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In this Introduction

Why You Should Use This Book

Why You Should Use Microsoft Project

What's New in Microsoft Project 2000

How This Book Is Organized

Special Features in This Book

Microsoft Project 2000 is an important new release of the best-selling and most widely used project management software product in the world. There are, of course, lots of exciting new tools in Project 2000 that will delight seasoned users. Moreover, Microsoft has made a number of fundamental technical changes that significantly extend the effectiveness and power of Microsoft Project.

Why You Should Use This Book

Almost anyone in the work place can make good use of Microsoft Project at one time or another, but for project managers it's a life-support system. Microsoft Project is adaptable to both large and small projects. Managers of large, decade-long projects rely heavily on project management software to keep track of all the interrelated tasks and phases of their projects. On a smaller scale, I have relied on Project to help me plan and coordinate software installations and upgrades over multiple corporate sites. And yes, I did rely on it to keep me on track while writing this book. Project was able to tell instantly that the pub-lisher's deadlines were impossible. But by changing the scheduling calendar to include all evenings, weekends, and holidays, the goal became possible (if we assume family counseling can be delayed until after publication).

This book will give you direct answers about how to put a project schedule together with Microsoft Project 2000. It's organized to follow the project cycle of initializing and developing a plan, implementing the plan, tracking progress and adjusting to changes and unforeseen events, and preparing the final reports. You'll find step-by-step procedures for using Project's features, plus you'll get help with common problems (such as avoiding unintended constraints on tasks, adjusting task duration when resources are added, maintaining resource information among multiple projects, and many more). Special Edition Using books from Que offer comprehensive coverage of software. You can be sure you will find what you need in this book to make Project work for you.

Why You Should Use Microsoft Project

Managing projects is a specialized field within management—and a rapidly growing field at that. There are professional associations, journals, professional certifications, and university courses and degrees for project managers. A project manager oversees all stages of a project, from concept and planning through the completion and drafting of final summary reports.


One of the best Web sites for project management information is maintained by the Project Management Institute at http://www.pmi.org. Here you can find valuable references to publications, discussion forums on the Internet, other relevant Web sites, project management special interest groups (SIGs) in your area, educational opportunities, employment opportunities, Institute chapters in your area, and membership information. You can also download a free copy of the Institute's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, which documents the most up-to-date theory and best practices in project management.

Microsoft Project is, at its core, a scheduling and planning tool for project managers, providing easy-to-use tools for putting together a project schedule and assigning responsibilities; but, it also gives you powerful tools to carry you through to the end of the project.

After you have defined the scope and goals for your project, you can start putting Microsoft Project 2000 to use. Project is an invaluable planning tool for

  • Organizing the project plan and thinking through the details of what must be done

  • Scheduling deadlines that must be met

  • Scheduling the tasks in the appropriate sequence

  • Assigning resources and costs to tasks and scheduling tasks around resource availability

  • Fine-tuning the plan to satisfy time and budget constraints or to accommodate changes

  • Providing hyperlinks between the project schedule and related project management documents in other applications

  • Preparing professional-looking reports to explain the project to stakeholders such as owners, top management, supervisors, workers, subcontractors, and the public

  • Posting a copy of the project on the Internet or an intranet for review

When work begins on the project, you can use Microsoft Project to

  • Track progress and analyze the evolving real schedule to see if it looks like you will finish on time and within budget

  • Revise the schedule to accommodate changes and unforeseen circumstances

  • Try out different what-if scenarios before making actual modifications to the plan

  • Communicate with team members about changes in the schedule (even automatically notify those who are affected by changes) and solicit feedback about their progress

  • Post automatically updated progress reports on an Internet Web site or a company intranet

  • Produce final reports on the success of the project and evaluate problem areas for consideration in future projects

What's New in Microsoft Project 2000

Project 2000 extends the dramatic changes that were introduced in Project 98. If you are new to project management and its terminology, you might not be able to appreciate some of the items listed in this review of new features. On the other hand, if you are a seasoned user of Microsoft Project, you will be excited by these enhancements.

