Some Do’s and Don’ts with using Microsoft Project® (MSP) – Scheduling Blog Series Part 9.1

Microsoft Project

They’re struggling with MS Project. They’re about to call me.

A manager at a company I used to work for told me that they hire a firm now to develop and manage their design and construction schedules. He said that their internal project managers had so fouled up their MSP schedules that they might have well scheduled with spreadsheets.

So here is a partial list of do’s and don’ts when using Microsoft Project.

Do
1. Every activity should have a predecessor, except the earliest activity.

2. Activities by in large should be set to “Fixed Work” and “Effort-Driven.” Put the manhours to perform in the Work column. This technique allows Resource Tools to be more effective.

3. Set the Project Start date a month early. Then activities missing predecessors will be easy to find: they will start earlier than everything else.

4. Copy the .msp file for every update. After entering progress into the copy, make another copy and execute the command to update it.

5. Tasks should be delimited to a detail manageable by those assigned to it. Settle on the right level of detail before entering tasks. Start tasks with a verb.

Don’t
1. Assign more than one resource per activity. Interferes with Resource Leveling.

2. Typing start or finish dates in activities other than fixed milestones. Only the project initiating activity should be hand-dated. Everything else should be linked.

3. Link to or assign resources to summary activities. You’ll get confounded when daughter activities schedule according to the summary.

4. Move bars with your mouse. That sets constraints which will interfere with scheduling (see Task > Information > Advanced > Constraint Type:).

This list could go on for ten pages. While helpful, doesn’t touch upon setting Options to standardize the MS Project scheduling engine. Not following any of these or other dictates will cause you problems somewhere down the line. And if you lose confidence in your schedule, what will your clients think when it comes time to pay you for progress?

Is it dawning upon you that just being a smart person is not enough to master MS Project? Mastery needs procedures, practices, and good experience, too.

This list is why you should consider letting me critique one or more of your schedules, gratis (for a while). Moreover, if getting the schedule “right” is critical for you, let me price developing and updating your schedules. We would load the schedule with cost and markup so that progress updates will report instantly what you can bill for the period. And show how many days you are ahead or behind schedule.

I hope I have shown you in Blogs 1 – 8 that I can deliver effective schedules. The blogs all came from memory. I used to develop and review MSP schedules for a living, after getting certified in it. A lot of my training came from working for a global corporation that had a “PMO” and valued setting guidelines and certifying people to guide project managers with MS Project. It also helped that I managed industrial projects and thereby could visualize what every activity means in terms of work.

Contact me at effectiv@effectiveprojectsolutions.net . Unless you’re an expert yourself, I think you will learn something profitable by a dialog. Thank you.

Microsoft Project is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.