Webinar Recap: Using WBS Schedule Pro – By Critical Tools

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Critical Tool’s Using WBS Schedule Pro showcase session 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 showcase session at your convenience.

Jim Spiller:                           Again, this is Jim Spiller from Critical Tools, from beautiful Austin, Texas. It is beautiful here but it’s a little hot here, so happy to be indoors chatting with you in the nice, cool, air-conditioned room.

So, here we go. What we’re going to talk about today is the WBS Schedule Pro software. A little history of the WBS Schedule Pro software. It was originally created back in 1994. The original part of it was created as an add-on to Microsoft Project to do work breakdown structure charts from existing Microsoft Project plans and that’s really all it did. You had a Microsoft Project plan that had a structure where you indent tasks in the Gantt chart and WBS Chart Pro, which was released back in 1994, was a little add-on that was used to create a more of a top-down view of that indented list from Microsoft Project. So that was the original part of WBS, what is now WBS Schedule Pro.

A few years after that, we created something called PERT Chart EXPERT. PERT Chart EXPERT allowed you to get nicer looking network charts or what Microsoft Project used to call PERT charts. They changed the name from PERT charts, which were actually just really network charts. We kind of kept the name PERT Chart EXPERT. So for a long time, we had two tools. We had WBS Chart Pro. If you wanted to do work breakdown structure charts, and PERT Chart EXPERT if you wanted to do network charts from your Microsoft Project plans.

Then about five years ago, we combined the features of those two tools, so you could have your work breakdown and your network chart capabilities all in one too. And that’s what WBS Schedule Pro is. WBS Schedule Pro combines work breakdown structure charts, network charts, and we’ve also added a Gantt chart to the tool to kind of make it an all-in-one tool. It’s a little less of a strictly an add-on to Microsoft Project now. It can be used more by itself.

So technically, what is WBS Schedule Pro? Well, it’s project management software that’s used for managing projects by defining the tasks in a project, the tasks of the things that you have to do to complete the work for a project. You define the task and then you define the order in which they need to occur. That’s kind of done in the network chart. That develops the schedule which you see the critical paths. So it does all the scheduling and critical path analysis. You can assign costs and work to your tasks and see how that rolls up to the various levels. So at its core, it’s a lot like Microsoft Project to do your basic scheduling and task management. Microsoft Project has a whole lot of more advanced capabilities but for your basic planning and task management needs, that’s what WBS Schedule Pro can do for you. Like it says here, utilizes WBS charts for planning which defines more of a top-down view of your project. You’ll see that in a few minutes. Network charts for scheduling Gantt charts and task sheets.

So really, you can use WBS Schedule Pro in two ways. You can use it as a stand-alone planning tool. If you have your basic planning needs to plan a simple project, you can even … Not a simple project but [inaudible 00:03:49] pretty advanced and there’s no limit to the number of tasks you can have. We’ve got some people with 10,000, 20,000 tasks in their project. That’s a lot of tasks to manage but you can do that in WBS Schedule Pro all by itself, so it can be used as a stand-alone project management tool.

It can also be used with Microsoft Project. Some people use it by itself. Some people use it with Microsoft Project. I say the majority of people use it in conjunction with Microsoft Project, maybe 60% now, 40% use it by itself. The integration with Microsoft Project can work in two ways. One is you can create a chart first in WBS Schedule Pro and, as you’ll see in a few minutes, it’s real easy to create a schedule. Easy, quick and very efficiently. You can use that as a front-end planning tool for Microsoft Project so create your plans first in WBS Schedule Pro, then transfer that to Microsoft Project for more advanced scheduling, if you have to do that, in Microsoft Project. Or, you can create charts of existing Microsoft Project plans so as you’ll see, WBS Schedule Pro has some charting capabilities and some capabilities that aren’t in Microsoft Project. In particular, the ability to show a WBS Chart, and a WBS Chart is a great way to view a project in a hierarchical way, from the top down. So if you have existing Microsoft Project plans and you want to see those in a WBS Chart view, you can start with your Microsoft Project plan, click a button and it immediately goes to Schedule Pro, showing you a WBS chart of that Microsoft Project plan.

