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Microsoft Office Project 2003 and Microsoft Office Project Server 2003 are the newest releases of the best-selling project management software in the world. While most of the new features added to the product line have been added to the Project Server product, there are still things to learn about the desktop product for this release as well.

Why You Should Use This Book

Almost anyone in the workplace can make good use of Microsoft Project at one time or another, but for project managers in particular, 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 projects.

This book provides direct answers about how to put a project schedule together by using Microsoft Project 2003. 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 it's 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 (PMI), at www.pmi.org. At this site 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, PMI chapters in your area, and membership information. You can also download a copy of the Institute's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, which documents the most up-to-date 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. Project also gives you powerful tools to carry you through to the end of the project.

After you have defined the scope and goals for a project, you can start putting Microsoft Project 2003 to use. Project is an invaluable planning tool for helping you do the following:

  • Organize the project plan and think through the details of what must be done

  • Schedule deadlines that must be met

  • Schedule the tasks in the appropriate sequence

  • Assign resources and costs to tasks and schedule tasks around the availability of resources

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

  • Provide links between elements of the project (tasks, resources, and assignments) and related project management documents in other applications

  • Collaborate with other project stakeholders by reviewing the schedule and by notifying resources of their assignments

  • Initiate and track discussions and resolutions of issues related to the project

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

  • Review the portfolio of all projects in the enterprise to analyze the impact of adding the new project on resource usage and cash flow

  • Use portfolio modeling to optimize resource assignments across all enterprise projects

  • Publish the project on a server for other project managers to access and for stakeholders to review, via Internet browsers

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

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

  • Notify resources of changes in their assignments and get progress reports on work that has been accomplished and that is yet to be done

  • Revise the schedule to accommodate changes and unforeseen circumstances

  • Try out different versions of proposed changes in a project, using “what-if” analysis, 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 the Project Server, or 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 2003

Project 2003 extends the dramatic changes that were introduced in Project 2002. If you are new to project management and its terminology, you might not fully appreciate some of the items listed in this review of new features. But if you are a seasoned user of Microsoft Project, you will be very excited by these enhancements.

Two Editions of Microsoft Project 2003

Microsoft Project 2003 is still available in two editions: Microsoft Project 2003 Standard edition and Microsoft Project 2003 Professional edition. The only real difference between these two versions for this release is that Project Standard is no longer able to connect to Project Server. In order to save and publish projects to Project Server 2003, you must have Project Professional.

Project Standard is best for project managers who are managing single projects or projects that do not share information about resources, while Project Professional and Project Server are the best choice for organizations that manage many projects that share resources, or for organizations that need to gather status information from their resources and share it via the Web with other members of the organization.

Using Project Server and Project Professional, a project manager or others on the project team can publish relevant documents and issues for discussion to Windows SharePoint Services, linking the documents and issues or risks to specific projects, tasks, or resources. The documents and discussion issues might relate to the goals of the project, specifications for completing tasks, change orders, budgets, and so forth. Furthermore, resources and others can also post issues and documents for review by the project team.

File Compatibility

Project 2003 can read Project 98, Project 2000, and Project 2002 files, and it can save to these formats as well. However, you don't have to save in the Project 2002 format for a Project 2002 user to be able to open the file, because Project 2002 can open, work with, and save Project 2003 files. Of course, the Project 2002 user will not see features or field data that Project 2002 doesn't support, but in general those features and fields are simply hidden and remain unchanged when you open the file in Project 2003 again to work with it.

Ease-of-Use Features

When creating filters that use fields that have value lists assigned, the value list choices now appear in the filter dialog box so that you can pick from the value list when creating the filter.

The Project Guide now has a new wizard to assist users with formatting views to optimize them for printing. This set of guide pages ensures that the view you see will be printed in a way that makes it easy to read.

There is also a new feature called Copy Picture to Office. This wizard helps you optimize the creation of an image file that is a snapshot of what you see on the screen. But this wizard goes further than just asking what format the image should be. It helps you pick which fields should be visible, which rows should be shown, and more.

Project 2003 also uses the new Assistance Center help features that, when connected to the Internet, will search an online database of help topics and articles on the Microsoft Web site before it searches the local help information. In this way, the Office 2003 family of applications gives its users access to updated and current content via the Web.

The Template Gallery on the Microsoft Office Web site now contains Project templates. The gallery is available as a sidepane in Project 2003 and makes the searching for and downloading of templates fast and easy.

The Watson error reporting tool has been improved to provide Microsoft with more helpful information about system or application crashes. This tool, when the user chooses to send the report to Microsoft, will send information directly to the product team about how the application crashed. During the beta testing of Project 2003, huge numbers of bugs were fixed based on information sent to the product team from the new Watson technology.

