Microsoft Project 2000 Tips/Guidelines

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					Microsoft Project 2000
Tips/Guidelines for Planning

The following is a summary of MS Project 2000 tips/guidelines for project managers using MS Project to
develop project plans/schedules. It is not intended to be a substitute for MS Project training or hands-on
experience with the tool. A high-level identification of the steps to create a project plan is identified and
corresponds to the tasks identified in the accompanying Planning Process. Various limitations of MS
Project and how to get around those limitations (if appropriate) are identified in red.

MS Project 2000 users are encouraged to access the online Microsoft 2000 Knowledge Base. It
contains useful information/articles (e.g., general product documentation, important MS Project 2000
concepts, common problems/workarounds, available patches).

Most of the data entry associated with creating a project plan/schedule in MS Project is done through the
Gantt Chart view. The following display conventions for this view may be useful.
    Use the following columns: "Task Name", "Resource Initials", "Work", "Duration", "Start",
        "Finish", and "Predecessor". Do not stipulate task priorities by adding a "Priority" column to this
        view. Priorities have little effect on resource leveling and are more trouble than they are worth.
    Set the format of the timescale by selecting "Format/Timescale" and specify units for the Major
        scale and Minor scale to be "Months" and "Weeks", respectively.
    Simplify the timescale display (to reflect only task durations and dependencies) by right clicking
        in the timescale window and selecting the "Bar Styles ..." option. Select the "Text" tab and delete
        all displayed text (e.g., "Resource Names").

1       Define Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
        Enter the project WBS (tasks/subtasks) using the Gantt Chart view. The project WBS should
        reflect the standard project methodology, and should be deliverable-oriented.

2       Define Task Types/Dependencies/Constraints
2.1     Select Window/Split to also view the Task Form at the bottom of the Gantt Chart view
2.2     Make a pass through the WBS and assign task type, dependencies, and constraints (if applicable)
        to tasks.

        In general, two task types should be used:
         "Fixed Duration" - This task type is most commonly used for tasks whose duration is not
            dependent upon the number of resources assigned; it may also be used for project
            management tasks that extend for the duration of the project.
         "Fixed Unit" (resource-driven) - This task type is used for most project tasks; the task's
            duration is dependent upon the number of resources assigned.

        Dependencies (i.e., predecessors and successors) establish the timing relationship between tasks;
        the most common constraint is that a task must be completed before another task can begin
        ("Finish-to-Start" or "FS"). Dependencies can be defined in the Task Form or Task Information
        dialog box, but are most easily defined directly in the predecessor column of Gantt Chart view
        (e.g., "5", "5FS+4days").

        Constraints (e.g., "as soon as possible") further establish the timing relationship between tasks.

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Tips/Guidelines for Planning

      They are defined for leaf-level tasks (only) through the "Advanced" tab of the Task Information
      dialog box.

3     Define Resources
3.1   Modify the standard calendar upon which all resource-specific calendars will be based by
      selecting "Tools/Change Working Time" and modifying as appropriate
3.2   Select Resource Sheet view.
3.3   For each resource, specify "resource initials" and resource availability "units" in the "General"
      tab. The assignment of "units" is dependent upon both the level of resources assigned to tasks
      (e.g., "VB Developer" vs. a specific person's name) and the degree to which the resource is
      available to perform work. For example, if high-level planning is being conducted, you may
      wish to specify 3 VB developers (in which case "300%" would be specified for "VB Developer"
      units). In the typical case where individual resources are assigned to the project (and they are
      available full-time to perform work on the project), units would be specified as "100%".
3.4   For each resource, modify the resource specific calendar in the "Calendar" tab if there are dates
      for which the respective resource will not be available to perform work (e.g., scheduled vacation)
3.5   If costs are to be generated/tracked, modify costs in the "Costs" tab for each resource

4     Estimate/Assign Effort & Duration
4.1   Prior to assigning resources to tasks, specify "Tools/Resource Leveling" and set leveling to
4.2   Specify duration for leaf-level tasks having a "fixed duration" task type. This is most easily done
      using the Gantt Chart view.
4.3   Specify start/finish dates for leaf-level tasks having a constraint type other than "As Late as
      Possible" or "As Soon as Possible" using the "Advanced" tab of the Task Information dialog box.
4.4   Specify effort for each resource/task assignment of leaf-level tasks having a "fixed unit" task type
      using the Task Form.

      If there are resources that will be assigned 1) a portion of their available time to project
      management tasks that extend for the duration of the project and to 2) "fixed-unit" tasks
      elsewhere in the project plan:
           a) For the "fixed duration" tasks, assign a total effort value for "Work" (e.g., 40 hours), then
           specify resources using units (e.g., "2%", "5%") in the Task Form
           b) For the "fixed unit" tasks elsewhere in the plan, assign a total effort value for "Work" (e.g.,
           20 hours), then specify units for the resource to be 100 minus the sum of the units for tasks
           specified above (e.g., 85%)

5     Generate Plan/Schedule
5.1   Perform an initial resource leveling by specifying "Tools/Resource Leveling", then clicking on
      "Level Now" button.

5.2   Microsoft resource-level engine does not do a good job; they admit it. This can be seen be
      selecting the Resource Graph view and observing the allocation of each resource to projects tasks
      for successive time periods (e.g., weeks). There will be instances of both over-allocation and
      under-allocation (in which the resource could do work, but isn't). The only way to fix this is by
      manually adjusting the resource allocations. It's a tedious activity, but here's how to do it:

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        Select the Resource Usage view (a grid). Identify periods of time (e.g., weeks) during which a
        resource could be working on a task, but isn't. Make a mental note of the total effort assigned to
        the task for the respective resource. Manually update the allocation by modifying the effort
        values for successive weeks within the Resource Usage view; the sum of the weekly allocations
        should equal the total work originally assigned for the resource to the task.

        Occasionally, you will see a resource allocation for a task that is preceded by a number of '0's for
        successive weeks. The start time for the task on the Gantt Chart view will reflect the first
        instance of the time period in which the resource is committing '0' hours. This is incorrect; you
        really want the task's start date to reflect the first time period in which a resource performs work
        for the task. The only way to correct this is to change the start date on the Gantt Chart view; then
        return to the Resource Usage view to modify allocations for successive weeks for the given task.

        During the manual allocation process, the Resource Graph view may be used to view corrected
        allocation levels for resources.

5.3     Generate the project Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS). This time-phased metric is
        used in tracking the performance of the project as it proceeds (see Tracking & Oversight
5.3.1   Create the project "baseline" by selecting "Tools/Tracking/Save Baseline"
5.3.2   Add the BCWS column to the Gantt Chart view by selecting "Insert/Column"
5.3.3   Specify successive "current dates" (corresponding to the frequency with which status will be
        measured) by selecting "Project/Project Information", and note the corresponding BCWS values.

        Note: If tracking true project costs (in $) is not required, resource cost can be specified as $1/hour
        for all resources in the "Costs" tab of the Resource Information dialog box. The BCWS value
        then corresponds to "hours'. BCWP can also then tracked in hours, and the project's Schedule
        Variance % (see Tracking & Oversight Process) can be derived based on "hours".

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