So what we’ll do now is we’ll, kind of, show you all those capabilities, starting with the ability to use WBS Schedule Pro as a stand-alone tool, and then we’ll get into the Microsoft Project integration, where we’ll create a plan first in Schedule Pro, transfer that to Microsoft Project, and then go the other way. Show you an existing Microsoft Project plan and transfer that to WBS Schedule Pro.

So let me get into the program. There it is. This is WBS Schedule Pro and this happens to be a WBS chart. And a WBS chart is, like I said, a top-down view of your project. If you look at the same thing in Gantt chart, you see a Gantt chart, you can do your summarization and your structure by indenting, and what a WBS chart does is show that in more of a hierarchical viewer. These are the summary tasks, these really are the roll-up of the information at the task level so task being tasks and/or milestones. A task is the work that you have to do on a project. If you don’t have WBS chart and you double click on a task, you can see that your task has a name, it has a duration, it may be complete, it may not be, it might have some work, and other things that you can do, sort of, scheduling, where we can put starts and finish dates and things like that but we’ll get into that in a little bit.

So the work breakdown shows you the tasks at the lowest level and how those roll up into the subsequent summary levels of detail. With a work breakdown, you can do lots of neat thing like show high level views of a plan by collapsing the detail level. I can use these buttons up here to expand everything. I can show summaries only of the plan. I can focus on one particular area of the plan. So all of these things you can do in this work breakdown environment to plan and manage the project.

So Schedule Pro basically utilizes these four different types of views to plan and manage your tasks and your activities. It uses the work breakdown, uses the network chart. The network chart is more of a time phase. It goes more left to right as you show the sequence or the logic of the task. So you can see that you have a task or a milestone that needs to occur, and then these two items follow that and you can see how it works the schedules. So if this task takes 15 days, and ends on the 21st of January, for example, this task starts the very next day. If I were to increase this by a day, then this task starts a day after that. And you can see it’s also showing the critical path through your project and the critical path meaning those tasks that must complete, on time, or risk delaying the end of the project, the end milestone here which is now March 26th.

So this is the network chart view in WBS Schedule Pro. We’ll get into this in a little bit, how to add tasks and create dependencies, but you can kind of see what it looks like. The bars here, the banding that you show here, are basically the summary levels that you’ve defined here, which are also in a Gantt chart. These tasks, they’re summary tasks that you see here with the tasks indented underneath. So the Gantt chart that we have in Schedule Pro, very similar to the Gantt charts you can see in Microsoft Project. It’s a little easier to use as there’re less features and less things to get you confused.

And then a task sheet, we also have task sheets, which are just basically a spreadsheet view of the plan. So it’s more or less a Gantt chart without the Gantt bars. The various views that you can get in Schedule Pro, you can get to up here in the top by clicking a WBS network, a Gantt, or a task sheet. You can also see a list of views in this pane on the left, which this pane is configurable. You can show other things, instead of the views, so if you find a view that you like to work with, you can show different things in this pane here. For example, I can show my list of tasks. So in a WBS chart, if I just want to see a list tasks, I can click this tab down here to show the task view pane. I can go back to showing views. I could show notes. Any task here, in WBS chart, if I double click on it, there’re various pieces of information that you can add to a task including notes. If I add … I can add as many lines of notes as I want. I can see these notes here, in this pane, so if you want to work with your task and add notes, you can use this pane over here to the left to display your notes. That’s kind of a neat feature. So I will go back to displaying the views.

So this plan here is one that’s already been developed. What I want to go through now is a simple demo of how to create a plan from scratch. So you can kind of see how it looks, ultimately, but now I want to talk to you about what it takes to develop this plan. You’ll notice that when you first open WBS Schedule Pro, you’re open into a blank planning screen. This is the planning area over here and you’re opened, by default, into something call the WBS planning view. The WBS planning view is one of the WBS views that we think is the easiest to use for planning projects.

