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Project Assistants

Delivering better, faster and more cost effective project-based results

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Customizing MS Project: Triggering Warnings When End Dates Change

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An out-of-box feature that has long been missing from Microsoft Project is the ability to set a target finish date when you are scheduling from the project start date. When you initially define your project in the Project Information dialog box, you normally choose to schedule from the project start date. This option does not let you choose a project finish date, and that field is automatically calculated outside of your control.

This post will demonstrate how you can “trick” MS Project into prompting a scheduling message if your project finish date changes. (more…)

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How Do You Link Tasks in Microsoft Project?

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There are several different ways to set task dependencies in Microsoft Project.  This post will cover how to link tasks using the following techniques:

  • Through the Task menu in the ribbon
  • Dragging the link from one task to another
  • Linking tasks in a split screen
  • Through an entry table
  • Through the Task Information dialog box

(more…)

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Project Assistants to Deliver Two-Day Online Training on Microsoft Project

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Microsoft Partners with Project Assistants to Deliver Microsoft Project Webinar

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How Task Dates Are Automatically Set in Microsoft Project (Part 3)

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Have you ever been unable to change the start date of a task in Microsoft Project?  You type in 11/2 for the start date and it changes back to 11/19.  In most cases, Project is not misbehaving; you need to understand what Project assumes when it schedules tasks. In this three-part series, we’ll explore how Project’s scheduling algorithms use links, constraints, preset options, and dates to automatically set your task start and finish dates. 

(more…)

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How Task Dates Are Automatically Set in Microsoft Project (Part 2)

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Have you ever been unable to change the start date of a task in Microsoft Project?  You type in 11/2 for the start date and it changes back to 11/19.  In most cases, Project is not misbehaving; you need to understand what Project assumes when it schedules tasks. In this three-part series, we’ll explore how Project’s scheduling algorithms use links, constraints, preset options, and dates to automatically set your task start and finish dates. 

(more…)

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How Task Dates Are Automatically Set in Microsoft Project

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Have you ever been unable to change the start date of a task in Microsoft Project?  You type in 11/2 for the start date and it changes back to 11/19.  In most cases, Project is not misbehaving; you need to understand what Project assumes when it schedules tasks. In this series, we’ll explore how Project’s scheduling algorithms use links, constraints, preset options, and dates to automatically set your task start and finish dates. 

Part 1 of 3 introduces the topic and covers the first two considerations to keep in mind regarding MS Project’s scheduling priorities.

(more…)

Posted in Microsoft Project, Resource Management, Technical How-To, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Replies

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Simple Ways to Optimize Your Project Plan in MS Project

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The process of ensuring that resources are realistically scheduled in your work plan is referred to as load leveling. When you level the planned load for your resources, you may have to balance several factors. These include:

  • The amount of work a resource can do in a time period (e.g. Hours per day)
  • The sequence of tasks in the project as defined by dependencies
  • The skills required to perform particular tasks
  • The expected timeline for the project
  • The utilization rate for the resources.

Typically you will have to trade off some of these factors to arrive at the “best” schedule for your particular project.  As we covered in our last post on Resource Workload Information, this means that you will have to check and adjust information across multiple views. (more…)

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Using Microsoft Project Views to Gauge How Realistic a Project Plan Is

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Introduction

One of the key ingredients to managing a successful project is to start off with a Microsoft Project plan that is complete and optimized. An “optimized” plan is one in which:

  • Everything that is known is put into a plan that meets the overall project objectives and
  • The project delivers on the objectives of on-time, on-budget, with high quality, and a satisfied client.

It can be somewhat subjective to determine whether your plan is optimized but the minimum requisites ar as follows:

  1. All phases, tasks, and milestones required to meet the project objective are loaded into the work plan.
  2. All resources are assigned to the tasks they will perform.
  3. Reliable work or duration estimates are assigned to each resource assignment.
  4. The resources can realistically perform the work assigned according to the current estimated task start and finish dates, and all tasks can be completed by the target finish date and budget for the project .

(more…)

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Which Project Management Software Is the Best for Your Organization?

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A month ago, we outlined what businesses will be best suited to invest in project portfolio management (PPM) software. But once you determine that your organization has the three basic project characteristics that indicate that you might benefit from a software solution, you still have the daunting task of determining which solution will work best.

We should be clear that every solution will have its own set of flaws, and even the products that lack flaws require a massive budget and a lot of support. This often tempts organizations to give up on all of the options altogether, but this would be a mistake. Way back in 1986, Harvey Levine wrote, “The project manager who is waiting for the perfect project management solution will still be waiting 10 years from now.” 26 years later, this quote still rings true. Organizations should not be scared away from viable project management solutions because of a few imperfections. The focus should be implementing the technology that best fits your organization’s processes, while minimizing the investment of the implementation process. (more…)

Posted in Microsoft Project, Project Portfolio Management, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Replies

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