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PM Milestone Project Management Templates

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As Shakespeare said, "In delay there lies no plenty." I don't know about you, but I need all the plenty I can get, so it's time to jump in and start using Project.

You have three choices when starting a new project. You can use Project Guide to get Project's assistance creating a project, you can build a project on your own from scratch by entering individual task and resource details, or you can use a project template that already contains data related to your industry or the type of project you're doing.

Getting going with help from Project Guide

Project Guide is like some of those wizards you see in Microsoft products: It walks you through a series of steps that ask you to enter some information and then automates a process for you. However, in many ways, Project Guide is like no wizard you've ever seen.

Taking a first look at the Guide

Project Guide has four different sections: Tasks, Resources, Track, and Report. Within each of those categories might be ten or so links for you to click to initiate an action. When you do so, you might have to choose a variety of subactions, depending on your particular project. Also, the sections of Project Guide span the entire life of your project, from the time you first enter task information to the time you generate your final report.

If you've never used project management software (or Project itself), you might find it helpful to run through Project Guide to set up your first schedule, enter resources, track activities on tasks, or generate reports. However, to know how to make intelligent choices in Project Guide, you have to have some basic understanding of how a project is built, which I provide in the next few chapters. My advice is to walk with me through many of the steps in this book and then use Project Guide to practice building your first project. Then you can see whether its structure works the way your mind does — or not.

Using Project Guide

A Project Guide toolbar displays by default in the toolbar area at the top of your Project screen. The toolbar has an icon you click to show or hide the Project Guide, so if the Project Guide doesn't appear on the left side of your screen, just click the Show/Hide Project Guide button.

To use the Project Guide, you click a category (such as Tasks) and then click a link (such as List the Tasks in the Project) in that category. This action displays additional information in the Project Guide pane (see Figure 1-10) asking you to enter data or choose or accept a setting and move through a series of screens. When you finish working through one set of screens, you return to the Project Guide pane and can click another task or category to proceed.

Figure 1-10:

A typical information request from Project Guide.

Figure 1-10:

A typical information request from Project Guide.

Project Project Guide

Microsoft laid out these categories and tasks in the logical order in which you should tackle them to build most projects. Thus, when you start to use Project Guide, just click the categories and the tasks within them in sequence. They should remind you of all the things you should consider, even if you choose to skip a few steps here and there for your particular project.

Starting from scratch

Although you can use Project Guide to start a project, you don't have to. You can enter information on your own at any time.

When you open Project 2007, you see a blank project file on-screen along with the Project Guide task pane. You can start building your new project directly in this blank schedule. Starting to create a new project usually involves entering some general project information and then adding some task information.

You can open a new, blank project schedule at any time by choosing FileO New and clicking the Blank Project link in the New Project task pane.

You need to enter much more information in addition to general project information and tasks in order to build a complete project, as you discover in the next few chapters. Entering general project information and task information is your usual starting point, however.

Tell Project about your project

With a blank project open, a logical first step is to enter some general project information, such as the project start date. To do so, you choose Projects Project Information. The Project Information dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-11.

Figure 1-11:

Use the Project Information dialog box for some basic project settings.

Project Information for 'Finance and Accounting System ..."

Starb date:

Finish date:

Project Information for 'Finance and Accounting System ..."

Starb date:

Finish date:

! Non 4/2/07

4

1 Wed 4/25/07

H

1 Project Start Date

All tasks begin as soon as possible. Enberprise Custom Fields -

Schedule from:

All tasks begin as soon as possible. Enberprise Custom Fields -

] Standard

] Standard

1

Custom Field Name

Value

-

Help 1 Statistics... j

OK

Cancel

Here's what you can do in this dialog box:

1 Set the start date for the project. If you're not sure when the project will start, set the start date about a month from today. Then, after you build some tasks and have a better handle on the entire length of your project, you can come back and set a real start date. Project automatically recalculates all dates when you do.

1 Set the finish date for the project. Especially if you have a drop-dead date (an attention-getting term!) beyond which the project cannot wander and still reach completion, you can set the finish date. In such a case, be sure to look at the next setting in this list — and change it accordingly.

1 Schedule from the start or finish of the project. Most projects work forward from the start date. However, if you have an absolute drop-dead date for the end of your project (for example, if you're organizing a sports event that must occur on New Year's Day next year), you might want to set the finish date and then work backward to fit all your tasks into the allotted length of time. If you change this setting to Project Finish Date, the Finish Date field becomes available.

1 Set the current date. You can fill in the current date according to your computer calendar. Or, you can choose another date if you like, but that usually doesn't make much sense unless you're in a different time zone from where the project will occur.

1 Set a status date. By default there is no status date set for the project. You use a status date when you're tracking the progress of your project at regular intervals. If you set a status date, your computer assumes that any activity you record in your project is being tracked as of this date. You can find out more about this feature in Chapters 12, 13, and 14.

1 Set the working calendar for your project. You have three choices: Standard, Night Shift, and 24 Hours. Base your choice on the working habits of your organization. For example, if your company uses resources in three shifts per day — a total of 24 hours of straight working time — and all those shifts would contribute work to your project, choose 24 Hours. If you use a day shift and a night shift, choose Night Shift. If you work a standard 8-hour day, choose Standard. (Most projects use a standard calendar with a typical 8-hour workday.)