For displaying projects, we’ll get to in a second, this WBS chart view up at the top is what this displayed as … This is the other project I was showing you earlier, but this particular project display, there’s the planning view, looks a little bit different. It’s more spread out, and for planning purposes, this is a good way to go because it’s really easy to say, “Okay, we have this phase here. We’ll put this start milestone here. We’ll add a task here and maybe add another task here.” So it’s kind of working in a top-down, left-right fashion, which is easier to visualize when you’re planning. But for displaying, try this view here for displaying a project, the WBS chart view.

So you can see how you can toggle through different types of WBS-style views, and we feel this planning view is the easiest to get going with. Let me go back to this brand new plan. Brand new plan, blank chart. WBS planning view. How do I add items? How do I add tasks? How do I add summary tasks to this view? Well, you can start up here by choosing the “Insert” menu. You can see that this is an insert drop-down menu that has certain items. You could add sub-tasks and things like that. But if I just click on the box itself, I insert a task. This is just one task at the top level. And you probably, in WBS view, want to start at the top and work your way down. That’s, kind of, what top-down planning is all about.

So if I add one task, it kind of adds it right there as a box. I’ll add more to it later but we’ll just call this, “Project Summary” for now. This is going to be the top level box that we’ll use to roll up everything underneath it. From there, I can go back to the insert menu and insert a sub-task to that. What that does is it inserts another task right underneath that. I can start by saying maybe this is the first phase of this project and I want to break it down. Let’s say my project has three different phases and under [inaudible 00:13:37] those phases all have, maybe one of those with some sub-phases and then some tasks. To add another phase to the right of that, and I don’t want to go underneath it. If I were to go here, and define phase two under phase one, that’s not structured properly.

So you don’t want to have, unless you want a sub-phase of this phase, but for the second phase to be sort of a sibling of phase one, you want to put it to the right of that. So I’m going to delete this phase two, and I’m going to go back, and I’m going to add another task after this which is going to become our phase two summary box. And I’ll add another task after that, which is going to become the phase three. So at a nice high level, I’ve got a project summary and three phases. Maybe phase one breaks down into a couple of sub-phases so I’m going to add a task underneath that and another task after that, which is going to be the sub-phase two. Here’s a trick that you can use, and this is hard to demo on the screen, but I can use my keyboard to enter new tasks.

And to use the keyboard to enter new tasks, rather than the mouse, click on a task, choose the insert button, I use the Alt key on the keyboard. So I hold my Alt key down on my keyboard, which is I’m doing right now, I can use the arrow keys to add a new task. I’m holding the Alt key down and I hit the down arrow, and what that does is it puts a tasks below the task that I was just on. In other words, you can see that as I select different boxes here, there’s a red box around what we call the active or the current task. So anything I do to insert tasks or if I hit enter, it’s all done in relation to the current task. What I did, when I was on the phase two, is I hit the Alt down arrow, and that created a new task here. So now if I wanted to create a new task to the right of that, the red box is the selected task, I hit Alt right arrow, I get a new box to the right of that. If I hit Alt right again, I get a new task there. If I use my arrows to go up to phase three, I use my Alt down to get one underneath there. Alt right, Alt right.

So you can see, using my Alt and arrow keys, I can add things really fast without having to go through the mouse clicks and the insert button and so forth. So I added a bunch of garbage here. Let me show you how to delete things. So I can delete any individual tasks just by selecting it and hitting the delete key or selecting it and hitting the delete button up here. That’s a good way to delete things. I can also highlight a particular summary task somewhere and hit the delete key on the keyboard, and that will say, “Hey, you’re trying to delete a summary task. It has sub-tasks. What would you like to do? Would you like to delete that summary task and all below it? Delete the summary task but keep the sub-tasks? Or cancel this.” I’m going to go ahead and delete the summary task and everything. I’ll delete this summary task and everything and that task.

