impact of calendars. Folks, calendars control the schedule of every task in your project, components of the task’s schedule include the duration, Start Date and Finish Date, we would know that automatically and sometimes, you’re going to run into scheduling mysteries with Microsoft Project.

Dale Howard: I’ve seen many, many, many of them over the years and I can tell you this, nearly every scheduling mystery can be explained by one or more calendars in the project. Now, along with the scheduling mystery, sometimes frankly it’s a mystery how Microsoft Project calculated the duration of a task.

Dale Howard: So I wanted to let you know that the software will use one of two methods to calculate duration. One method is the software will calculate the number of working days between the start date and finish date of the task.

Dale Howard: The other way is when you have a task calendar or a resource calendar that exceeds eight hours a day and a working day, then this software will fall back and use the duration equation to calculate the duration instead and by duration equation, I mean this, duration is calculated as the number of work hours divided by units times hours per day.

Dale Howard: Now, that hours per day setting is found on the Schedule page of the Project Options dialog, I just showed that a moment ago to answer Todd’s question. The default value is eight unless you say otherwise.

Dale Howard: So let’s go ahead and do the final demo here. All right, ladies and gentlemen, here is a series of scheduling mysteries. I have seven tasks in this project schedule. I want you to notice the time span of every task is exactly the same length. Look at that, they all start and finish on the same days and then you look at the duration column, what the heck is going on here? Five days, four days, seven and a half, eight, four, seven, five.

Dale Howard: How can it be that the Gantt bars run exactly the same time span and yet the duration is totally different on each of these tasks. At this point, most people would say, I don’t know, I think it’s a bug and we’ll just shake our heads, but I want you to trust the schedule with Microsoft Project.

Dale Howard: So let me show you how the duration is correct and the schedule is correct for every one of these tasks. Now, here’s a little technique that I like to use to troubleshoot scheduling mysteries.

Dale Howard: I’ll go ahead and go to the split screen view. By the way, I right clicked in the Gantt chart pane and chose show split and that takes me to the Gantt chart in the top pane task form in the bottom, this is called the task entry view and then instead of the task form in the bottom pane, I’m going to choose the resource usage view.

Dale Howard: Now, what I’m doing here is I’m right clicking on the view bar, and I’ll choose resource usage. Now, for Task A, the duration is five days. When I look at the schedule for Audrey Kehrli, everybody, count with me one, two, three, four, five. That’s how Microsoft Project came up with the duration.

Dale Howard: Now, the schedule of the task, I am kind of concerned how this whole range from Thursday through Monday is marked with no work, so to determine that, I can just double click the name Audrey Kehrli, go to change working time and here’s what we discover.

Dale Howard: She’s not working Thursday because it’s Thanksgiving Day. She’s taken Friday off as a personal day, she’s taking the next Monday off as a personal day, she’s going out of town to visit family and having a long Thanksgiving weekend.

Dale Howard: So that’s why she isn’t scheduled to work in the middle of the task. Problem solved. Let’s look at Task B. This task, time span, whoa, what is this crazy schedule here? Well, first of all, let’s determine is the duration right?

Dale Howard: Everybody count with me. One, two, three, four. Duration four days, bingo. So the duration is correct, but I don’t understand this crazy working schedule so I’ll double click Dave Harbaugh, go to Change Working Time.

Dale Howard: Oh, for heaven’s sakes, look at this everybody, look at his calendar. He’s a college intern. He’s working in our company as a college intern from Washington University for example here in St. Louis and because he’s a college intern, he has Thanksgiving break.

Dale Howard: So that includes the Friday after Thanksgiving. So when we look at his schedule, he only normally works Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and he’s going to classes Tuesday and Thursday and not working for us.

Dale Howard: So when we look at this crazy schedule, it’s not crazy, the calendar for Dave Harbaugh is controlling his schedule. Now, what about Task C? And this is the one Todd you were asking about options settings and so forth.

Dale Howard: This is a very unusual situation where Kent Bergstrand is actually scheduled to work 10 hour days. So we can’t just count the duration here. One, two, three, four, five, six, see? Because it comes up 7.5, but I did want to show you the schedule of Kent Bergstrand is governed by and look at this everybody, the 4×10 work week calendar.

Dale Howard: He works Monday through Thursdays, 8:00 to 1:00, 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. So how did Microsoft Project calculate this duration? Because the work on his calendar exceeds eight hours a day. What Microsoft Project does is it falls back to using the duration equation instead.

Dale Howard: Now, I would love it if it didn’t do that. I would love it if we could just go one, two, three, four, five, six and the duration came up in six days, but nope, that isn’t how the software works.

Dale Howard: Instead, what Microsoft Project does is this, it uses the duration equation which would be 60 hours of work, divided by 100% times eight. 60 divided by 8 equals 7.5 days. By the way, don’t ask me if there’s any way to make Microsoft Project work different than that because I will disappoint you, the answer is no, this is the way the software works.

Dale Howard: This is the way it’s always work. So the way I like to explain this is that Microsoft Project is scheduling seven and a half days of work into that shorter time period. Okay, so let’s move on. A few more scheduling mysteries as we have time.

Dale Howard: Here’s Mike Andrews’ working schedule. I see the duration is eight days. One, two, three, four, five. Five, six, seven, eight, okay. Eight days, eight days, that’s good, but now, wait a minute. Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.

Dale Howard: How is it possible Mike Andrews is scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day? So I’ll double click Mike, go to change working time. Oh, for heaven’s sakes, look at this ladies and gentlemen.

