Learning Microsoft Project 2019
eBook - ePub

Learning Microsoft Project 2019

Streamline project, resource, and schedule management with Microsoft's project management software

Srikanth Shirodkar

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  1. 504 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Learning Microsoft Project 2019

Streamline project, resource, and schedule management with Microsoft's project management software

Srikanth Shirodkar

Book details
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Table of contents

About This Book

Explore detailed explanations and examples to get up and running with the five phases of the project management lifecycle and integrate project management principles in a variety of projects

Key Features

  • Explore various algorithms and the latest features of MS Project to organize and keep track of your projects
  • Understand Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to improve productivity
  • Apply real-world best practices and discover the tips, tricks, and pitfalls of schedule management

Book Description

Microsoft Project is one of the most popular project management tools for enterprises of all sizes thanks to its wide variety of features such as project scheduling, project budgeting, built-in templates, and reporting tools. Learning Microsoft Project 2019 will get you started with the basics and gradually guide you through the complete project life cycle.

Starting with an overview of Microsoft Project 2019 and a brief introduction to project management concepts, this book will take you through the different phases of project management – initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure. You will then learn how to identify and handle problems related to scheduling, costing, resourcing, and work allocation. Understand how to use dynamic reports to create powerful, automated reports and dashboards at the click of a button. This Microsoft Project book highlights the pitfalls of overallocation and demonstrates how to avoid and resolve these issues using a wide spectrum of tools, techniques, and best practices. Finally, you will focus on executing Agile projects efficiently and get to grips with using Kanban and Scrum features.

By the end of this book, you will be well-versed with Microsoft Project and have the skills you need to use it effectively in every stage of project management.

What you will learn

  • Create efficient project plans using Microsoft Project 2019
  • Get to grips with resolving complex issues related to time, budget, and resource allocation
  • Understand how to create automated dynamic reports
  • Identify and protect the critical path in your project and mitigate project risks
  • Become well-versed with executing Agile projects using MS Project
  • Understand how to create custom reports and make them available for future projects

Who this book is for

If you use Microsoft Office and are looking to use MS Project to manage your projects efficiently, this book is for you. Project managers or anyone interested in project management will also find this book useful. Basic knowledge of Windows UI and MS Office products is required.

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Section 1: The Iron Triangle – a Quick Primer for Project Management

This section will lay the foundation upon which the whole book is constructed. For new managers, this will be a short and sweet introduction to project management. For experienced managers, this will be a small refresher for the framework used throughout the rest of the book.
This section introduces and explains the phases of the project management life cycle. It provides the terminology scaffolding for the entire book, and with it, defines the book structure by demonstrating the use of Microsoft Project through the life cycle of a project.
This section comprises the following chapter:
  • Chapter 1, Project Management – the Essential Primer

Chapter 1: Project Management – the Essential Primer

On a bright hot day 4,500 years ago, in the middle of a desert, a mega civil engineering project was completed. With an estimated 30,000 workers and over 5 million tons of precisely cut rock, the project had taken 20 years to complete.
This project was completed without the help of computers, GPS, or the modern machinery that we have in place today. Yes, we are talking about the Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt. This project remained the tallest man-made structure for another 3,800 years!
Humankind has embarked on projects since time immemorial. This knowledge of executing projects has been passed on from generation to generation, being greatly enhanced every time. In more recent times, some notable projects have been putting humans on the moon, building the largest machine in the world—the Large Hadron Collider, and conducting the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup every 4 years.
It can easily be surmised that humanity has studied and practiced project management for a very long time. It is this knowledge of projects and project management, common across time and business domains, that we will now discuss.
Of course, not all projects are mega scale. In your own life, you will have already undertaken several projects. Some examples of personal projects are getting admitted to college, learning a new technical skill, organizing your wedding, or building your own house. The modern world is full of projects running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And most adults in the world have some experience in project management, even if only personal projects.
What has happened since the time of the pyramids? The sharing of project management wisdom between experts from different sectors and domains has led to the identification of activities, tools, techniques, and best practices that are common across domains.
This knowledge is what we commonly call today Project Management Methodology. There are a few important, globally accepted standards that we will learn more about shortly.
By the end of this chapter, you will be able to do the following:
  • Understand the terminology of Microsoft Project – where the concepts have come from, how they have evolved, and how to learn these standards and techniques further.
  • Familiarize yourself with the foundational techniques used by MS Project – especially the Work Breakdown Structure, the Critical Path Method, and the Gantt chart.
  • Understand what MS Project is all about, and what to expect.
  • Understand when to use MS Project and when not to – Project is a very powerful ally by your side, but it is not a silver bullet for every problem.
If you are reading this book on Microsoft Project, I surmise you are already managing a project, big or small. Or, you are about to start on one soon, and I congratulate you! Actual designations may vary according to seniority, business sector, or domain. Microsoft Project is used in practically every domain where projects are executed, in every part of the world. For example, architecture, civil engineering, military, software or information technology, telecommunications, manufacturing and retail, and banking and finance.
If you are in any of the preceding or related domains, you have picked the right book. If you are a new user of MS Project or took a course on Project long back but did not practice it, this book is still perfect for you.
Today, as you have seen, there exists a globally accepted framework of Project Management Knowledge. This chapter will concisely lay out the framework. In the rest of the book, I will show how Microsoft Project's design, features, usage, and pitfalls map to Project Management Knowledge – no matter the specific domain where you will use Microsoft Project.