So now I’m back to this particular chart. So for this particular sub-phase, I’m going to add two more and then a few more here. And I’m going to go about just entering some names and to enter a task name, all you need to do is select the task or make it the active task, and just start typing. Task two, task three, task four, task five, you get the idea. I’ll keep going. Ah, I keep inserting tasks. Let’s not do that. You get the idea; I’m going to stop there.

Okay, so that’s as easy as it gets to add tasks in the planning view in the WBS chart. Just click and insert, use your keyboard, and so forth. As far as adding information to the tasks, again, I can double click on a particular task and I can add the durations, I can add work, I can add resources, we’ll get there in a little bit. You can also see that it’s tracking the WBS code. So the WBS code is something that’s automatically generated based on where that task is in the hierarchy so means this is the top task one. This is 1.1, this is 1.1.1, this is 1.1.2. You can also hover over a task and it will show you some information about that task also.

You can also rearrange tasks and this is a great feature for rearranging the tasks or the summary level task in your chart. To rearrange a task in a chart, I simply click on it. If I click and hold the mouse button down, I can drag that box somewhere else. And you can see as I click and start the drag process, it shows me a little shadow box and I put that task I’m dragging over another box, and it tells me, “Do you want to put it to the left of that, you want to put it to the right of that, or below that?” Maybe I want to put this task over here to the right of this task. So I basically click, drag and place. If I want to move a whole summary, I would click that summary, I can put the phase three summary to the left of phase two, if I wanted. I could put the phase three summary below this task here. I can put the phase three summary kind of back where it belongs, right over there. So clicking and dragging, from the middle of a box, specifies that you want to move. And you can also do a cut and a paste using these buttons up here.

So that’s how to rearrange tasks. You could also reposition tasks and repositioning tasks means you click on the edge of a box, and drag it down or left and right to, kind of, move it, keeping the same structure. So sometimes when you want to balance charts, you can rearrange the tasks by moving some of these things. And you can see that now, we’ve a little more condensed chart, it’s a little less wide, and that’s one way to do that. Click the top or bottom edge of a summary task in a WBS chart to reposition it. It’s not rearranging it, necessarily; it’s the same structure but it’s more repositioning it on the screen.

So that’s a little bit about working and creating a project in a WBS chart. And like I said before, this was utilizing the planning view. The other views that you can utilize, we’ll go through some of these. Now that you’ve seen how to create this basic chart, let’s see what that looks like in a WBS chart view. And you can see what the WBS chart view does. What it really does is it takes the lowest level tasks and displays them vertically, underneath their respective summaries. It also removes the box so it’s nice to have them just listed here without a box. You could put boxes around them, if you like. That’s just a feature that you can get to under the format tab and there’s lots of ways to format the boxes. This particular view just removes the boxes from the lowest level tasks and displays them vertically, and that’s what we call the WBS chart view.

And you can go through the various views to see what things might look like. Here’s a WBS chart view that’s detailed and these have boxes around the detailed tasks, in addition to other items like the start and finish date for each task. We kind of want to avoid entering starts and finish dates for tasks because we want to let the dependencies do that. So good practice is to not develop a plan, at least right away with putting in your starts and your finish dates, but go to your network chart or your Gantt chart to define the dependencies. But you could do things like add durations for the task. I can add a duration in days, I can add a duration in weeks. I can even use months to MO for months. Don’t particularly like the month duration because a month varies. A month could be 28 days in February or 31 days in July so I tend to try to stick to days or weeks. They’re more well-defined. A week is always going to be five days, unless you change that in your calendar. I’ll show you how change the calendar in a bit.

Other types of WBS views, there’s the director style view. There’s this hour and cost view which is kind of neat. So if you develop your plan and you’ve added costs and hours, for your tasks, you can see how all this information gets rolled up to the various levels. Oops, try that again. So as you have the detail task and it rolls up to their phase, these two phases roll up into this phase which ultimately rolls up into the top of the project. And that’s the neat, the great thing about at WBS chart is it shows the roll up of information very nicely. Other types of views you can explore on your own but I’ll go back to the nice, clean WBS chart view.

