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 Microsoft Project training and coaching

Plan projects with Microsoft Project training and Coaching

Planning software supports planning by scheduling tasks and calculating start and end dates for each task, so your plan is up-to-date after every change. We use Microsoft Project to demonstrate key planning concepts. You will define working calendars, task and dependencies to create a critical path schedule. You will also capture actual progress to track project. After this session you will be able to save a project baseline, capture actual start and end dates to track a project progress and report progress to management against a project baseline. The following process steps will be presented in this session. With any sizable project of 100 tasks or more, you need planning software to plan a project, assign tasks effectively and keep plan up to date.

You should order a 60-day-demo copy of Microsoft Project from the Microsoft Project web site "www.microsoft.com/project" at a cost of under U$10.

Planning a project without planning software would be like doing financial analysis without a spreadsheet. Planning software enhances our ability to plan and track projects. Planning software can record working days in a calendar and translate working days (1, 2, 3, ...) into dates which spreadsheet software cannot. As well planning software such as Microsoft Project allows us to assign multiple resources to a task. Microsoft Project calculates costs based on assignment work and rolls costs up to the summary tasks and to the project level.

Participants will learn to brainstorm a project plan with their team using a case study and then enter this plan into Microsoft Project to create a project schedule. In this session, participants will learn to: 

  1. Brainstorm milestones and tasks with Project team.
  2. Define dependencies between tasks.
  3. Identify resources to complete project work.
  4. Assign tasks to resources.
  5. Create custom calendars to define working time.
  6. Share custom views and tables between projects and between users.
  7. Enter tasks into Microsoft Project. 
  8. Create a critical tasks schedule.
  9. Update tasks information with tables.
  10. Manage complexity with outlining.
  11. Create a project baseline.
  12. Report progress to management.

Initially you may not know who will be on your project team so you identify generic resource roles and skill levels required on your project. Assigning resources to the tasks in your plan allows you to analyze workload by resource type and to plan your team size. When you identify specific resources to fill the roles you replace the generic resources in your plan with the specific resources increasing the workload and decreasing the generic resource workload. You can define shifts and vacations for each resource with their own calendars. Microsoft Project uses the resource calendars to schedule work assignments.

Assigning resources helps prepare budgets which rollup from assignments based on resource rates times effort hours in each assignment. You can analyze and balance workload amongst multiple resources. As well you can produce individual to do lists which help your team members stay organized and on schedule.

Avoid the frustrations of updating resource assignments. Participants will discover how to tell Microsoft Project how you want your assignments recalculated when you change either Duration, Work or Units Assigned.

In day two you will learn to:

  1. Identify resource skills and generic types needed on the project.
  2. Standardizing resource definitions with a central resource pool.
  3. Define resources and their work calendars.
  4. Assign tasks to resources.
  5. Generate resource-based schedules.
  6. Print individual to-do lists to help your resources stay organized and on schedule. for each resource,
  7. Calculate task costs and develop project budgets, 
  8. Analyze team workloads.
  9. Distribute workload evenly between team members.
  10. Improve performance with clear roles and responsibilities.
  11. Keep team members focused on completing tasks on time.
  12. Track completion of tasks by team members.

To successfully complete projects you must mobilize the project team, communicate assignments and follow up their timely completion.

Introduction to Microsoft Project for Project Managers
Day 1,Morning Topic Brainstorm Plan with Team details
9am start Achieve benefits of team-planning sessions.
  • Increase commitment.
  • Open channels of communication.
  • Capture tasks in a team planning sessions.
  • Expedite storming phase in team formation.
  • Reduce preparation time.
930am Conducting team-planning sessions
  • Plan plan sessions with sponsor.
  • Planning workspaces.
  • Brainstorm tasks.
  • Sort tasks.
  • Define resources.
  • Assign tasks to resources.
  • Validate plan
10am Coffee break
10:15am Brainstorm tasks with a team-planning session A team planning session will be conducted for the case study. A plan of 40 to 50 tasks will be prepared in under one hour.
11:45am Lunch  
Afternoon , Day 1 Topic Scheduling with Microsoft Project
12:45 pm
Introduction to Critical-path scheduling The plan brainstormed in the morning session will be entered into planning software in the afternoon to create a Critical Path Schedule.
  • Tasks and dependencies.
  • Important role of calendars.
  • Early and late start and finish dates.
  • Slack time in non-critical  tasks


  Setup first project with Microsoft Project
  • Select right view for each operation.
  • Project start and finish dates.
  • Enter report headers


