Microsoft Project 2010
The official blog of the Microsoft Office product development group. Learn how to manage your work effectively

October, 2009

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing User-Controlled Scheduling


    In Project 2010, we have introduced a new concept called "User-Controlled Scheduling". It's a collection of features designed to make Project a more flexible planning and schedule management tool. The idea is that you, as the project manager, can have complete control over when a task should happen. If and when appropriate, you can leverage Project's powerful scheduling engine to help forecast the date of a task based on various factors like dependencies, calendar, constraints, etc. But at any time, you have the flexibility to manually override Project's automatic calculations.

    Ok, what does that really mean you ask? Let me illustrate...

    Say you are planning for a new project. You've just talked to a few key stakeholders to get an understanding of the timeframe and deliverables and now you're ready to start building out a schedule. So far, you know the project will be divided into a couple major phases and you have a rough idea of the list of tasks to be completed within each phase. You don't really have all the specific details for every single task yet though. You need to confirm with Joe over at Sales to see if he can arrange for a customer site visit, then talk to Jane from Engineering to see when they can staff up your project, email Jack from Marketing to see if they can do some market research… You get the idea: during the initial planning phase of a project, things can still be very fuzzy.

    So, how do you capture all of the high-level, possibly vague information and eventually transform it into a well structured, presentable plan?

    With the new release, you can start your planning in Project right from the get-go. Tasks are by default "Manually Scheduled", meaning that you have complete control over their dates. For example, I've just typed in the couple key phases of my project:


    You'll notice that that the Start, Finish & Duration fields are blank. When tasks are in this "Manually Scheduled" mode, Project will not automatically calculate and fill in dates for you.

    Now let's capture what we do know. For example, we have specific dates for the task "Design" in mind. For "Engineering", we know we have a 2 week budget but don't know the specific date. For "QA", we know we have to be done by 12/1, but not how long it will take.  And for Marketing, we need to discuss the timeframe with Jack:


    Notice that using Project 2010, tasks do not need to be fully defined - you can leave duration or dates as blank or even type text into those fields. This lets you easily capture uncertainties when planning.

    Next, let's break some of these high-level tasks into smaller work items. There are a couple design-related tasks that I want to group together under the "Design" phase, so let's insert and indent them under "Design":


    Notice that the "Design" phase, which I had original given 2 weeks of duration, maintained its dates. This lets me plan using a top-down approach, where I can start from high-level dates that may be determined by management or customers, build in buffer for risk management or monitor for potential slippages (as opposed to the bottom-up where I start by defining all the specific work items then work out the roll-up total for each phase). So now I can give the subtasks some specific dates:


    Note that there is a small blue bar under the summary - this is the roll-up of all of the subtasks. If I update the subtasks' dates, the blue bar will automatically update. This provides a visual way of indicating whether I still have buffer time in my schedule. I can maintain the high-level timeframe while still getting a summary roll-up of subtasks.

    If one of these tasks end up taking longer than expected, and the subtasks end up exceeding the original dates of the summary phase, the roll-up bar will turn red to indicate a slippage:


    You'll also notice that there are some red squiggles under the dates. Like the spell-checker in Word highlights spelling errors, the ‘schedule-checker’ highlights potential problems with the schedule. And just like the spell- checker, I can right click on the squiggle to see some possible corrective actions. Here I am going to choose the "Fix in Task Inspector" option to bring up a side pane that will tell me why there may be an issue.