So once you have your schedule broken down, structured in your WBS view, you can use the network chart to define your dependencies. A dependency is a link between two tasks and what a link does is says that one task has to follow another task. There are various types of links, which we’ll get into, but the easiest way to create a link between two tasks in a network chart is just to drag from one task to the next. So I’ve said here now that task two must follow task one. As task one changes, in five days, for example, task two gets pushed out to start one day after … Task two starts one day after task one completes because it’s a five day task that starts on the 17th, taking into accounting the weekends, it’ll finish on the 23rd.

So creating a dependency, again, you click and drag from one task to the next. If this task happens to start before a task down at another phase, I can just create these dependencies across the phases, within the phases. I can even create new tasks here. If I wanted to create a new task that’s dependent on task number five, what I would do is I would click inside task number five, click and drag, and let go in white space. This creates a new task that’s now dependent on task five. So I can create new tasks quickly and easily. I can create a new task from this particular sub-phase into this phase by just clicking and letting it go down here.

So creating dependencies is quick and easy. We support the different types of dependencies. If you hover over dependency, you can see the type of dependency it is. This is what’s called a “Finish to Start.” This task must finish before this task must start. If I double click on that, I can see that I can choose from the different types of dependencies. I can say, “I want the second task to start after the start of the first task, plus so many days.” That’s what the lag does. The lag says how many, or how much time do you want to wait, after the first task to start the second task? So again, you can see the dependency will actually come out of the left edge to mean that it’s coming from the start of this task to the start of this task. If this task takes five days, this task will start two days after the start of this. So this task starts on the 17th, this tasks starts on the 19th.

And again, in a network chart, you can show time but typically the default network chart doesn’t show time. So these two tasks look like they occur at the same time but they don’t really. If you wanted to show a time scale, you could, by going to the format menu in the network chart and choosing the timescale button. This shows the time by weeks and if I wanted to show the timescale banded by, whoops, by days, then I would choose this option here. So you can see now, this is a network view with a daily timescale. It’s almost like a Gantt view but the bars are not proportional to the timescale. These are boxes that represent the tasks; they’re not proportional to any time. In other words, they’re not wide to represent a span of time. They’re just a box to represent a task and when they occur, which looks good in a non-timescale view, just to show you the logic that exists between your tasks.

So this is basically how to work a network chart. These particular phases are the phases you created in your WBS chart. You can do all the things you can do in a WBS chart like roll up the phases to show just the summary level. I can even turn these off. This is not something you can do on a WBS chart, because you have to share the structure in a WBS chart, but I can show a network chart that’s ungrouped. And what ungrouped means is pure tasks. These are just the tasks in your project and how they related to each other without reference to a structure or a summary task. Basically, your summary tasks get hidden. So that’s what it means to deselect this grouping option. Grouped will show you the phases. Ungrouped, pure tasks, so I can just work with the tasks in my project. I’ll show that again, grouped.

So that’s a summary task. I’m sorry, that’s a network chart. Gantt charts, everybody knows how to use a Gantt chart, is you can see us starting to develop here, based on the information I’ve added in the WBS and the network chart. I can do all the things I can do in Microsoft Project’s Gantt charts. I can add durations, I can add links by clicking and dragging between tasks. I can increase durations of tasks by clicking and dragging the box. So a lot of the things you can do in Microsoft Project’s Gantt charts, you can do here.

A few other features here and there that might be of interest to you is whenever you’re in a particular view, whether it’s a WBS network, a Gantt, there are various formatting options for those views. So for example, if I’m in a WBS, I can click the format button to show you, to bring up the various formatting options for the WBS chart, and this format-driven option will vary, depending on what view you have.

So a lot of things you can do here. I can define what fields I want to see in the summary boxes and/or the task boxes by choosing this field’s buttons. If I wanted to show a different field, additional field in a summary box, I could insert a field below that and maybe I want this to be the WBS number. So now, in the summary fields, I’ve got summary tasks on the chart, I can display the name and the WBS. So again, a lot of these views have various fields defined but this is how you take one view and modify it to something you might want to see. I can define how the lines look, I can define how the boxes look in the chart. I can define the spacing between the boxes in the chart. So all this stuff is set by default but you can increase and decrease and work with the various options here to match things like the widths and the heights, and those types of things.