1:15pm Define working days with Calendar
  • Define country and organization calendars.
  • Define working days and shifts
  • Attach project calendars
  • Share custom objects with organizer
1:30pm Define tasks and dependencies with network diagram
  • Open multiple Windows in MS Project.
  • Add Tasks from Post-its on Flipcharts) with network diagram. 
  • Define dependencies between tasks. 
  • Customize dependencies between Tasks. 
  • Create Custom View to Edit Network diagram layout. 
  • Edit Network diagram Layout. 
  • Format Network diagram to communicate maximum information. 
  • Print Network diagram.
230pm coffee
245pm Update tasks with tables
  • Understand standard tables and task columns.
  • Customize Task Tables. 
  • Lookup column definitions. 
  • Inserting columns into Custom tables. 
  • Enter New Task into Task Table. 
  • Create Precedence Link in Task Table. 
  • Check Layout on the Pert Chart. 
  • Sort Tasks in Task Table with Drag and Drop.
  •  Insert Hypertext Link. 
  • Insert Recurring Tasks to Plan. 
  • Customize Project to suit your working style.
  •  View Task fields in Microsoft Project with Task Tables.
315pm Manage complexity with outlining
  • Understand Task types.
  • Define summary and sub tasks
  • Replace Task Id with the Outline Number. 
  • Add Summary Tasks with Task Table. 
  • Indent Sub-tasks under a Summary. 
  • Format Summary Tasks. 
  • Refine Existing Tasks in more detail with Subtasks. 
  • Avoid Losing estimate information when refining a task with subtasks. 
  • Hide Sub-tasks to reduce the level of detail. 
  • Reveal Sub-tasks hidden under a Summary Task.
  •  View Top-Level Summary Tasks. 
  • Filter summary tasks to present high level detail.
345pm Track and report project progress
  • Enter actual start and finish dates
  • Enter percentage complete
  • Rollup progress to project level
4pm Finish of first day

2. Managing Projects and Resources agenda
Day 2 morning Topic Managing Projects and Resources
 9am  Assign Resources to Tasks
  • Achieve benefits of assigning resources.
  • Spread workload evenly amongst team members.
930am Estimate resource needs to complete your project
  • Identify skill sets by task.
  • Estimate work for each resource type for each task.
  • Define generic skill types required.
  • Decide on team staffing levels to meet deadlines.
  • Recruit the project team.
  • Replace generic resources with team members in the project plan.
10am Coffee 
10:15am Standardize Resource Definitions with Shared Resource Pool
  • Share common Resource Definitions so resource workload can be analyzed across multiple projects.
  • Share common Resource Pool across a network.
  • Update resources in Resource Pool.
  • View Resources in current Project file
  • Link Project to Resource Pool Resources.
  • Open Project linked to a shared Resource Pool.
  • Unlink Project from Shared Resource pool.
10:30am  Define Resources in Microsoft Project
  • Automatically add new resources with Define Resource Details with Resource
  • Information dialog box.
  • Define Resources with Sheet and Forms.
  • Update Resources with Resource Views.
  • Resource Columns.
  • Update Resource Definitions with Resource Tables.
11:30 am Assign Resources to complete task work
  • Setup Resource Assignment.
  • Assign Resources to Tasks
  • Enter Work Estimates for each Resource Assignment
12noon Lunch break  
1pm Assign Resources to complete task work
  • Calculate Assignment duration's.
  • Customize Work Assignment
  • Enter Material and miscellaneous costs for Tasks
  • Validate Resource Assignments Calculate Project Costs.
  • Reconcile Micro Estimate with Macro Estimate.
  • Automatically add new resources 
  • Define Resource details with Resource Information dialog box.
  • Define Resources with Sheet and Forms.
  • Update Resources with Resource Views. 
  • Update Resource Definitions with Resource Tables.
  • Schedule Tasks based on Resource availability with Automatic Leveling
  • Level resource loading peaks.
  • Setup Automatic Leveling.
  • Schedule Tasks with Automated Leveling.
  • Schedule different types of task.
230pm Coffee  
315pm Wrap-up project in a timely manner  
345pm Capture actual resource usage
  • Update actual work with duration progress.
  • Capture actual time with Timesheets view.

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Manage Project Execution

Your plan provides a foundation for managing project execution and tracking progress.

