How to Use Microsoft Project

Level of difficulty: Easy

Microsoft Project is an application that can greatly help in managing tasks, personnel, resources, and costs when handling a project. There is a great bulk of functions to choose from in this software but it is sometimes difficult to determine what you may use for your particular needs or even knowing how to start using them. Knowing how to use certain functions will help in making management of your project more efficient.

Materials Needed:
- A computer with Windows OS and Microsoft Project installed
Step 1
Open Microsoft Project.
Step 2
The first thing to do is to indicate the Project start date. All tasks you will assign will have this as the default start date unless you set up dependency relationships. Input as few dates as possible. Microsoft Project will immediately recalculate dates in a dependency relationship if one of the tasks is delayed.
Step 3
Edit the standard Calendar by clicking on 'Tools' and then 'Change working time' if you are handling a long-term project. Microsoft Project’s default calendar is based on a 5-working-days-a-week calendar with no holidays included. Consider public holidays and any other standard holidays.
Step 4
Write a list of tasks. Describe as much detail as you possibly can about each task. Eventually, you will have to break these down into more specific tasks to provide your project plan with a tidier structure.
Step 5
You can now make use of the Chart Wizard for the Critical Path. The Gantt chart bar will be highlighted in red corresponding to every task in the Critical Path. Microsoft Project contains a very powerful calculator tool so it can determine project duration and tell you the end date of a project. This will also take note of and control the amount of time devoted to every activity in your project.
Step 6
Remember that a resource must be present to fulfill that task before a specific task can be done. Assign resources to the task. Then input an additional column for Work effort. Do not enter task durations or end dates. The calculations for this are part of Microsoft Project. It will do it for you.
Step 7
Save the project as a baseline after inputting all the pertinent details of the project. This will allow you to use the Tracking Gatt to monitor the status of your project. The tracking Gantt feature of Microsoft Project will even give a visual representation following the progress of the project once it has started.