5 Microsoft Project Tips

  1. Organize Global Template

Did you work  hard customizing one of your project schedules to suit your business needs with custom tables, filters, calendars or fields – just to realise that your next schedule needs the exact same metrics? To avoid the pain and hassle of re-working and re-developing those metrics try this nifty trick the next time you’re stuck.

Open your old schedule with metrics and the new schedule both at once.

In the new schedule go to ‘File’ option and under the ‘Info’ tab you will see an option, ‘Organize Global Template’.

Set the first window to the old schedule (box 1 in image below), then select the metric category you want to copy over (box 2 in image below).

Finally , set the reporting metric you wish to copy from the old schedule (box 3 in image below).

  1. Timeline View

We often underestimate how powerful Microsoft Project is. The different views and reporting templates it provides by default can, in most cases, satisfy the majority of our business needs. One of the most powerful views (in my opinion) is the ‘Timeline View’.

This can be found: ‘View’ tab > ‘Split View’ > Timeline.

The real trick comes in with how creatively you can customize it. After clicking on the Timeline, head over to the ‘Format’ Tab and click on ‘Existing Tasks’ from the ‘Insert’ section.

Here you can select the summary tasks you need for a high-level view of your project. I think this gives a much better overview and more customization than your traditional Gantt Chart.

  1. Task Form View

This is by far the most powerful views that your stock Microsoft Project can offer without any plugins, especially when you’re dealing with schedules in excess of 2000 tasks.

This can be found: ‘View’ tab > ‘Split View’ > Details.

If ‘Task Form’ view isn’t the default setting, you can select it from the drop down beside the ‘Details’ box.

Again, as with any view, the trick comes with how you customize your view to suit business needs. By default Microsoft Project shows resources on the left pane and predecessors on the right pane.. This can be changed to suit your preferences by right-clicking the ‘Task Form’ view.

You can literally control the entire project from here, changing dependencies, changing type of connections (FS,SS,FF,SF), adding or removing lag, editing task name. Everything in a nutshell!

  1. Tasks

Ensure that task relationship dependencies are set up appropriately so that there are no orphan tasks for the scheduling calculation. Avoid start-to-finish relationships, if possible.

  1. Project Comparison

If you have two different correct versions of a project schedule (yes it can happen!) which is well over 2000 tasks, it wouldn’t be a wise idea to scroll down 2000 tasks for each schedule. This is where the Project Comparison tool comes in real handy.

Go to ‘Report’ tab and click on ‘Compare Projects’ after opening both the files.

Once the comparison view is open you can easily see the differences across both the projects by using different filters. I wish I knew this handy tool before!

For all your Project Management needs, please contact Aspira.

Author:  Anuj Agarwal, Project Scheduler and Planner, Aspira.

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