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Is This the Book for You?

Absolutely…if you have to plan how to coordinate a lot of different activities and people to reach a specific goal—and if you're already planning to use Microsoft Project 2000 to help you do it. If you're still undecided about using project management software, or about which software to use, then this book will show you how instrumental Microsoft Project 2000 can be to the success of your project. This book is as much for those who support the manager of the project as it is for the manager.

Almost every adult has to organize a project at some time. It's common enough in the workplace: planning conferences and conventions, a move to a new office, the introduction of a new product, the construction of a skyscraper, a landing on the moon, that sort of stuff. I've even known people to use Microsoft Project to plan weddings and the remodeling of their homes. (The wedding was great, thank you; the remodeling is finally just a painful memory.) And if the stars on Touched by an Angel don't whip out a laptop on camera, you can bet the producers do to coordinate all the details that go into filming the travails of those heart-warming souls. Hey! How do you think She pulled off a Creation in just seven days? But, I digress…

Microsoft Project is a great friend to have if you are responsible for putting together a plan of action for reaching a goal (or if you are the one who supports the person with that responsibility). It helps you block out the big picture and then fill in and organize all the details that must be completed if the goal is to be reached. Of course, you have to provide the inspiration; but Project helps you capture your thoughts in an organized way so that you can turn them into a workable plan. Working with Project you can easily estimate completion dates for each task or phase of the project, ensuring that you complete your project on time.

If you assign people and other resources to the tasks, Project will show you who's working when, and how much the project is going to cost, and it will alert you when someone's assignment schedule is beyond reason—the stuff that a micromanager's dreams are made of.

When work finally gets started on your project, you can update the schedule with the actual dates as tasks are started and completed, and Project will recalculate the schedule, showing you the implications when tasks are finished late or early.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, if you use Microsoft Project you will be able to print reports throughout the planning and production stages that illustrate and explain your plan and the progress that's being made. As you know, if more than one person is involved, good communication is essential to success.

This book is designed to help you gain control quickly of the planning, implementation, and recording of your project. All the essentials for using Microsoft Project 2000 effectively are included, but I've omitted as much theory as possible, giving you only as much as you need to make good choices. If you need more details, you should see my comprehensive guide Special Edition Using Microsoft Project 2000, published by Que.


Many of the lessons in this book contain references to sample Project files, and solutions to exercises. These helpful files can be found on the Macmillan USA Web site dedicated to this book. To download the files, go to http://www.mcp.com/product_support/. Enter this book's ISBN—0672318148—in the Book Information and Downloads text field and click Search.

How This Book Is Organized

Part I, "Getting Started with a Project" (Hours 1 through 3), gets you up and running quickly with Microsoft Project 2000. You learn early how to manage the main screen that displays project data, how to start a new project, and how to put together the list of tasks or things to do in the project.

Part II, "Developing a Timeline" (Hours 4 through 7), shows you how to give Microsoft Project the information it needs to turn the list of tasks into a reasonable schedule of dates for working on the tasks.

Part III, "Displaying and Printing Your Schedule" (Hours 8 through 10), shows you some of the alternative ways you can view a project in Microsoft Project 2000 and then shows you how to get printed reports and copies of the project that look the way you want them to look.

Part IV, "Assigning Resources and Costs to the Tasks" (Hours 11 through 15), is where you learn how to let Project know who is going to do the work, when they are available, the other resources they need to do the work, and how much it all is going to cost. This section also deals with how changes in resource availability and assignments can affect your schedule.

Part V, "Finalizing and Publishing Your Plan" (Hours 16 through 19), covers the steps you should take to review and optimize your plan. You will also see how to generate reports that explain the project in varying levels of detail, including how to publish your project on Web pages.

Part VI, "Managing and Tracking the Project" (Hours 20 and 21), explains how to track progress after the work is underway and how to analyze the progress to help keep things on track.

Part VII, "Beyond One Project, One Application" (Hours 22 through 24), expands your horizons to include combining multiple project plans into a master plan, using the workgroup features of Project to communicate changes and progress via email and the Internet, and exchanging data between Microsoft Project and other software applications.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book uses the following conventions:

Text that you type and text that you see onscreen appear in monospace type:

It will look like this.


A Note presents interesting information related to the discussion.


A Tip offers advice or shows you an easier way of doing something.


A Caution alerts you to a possible problem and gives you advice on how to avoid it.

New terms are introduced using the New Term icon.

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