Network charts has options too, under the format menu. We showed you how to do the timescale, you can adjust the spacing there too. There’s also a neat feature in the network chart called a trace. What the trace allows you to do is select a task in the network chart, choose trace options and trace those tasks that lead into it or go from it, either forwards or backwards. You can see, it takes a selected task and traces it all the way back and all the way forward. You can use some of the options to say, “Just trace the critical task,” or, “Limit it to just one task back, one task forward,” and so forth. That’s kind of neat. Gantt chart again has various options that you can see here.

Okay, so that’s really a quick overview of how to create a project in WBS Schedule Pro. Like I said earlier, you can use Schedule Pro in two ways. You can use it as a standalone tool, which is what we’ve done here, or you can use it in conjunction with Microsoft Project, which is what I want to show you next. But I’m going to pause here for one second, to see if there’re any questions out there that you might have about working with WBS Schedule Pro by itself. Any questions?

Kyle:                                      Hey, Jim. We did have one question come in about … Through a lady that connected with Microsoft Projects, so I’ll hold off on that one.

Jim Spiller:                           Okay, yeah. That’s what we’re going to do now.

Kyle:                                      Yeah, yeah. We did have another one. Mark had a question but it was also before you showed that Alt key shortcut to- [crosstalk 00:31:35]

Jim Spiller:                           Oh yeah, that’s a good one.

Kyle:                                      Yeah, so he was just curious. He said it looks really quick and easy to start building charts. He was curious if there’s any prebuilt templates you can, kind of, start off with?

Jim Spiller:                           We just have the sample plan, which looks very much like this.

Kyle:                                      Oh, okay.

Jim Spiller:                           Everybody’s project’s different so to put a sample … There’re various projects on the web that you can, kind of, download. Microsoft Project website, I think, has some sample projects. I’ll show you one of the sample projects that Microsoft Project has, that’s what we’ll use to create a charge of an existing plan but we just kind of gave you a default screen but no real sample templates, other than the one sample that looks very much like this.

Kyle:                                      Okay, great. I have a couple more questions coming in, it looks like.

Jim Spiller:                           Yeah, go ahead.

Kyle:                                      So [Victor 00:32:28] is curious, how do you color code each group of tasks? Like you have the red and the [inaudible 00:32:33]

Jim Spiller:                           Yeah, that’s good. Good question. Color coding. You can see there are colors here and what that is, for a WBS chart anyways, you can choose the format menu and choose boxes to color code either the shadows, the fill or the borders. In this particular case, what we’ve done with the shadows here is we’ve defined the shadows, and you can base your colors on different things. You can base your color on critical path, on flags, and a flag is just something that you set for a particular task. You just say, “I want this,” … Just, kind of, a tag, basically. You can set the colors on progress, you can set the colors based on level.

So in this particular case, what we did to get these red shadows and blue shadows is we’ve said, “I want the shadows to be based on critical path,” where your critical tasks and milestones, they have no shadow. Those are these down here; they’re, kind of, just the task name. But the critical summary has a shadow with the red and a non-critical summary has a shadow with blue.

And if I go to a different view, I’m going to show you something. Let’s go here to the WBS hours and cost view. I can color code items based on, this is actually a neat feature, based on flags. So if I wanted to change the fill color to use a flag, I can say, “I want flag one to be a green interior. I want flag two to be this ugly blue and this to be red. And for no flag, it’s just white.” So now, I can kind of start from scratch and I can say, “All right, well, this means something to me. I’ll flag it as one.” I can click on this one, I’ll make this flag two, which is now using the flag colors that’s specified and to flag a task, I double click on it. By default, it shows you the general tab. The flags tab here allows you to tag a particular task, either flag one all the way through flag 20. And you can rename these fields, too. So if flag one means something to you, you can go and rename that field to something that means something to you.