Project Server 2003

Project Server 2002 introduced a new wave of features to Microsoft Project users to allow for Enterprise Project Management (EPM). Project Server 2003 has built on that wave by improving and stabilizing the features introduced with Project Server 2002, as well as adding some important new abilities of its own. There are many changes and new features in Project Server 2003. Below we will cover the major changes, but this by no means covers all the changes. On the installation CD for Project is a document called WhatsNew.doc. It contains a complete listing of all the changes. Review this document for more detailed information about the new features of Project Server and Project Standard/Professional.

One of the most obvious changes in Project Server 2003 is the integration with Windows SharePoint Services. This replaces the SharePoint Team Services integration in Project Server 2002. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) provides a much more robust and complete solution for document, issue, and risk management. Risks have been added in a way similar to issues, which allows users to capture information about risks to the projects in Project Server. The document management features are a big change in WSS. WSS allows for document check-in and check-out, as well as versioning of documents. While it may not compete with full featured document management systems, it does provide the features that most organizations will need for managing their Project-related documents.

Project Server 2003 also adds the capability for administrators to more tightly control the reporting periods used to collect status from resources. These time periods can be defined and then locked down so that resources can be stopped from editing status for past time periods. This is an important feature for organizations that integrate Project Server with accounting for timesheet systems.

Project Server now has integration with Active Directory that allows administrators to let a user's membership in Active Directory groups control their membership in the Project Server Enterprise Resource Pool or in Project Server User Groups. Once the integration is set up, when a user's Windows account is made a member of a specified Active Directory group, Project Server will automatically add them to the Project Server group that is linked to that Active Directory group. The same works for the Enterprise Pool. This can help streamline the administration of users and resources in Project Server.

Resource managers no longer need to have a copy of Project Professional in order to add resources to specific projects. Project Server 2003 adds a browser-based version of the Build Team dialog box. It allows resource managers to assign resources to projects directly from the Project Web Access interface. In some cases, this can reduce the number of Project Professional seats an organization needs to purchase.

There have been huge improvements in the programmability of Project Server. There is now a full timesheet API that allows for full programmatic access to the timesheet submission and approval process. This will allow developers to create customized timesheet applications that work directly with Project Server's own methods but that are customized to the needs of the customer. Likewise, there is also a full Enterprise Custom Field API that allows developers to programmatically create and edit enterprise custom fields and outline codes. The PDS now also allows for the programmatic creation and editing of Enterprise Resources and Enterprise Projects.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into eight parts. Although the first seven parts are written for those who use the Standard edition, all of the features and procedures documented in those chapters also apply to those who use the Professional edition. Part VIII contains chapters that show how to use the additional features that you get with the Professional edition. Following is a brief review of these parts and the chapters you'll find in each part.

Part I, “Getting Started with Microsoft Project 2003”

Part I introduces you to Microsoft Project 2003 and shows you how to set up and manage project documents.

Chapter 1, “The Power of Microsoft Project 2003,” introduces you to project management concepts and the major phases of managing a project.

Chapter 2, “Learning the Basics of Microsoft Project,” introduces you to the Microsoft Project workspace. With few exceptions, this workspace is the same for both Standard and Professional editions. In this chapter, you'll learn to navigate the screen display, scroll and select data, and select different views of a project.

Chapter 3, “Setting Up a Project Document,” reviews the preliminary steps you take when creating a project. You'll 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'll also learn how to adjust the most critical of the default values that govern how Microsoft Project displays and calculates a project.

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

Part II, “Scheduling Tasks”

Part II shows how to build and organize the list of tasks that make up 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 a project. You'll also learn how to organize the task list in outline form, in accordance with top-down planning principles. You'll 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 how to define the special conditions that govern the scheduling of tasks in a project, including 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 Gantt Chart view, the Calendar view, and the Network Diagram view.

Part III, “Assigning Resources and Costs”

Part III describes how to define and assign resources and costs to the tasks in a project.

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

Chapter 9, “Understanding Resource Scheduling,” explains 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 actually assigning the resources are covered in Chapter 10.

Chapter 10, “Assigning Resources and Costs to Tasks,” shows how to assign resources and costs to specific tasks. You'll learn how to create assignments and then to modify the default schedule that Project creates by scheduling overtime, delaying or splitting assignments, and contouring the assignments. You'll also learn how to assign fixed costs to parts of a project. Finally, you'll learn how to view the resources, costs, and task assignments in useful ways for auditing the project plan.

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 the part of the project cycle when 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. At that point, you generally want to publish the final plan in printed reports or on an intranet or on the Internet.

Chapter 12, “Reviewing the Project Plan,” introduces features that help you review the task schedule for completeness and accuracy. You'll 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'll 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'll 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'll learn how to use the standard views and reports to publish a plan for a project.

Part V, “Tracking and Analyzing Progress”

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

Chapter 14, “Tracking Work on a Project,” deals with your role as project manager after work on the project begins. You'll learn how to save a copy of the finalized project plan to use as a baseline for comparison with what actually happens. This chapter teaches you how to track the actual beginning and ending dates for tasks, the actual work amounts, and the actual costs.

