Microsoft Project: 10 steps to a successful project plan

Some projects are so complex that you can’t just shake all the individual tasks and phases out of your hand. In order not to lose the overview, a well-structured project plan helps and Microsoft Project. It helps all those involved to plan and complete individual work steps precisely and to stick to a timetable.

For whom a project plan is important

Both Microsoft Project 2016 and Microsoft Project 2019 are important for all project staff involved. This is because the programme brings a clear structure to all the small, sometimes highly branched activities that are necessary to successful complete a project. Another advantage: everyone can see where the project is and where it should be according to the project plan. But clients also wonder when the project will start, how long it will take and how much the whole thing will cost in the end.

How to easily create a project plan with Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project 2016 and the more recent Microsoft Project 2019 make it possible to create a project plan that meets all requirements in just a few steps.

The individual steps involved:

Define project start

Once the software is open, you set the start date via the „Project“ tab with the „Project Information“ command. This date is the default for all further steps, but it can always be changed later.

Create tasks

The individual tasks of the project can then be precisely defined using task names. Here it is important to consider the priority of the individual steps.

Structure contents

By indenting the tasks, you can structure the project content more clearly. This further subdivides the content logically.

Set duration and milestones

The working days that you spend on the project are defined in the project calendar. Here you should work with consecutive days, free days are marked with the abbreviation „f“ in front of the unit „T“ (for day). If intermediate goals, so-called milestones, are to be determined, the programme indicates their duration with „0“ in the unit days.

Show dependencies

Microsoft Project shows the dependencies of certain intermediate goals on upstream activities through task links. They make it possible to display logical relationships in terms of content, the sequence of which does not necessarily have to be chronologically structured. The relationship to the beginning and end (abbreviation: EA) is the standard link in Microsoft Project. In addition, there are other types of relationships that can be linked.

Plan workload

In the next step, the project manager enters the expected or planned workload in hours in the column „Work“. Employees who are involved in the project will later find the note „planned“ in the feedback screen.

Allocate resources

In the local resource pool, one now creates the labour, cost, employee or also material resources under „Resource: Table“. These resources can be assigned to individual employees, team leaders or cost centres.

Fix deadlines

In order to be able to set time limits for tasks and, above all, for intermediate goals, it is possible to define constraints on the one hand and deadlines on the other with Microsoft Project. Constraints are fixed and cannot be moved if, for example, time changes occur. Deadlines, on the other hand, are flexible.

Show project summary

Via the „Project“ tab you can view the project collection process in Microsoft Project. This brings together all the values at project level and quickly shows what duration has been set, how the total effort is planned or even who is involved in the project.

Set baseline

At the end of the planning phase, you have to determine the actual data. This is saved in a base plan. With the command „Set base plan“ in the „Project“ tab, the corresponding data is saved with the current creation date. The base plan can also be used to check which changes have been made to the project plan in the course of time due to feedback or similar.

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