So I kind of went fast here. This might be a particular department, who knows. Now, if I look at flag fields, they’re renamed. It’s kind of a several step process, right? I go in to the format tab, I define how I want the boxes to be displayed, whether I want a shadow, a particular color, a fill. I define how the flags are. Then I go under the project tab, which is more project-wide features, and I rename the fields, and I can show just the flag fields to show that the flag fields are … I just don’t want to call them flag one, I want to call them something. And now, anytime you look at a task, it says, “Department A, Department B, Department C,” instead of flag one, two and three.

So that’s how to color code tasks and again, you can color code based on whether a task is critical or not, whether a task has a flag, whether it’s in progress. I can say all not started tasks are yellow, in progress are green or something. Whatever. So I hope that answers your question. I think so.

Kyle:                                      Yeah. Thanks, Jim. We did have one more come in. Mark was curious; is it possible to see the critical path to a task or milestone that is not on the project critical path?

Jim Spiller:                           A critical task is critical based on its schedule calculations. So you can see here, I guess this one’s sticking way out there. Again, it’s critical or it’s not critical based on the schedule calculations so I’m not sure how to answer that question.

Kyle:                                      All right. Mark, if you have any follow-up, feel free to send that over.

Otherwise, Jim, I think that does it for our queue of questions right now.

Jim Spiller:                           All right. What I want to show you now is how to take an existing, standalone WBS chart and put that into Microsoft Project. So if you take a look at this structure, take a look at all the dependencies we created, if you look at that in a Gantt chart, and you can leave it here or you can send it to Microsoft Project. Why would you want to send it to Microsoft Project? Well, WBS Schedule Pro doesn’t really have a whole lot of advanced resource management capabilities. It does a lot of good task scheduling so if you wanted to send this information to Microsoft Project to do more advanced resource scheduling, that’s a good way to utilize the two tools together.

So to send this existing plan to Microsoft Project, you go up here in the upper right hand corner, you click the button that says Microsoft Project. It’s going to tell you, “Hey, this is a self-contained project. You can send it to Microsoft Project which it then will transfer everything out of this particular plan and put it into an MPP or a Microsoft Project plan.” I click yes, I just give it a name. What that does now is create the Microsoft Project plan. Again, Microsoft Project is more of a Gantt chart-oriented tool. It has network diagram but it’s not very good. You can see how all the lines overlap. I stay away from the network chart in Microsoft Project. So primarily, it’s a good Gantt tool.

So you can see how it’s taken everything and put it into the Microsoft Project plan. One thing you have to remember when you’re working with the two tools together is once you have a WBS plan linked to a Microsoft Project plan, the data is in Microsoft Project now. So the data resides in the MPP file. And when you integrate the two tools together, you also get these buttons in Microsoft Project that allows you to return to WBS Schedule Pro. You can return to the WBS chart, you can return to the network chart, the Gantt chart or the task sheet in Schedule Pro. So at any point, I can update the plan in Microsoft Project and go back to, say, a WBS chart, and you can see it has dynamically updated the plan.

So the tools are now working dynamically together. Whatever I do here, if I move this sub-phase over here, I’m affecting that project plan in Microsoft Projects. As I go back, you can see it’s moved the sub-phase down here. I can move it back in Microsoft Project up here and again, that will show that way, back in WBS Schedule Pro. If I go back to here, and maybe I’ve color coded … Here’s one thing about color coding. I can also individually color code tasks, just by simply right clicking, choosing custom box setting and maybe setting a fill or a shadow color for any particular customized box.

So what I’m doing here is I’m customizing the WBS chart from the data that exists in Microsoft Project. If I were to close this project now … I don’t want save the views, I want to save this plan. I’ll call this plan “Junk,” just like it was called over there in Microsoft Project. Now, if I return to Microsoft Project, and I don’t have anything in WBS Schedule Pro right now, I’ve got the data open in Microsoft Project, I can go back to the WBS chart by clicking the button.


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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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