This is a Free Tutorial about Microsoft Project 2007 and you find more free tutorials here written by Johan Beijar. More tutorials about Microsoft Project 2007 are frequently added. These tutorials will not guarantee that you will run a successful project or be a great manager but it will increase you possibilities of understanding and work more efficiant with the project management software. The best project management software in the world will not manage the project for you, that is the true and simple fact. Microsoft Project 2007 is one of many tools that can support you in your daily work as a manager or a project manager, if you know when and how to use it.
As you most likely know you can divide the lifecycle of a project into 4 phases; 1. Initialization. 2. Start-up. 3. Execution and 4. Close down.
Relative usage of Microsoft Project during project lifetime.
The main tasks in MS Project 2007 (or any other project management software) in each phase are described below.
Phase 1: Initialization is when you get the need permissions to start the preparations for the project and initial preparations are done. A pre-study might even be conducted in this phase. Microsoft Project 2007 or any other proejct management software is not used much in this phase.
Phase 2: Start-up is very important phase in which you to 65-70% decide if you will have a successful project or if the project will fail. In this phase you lay the foundation for the project and decide the scope (in a WBS), resources, budget, time-plan, identify external/internal stakeholders, identify assumptions, do your risk-plan, start staffing the project and you also start using the project management software in this phase. I have seen too many project managers that are (they think) ready to start executing the project but they have not done their homework accordingly and they run into problems after a while and many projects fails due bad planning and that they started too early.
Connected to the project management software there are a number of activities that you should do in this phase;
- Create the project and the basic timeplan in MS Project 2007. Start by creating wour work breakdown structure, this is a first very important step towards a successful project. When this is done you enter the indentified tasks in MS Project 2007 in the same structure as in the WBS.
- Estimate the duration of the tasks. Take the time to have the resources that will perform the tasks to do the estimations together with you as the manager/project manager.
- Define deadlines. In some project you need to be ready by a certain date and you need to define and insert these these constraints in Microsoft Project 2007.
- Define relationships between tasks and link them. After you have done your WBS, I recommend you to do a network-diagram of all the key deliverables, as well as the WBS you should first do this on a brownpaper with yellow stickers. When you have done your network-diagram on the wall you can easily update the relationships between the tasks in Microsoft Project 2007.
- Define resources. First of all you need to define the resources that you have in the project. You do this in the resource-sheet. When the resources are defined in Microsoft Project 2007 you are able to assign the resources to the tasks that you already have entered.
- Define the cost for resources. When all the resources are defined you can also define the cost per resource per hour/day/month.
- Tuning. It is now time to finetune the plan. You do this by removing scope (tasks), adding resources or proloning the timeplan to meet the milestones. Remember that adding or removing resources, time or scope have consequencies that you need to handle.
You should at this stage in the project have a MS Project plan that reflects the true picture of your project. Remember that the project evolves over time and you need to keep the information in the project management software (MS Project 2007) updated according to the reality. You will otherwise make decisions based on incorrect information.
Phase 3: Execution of the project. This is the phase in which you utilize all the preparations that you made in the previous phase. As the name says this phase is about executing and not planning, I recommend you to not start any kind of project until the correct preparations for that specific project are completed.
Also here there are a number of more phase-specific activities that you should do;
- Baseline. It is important that you save your baseline because this it what you will measure your progress against during the project. Please note that you never are fully able to report progress unless you have saved your baseline.
- Actual progress. You should on a regular basis update the actual progress of the tasks in the project.
- Resource-conflicts. In larger projects you often have resource-conflicts but with correct information in MS Project you are able in early stage to identify and solve and resource-issues.
- Compare baseline with actual progress. You should compare the saved baseline with the actual progress in your project to monitor progress and possible deviations from the plan. If you do this on a regular basis you should be able to act pro-actively and solve any issues before they turn into problems or possible show-stoppers. In the same way that you are able to view variances between planned and actual progress you are also able to monitor the variance between planned and actual cost.
- Reports. You a vast amount of data in the database in MS Project 2007 and you have also a number of pre-defined reports to choose from. Both visual and textual. You can export the information to MS Excel or Visio for further processing to the data.
- Updating & Tuning. Projects are all about change and there will be changes in time, scope or resources. If you have a true picture of the project in MS Project 2007 you are able to tune the project when needed or answer to challenges from the management of cutting the time or the resources in the project. Remember that Your decisions based on the information you have the project management software is not better than the quality of the stored information. The information in MS Project 2007 must reflect the reality.
The main usage of a proejct management software like MS Project 2007 in the execution-phase is provide the project manager with the correct information whenever needed.
Phase 4: Closing of the project. After, a hopefully, successful project you enter the fourth and last phase in the project which is to close the project in a proper way. You can utilise the information in MS Project in a number of different way for this.
- Review duration. If you have captured the progress of the tasks during the lifetime of the project you are in good position to review the planned vrs the actual duration of the tasks. The outcome of such a exercise is valuable input for the the final report of the project.
- Template. You are able to save the project as a template in MS Project to use in future similiar projects.
- Lessons learned and best practice. Extract the data from MS Project 2007 as lessons learned and provide best practice information to other project managers.
- Final Report. Use MS Project 2007 to support you in your work to write the final report of the project.
Even though MS Project 2007 is a great project management tool it is important to remember that You manage the project and the tool will only support you with with the information that You feed into it.
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