What’s the best sequence of steps involved in creating a Plan in MS Project ?


Note : This post doesn’t capture/discuss the activities involved in Planning a project. But it focus on entries required in creating a plan using MS Project. Menu references are based on MS Project 2010.

Your Project Plan will have the following key ingredients(may vary)

  1. Summary Tasks
  2. Sub Tasks
  3. Milestones
  4. Effort / Work
  5. Schedule
  6. Dependencies
  7. Resources assigned.
  8. Calendar

Based on my experience, I found the following order of Entry effective and eliminates any adjustments or rework later.

  1. Set the “Calendar Options for the Project”.
    This is accessible through “File” –> “Options” –> “Schedule”.  Set your Shift Timings*, Hours Per Day, Start work day of the Week and  Average days in a month as appropriate for the project
  2. Enable display of Project Summary task.
    This can be achieved by setting “Show Project Summary Task” check box under “Display Options for this Project” accessible thru “File” –> “Options” –> “Advanced”
  3. Key in your Key Summary Tasks. Only Task Names.
    Never Key in Estimates , Duration or Schedule for Summary Tasks.
  4. Create a dummy milestone to capture the Start date for the Project
  5. Key in your Milestones with the dates.
  6. Key in your Sub tasks / Detail Tasks. Only Task Names.
  7. Key in your Work Estimates in Work Column for your Detail / Sub Tasks.
    Never key in Work Estimates to any of the Summary Tasks. This will affect rolling up of Estimates of Detail Tasks to Summary Tasks.
  8. Key in your duration of each task for your Detail / Sub Tasks.
    Never key in duration to any of the Summary Tasks. This will affect rolling up of duration of Detail Tasks to Summary Tasks.
  9. Indent the Sub Tasks / Detail Tasks under appropriate Summary Tasks
  10. Set the Dependencies
    Stay away from setting Dependencies for any of the Summary task.
  11. Assign the Resources
    Stay away from assigning resources to any of the Summary task.
  12. Set the Project and Resource Calendar.
  13. Review the Plan so that it aligns with your Project Schedule agreed.
  14. Validate the Value in Work field for Project Summary Task against the Total Estimated Effort for the Project.
    If all the other tasks are either the child of this task or any other task coming under the task, then MS Project will roll-up the efforts of individual tasks to the Project Summary Task.
  15. Level your resources.
    Some of the resource’s total assigned effort for a day may exceed standard hours or their availability.  These cases can be identified in the Resource Sheet View. Over-allocated resources will appear in “RED”.   The main reason for over allocation would be due to assignment of a resource to multiple tasks whose schedule overlaps.
  16. Create a Baseline for the Project for tracking when the project is running.

* If you change the Working Times in Project Options, then you need to explicitly match the new timings by changing them in the “Change Working Time” dialog box. Select the “Work Weeks” tab, while the Default entry in this tab selected, click on “Details”. In the “Details” dialog box, multi-select your work days and select the “Set day(s) to this specific working times” radio button and then key in your Project specific work times.

See Also : More articles on MS Project

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