Dale Howard: There is an exception on his calendar, cover Help Desk on Thanksgiving Day. Poor dumb slob, he’s going to have to work while we’re all taking the day off because let’s pretend our company is worldwide. People in Canada, Mexico, England, Singapore and India, they’re not taking Thanksgiving day off.

Dale Howard: So he has to work the help desk. Now, one thing I wanted you to know is you can use exceptions not only to schedule non-working time, but you can use exceptions to override non-working time and make them working time.

Dale Howard: So if I go to the details dialog, here it is right here, working time 8:00 a.m. to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00. So poor Mike, he’s working Thanksgiving Day. Now, let’s go ahead and take a look at just a couple more here.

Dale Howard: Task E has a very unusual schedule with a split right in the middle of it. I noticed that Al is working Monday, Tuesday, then he’s done and then in the next week, Tuesday, Wednesday, we have Debby working, what’s going on here?

Dale Howard: So if I double click Al Pettit, here’s his situation. Al is taking the Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week as PTO and the Monday of the next week. He’s also going out of town to visit family. He’s only scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Dale Howard: Okay, look, Monday, Tuesday. Yup. Al’s schedule is correct. Now, what about Debbie? So if I double click Debbie and go to change working time, what’s going on here? Oh, oh, vacation. Look, Debby’s taken the whole week of Thanksgiving week off, and she’s taking Monday of the next week as well.

Dale Howard: So for Debby, the entire time period right here, Thanksgiving week plus the next Monday is non-working time. Therefore, her week is correctly scheduled to be Tuesday, Wednesday of the following week and the split in the middle is because Al works, then nobody works and then Debby works.

Dale Howard: All right, I’m going to do just one more and then we’re running out of time. This one is and let me do Task G. Let me do Task G because this one I think really will prove to you that you can trust the schedule of tasks and you can trust the duration of tasks as long as you know the rules that Microsoft Project follows.

Dale Howard: All right, the duration of this task is five days. Here is how Microsoft Project calculated five days. Count with me everybody. One, one and a half, two, three, four, four and a half, five. See these partial working days? They count as only half days in the calculation of duration.

Dale Howard: So five days is absolutely right. Now, how did Microsoft Project come up with this unusual schedule? If I double click Bob Jared, here’s the deal. He is on loan to this project from another department.

Dale Howard: They’ve told us you can have Bob Mondays and Fridays of every week until he is no longer needed. He is able to work every Monday and Friday, 8:00 to 12:00, 1:00 to 5:00. So there’s Bob’s schedule, Mondays, Fridays, Monday again.

Dale Howard: Now, Loretta Houlihan, where’s these four hours coming from? So if I double click her name, go to Change Working time, Loretta is another resource that is on loan to our project from another department where she actually works on that departmental Help Desk.

Dale Howard: They told us you can have Loretta part-time Monday through Thursday afternoons only because Friday, she covers the Help Desk all day. She’s covering the help desk in the mornings, but she can work on our project in the afternoons, but only four hours a day.

Dale Howard: So we look at her schedule, look, there we are, plus there’s Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after, and then she’s working again half-time. So I just want this to inspire your confidence, to be able to trust the schedule and trust the duration as long as you understand the rules for how Microsoft Project will calculate duration. Do we have any parting questions, Kyle? Because I realized I went a couple minutes over.

Kyle: Oh, it’s no problem Dale, thanks for everything today. No, that takes us up to the endpoint here, but the only question I would have for you is if anybody is interested in reaching out to you or learning more about Projility, where would they go for that?

Dale Howard: Right here folks, you can contact us. Thank you for asking Kyle. You can contact us at our email info@projility.com or just go visit our website www.projility.com. and thanks everybody for coming to our webinar. Really appreciate your good and thoughtful questions today. Thanks everybody.

Kyle: And thank you Dale, that was a great session. We really appreciate your time and sharing your expertise with the community today. For those of you claiming the PDU credit, I’ll get the code back on the screen for you now and today’s session is eligible for one PDU in the Technical category mpug031120 is the code you would use to claim that with PMI and if you missed any … This session, would like to go back and review anything that Dale shared with us today, a recording will be posted to mpug.com in just a couple hours and you’ll receive an email with a link to view that on mpug.com

Kyle: We also have some great sessions coming up on the calendar. I am chatting over a link, so you can see the full list, but for the next couple of weeks here, we have Sai Prasad joining us next Wednesday to cover Making Project for the Web Smarter.

Kyle: So how to maximize your returns from Microsoft’s new online offering and the following week, Alan Morgan will join us to show us leveraging SharePoint with the Microsoft Project Sync.

Kyle: Both those sessions are open for registration along with quite a few others. So be sure to check those out and save your seat at those sessions and that does it for today. So thanks again Dale and thank you to everyone that joined us live and sending questions.

Kyle: Again, those watching on demand, we hope you have a great rest of your day and we’ll see you back next week for our next live session. Thanks.


Watch the on-demand session


Avatar photo
Written by Dale Howard

Dale Howard is currently a Senior PPM Consultant with Arch Systems, Inc. His hair and beard have turned white because of using Microsoft’s project management tools for more than 20 years. Dale started his career using Microsoft Project 4.0 for Windows 95 and began using Microsoft’s PPM tools when they introduced Project Central in 2000. Dale is the co-author of 23 books in Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He is currently one 0f 26 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world and one of only 4 Project MVPs in the United states.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply