Microsoft Project Crash Course/Level 1/Tasks/Basic Schedule

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Creating a basic schedule

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In this section you'll do the following:

  • Create a new blank project (mpp file)
  • Indicate the overall project start date
  • Capture phases, tasks and milestones
  • Create dependencies between tasks
  • Use the Gantt Wizard to markup tasks on the critical path in red

Create a new blank project

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Launch the application (Start > All programs > Microsoft Project) The application launches with a new blank project open by default.

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If there is not blank project open, you can create a new one (File > New... > Blank Project)

Save the file before continuing. (File > Save as...)

Set the project start date

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Use the project information dialogue box to specify the Project Start date and ensure the project gets schedule from the start date. Let's imagine today is 1 Jan 2010 and you're planning this project for February so you want all tasks by default to start on 1 Feb 2010.

Enter project stages

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Click in the first line in the Task Name column. Do not type in your project title in line one, this is already contained in a line 0 which is currently just not displaying. By default, the first line in the task sheet should be numbered 1.

Let's assume that we're doing a systems development project and we are going to specify the stages of the project. Initially, you enter the stages as normal tasks. Type "Initiation" in the task name field and hit Return to move down. Continue to do this for the following stages: Planning, Requirements, Design, Develop, Test and Deploy. Note that the duration column reads "1 day?" for all the tasks because we have not specified a duration.

Compare your screen with the image below before continuing.

Insert tasks into stages

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To specify that the initiation stage will consist of 2 sub tasks, click one row down on planning and press the "Insert" key on your keyboard twice to create 2 blank lines above planning (below Initation). Enter the following tasks below Initiation: Create project charter, Create business case. Select the 2 sub tasks by dragging over them and click on the green indent button (circled in red below). Notice how the 2 tasks now fall under Initiation and the Initiation task now turns into a Summary task which appears bold and has a different bar type on the chart.

Specify task durations

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Let's assume you estimate the project charter will take 4 days. You have no idea how long the business case will take and you'll need to first speak to the person who will be doing it but for now you want to enter a "guesstimate" of 5 days.

Click in the duration cell next to the task name "Create project charter" and type "4" and hit Return. You'll see project automatically assumes the duration as 4 days. Now type in "5?" and hit return. The question mark tells project that the duration entered is a "guesstimate" and that it needs to be confirmed at a later stage. Compare your screen with the one below.

Note on the Gantt chart how project assumes that all tasks can run concurrently.

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To indicate that the project charter must first be completed before the business case can start you need to link the tasks in such a way that Project Charter is the predecessor and business case is the sucessor. The easiest way is to Select the tasks (make sure you select top down in this case). Compare your screen with the one below.

Note on the Gantt chart how the business case task now "waits" for the charter to finish before.

Format the Gantt chart to show critical tasks in red

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