Many Office 2000 Features Are Now in Project 2000

As in Office 2000, Help is now in HTML format, and Help also has much more project management content than before. Users can select the default directory for saved files and templates. The file Open and Save dialog boxes are designed like those in Office 2000: less cluttered and more functional. With Office Namespace Extensions, saving projects to a Web site is easy. There is also a new Auto Save option to save your active document at timed intervals. Project 2000 also supports Language Packs so that the same installed program can display menus and dialog boxes in different languages.

Scheduling Controls Are More Comprehensive

Upgrading the scheduling engine was the main thrust of the improvements in Project 98, and Project 2000 raises the bar even higher. The biggest improvement is the ability to contour resource availability over time, to forecast changes in the number of resources that will be available at future dates. If a task has special scheduling requirements, you can use a task calendar that affects only that task and overrides the assigned resource calendars. Project 2000 distinguishes between the traditional work resources and the new material resources, with the distinction being that with material resources you measure the units consumed and with other resources you measure the hours of work performed.

When entering durations you can now use the time unit month. You can also flag duration entries as estimates to be confirmed later. In addition to entering a traditional constraint date for a task, you can also enter a reference deadline date for a task. The deadline date doesn't affect the scheduling, but it does serve to notify you when a task misses a deadline.

The number of task priority levels you can use to control which tasks are leveled has increased from 10 to 1,000. Furthermore, you can assign project priorities to determine the order of task leveling when working with master projects or the order of leveling when multiple projects use the same resource pool. You also can control whether or not to clear existing leveling delays before calculating new leveling delays. Project 2000 also has a new command to clear the baseline or an interim plan.

Master projects now calculate their subprojects as though they were summary tasks; thus, you can now have a single critical path through the entire master project.

New Custom Fields Give Users More Control

Perhaps the most popular new feature in Project 2000 will be the new custom fields, which the user can define to perform custom calculations based on data in other fields. You can also use the custom fields to provide pick-lists that help standardize data entry. Special indicators can be defined for the custom fields to flag values that fall within a specified range or above or below that range.

You can now define grouping criteria for displaying tasks or resources and choose summary statistics to be displayed for each group.

Project 2000 allows you to define the format for displaying WBS codes. A user-defined code mask guarantees that calculated or entered WBS codes conform to the defined standard. Project can also verify that entered WBS codes are unique.

New Outline Code fields enable you to define custom sorting orders and outline structures for your task list, independently of the real outline structure. As with the WBS codes, you can define a code mask that enforces the structure of the codes that are used.

The PERT Chart Has Been Replaced by the Network Diagram

The network diagram is like the PERT Chart, but it has enhanced capabilities. You can now filter the diagram and hide or display subtasks. You also have extensive control over the format of the task nodes and the linking lines.

The Programming Controls Have Been Expanded

To give programmers access to the new features in this release, there are new methods, properties, objects, collections, and events. The programmer now has control over the subprojects in a master project as well as multiple projects that use the same resource pool. Project 2000 also allows COM add-ins to make custom applications more efficient.

Project Central Enables Workgroup Functionality Over the Web

You can easily save a project to a Web site using Project Central and members of your workgroup or other stakeholders can view the project using just a browser whether or not they have Microsoft Project installed on their machines. With the browser, users can take advantage of interactive features such as personal Gantt Charts, personal timesheets, and personal status reports. They can filter, sort, and group task or resource lists. They can also delegate tasks and run many reports.

The Interface Is Much More Effective

Finally, there is a whole host of usage enhancements to make life easier for the user:

  • More abundant ScreenTips explain data that is not self-evident on the screen.

  • Like Microsoft Excel, in-cell editing and fill handles make data entry and editing easier.

  • Clicking the taskbar in the Gantt Chart selects the task as it intuitively should.

  • Hyperlinks can be assigned from a pick-list of recently visited sites, and you can control the ScreenTip accompanying the hyperlink.

  • Project-level fields such as costs and earned-value fields can be displayed in headers, footers, or legends.

  • In tables, you can set unique row heights for individual rows.

  • You can select the outline level to display for the whole project from a pick-list.

  • If you want taskbars to roll up to summary tasks, you can set that option for the whole project instead of having to set each task individually.

