Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon

Practical Project Management & Tracking Using Microsoft Project

~ By Marvey Mills

Gantt chart and fountain pen

I have been working in the field of Project Management of systems and software delivery for many year and for many employers. A common theme running through most of that experience has been the use of Microsoft Project (MSP) to plan the project before it starts and to track progress against it during the project.

Most project managers I have met in that time that use MSP have a love-hate relationship with the application. At times and in certain circumstances it seems to provide exactly what a project manager needs to do their job. At other times it seems to conspire against us almost wilfully to make ostensibly the simplest task impossible to complete.

I have seen and experienced myself vital project plans, that took many hours of work to create and maintain, thrown away in disgust and frustration because the plan got tied into a knot and the poor project manager was unable to unpick the resulting mess.

Long ago I learnt some practical lessons and easily repeatable techniques on how to use Microsoft Project to achieve what I needed as a project manager, whilst avoiding the pitfalls and elephant traps that the application sets for the unwary user. Since then I seem to have spent many hours and days passing this information on to other project managers in every organisation I have worked for.

Finally, I took the obvious step and wrote it down in order to make my life easier in the future. I do not claim to be an expert in the use of MS-Project, there are many areas of the product that I don't know how to use. Nor do I claim that these simple techniques are all you need to know to manage software projects effectively, are some kind of "best practice" or represent the pinnacle of Microsoft Project user guide perfection. All I claim is that these techniques have been honed in the course of real software project management and work for me; I use them all every day in my real job. I am passing them on in the hope they may provide some small comfort to a frustrated fellow project manager tearing their hair out because Microsoft Project has mangled their latest work of creative genius!

Practical Project Management & Tracking Using Microsoft Project

Adobe PDF | Size 1.19 MB
This document is designed to be read in a linear fashion alongside setting up a new project in MSP. It starts with what to do as soon as you have created the new project and ends with tracking progress against that plan. Microsoft Project has an incredible amount of features and functionality and furthermore allows the project manager to use any of it they want to, mostly in any order they desire. Mis-application of tools and features at the wrong time is one of the key ingredients of a mangled project plan. Following this guide in the order the tasks are presented from the moment you first create the new Project will help you to avoid "death by MS-Project!"


Comments

No comments have been posted yet.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
1000
Enter the third letter of the word house.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Extreme Project Management

The running back dives for the first down with the defender on his back

Three war room strategies to try when you need to bring life back to a dead project, or save an engagement that is on the brink of disaster.

Coming to Terms With the Finish Date

Colourful calendar pages

Every project has a finish date. This article looks at how the finish date for a project is derived and how a project team comes to terms with that date.

Resourcing Project Managers

Project manager jobs advert in a newspaper

Ironically, although resourcing production team members is a significant part of a Project Manager's role, very little focus is placed on resourcing the Project Managers themselves.

72 Project Management Tips

Hand holding a key with success written on the fob

Here are 72 project management tips designed to help you lead your projects with skill, authority and grace.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Mel commented on…
Successful Project Management: Eight Simple Steps to Follow
- Thu 27 August 3:39am

John Reiling commented on…
Seeing the Project Through to the End
- Mon 24 August 6:07pm

Duncan Haughey commented on…
Protecting Sensitive Project Information
- Thu 20 August 2:57pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • MSc Research Survey https://t.co/rB4KxCJhCF #pm #projectsmart about 3 days ago

Generating Momentum in a Project http://t.co/KOt91O1Q1m #pmot #projectsmart about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Moving From an Environmental Consultant to a Project Manage... https://t.co/LGFGoSItIK #pm #projectsmart about 5 days ago