One of the questions I get fairly often is that people want to show their project schedules and get feedback on them without including real dates since their project hasn’t been officially scheduled yet. You know once you show someone a schedule with dates, that’s all they can think about and then you don’t get the feedback you want.
You have three ways of doing this:
The default timescale setting has it showing real dates. You can update this though by right-clicking on the timescale and selecting Timescale… Then in the dialog, for the tiers that are being displayed choose one of the circled items that uses relative time (ie. the first week of the project is Week 1) instead of calendar time:
This will update my timescale to look like:
The only other step you’ll need to do is to hide the start and finish date columns
For date format (what controls how dates are displayed in the task sheet and throughout Project), Project doesn’t support a relative time format so you have two options which I’ve circled below. To update the date format, go to File – Options:
You can select to just show time when how tasks line up is important to show.
Alternatively you can choose one of the W4/4 formats. This date isn’t relative to the first week of the project but instead is based off the calendar (so the first week of January is week 1). Doing this format plus the timescale formatting I mention below will still essentially hide real dates from the people you are reviewing the schedule with. Just make sure to temporarily set your project to start on the first week of the year.
Then when you know the actual start date of your project, you can use Move Project to adjust the schedule.
Last but not least, you can use the Timeline View. Say I have the following Timeline:
To not show the dates, you need to go to the Format tab – Date Format and un-check Task Dates, Today and Timescale. This will get you:
Now you still have dates on either ends, to remove those you can either crop the image or paste the Timeline into PowerPoint and delete them there.
The only problem is that while you aren’t showing dates anymore, now the timeline is kind of meaningless if you want to show anything more than order and relative size of tasks. To get around this you can create dummy tasks to represent generic time intervals. For example, if I create a bunch of week long tasks I can get this:
I also changed Text Lines to 2 since I just think that looks better. And here’s what I added to my project plan:
You can choose whatever time interval makes the most sense for your project. Also, don’t forget to include weekends or else you’ll have gaps.
Now we all know that the finish date a project is automatically calculated by Project and might not necessarily be the due date. If the finish date is before the due date, you have some buffer, if the finish date is after the due date, you have a problem. Let’s assume you are in the first case - it is important to track this buffer and I’ve found manually scheduled tasks are useful for this since they won’t automatically move but they’ll warn you when there is a problem.
Let’s say you have this project (this will work for all projects, just make sure you have a milestone representing the project finish that all task chains are connected to):
My project finish date is January 9th but I actually don’t have to be done until the 13th so I have a few days of buffer. To represent that I add a new manually scheduled task with the Project Finish milestone as the predecessor and the end date as 1/13:
You can now easily tell that you have 4 days of buffer.
Now say that task 4 takes 3 days instead of 1 day. Your schedule will look like this:
Notice how the buffer tasks didn’t move but you get a warning that there is an issue. Now go in and for the Buffer task, right-click and select Respect Links. This will push the task out. Now you need to decrement the duration until the finish date is once again the 13th:
So you can now tell from task 4 slipping that you only have 2 days left of buffer.
I find that manually having to update your buffer task helps to make you more aware of when you are using up buffer. You can use this same technique on individual task chains, etc., if you want. Additionally, if you want to make sure you remember the deadline, you can set a deadline on the buffer task to make sure you always adjust the buffer back to it.
Learn more about this and other scheduling tips by attending the Microsoft Project Conference 2012 in Phoenix, AZ March 19th-22nd.
Update 2/8/2012: You can view the entire video series on the Microsoft Project YouTube channel. http://bit.ly/wUCAYg
Earlier this month our friends on the Office 365 team shared a link via Twitter to an article by technology writer Will Kelly. Entitled "Microsoft Office 365 for Project Managers", the article surfaced the project management potential in Office 365 and an interesting theme--the "democratization of project management data". Read more about it here.
Today, we're excited to share a special series on how Office 365 adoption can transform your existing project management capabilities. Microsoft Office 365 provides an infrastructure for collaboration and information sharing. It offers a cloud solution for an organization of any size, whether that organization involves a small business or a small team with members spread across the globe. But best of all, it offers the ease and familiarity you'd expect from Microsoft and its Office products.