  • You can display the fiscal year timescale alongside the calendar year timescale.

  • The Copy Picture command produces a better picture that scales more effectively in other applications.

  • You can convert a file into a template, choosing to include or exclude baseline values, actual values, resource rates, and fixed costs. Using the File New command displays a Templates tab with all your templates on it.

  • Project 2000 uses the single document interface, which means that each open project appears on the Windows taskbar and can be switched using the Alt+Tab key combination.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into nine parts, which take you from an overview of project management and Microsoft Project through programming and customizing Microsoft Project to suit your needs. Following is a brief review of these parts and the chapters you'll find in each part.

Part I: Getting Started with Microsoft Project 2000

Part I introduces you to Microsoft Project 2000 and shows you how to set up a new project document.

Chapter 1, "The Power of Microsoft Project 2000," introduces you to project management concepts and the major phases of managing a project with Microsoft Project.

Chapter 2, "Learning the Basics of Microsoft Project," introduces you to the Microsoft Project workspace. In this chapter, you learn to navigate the screen display, scroll and select data, and select different views of the project.

In Chapter 3, "Setting Up a New Project Document," you review the preliminary steps you take when creating a project. You learn how to specify the calendar of working days and hours, how to enter basic information about the project, and how to specify the planned date for starting or finishing the project. You also learn how to adjust the most critical of the default values that govern how Microsoft Project displays and calculates a project.

Chapter 4, "Working with Project Files," presents the information you need to work with project files. Included is a comprehensive discussion of the Global Project Template file and how you use it.

Part II: Scheduling Tasks

Part II shows you how to build the skeleton of the project plan.

Chapter 5, "Creating a Task List," explains how you define and enter the tasks, milestones, and recurring tasks that must be completed to successfully finish the project. You also learn how to enter the task list in outline form in accordance with top-down planning principles. You learn how to edit the data in a project and how to use different forms for editing the task data.

Chapter 6, "Entering Scheduling Requirements," shows you how to define the special conditions that govern the scheduling of tasks in your project: specific deadlines and sequencing requirements for the tasks.

Chapter 7, "Viewing Your Schedule," explains and compares the most popular views you can use in Microsoft Project to display the task list. The views covered are the Calendar view, the PERT Chart, and the special graphics capabilities of the Gantt Chart.

Part III: Assigning Resources and Costs

Part III shows you how to define and assign resources and costs to the tasks in your project.

Chapter 8, "Defining Resources and Costs," shows you how to define the resource pool that you plan to use in the project and how to define the working and nonworking times for those resources. You learn how to sort, filter, and print the resource list. You learn also how to save the resource pool as a template for use in other project documents.

Chapter 9, "Understanding Resource Scheduling," gives you an understanding of how Project calculates a schedule when resources are assigned to tasks—both when you first assign resources and when you change resource assignments. The detailed instructions for assigning resources are covered in the next chapter.

Chapter 10, "Assigning Resources and Costs to Tasks," shows you how to associate resources and costs with specific tasks. You also learn how to assign overtime for resources and how to assign fixed costs to parts of the project. Finally, you learn how to view the resources, costs, and task assignments in useful ways for auditing the project plan and how to print the standard views and reports.

Chapter 11, "Resolving Resource Assignment Problems," is a guide for troubleshooting problems in the schedule for assigned resources. Typically, some resources are scheduled for more work than they can possibly do in the time allowed; this is where you learn ways to resolve the conflicts.

Part IV: Reviewing and Distributing the Project

Part IV covers that part of the project cycle where you have completed the initial planning and need to review the schedule and refine it to ensure that it meets the objectives of the project. Then you will want to publish the final plan in printed reports or on an intranet or the Internet.

Chapter 12, "Reviewing the Project Plan," introduces features that help you review your task schedule for completeness and accuracy. You learn how to get an overview of the project to see if you can complete the project plan in a timely fashion and at an acceptable cost. You also learn how to view the task list through filters that focus on important aspects of the project and to sort and print the task list. You learn how to spell check the schedule and how to view the summary statistics for the project.

In Chapter 13, "Printing Views and Reports," you learn how to use the standard views and reports to publish your plan for the project.