Projects – what is special about them?

Can any dry textbook definition truly describe the project of climbing Mount Everest for the very first time? Or a project to find new sea routes in uncharted seas?
Yet, when you observe projects in real life a little more closely, you will see a lot that is familiar about them. Big or small, high-risk or no-risk, personal or mega-scale, there are some specific parameters that unify every project.

Project – the definition

In everyday life, projects of every size, budget, risk, and complexity can be found, but here is a definition that defines the soul of a project:
"A project is a temporary and unique endeavor with defined objectives."
While this definition is as generic as it can get, there are some crystal-clear points to break down:
  • Temporary nature: Projects are temporary in nature – there has to be a clear, time-bound start state and end state. Projects cannot go on forever.
  • Uniqueness: Pay special attention to this word; it says a whole lot about projects. Manufacturing cars is not a project (because mass-manufactured cars are not unique); it is more of an operation. Similarly, providing a car wash is a service. However, setting up the factory where cars are mass-manufactured is indeed a project.
    Moreover, exactly because projects are unique, they often face more unknown factors. The customer's reaction to a new shoe may really be unknown; a newly engineered door on the Mir space station may not function properly because the conditions cannot be 100% replicated during engineering. Often called unknown unknowns, this risk with projects is widely acknowledged and implicitly understood.
    We will discuss risks several times in this book, and how Microsoft Project can help with risks associated with schedules, resources, and budgets.
  • Endeavor: Projects are purposeful by nature. They don't happen by accident. Or rather, accidental happenings are not called projects. The word endeavor also implicitly means that something has to be accomplished.
  • With defined objectives: This means both the result and the limits it must be achieved within. For example, if you are building a house, you will expect to finish it to an acceptable quality, in a reasonable timeframe, and within a limited cost.
    Definitions in this book are not the official or standard definitions. It is my humble attempt to make the definitions as easily understandable and memorable for the reader. For the most definitive reference to all the terminology used in this chapter, please consult Project Management Institute's PMBOK® Guide (A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge). In fact, this chapter is based upon this widely accepted standard.

Project management

Project management is the art and science of achieving project objectives by applying knowledge, tools, and techniques.
The science aspect of project management is derived from the body of knowledge. And the art aspect of project management becomes evident depending on how you apply the available knowledge to your project in your unique situations. This is because there is no single way to execute a project; and the execution is approached based upon the collective wisdom and other resources of the team. Therein lies the art of project management.
Microsoft Project is the preferred software tool. With the scheduling aspects of your project, it can prove to be the most important software project tool that you will use.
Project management done correctly can help you do the following:
  1. Achieve your business' end goals
  2. Manage constraints in the project – scope, quality, and costs
  3. Increase predictability – even for subsequent projects
  4. Optimize the usage of precious resources – money, people, machinery, and materials
  5. Recover projects in trouble
The application of good project management practices and Microsoft Project will greatly enhance the success of your project.
A common beginner's pitfall is to use MS Project only to create a schedule. The new user starts enthusiastically, and might even create a schedule at the beginning of the project. But they will not know how to use it to track the project, how to leverage one-click dynamic reports, how to identify risks, or for the long list of other features.
By reading this book, you will identify Microsoft Project's role in all major process groups that you will perform as a project manager.

The project manager

The project manager is the person around whom the project universe revolves. They are directly responsible for the success of the project.
To accomplish such a responsibility, the project manager is expected to bring a great deal of skills and competencies to the table. Project management skills are always expected: awareness of best practices, domain knowledge, business analysis skills, industry standards, and regulatory policy knowledge are just some of the fundamentals. If the project manager also has technical skills, they are highly valued.
Amongst the so-called soft skills, people and organizational leadership skills, good communication, conflict management, administration, and general management are just some of the fundamentals.
Moreover, this is a field where experience can make a big difference to project outcomes and is valued at a premium.

Project management knowledge

As we understood earlier, today, there are multiple global standards for project management. Each of these methodologies provides a holistic set of guidelines, practices, tools, and techniques in self-...

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