Many enterprises have already had a great deal of success implementing a PPM solution via Project Server 2010. But how about options for smaller organizations or departments just getting started? Microsoft Project is perfect for helping project managers organize schedules and manage budget, resources and dependencies, but what about the rest of the team? Effective project management begins with team collaboration. It necessitates a secure and central location for all project documents and artifacts like a site provisioned in SharePoint Online, demands ease of mobile communication you'd find in Exchange Online and Lync Online, and the great user experience provided by Microsoft Project and Office 2010 when working with project schedules and documents. By themselves, these tools are just tools, but together it opens the door to a unique collaboration experience that any organization can benefit from. And because we've built these products with the user in mind they just work, even across multiple platforms and devices.
We've called out a number of common pain points tied to project collaboration--document storage, effective communication, sharing a project schedule, and visual reporting for stakeholders just to name a few. But this represents a small sample of all the great possibilities Office 365 enables for project management and we'd love to hear more from users like you in the comments below or via Twitter and Facebook.
Download the paper and accompanying video here.
You can view the full video series on our YouTube channel as well.
We’ll be featuring a great session around this very topic this March at Project Conference 2012 in Phoenix, AZ. Don't forget to register!
“Today Microsoft announced limited details about Office 15. For more information, go here.”
We’re excited to announce that all session content including titles, abstracts, speakers and learning objectives have been posted to www.msprojectconference.com! Microsoft Project Conference 2012 is your only opportunity this year to see over 90 sessions focused on Microsoft Project 2010 and Microsoft Project Server 2010 in addition to other key products that integrate with our Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management such as SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, Team Foundation Server and more! Let us know what you’re looking forward to most on Twitter using our new hashtag #mspc12!
This year’s conference will cover a variety of in-depth topics across three tracks: Business Value & Insights, Product Sessions, and Deployment, Administration & Developer, delivered by customers, industry experts, partners, Project MVPs and the Microsoft product team. Here are just a few highlighted sessions.
Detangling project demand, resource supply and capacity with Project Server Isabel Merlano, AMD Corporation
Pearls and Pitfalls - Realizing Real Business Benefits with Microsoft Project Server and SharePoint Mike Bullard, AT&T Business Services
Best practices for implementing a successful Enterprise Innovation Program Simon Floyd, Microsoft
Unleashing the Value of Earned Value: Applying Schedule and Cost Controls to Measure Project Performance Andrew Lavinsky MVP, UMT
Leveraging Project 2010 with Office 365 for Project Management Success Dux Raymond Sy, Innovative-e
Resource Management - Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together! Collin Quiring, PMP Specialists
View the full agenda on the website for details on all 90+ sessions.
There will be valuable computer-based and instructor-led training opportunities on-sight at the conference. Make the most of your investment by attending one of the sessions below.
Managing your Projects: Come find out how to save over 3 hours a week using Microsoft Project? Jacques, MS PROJECT NOW! Goupil
YJTJ (Your Job Tool’s Job)™ – Working in Concert with Microsoft Project Dan Renier, Milestone Consulting Group
Core concepts: Business Intelligence Reports Treb Gatte, msProjectExperts
Microsoft Project: Inappropriate practices (Level 300) John Wagner, Versatile
Task Types (Level 300) John Wagner, Versatile
Designing with Project’s new manual scheduling type (Level 300) John Wagner, Versatile
UMT Project Essentials Pro – Comprehensive Financial Governance for Project Server 2010 Ben Chamberlain, UMT
At Microsoft Project Conference 2012 (remember, #mspc12 on Twitter) you will not only attend rich sessions, participate in hands-on training and network with your peers, but there is a lot to look for in the exhibit hall!
You can review the list of Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management Partner companies who will be demonstrating industry leading products and services. Check back weekly as we are updating the list as new exhibitors and sponsors join!
If you are interested in the sponsoring, exhibiting or marketing & promotional opportunities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for a special webcast event with Microsoft Project Director Arpan Shah and hosted by our partner at Innovative-E, Inc., Dux Raymond Sy, next Wednesday at 9 AM PST. More details available on our Facebook events page. We'll be doing a live Q&A about the conference, tweet @ProjConf and include #MSProjectChat.