Chapter 14, "Publishing Projects on the Web," covers the new capability of Project to prepare its views for HTML display on Web sites and intranets.

Chapter 15, "Using Microsoft Project in Workgroups," will show you how to use Project's network workgroup features for communicating and coordinating the details of the project.

Part V: Tracking and Analyzing Progress

This part shows you how to keep track of actual work on the project and how to understand what is going on, with special emphasis on catching problems early so that corrective measures can be taken.

Chapter 16, "Tracking Work on the Project," deals with your role as project manager after work on the project begins. You learn how to save a copy of the finalized project plan to use as a baseline for comparisons. This chapter teaches you how to track the actual beginning and ending dates for tasks, the actual work amounts, and the actual costs.

Chapter 17, "Analyzing Progress and Revising the Schedule," is an important presentation of ways to look at the tracking information to see how well the project is meeting its objectives. Project offers many techniques and reports that you will learn to use in this chapter.

Part VI: Coordinating Projects and Sharing Data

The chapters in Part VI discuss more advanced topics that the beginning user will usually not encounter initially—therefore they are separated from the earlier Parts' flow covering the basic steps of developing and tracking a project schedule.

Chapter 18, "Working with Multiple Projects," explains how to link one or more subprojects to a master or summary project and how to link an individual task in one project to a task in another project. You also learn how to consolidate multiple projects and how to manage multiple projects that share a common resource pool.

Chapter 19, "Exporting and Importing Project Data with Other File Formats," shows you how to export and import task, resource, and cost data with other applications and file formats, including the database formats. You also learn how to save entire projects in database formats.

Chapter 20, "Copying, Pasting, and Inserting Data with Other Applications," shows you how to copy and paste selected data and objects between Project and other applications. You learn how to copy Project's timephased data into other applications and how to manage both embedded and linked objects in Project and in other applications.

Part VII: Working with Views and Reports

The chapters in Part VII teach you how to take advantage of the extensive options that Microsoft Project provides for displaying the data in your project. Some of the views and reports are mentioned in earlier chapters as the need arises. This section provides a comprehensive reference to all the major views and reports.

Chapter 21, "Using the Standard Views, Tables, and Filters," explains the many options for using tables, forms, graphic images, and filters to display your project in a view.

Chapter 22, "Formatting Views," provides all you need to know about the formatting options for all the major views. You'll also find procedures, including tips and techniques, for changing the appearance of graphic elements and text display for categories of items and individual items.

Chapter 23, "Customizing Views, Tables, Fields, and Filters," shows you how to create your own views, with custom tables and filters, to display just the detail that you want for your projects.

Chapter 24, "Using the Standard Reports," explains how to use the standard reports to supplement the printed views.

Chapter 25, "Customizing Reports," explains how you can change the display elements in reports.

Part VIII: Customizing and Programming Microsoft Project 2000

The chapters in Part VIII cover programming and customizing the Microsoft Project interface.

Chapter 26, "Customizing Toolbars, Menus, and Forms," is placed after the programming chapters only because you will typically customize a toolbar or menu to run your macros or Visual Basic procedures. This chapter explains the options for customizing the way Microsoft Project works. You learn how to change the standard toolbar buttons and how to attach commands and macros to a button. You learn also how to customize menus and how to create your own forms for data entry and review.

Chapter 27, "Introduction to Visual Basic Macros with Project 2000," is a basic guide for nonprogrammers who want to record and use simple macros.

Chapter 28, "Developing Visual Basic Macros," is for programmers or individuals who understand Visual Basic but want help in identifying the methods and properties available in Microsoft Project. This chapter walks you through situational macros that you can apply to your own day-to-day activities.

Part IX: Appendixes

The appendixes of Part IX provide reference material that applies to more than one chapter or section of the book.

Appendix A, "Reviewing the Basics of Project Management," is a brief introduction to project management for those who are new to the responsibility or profession.

Appendix B, "Microsoft Project 2000 Shortcut Keys," is a partial listing of the most commonly used special keys and key combinations in Microsoft Project.