    In this case, I am slipping beyond my original 2 week budget on "Design", so I may have to meet with my stakeholder to see if I can get an extension on the "Design" phase, or find a way to reduce scope. In this case, let's say they agreed to letting it slip by 2 days so I can choose the "Extend Finish":


    Another example where "Manually Scheduled" mode comes into play is when a task's predecessor slips. Let's say we have underestimated the amount of time the task "Prototype" takes - it's actually 6d instead of 4d:


    You'll notice that "Review", which is linked to "Prototype", did not get moved out automatically. Instead the red squiggle appears to indicate a potential problem. This gives me, the project manager, a chance to decide on a mitigation plan. If "Review" truly cannot begin unless "Prototype" is complete, I may choose to enforce the link (it's one of the corrective options on the right-click menu). But of course this means that the "Design" phase will slip again and my stakeholders won't be very happy with me. Another possible mitigation plan is to check if my team can begin reviewing parts of the design as originally scheduled on 10/28, before the prototype is fully completed. If they can, then I no longer need to worry about this warning and just like a spell-checker, you can choose to ignore the warning from the software:


    At any point in time if you wish to have Project calculate your schedule for you instead of maintaining manual control, you can toggle your tasks to "Automatically Scheduled" mode. When tasks are "Auto Scheduled", Project will calculate and update their dates automatically just like it has always done in previous versions. In the above example, if I make all my "Design" tasks auto scheduled, the links will always be respected and the summary will automatically update based on its subtasks:


    And lastly, if you prefer the existing way of having Project automatically schedule tasks out for you. You can easily change the default task mode to be Auto Scheduled either for the current project, or for the application as a whole:


    So, that's all for now for this whirlwind tour of "User-Controlled Scheduling". There are lots more to show but I'll leave them for you to explore when Beta comes out!

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Are you Project 2010 Ready? – Announcing Project 2010 Technical Ignite and Sales Training


    If didn’t answer with a resounding yes, check out Christophe’s post on training targeted for Microsoft Partners and Field.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Sync to SharePoint


    Hi everyone,

    I’m Roberto Reif and today I am excited to introduce a new feature that has been added to Project Professional 2010, the ability to: synchronize a tasks list between Project and SharePoint!!!

    A Project Manager (PM) can use all the advanced scheduling capabilities that exist in Project Professional with all the collaborative capabilities that exist in SharePoint.

    Users can now publish a project plan from Project to SharePoint and vice versa.  Any changes made in Project / SharePoint can be easily updated into SharePoint / Project with the click of a button.

    So how does this work?  Let’s assume a PM creates a simple project plan in Project Professional, as shown below. 


    The PM would like to share the plan with his/her team members via SharePoint.  To do this, the PM clicks on the File tab and drills on to Save & Send > Sync with Tasks List (see image below).  After filling out the required fields, the user clicks on Sync, and in a matter of seconds the project plan has been published to SharePoint.



    The SharePoint list will look as follows:


    Now the team members can view and modify the data in SharePoint, and the PM can synchronize the updates by clicking on the Sync button.  Tip: After the first sync, the Sync button also appears in the Info tab shown below.



    If the same data is modified both in SharePoint and Project, the PM will be prompted with a conflict resolution dialog next time there is a Sync operation. 


    A few important things to notice are:

    · Summary tasks are supported in the synchronization

    · Most custom fields can be synchronized, and can be added via the Manage Fields dialog (click on Manage Fields button shown on the image above in the Info tab)

    · This feature only works with SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server 2010

    · This feature only works when Project Professional is not connected to the server

    We encourage you to try it out and let us know what you think.  Be amongst the first to download the Project 2010 Beta . Sign up now at and be notified when it’s available!

    Update on 5/19/11 - with Project 2010 SP1 you will now be able to synchronize auto scheduled tasks too -

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    New Project Fan Page on Facebook


    In our never-ending quest to spread the word about Microsoft Project 2007 and Microsoft Project 2010, we now have an official fan page on Facebook! Our news feed includes links to articles on MSDN, TechNet, and Office Online, as well as posts on this blog. You can choose to see our posts in your Facebook news feed automatically, or read them only when you want to. Similarly, if you post something on the fan page, you can choose to be notified whenever someone responds to you.

    Here’s a quick walkthrough of how the Microsoft Project fan page on Facebook works:

    Join the Project fan page

    If you already have a Facebook account, sign in, and then follow these simple steps:

    1. Visit
    2. Near the top of the page, click the Become a Fan button. 


    Browse through Project wall posts

    Once you’ve joined the Microsoft Project fan page on Facebook, you can begin browsing for posts right away.