Calendars can get a little confusing. A project calendar that you set in this dialog box indicates what the usual workday is like in your company, but you can set up individual calendars for each resource you create. You can then more easily accommodate both shift workers and nine-to-fivers in the same schedule. See Chapter 3 for more about resource calendars.

1 Assign a priority to your project. Assigning a priority (such as 500 for high priority or 100 for a lower priority) can be especially useful if you use the same resources across several projects. With your priorities set on all projects, Project tools can then automatically reallocate resources.

You can also create custom project information fields for your organization in the Enterprise Custom Fields section of this dialog box. For example, you might want a field that explains which department in the company is running the project.

Clicking the Statistics button in this dialog box presents an overview of your project, as shown in Figure 1-12.

Figure 1-12:

You can review a summary of the information you entered.

Project Statistics for 'PROJOFF'

Project Statistics for 'PROJOFF'

Start 1

pHnh

Current

Thu 1/1/34 \

Wed

3/4/04

Baseline

Thu 1A'/Û4 1

3/4/04

Acbjal

MA

Variance

W'i

Od

Öürsiticti

Haifa

Cost/

current ■

HB

S38Î-

Baseline

BBS

Actual

off

Oil

t o.o :

Remaining

ijjggggl

$78,320.00

Percent complete

Percent complete

Perusing the project schedule

After you choose settings in the Project Information dialog box and then click OK, you're faced with a blank Project schedule, as shown in Figure 1-13. As a writer, I can tell you that nothing is as daunting — or as inspiring — as facing a blank page. It's the canvas on which you create your Project plan. Note the Project Guide pane to the left of the spreadsheet section.

Figure 1-13:

Begin with a new Project schedule.

View bar

Project Guide

Sheet

Chart area

Figure 1-13:

Begin with a new Project schedule.

View bar

Project Guide

Sheet

Chart area

In Figure 1-13 you see Gantt Chart view. You can discover more about various views in Chapter 2. For now, note the following:

i View bar: To go to different views, click the bar of icons on the far left: the View bar. If this bar isn't displayed, choose ViewOView Bar to do so.

i Project Guide: To the right of the View bar is the Project Guide task pane, which is an informational area with step-by-step guidance on how to build your project. If Project Guide isn't displayed, click the Show/ Hide Project Guide button on the Project Guide toolbar to display it.

i Sheet: In the middle of the view is the sheet section. You can use this spreadsheet interface to enter, edit, and view information about your project.

i Chart area: Finally, the chart area on the far right reflects your task information graphically as soon as you begin to add tasks.

• Taskbars in this area indicate the duration and timing of tasks in addition to the progress you record on them.

• The timescale — the indications of time increments across the top of the chart area — helps you interpret the timing of each taskbar. You can adjust the increments to show your project in larger or smaller increments of time. Figure 1-12, for example, shows increments in days.

You start building a project by entering tasks. Simply click a cell in the Task Name column of the sheet section and then type the name. You can enter and edit details of a task by entering information directly into various columns (which you can display in many views) or by double-clicking the task name in the sheet to access the Task Information dialog box (see Figure 1-14). I get into more detail about entering task information in Chapter 2.

Figure 1-14:

The various tabs in this dialog box hold a wealth of information about a single task in your project.

Figure 1-14:

The various tabs in this dialog box hold a wealth of information about a single task in your project.

Starting with templates

Reinventing the wheel has never been one of my favorite sports, so I'm grateful that Microsoft provides some convenient project templates. These include projects by type: for example, an engineering project or office move. Templates already have many tasks appropriate to the task type created for you.

Figure 1-15 shows the Project Office template. Templates typically contain sample tasks broken into logical phases, with task durations and dependencies in place. The templates from Microsoft often include resources, but you can create your own resources as well as use, edit, or delete the ones provided.

You can open a template from the New Project task pane. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Choose FileONew.

The New Project task pane appears, as shown in Figure 1-16.

Figure 1-15:

Templates provide a great head start in building common business projects.

Figure 1-15:

Templates provide a great head start in building common business projects.

Figure 1-16:

Open a template from the New Project task pane.

Figure 1-16:

Open a template from the New Project task pane.

2. Click the On My Computer link.

The Templates dialog box opens. You can also use the On My Web Sites and Templates on Office Online links to access online templates.

3. Click the Project Templates tab, which is shown in Figure 1-17.

4. Click a template to display a preview.

5. When you find the template you want to use, click OK.

The template opens in Project document format (MPP). You can then save the file with a new name. You can also delete tasks, move them around, or add tasks as necessary for your project.

After opening a template, be sure to check its Project Information (choose ProjectOProject Information) to make sure that the Start Date and Calendar options are set as you want.

If you modify a template and think that you might use that set of tasks again for future projects, consider saving the file as a custom template. Just choose FileOSave As, and then select Template in the Save As Type list.

Figure 1-17:

Business and personal templates, such as Home Move, are included here.

Figure 1-17:

Business and personal templates, such as Home Move, are included here.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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