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Microsoft Project Essentials

Microsoft Project 2016 courses now available




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course overview


Providing a thorough understanding of Microsoft Project's inner workings, this course helps project managers, planners and schedulers plan real-world projects more effectively.  Challenging end of module exercises and quizzes test delegate's understanding of the concepts and techniques taught within the hands-on tutorials.


designed for


New and experienced Microsoft Project users, wanting an understanding of how to get the best out of this powerful toolset, matching this functionality to the way you work.

Supports the following Microsoft Project products:

  • Project 2016/2013/2010 Standard and Professional

  • Project Online Professional / Project 2016 Pro for Office 365

  • Office Project 2007 Standard and Professional




None, other than a basic familiarity with Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office.  If you're looking for some in-depth Project Management knowledge, do take a look at:

Project Management Insight
Project Management Essentials


follow on learning


To expand upon the competences developed, the following should be considered:

Microsoft Project Smart Skills
Project Online Deep Dive


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course detail


Project preliminaries

This initial module introduces the user to Microsoft Project, explains the commands available together with how they are accessed.  Fundamental system concepts are introduced and common product myths are dispelled.  Ribbon bars, commands and shortcuts are also discussed, all in context with their relevant functions.  Project plan creation is explained, together with how the foundation components of a project should be established to enable it to scheduled correctly from the onset.


course content

  • Introducing Microsoft Project and how it can be best used

  • How Microsoft Project communicates with you

  • How you communicate with Microsoft Project

  • Creating a project document and defining its properties

  • How calendars define working and nonworking time

  • Matching calendar defaults to the way you work

  • Defining people, roles, materials and costs within a resource pool


Planning the work

Module two expands the project's definition by answering two fundamental questions: What needs to be performed? and How will it be achieved?  Several task outlining techniques are explained to match the project's definition to its true scope.  Auto-scheduled and manually-scheduled task modes are explained, relative to project lifecycles and reporting needs.  Task duration values are introduced, along with using notes to add emphasis and milestones for stakeholder reporting.  Task linking techniques are explained to ensure that work is correctly scheduled.  This schedule is then reviewed to ensure that the project truly reflects what needs to be done and is flexible enough to adapt to any necessary change.

  • Matching a project's outline structure to its scope

  • Creating, manipulating and optimising summary tasks, subtasks and milestones.

  • When and how to use manually-scheduled and automatically-scheduled tasks

  • Duration definition techniques

  • Creating sequence by linking tasks to one another

  • Reviewing structure and sequence to ensure schedule correctness


Reviewing the schedule

The third module looks at how data within a project can be both reviewed and reported against.  Time-related data is analysed via variations to the ubiquitous Gantt chart; optimised both for on-screen and paper-based reporting methods.  Critical paths, slack values and the discrete tasks themselves are analysed to determine potential influences on the project as a whole.  Tabular data is analysed via predefined & custom fields and grouped together within system-provided & user-defined tables.  Data selections via highlights, filters and groups are discussed to provide meaningful answers to countless 'what-if? questions.  Timeline views and dashboard-style reports are explained to ensure strategic information is available in a timely fashion; relevant to the needs of various project stakeholders.

  • How to use Gantt chart variations provide relevant time-based information

  • Determining which tasks are critical, which aren't and how much free time tasks may possess

  • How to format the style, timescale and print options of chart-type views

  • Using custom fields to map a project to the way you work

  • Intelligent use of tables to succinctly display words and numbers

  • Using highlights, filters and groups to focus attention on key aspects of the project

  • Viewing strategic information using timelines and dashboards


Assigning people and costs

As the majority of project schedules require some form of resource input, module four introduces the concept of assignments: Something being performed by someone.  With assignments ranging from the simple to the intricate, each is given a thorough investigation, ensuring that delegates understand exactly how work and cost can be allocated.  To accurately model project work, delegates will gain an in-depth understanding of how this work is aggregated against time, together with the implications on a project's schedule when any changes are made to how people will perform the tasks they have been given.

  • How and when to create resource assignments

  • Assigning cost to tasks both directly and indirectly

  • How work against tasks is scheduled

  • How and when to use task type and effort driven options to accurately schedule work

  • Changing a task's assignments to match the way you work

  • Analysing work and cost values against a timescale using views and reports

  • Managing time phased assignment values to optimise the balance between work and time


Managing external influences

The fifth module relates the project to the outside world.  System settings are reviewed and optimised to match the project plan with the reality that it will model.  Templates and shared project components are introduced to promote efficiency and standardisation.  Task relationships are optimised using a variety of linking techniques and constraints are introduced to intelligently map tasks and work to the influence of external project stakeholders.  Availability of resource is also applied to the project to ensure that what has been scheduled can be effectively performed by the project's team.

  • Establishing default settings for the project and its schedule

  • Creating templates and how to share common components between projects

  • How to change relationships between tasks to best describe how the tasks will be scheduled

  • Applying date-based constraints against tasks

  • How to find and examine task constraints to correctly validate a project's schedule

  • How to contour the supply of resources to accurately reflect their availability

  • How to change the working and nonworking time for a resource and seeing the schedule effects of this change


Optimising the people against the plan

Within most projects there will be periods of resource inefficiency; either with supply exceeding demand or demand being greater than supply.  This module examines why these imbalances occur and illustrates ways to deal with them. Resource conflicts are discussed in detail, together with how they occur and how best they can be managed.  Automated methods are introduced so intelligent decisions can be made how best to configure and use the tools that are available.  Interactive techniques are also utilised to optimise who does what and when, ensuring that the project has the necessary balance of skill set and scope to ensure its successful delivery.

  • When, where, how and why resource conflicts occur

  • Creating a mechanism for managing resource conflicts

  • Establishing realistic resource optimisation parameters

  • Performing resource levelling both within and beyond fixed end dates

  • Changing who works on an assignment to maximise resource efficiency

  • Fine-tuning assigned work plus its benefits and implications

  • Applying inactivity to balance work, time and project scope


Progressing the plan

This module looks at what happens once the project is underway, with people mobilised and work being performed.  Ways to baseline the project (to provide a reference) are explained, together with how view and table combinations can be utilised to most effectively display comparative progress data.  Version controls and status dates are introduced to ensure a project can always be kept on track.  Update automation is discussed to ensure that no progress is missed.   Methods for recording early, late and on-schedule progress are examined to match the plan with reality.  Methods for moving remaining work into the future are then introduced, ensuring that the plan reflects what can be achieved, together with an accurate record of what has been done.

  • Why, what, how and when to update a project with progress

  • Making project updates a quick and easy process by applying the right views and tables

  • Creating powerful references by intelligently using project baselines

  • Using status dates and version control to manage the update process

  • How to automatically add progress to tasks, milestones and work

  • Techniques for manually entering starts, finishes actual progress and estimates to complete

  • Reviewing work still to be accomplished and accurately rescheduling it into the future


Replanning the future

This final module looks at ways to keep the project on track; meeting its time, work and cost objectives.  Prior to replanning, the importance of finding out where variances exist is introduced, along with determining the cause and the effect of the variance.  Ways to get back on track are introduced, with their respective effects upon a project's objectives.  Task replanning methods are examined and ways to shorten timescales are explored.  Often overlooked, the impact of the update on resources is also explained and the project's assignments are also replanned, so that work by the people can really be achieved.

  • Why project replanning is necessary and how it can be performed most effectively

  • How views, tables, groups and filters can simplify the analysis of project variances

  • How to find underlying reasons for project variances and how best to look for variance trends

  • Options for getting projects back on track; their benefits and their implications

  • Replanning the scope and sequence of tasks

  • Replanning who does what and when


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