    To switch the default view to the page wall, click the Wall tab on the top navigation bar near the Project logo:


    You can now see all of the wall posts by the administrator and by other Project users just like you. Wall posts are shown in chronological order and the newest posts appear near the top of the page.

    Join the conversation! Reply to an existing wall post that interests you, or make your own post to start a new discussion or to share something with the other members.

    Hide automatic Project fan page updates

    Depending on when you join the Project fan page, you’ll probably see automatic updates in your Facebook news feed within a few days. If you like seeing these updates, you don’t need to do anything else. Check out the ones that sound interesting and ignore the ones that you don’t care about on any particular day.

    If you don’t want automatic Project fan page updates to appear in your news feed, you can easily disable them by following these steps:

    1. While signed in to your Facebook account, go to the Facebook home page at
    2. Scroll through your Facebook news feed (the center column of your home page) and find any one of the Project fan page updates that have appeared.
    3. Move the mouse pointer over the Project post until you see a Hide link show up near the right side of the post.
    4. When you move the mouse pointer over the Hide link, it becomes a button. Click it.
    5. On the mini-menu that appears below the Hide button, click Hide Microsoft Project.

    Facebook will briefly display a yellow confirmation box, informing you that Project updates will now be hidden from view.

    Tip  Even though Project fan page updates are hidden from view in your Facebook news feed, you can still visit the Microsoft Project fan page at any time by entering Microsoft Project into the Search box near the top of any Facebook page and then clicking the search result. It’s a fast way to return to the fan page whenever you want to check for updates on your own.

    Restore hidden Project fan page updates

    If you previously disabled Project fan page updates from your Facebook news feed and you’ve changed your mind about seeing automatic updates, you can easily restore them by following these steps:

      1. While signed in to your Facebook account, go to the Facebook home page at
      2. Scroll to the very end of your Facebook news feed (the center column of your home page) until you see the navigation bar in the page footer:
        The bottom navigation bar in the Facebook stream
      3. Click the Edit Options link.
      4. Near the top of the Hidden from News Feed popup dialog box, click the Pages link.
      5. Scroll down until you see Microsoft Project, and then click the Add to News Feed button.

    When you have completed these steps, you will once again see automatic Microsoft Project fan page notifications in your Facebook news feed.

    Share what you know!

    Post to the wall! It’s just a conversation with like-minded people who enjoy and rely on Project in similar ways as you.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    See Project 2010 at the SharePoint Conference


    If you are attending the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Vegas next week, you will have multiple opportunities to learn more about Project 2010.

    Click here to learn more.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Dealing with organizational resistance


    While I’m no project/portfolio management expert, I do know a thing or two about common issues that people tend to encounter in this industry, particularly when rolling out a Project Server implementation. One relatively big issue is organizational resistance. You make this big investment in Project Professional and Project Server, because you know it’s what’s best for your business, and then, once you roll it out across the company, you hear little complaints coming in…”I don’t want to fill out timesheets,” “my Excel spreadsheet is working fine for me, I don’t want to learn a new tool,” and so on. No surprises there…the learning curve is steep for the tool itself, and for the formal process you’re trying to implement. We know that, you knew it when you rolled it out, no big shocker. So given all that, what can you do to ease the transition and help avoid the inevitable pushback from the people you’re asking to use this new solution?

