Create a Microsoft Project file (.mpp) and build out the Project Plan:
Before you import your WBS from the prior assignment into MS Project, you must set up your Microsoft Project Options (this information is covered in Chapter 2 of the Ambriz textbook):
- From the File tab (which takes you to the Backstage), select “Options” and then “Schedule” – verify that the settings on that tab are correct for your project and work environment. Change the scheduling options so that all tasks are Auto Scheduled and that the default Task Type is set to either Fixed Duration or Fixed Work. You want to use the dynamic scheduling capabilities of MS Project. Select whether or not you want to schedule the project from the start date or the end date (regulatory requirements and events that have non-negotiable deadlines should be scheduled from the Project End Date).
- Create a calendar for your project or make necessary modifications to the Standard calendar to include any revised schedule days, holidays or non-working days.
- From the Project Tab, select Project Information and set the Start Date of your project. This can be the actual start date of your project or you can select a fictitious start date if you don’t know exactly when the project is going to start. Select the appropriate Calendar for your project based on step 2.
- On the File tab in the Backstage view, click on Info. From the right side of the window, select Project Information, Advanced Properties. On the Summary tab, enter the Title of your project, your name and a brief description in the Comments box. Your project name will now appear in the project plan as your Zero Task / Project Summary Task.
Using the Work Breakdown Structure that your created in the last assignment, enter your Summary Tasks and Detail Tasks into Microsoft Project. During this exercise, you may identify additional tasks that you didn’t initially think of or you may decide to move things around a bit. That is perfectly acceptable and common when you start building the schedule. It is a living, breathing document and does change throughout the course of planning. Use the Indent Task/Outdent Task buttons on the Task tab to create the hierarchy of your WBS. If you want to turn on the WBS numbering scheme, right-click the column to the right of where you want that column to appear, select Insert Column and select WBS from the list of available columns. Chapter 3 of the Ambriz book includes a lot of detailed information about entering tasks into Microsoft Project.
Once you have thoroughly decomposed the project’s WBS by breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable tasks you can continue to the next step which is estimation.
Using one of the techniques presented in the reference material (your textbooks or the videos), estimate the effort required to complete each task. Determine for each task what the duration and work effort is. Pages 175 – 187 in Ambriz discuss the differences and the relationship between duration and work. If you need to display the Work column in Microsoft Project, right-click the Duration column, select Insert Column and select Work from the list of available columns. Enter your estimates into your Microsoft Project schedule. Remember, don’t assign estimates to Summary tasks, the time necessary to complete the Summary task is based on the estimates of the Detail tasks that roll up to the Summary task.
Create appropriate dependencies between your tasks. What tasks control other tasks?
Use the Link button on the Task tab (or the predecessor and successor columns) to create dependencies between tasks. Double click the arrow between the tasks to change the dependency type. You should be attempting to use a mixture of the dependency options offered in the software including: Finish to Start (FS), Start to Start (SS), Finish to Finish (FF), and Start to Finish (SF). Add Lag or Lead ( Negative Lag) time where appropriate.
Try to avoid adding constraints to tasks. Instead add deadline reminders where necessary. Tasks should have a “Start As Soon As Possible” constraint (default constraint) in order for the software to show the project team the impact of changes to the plan.
Chapters 5 and 6 of the Ambriz book includes a lot of information on linking tasks in Microsoft Project.
Build out the project Resource Sheet and assign all resources to tasks.
Add resources to your project using the resources sheet. Please define all type of resources including Work, Material and Cost. At a minimum, complete the following fields for each human resource: Resource Name, Type, Initials, Max, Std. Rate, Base (Calendar). You can choose to use role names or birth names. For other resource types, complete Cost/Use. Once the resources have been added to the project file, assign those resources to the tasks that you defined in the project schedule. Multiple resources can be assigned to the same task if appropriate but first consider if the task should be broken down into smaller tasks and assigned to individual resources. Resources should not be assigned to Summary level tasks. Chapters 7 and 8 of the Ambriz book include step-by-step instructions for completing these tasks.
Once resources have been assigned to all Detail tasks you may find that some resources have been identified by the software as over-allocated. There is a red icon in the Indicator Column and in the Resource Sheet view the resource is red. Before the plan can be optimized and baselined, it will be necessary for you to address these over-allocations by having the software fix the over-allocations (Resource Leveling feature) or by manually adjusting the plan to alleviate the over-allocations (Resource Usage view).
- Optimize and Baseline the Project Plan:
a. When you are satisfied that over-allocated resources have been eliminated, you can then begin to review the plan and analyze it for any areas where changes can be made that will optimize the schedule for time and cost.
Using schedule optimization strategies, decide which steps you want to take to attempt to shorten your project finish date and decrease project costs. Update your Microsoft Project Schedule accordingly. Through this process you may create new over-allocated resources. If you do, address those over-allocations. Chapter 9 of the Ambriz book includes step-by-step instructions for optimizing your project schedule.
- Baseline the Project Plan:
When you are satisfied that you have done your best to create the most efficient plan possible, save the baseline for the project plan so that you have a point in time to measure progress against.