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Project Management & Microsoft Project Resources

Project Management Glossary

A comprehensive glossary of project management terms is provided on Max Wideman's website. Max is a Canadian project management consultant, and he shares some of the insights he has gained from managing projects on his website. Apart from the glossary, the site includes some excellent 'musings' on project management.

Project Management & MS Project Advice, formerly is a kind of community for project managers. It includes some excellent articles about project management and MS Project. Two I have found particularly useful are: Resource Leveling in MS Project (a short discussion about Resource Levelling - see more on this topic below); and Lessons Learned with Microsoft Project (about what you need to know about setting up and maintaining a project schedule in MS Project). The latter article requires that you become a registered user at the site. This is not too painful, although pay attention, as you will be asked whether you wish to receive emails from the site and its affiliates.

Excel Instead of MS Project

For straightforward projects, you can get away with using MS Excel instead of MS Project or other purpose-built project management software to plan and track project activity. Here is a simple spreadsheet I have developed for this purpose. Project Activities & Tracking - TEMPLATE.xlsx

The One Page Project Manager

Clark A. Campbell's One Page Project is an excellent tool for planning projects and reporting project progress. The book The One Page Project Manager is easy to read and includes a good range of useful examples and resources. The slideshow below was developed by Performance People for training people in the use of The One Page Project Manager:

Using The One Page Project Manager from Performance People Pty Ltd
(Slideshare is a Web 2.0 application for uploading slideshows created in Powerpoint and other applications. There is also a slideshow with project management quotes at the Slideshare website. It works best when downloaded and run on your own PC.)

Project Risk Management

One of the trickiest aspects of project management is effective risk management. I do not have specialist expertise in this area, but I have used a range of tools and techniques. There are some sound tools available on the internet. The tools in the Mitre Risk Management Toolkit (link above) are excellent. The Process Diagram on the left of this page is particularly good as a prompt for appropriate actions.

For simple risk management (an old fashioned Issue & Risk Register), I have developed this basic spreadsheet: Issue & Risk Register TEMPLATE.xlsx

My Advice

Resource Levelling

Smoothing out resource assignments is quite an art in MS Project. The simplest method is to allow project to 'auto-level' resources, using the Tools menu > Level Resources window (which is reasonably self-explanatory). You need to be wary of this method, as MS Project will seek to level the assignments in ways that are unrelated to the way the work will actually be done; and the options in the Dialogue Box need to be selected with care.

The typical method of manually leveling resources is to introduce additional task relationships (through predecessors), as you have suggested. When you are doing this, remember, you only need to roughly smooth people's work, as they will do a lot of smoothing themselves. If you have a resource working on more than one task simultaneously, you may wish to assignment them 'proportionally' to each task - for example, make their Units 50% on each of two tasks or 25% on each of four tasks.

'Seeing' the Critical Path

In MS Project, to see the critical path graphically, use the Gantt Chart Wizard (under the Format menu). By selecting the appropriate option, the tasks on the critical path will have red bars on your Gantt Chart.

To find out the length of the Critical Path, add a 'super summary task' for the whole project at the top of the task list - by going to Tools menu > Options > View tab > select 'Show project summary task' (in the bottom right hand corner). The duration of the Critical Path will be shown in the Duration column, and a summary bar (black with triangles drooping from each end) will be added to your Gantt Chart.

Project Management Slideshows

Slideshare is a Web 2.0 application for uploading slideshows created in Powerpoint and other applications. Project management slideshows from Performance People on Slideshare include a primer on how to use the One Page Project Manager, and a show with project management quotes. These can be accessed on by clicking here.

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