    Again I have to emphasize that I’m no expert, so I’m sure many of you out there have more informed suggestions that I hope you’ll share in comments on this blog post. I can, however, offer these suggestions, gleaned from a decade of documenting project and portfolio management software solutions:

    • Set some expectations. When you tell your organization that you’re going to roll out Project Server, that’s not going to mean the same thing to everyone. Some may have no idea what to expect, while others may have had previous experience with Project Server, or may have heard about other implementations and challenges that their peers in other companies have encountered. Be specific about what Project Server means for your organization. It may mean people will be filling out timesheets for the first time. It may mean project managers will have a more formal reporting structure. By communicating these expectations before Project Server is actually rolled out, you’re giving people a chance to let the ideas bake, voice their concerns, and get some clarity on what these expectations really mean for them.
    • Explain the benefits. Personally, I think this one is (arguably, of course) the single most important way you can prepare your organization and avoid some of that rollout pushback. Think of it this way…you’re rolling out Project Server, and for the first time, you’re asking full-time salaried employees to fill out hours spent on tasks in a timesheet. Something some of your employees may not have done since their summer jobs as fry cooks during high school. People are going to complain, not fill them out, and get their hours in late every week. That’s just the nature of rolling out timesheets. (Did I really just say all of that out loud?) But if you tell them WHY you want them to fill out timesheets (because it helps to accurately predict how much time will be needed for tasks in future projects, for one), and what benefit it offers THEM (maybe it means fewer status meetings with managers, or more evidence of getting work done on time or early come annual review time, that sort of thing), you’re bound to encounter less resistance. I’m not saying people won’t complain, because they will, but at least this way they might be less inclined to complain as loudly.
    • Provide training. The reality is that for many people, Project client and Project Server are really difficult to learn. Even just pointing them to resources like the Up to speed video series or the Project Map can be enough to ease some of the anxiety about learning a new tool. If you can afford full-on in-person training, even better. The more prepared your teams are, the more successful your EPM solution will be.

    These are just a few suggestions for ways you can prepare your organization for what’s to come. I’d love to hear other suggestions, or pointers to resources you find helpful in preparing organizations for new Project Server rollouts. What are your thoughts?

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Where did my tasks go?


    One problem that often crops up when analyzing task and resource issues with Project 2007 is mishandling filters. After creating a complex filter that spans multiple columns, you may wish there'd be a quick way to turn off the filters for all the columns. Or worse, maybe someone sent you a project with filtering apply, and you can't easily tell which column filters to turn off.


    Click F3. All the filtering is now removed.  And, of course, this works in Project 2010, too.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing the Team Planner


    Hello--I’m Jon Kaufthal, Program Manager on the Project team. A key focus of mine for our upcoming Project Professional 2010 release is the new Team Planner, and I’m excited to introduce you to Team Planner today.

    The main idea behind Team Planner is combining the power of the Gantt chart with the simplicity and familiarity of the Outlook calendar. Team Planner lets you:

    1. Easily see your team’s work laid out over time

    2. Quickly spot problems

    3. Drag and drop to resolve those problems

    So, what does this look like in practice? Let’s imagine you start with this in Gantt:


    To switch to Team Planner, you can click the View tab in the ribbon and then choose Team Planner. At that point, you’ll see this:


    A few things to notice here:

    1. Each team member’s work is represented in a single row, making it easy to glance across the timescale and see who does what when

    2. Overallocations are highlighted in red

    In the example above, you can see that Jon is double-booked for part of that first week of October. Luckily, we seem to have at least two good options for how to deal with it.

    First, we could move the task in time. In this case, it’s OK for the “confirm speakers” task to happen two days later, so I can simply drag it over to the right a bit. Once I do that, I see:


    Notice that the row has shrunk down, and the red is now gone. The work remains assigned to Jon, but moves out to happen two days later.

    Alternatively, Brian has some free time and is equipped to do this task as well. It looks like he’s out from Wednesday through Friday of that week, but he has two days open at the beginning of the week. Since that’s all that’s needed for this task, we can simply drag it down one row and a few days to the left. Once I do that, I see:


    So we’ve now reassigned the task to Brian, and it’s beginning a few days earlier.

    These are just a few basic examples to illustrate the power and simplicity of Team Planner. Making these sorts of schedule adjustments in Team Planner is a simple visual process, letting you focus your attention on keeping your plans on track.