Manage Project Execution
Time Topic Manage Project Execution
8:30amPublish project plans. Plans are a powerful communication tool with your team, clients and management. Plans identify roles and responsibilities.
245pmFocus efforts on high priority items. Never enough time to do everything. Aim to satisfy your clients' prime objectives.
245pmRun effective meetings with Turbo brainstorming. Meetings are where major decisions take place. Make your meetings effective and avoid wasting valuable time.
245pmPerform project work. Team members complete assignments and report progress.
245pmAvoid missing key deadlines with Time-Box Scheduling. Treat your estimates as a budget. Reward team members for meeting deadlines.
245pmMonitor project progress. Capture progress information from team members
245pmTrack and report project progress.
245pmManage scope creep with change control. Identify change requests and completion in your action plan.
245pmManage client expectations.
245pmBring project in on budget and on time.
245pmRescue projects in trouble. Not all projects or tasks go as planned. Know how to react when problems arise.

Establishing consistent project reporting

Clear communication builds credibility with your sponsor and stakeholders. 

Project manager should create a communication plan early in the project life cycle to establish expectations with the client and management. Schedule project review meetings. Split time between focusing on the project and communicating with clients and management.

Project reporting occurs at two levels. First the project managers report progress on their individual projects. Second the project management office should provide management and clients with an unbiased view of the status of each project. Organizations need an early warning system to identify projects that need attention. Many projects slip behind schedule long before anyone being aware of what is happening.

Project managers communicate progress to clients and management to maintain support for the project so your resources will not be stolen for other projects. Communicate project schedule and budget progress against the project baseline. Progress is measured by finishing key deliverables on reported milestones. Progress reports should include issues and risks that threaten project success.

Project managers can spent lots of time preparing project status reports. Project reporting takes considerable amount of time. Microsoft Project offers the advantage of reporting from a single data source. Reporting from project plans improves integrity of project progress reports. Unlock valuable project information by standardize reports with Microsoft Project Server and Web Access. Project reporting requires project managers to keep their plans up to date.

Organizations can lighten a project manager's communication workload by standardizing reports across projects. Standardization improves communication because users don't have to learn the unique reporting style of each project manager.

The last session discusses methods and tools for reporting project progress to clients and management. Participants will learn to:

  1. Create a communications plan for your project.
  2. Create consistent reporting standards
  3. Understand reporting requirements
  4. Design efficient reporting systems.
  5. Build custom reports with tables and views.
  6. Automate standard project reports across projects.
  7. Understand the power of macro's and Visual basic for applications
  8. Report progress to management
  9. Conduct a post-project audit


Communicate Progress to clients and management
June 22, 2007 Topic Report Progress to Clients and Management
 9am  Communicate to succeed in project management
  • Report progress for all projects
  • Drill down to find detail.
  • Keeping project on track requires action
  • Communicating a key Project managers' responsibility
  • Difficulties with honesty
  • Difficulties with managing the news.
  Build communications plan
  • Identify stakeholders.
  • Identify reports by project phase.
930am Defining reporting requirements.
  • Decide reporting process. 
  • Critical project metrics to report
  • Earned value reports
  • Identify reports to produce.
  • Reporting top ten risks
  • Getting timely feedback
10am Coffee 
10:15am Design reporting architecture 
  • Regular project review meetings
  • Distributing information via email
  • Benefits of distributing information from repositories.
  • Designing a project web site
11am Produce project reports with views, tables and filters.
  • Customizing Microsoft Project reports
  • Flagging tasks that need attention
  • Defining columns with tables
  • Selecting tasks with filters.
  • Building custom views.
  • Adding reports to menus
12noon Lunch break
1pm Simplify reporting with Microsoft Project Web Access
  • Save projects in a central repository
  • Distribute project reports with Internet
  • Compare Web Access and Project Server
  • Specify views for Project Center
  • Specify views for Resource center.
  • Pasting project views to Word


230pm Coffee
245pm Conduct project reviews
  • Steering committee agendas
  • Communicate action requests in writing
  • Escalating issues
  • Post project audits
4pm Finish

email Brian Mullen with your questions

Warning: This web site under continuous improvement.

Click here List of Recommended books on Project Management, Team Building, Estimating, Software Development methodologies, requirements definition, and Microsoft Project.


planning corp.
5361 Malaspina Place
North Vancouver
B.C.V7R 4L9
Easy to remember
ISPangle.com or iSPANGLE.com.

Copyright March  11, 2007 Brian Mullen, I.S.P. information systems planning corp.
Last updated: March 22, 2007