Appendix C, "Companion Products for Microsoft Project 2000," describes some of the software products that you can buy to enhance Microsoft Project. The products are grouped by vendor and each is described briefly.

Last, there is a Glossary listing some of the most commonly used terms found in this book, and it is especially helpful to those who are new to project management. As an added bonus, you'll find a Field Reference document on the CD that accompanies this book. It's a comprehensive listing designed to help you understand how to use the Microsoft Project fields when using or customizing filters, tables, and forms; when using Import/Export maps; and when creating VBA macros.

There is also additional information, articles, sample Project files, and macros available to you at the Web site for this book. Please visit www.quepublishing.com and enter this book's ISBN number (0789722534) in the Search window.

Special Features in This Book

This book contains a variety of special features to help you find the information you need—fast. Formatting conventions are used to make important keywords or special text obvious. Specific language is used so as to make keyboard and mouse actions clear. And a variety of visual elements are used to make important and useful information stand out. The following sections describe the special features used in this book.

Visual Aids

Notes, Tips, Cautions, and other visual aids give you useful information, and icons in the margin draw your attention to topics of special interest. The following are descriptions of each element.

New features that are introduced in Microsoft Project 2000 are flagged with an icon in the margin.


Notes provide useful information that isn't essential to the discussion. They usually contain more technical information, but can also contain interesting but less critical information.


Tips enhance your experience with Project 2000 by providing hints and tricks you won't find elsewhere.


Cautions warn you that a particular action can cause severe harm to your project schedule. Given the many not-so-obvious calculations that Project processes at every turn, you shouldn't skip the cautions in this book.

Cross-references point you to specific sections within other chapters so that you can get more information that's related to the topic you're reading about. Here is what a cross- reference looks like:

→ To learn more about working with your project plans, see "Starting and Exiting Microsoft Project," p. 29

Sidebars Are Interesting Nuggets of Information

Sidebars are detours from the main text. They usually provide background or interesting information that is relevant but not essential reading. You might find information that's a bit more technical than the surrounding text, or you might find a brief diversion into the historical aspects of the text.

Special Features

You'll also find the following special features in this book:

Best Practice tips from Toby Brown, PMP, will help you learn the ins and outs of effective project management. These tips from Toby are related to the project management process recommended by the Project Management Institute. As a certified project manager and Project software user, Toby's tips will help you along with the responsibilities of managing projects both with and without software.

At the end of each chapter, there is a Troubleshooting section that highlights anticipated problems you might have and provides a solution. The problem is stated in bold type, and the answer or solution follows.

Keyboard Conventions

In addition to the special features that help you find what you need, this book uses some special conventions to make it easier to read:

HotkeysHotkeys are underlined in this book, just as they appear in Windows 95 menus. To use a hotkey, press Alt and the underlined key. For example, the F in File is a hotkey that activates the File menu.
Key combinationsKey combinations are joined with the plus sign (+). Alt+F, for example, means hold down the Alt key, press the F key, and then release both keys.
Menu commandsA comma is used to separate the parts of a pull-down menu command. For example, choosing File, New means to open the File menu and select the New option.

In most cases, special-purpose keys are referred to by the text that actually appears on them on a standard 101-key keyboard. For example, press Esc, press F1, or press Enter. Some of the keys on your keyboard don't actually have words on them. So here are the conventions used in this book for those keys:

  • The Backspace key, which is labeled with a left arrow, usually is located directly above the Enter key. The Tab key usually is labeled with two arrows pointing to lines, with one arrow pointing right and the other arrow pointing left.

  • The cursor keys, labeled on most keyboards with arrows pointing up, down, right, and left, are called the up-arrow key, down-arrow key, right-arrow key, and left-arrow key.

  • Case is not important unless explicitly stated. So "Press A" and "press a" mean the same thing.

Formatting Conventions

This book also uses some special typeface conventions to help you understand what you're reading:

ItalicItalic indicates new terms. It also indicates place holders in commands and addresses.
BoldBold indicates text you type.
MonospaceThis typeface is used for onscreen messages and commands that you type. It also indicates addresses on the Internet.
Myfile.docWindows filenames and folders are capitalized to help you distinguish them from regular text.

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