Chapter 15, “Analyzing Progress and Revising the Schedule,” is an important presentation of ways to look at tracking information to see how well a project is meeting its objectives. Project offers many techniques and reports that you will learn to use in this chapter. This chapter emphasizes the use of earned-value reports.

Part VI, “Coordinating Projects and Sharing Data”

The chapters in Part VI discuss advanced topics that the beginning user will usually not encounter initially. Therefore, they are separated from the earlier parts, which cover the basic steps of developing and tracking a project schedule.

Chapter 16, “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'll also learn how to consolidate multiple projects and how to manage multiple projects that share a common resource pool.

Chapter 17, “Exporting and Importing Project Data with Other File Formats,” describes how to export and import task, resource, and cost data with other applications and file formats, including the database formats. You'll also learn how to save entire projects in database formats.

Chapter 18, “Copying, Pasting, and Inserting Data with Other Applications,” shows how to copy and paste selected data and objects between Project and other applications. You'll learn how to copy Project's timephased data into other applications and how to manage embedded and linked objects in Project and in other applications.

Part VII, “Using and Customizing the Display”

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

Chapter 19, “Using the Standard Views, Tables, Filters, and Groups,” explains the many options for using tables, forms, graphic images, groups, and filters to display your project in a view.

Chapter 20, “Formatting Views,” describes the formatting options for all the major views and how to create custom views. You'll also learn procedures, including tips and techniques, for changing the appearance of graphic elements and text display for categories of items and individual items.

Chapter 21, “Customizing Views, Tables, Fields, Filters, and Groups,” shows how to modify and customize the components of views. You will learn how to create custom tables and filters, how to define custom fields to calculate values for special data needs, and how to create custom grouping of the data.

Chapter 22, “Using and Customizing the Standard Reports,” explains how to use the standard reports to supplement the printed views, how to modify the elements in the reports, and how to create new reports.

Chapter 23, “Customizing Toolbars, Menus, and Forms,” explains the options for customizing the display of the Microsoft Project interface. You'll learn how to change the standard toolbar buttons and how to attach commands and macros to a button. You'll learn also how to customize menus and how to create your own forms for data entry and review.

Part VIII, “Using Project Server and Project Professional”

Chapter 24, “Introduction to Microsoft Office Project Server 2003,” focuses on enterprise thinking and an overall view of Microsoft Office Project Server 2003. This will help you see how all the pieces of Project Server 2003 fit together from a portfolio manager's perspective.

Chapter 25, “Enterprise Project Administration,” describes functional system administration of Project Server 2003 for the PMO system administrator and others who need to know what settings are required to create the enterprise views your organization needs.

Chapter 26, “Enterprise Project Management,” describes Project Web Access and Project Professional from a PMO and project manager's perspective.

Chapter 27, “Enterprise Resource Management,” describes how executives, resource managers, and project managers view and use the resource information that is available via Project Web Access and Project Professional.

Chapter 28, “Enterprise Collaboration,” describes how team members will use the document management and collaboration features of Project Web Access, including time tracking, status reporting, managing to-do lists, issues, risks, and document management.

Web Elements

Three chapters can be found on this book's companion CD.

Web 1, “Publishing Projects on the Web,” describes how to save views of a project for HTML display on Web sites and intranets.

Web 2, “Using Visual Basic with Project 2003,” is a basic guide for nonprogrammers who want to record and use simple macros in Microsoft Project.

Web 3, “Customizing and Administering Project Server Access,” covers what you need to know about administering Project Server and customizing the Web pages it uses to represent the project data.

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 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. The following are descriptions of these elements.

New features that are introduced in Microsoft Project 2003 are flagged with an icon in the margin.


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


Tips enhance your experience with Project 2003 by providing hints and tricks you won't find elsewhere.


Cautions warn you that a particular action can cause unintended results, some of which may be difficult or impossible to undo. 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 project plans, see Chapter 2, “Learning the Basics of Microsoft Project,” p. 29.

Best Practice tips will help you learn the ins and outs of effective project management. These tips are related to the project management process recommended by the Project Management Institute. These tips will help you along with the responsibilities of managing projects both with and without software.

At the end of many of the chapters, a “Troubleshooting” section highlights anticipated problems you might have and provides possible solutions. The problem is stated in italic type, and the answer or solution follows.

Keyboard Conventions

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

Key combinationsKey combinations are joined with the plus sign (+). For example, Alt+F 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, “choose File, New” means to open the File menu and select the New option.
Special-purpose keysThese keys are referred to by the text that actually appears on them on a standard 101-key keyboard (for example, press Esc, press F1, press Enter).

Formatting Conventions

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

ItalicsItalics indicates new terms. It also indicates placeholders in commands and addresses.
MonospaceThis typeface is used for onscreen messages and commands. It also indicates addresses on the Internet and filenames.
Bold monospaceBold monospace indicates text that you type.

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