    There’s much more to cover in Team Planner, including:

    · The unassigned and unscheduled zones

    · Automatically resolving overallocations

    · Updating your status directly in the view

    · Customizing the look and feel of the view: colors, sizing, hiding sections, filtering, grouping

    · Seeing/editing more details through tooltips, right-click, double click, and split views

    …but I wanted to stick to the basics for this first post. Let us know what you think!


  • Microsoft Project 2010

    See Project 2010 at the PMI Global Congress


    If you are in Orlando next week for the PMI Global Congress, make sure to stop by the Project booth. We’ll be demo’ing Project 2010 and answering your questions about 2010 and previous releases. We are at booth 1205 which, assuming the floor plan doesn’t change, is to your right as you come in the main entrance.

    Here is the schedule of the mini-presentations we’re doing but feel free to stop by any time the exhibition hall is open:

    Sunday, October 11


    Session Domain

    5:40 PM

    Project 2010 Overview

    6:00 PM

    Planning and Scheduling with Project Professional 2010

    6:20 PM

    Project Professional 2010 Reporting

    6:40 PM

    Enhanced Collaboration with SharePoint with Project Professional–

    7:00 PM

    Unified Project and Portfolio Management in Project Server 2010

    Monday, October 12


    Session Domain

    11:20 AM

    Project 2010 Overview

    11:40 AM

    2010Team Planning and Coordination with Project Professional 2010

    12:00 PM

    Web-based Editing with Project Server 2010

    12:20 PM

    Enhanced Reporting and BI in Project Server 2010

    2:10 PM

    Portfolio Prioritization and Optimization with project Server 2010

    Tuesday, October 13


    Session Domain

    9:40 AM

    Project 2010 Overview

    11:20 AM

    Demand Management Overview with Project Server 2010

    Attend a presentation for a chance at winning 1 of 3 16 GB Zune HDs! Hope to see you there!

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Ask a Project PM: Got questions about timesheets or task status?


    This month, I’ll be interviewing Project PM Patrick Conlan about timesheets and task statusing in Project Server 2007. I know there are a ton of questions out there in this area…this is your opportunity to get those questions answered!

    I’ll be doing the interview during the week of the 19th, so keep your questions coming in through the next week and a half or so.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing the Timeline View


    In Project 2010, we’ve added a new view called the Timeline view which allows you to easily create a high level view of your project plan that you can then share through other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook.

    The default view for Project 2010 is the Gantt with Timeline so you’ll see the Timeline view at the top of your window the first time you boot Project 2010 but it if isn’t there, you can display it by going to the View tab and checking Timeline in the Split View group.

    Here is the Timeline view when you create a new project. I’ve also selected the Timeline view’s Format tab to show off the commands that go along with the Timeline view.


    I will demonstrate how in 4 simple steps you can create Timeline view that looks good enough for any status meeting or mail to executives, customers, partners, etc.

    Step 1: Add Tasks to the Timeline

    Simply right-click the tasks you want on the Timeline and select "Add to Timeline”.


    Step 2: Arrange the Tasks

    Now that you have tasks on your the timeline, you can easily re-arrange them so it looks even better. You can drag tasks above or below the gray bar which represents the project to display the tasks as callouts or drag tasks up or down within the gray bar to display the tasks on different rows.


    Step 3: Format the Tasks

    Now that the tasks are arranged nicely, you can make a few tweaks to make the timeline more readable. Through the Timeline’s Format tab, I’ve updated the date format to be more concise, set more text lines to show so you can read the tasks names, and highlighted some tasks with different colors to make them stand out (did I mention Project 2010 now has 32-bit color – yes that means we now have orange).


    Step 4: Share the Timeline

    Finally, you can paste the Timeline into other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook by clicking Copy Timeline on the Format tab and selecting the proper size. When you paste the Timeline view, the items are pasted as individual Office Art shapes, so you can do an optional step 5 like I have and further format the shapes using the graphics power of those applications. Here I have added reflection, a 3-d effect, and further edited the colors.


    That’s not all the Timeline view can do but I’ll have to save the rest for a video…

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