As someone that has used MS Project for over 20 years, I've learned a thing or two about how to make MS Project work better. Here are five tips I hope will ensure more project success.
Establish a baseline. A baseline is a copy of your initial schedule, and you don't want to lose track of it. Once project execution begins, set your baseline. MS Project has a lot of fancy capabilities built into the baseline function. However, just one click will establish your baseline for the entire schedule, which is adequate for most projects.
Once you've established your baseline, MS Project will use it to compare your actual progress to your plan. That way, if any new tasks take longer or shorter than expected, you can adjust accordingly and keep your projects on schedule.
Track actuals against the plan. In the future, enter your actual information regarding each task's start date, end date, work, and duration. This will help you see how far off from the original schedule your team is and what parts of the project are taking longer than anticipated. You will also need to look at the budget but starting with the schedule is the best approach.
Use milestones to track the project's progress. Milestones are a critical part of the project management process. They track progress, keep your team on track, and measure how close you are to completing each phase. Milestones also help you monitor and control the project. You'll want to set reminders here so everyone involved knows where they should be at any time.
Set up reminders. Another way to ensure your project stays on track is by setting reminders. You can set a reminder for any task or the entire project, and you can also schedule reminders for times when you'll be unavailable: for example, if you'll be on vacation or traveling for business. If you're managing the project yourself, consider scheduling one reminder daily, so each day has its own prompt—this will help you always keep your tasks in mind.
Not all versions of MS Project may have support for reminders, so you may have to use an external application (e.g., Calendar, Outlook) to set up the reminders.
Capture hours worked each day. It is essential to capture time worked and other actual performance information daily. If you wait until the end of a week, most team members may have forgotten what work was performed each day. With daily recording, you can keep track of progress and ensure you are meeting deadlines and accurately billing clients for their project costs.
We hope these tips help you to make the most of your MS Project experience. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and share any additional MS Project tips you may have!
Subscribe for Our Project Management Resources, Best Practices, and Tips
Confirm your subscription to receive an email with immediate download access to Project Manager's Resources, a valuable list of books and web sites.
Get the latest tips and updates sent directly to your inbox monthly.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.