Step by step guide to setup my first project


I have a project regarding an App. Deployment for a customer, and the customer expects me to present the project with MS Project.  Of course I have never used MS project before, so I have no clue what it is, but I managed to get it installed on my computer.

I have a meeting with them in 36hours and I need to at least present the schedule and timeline of each item to be delivered in MS Project format.  I am not looking for reading material or help information, I need screenshots or step by step guide to build this in 36 hours.  It will be very basic.

Who is Participating?
1/ WBS
A work breakdown structure basically breaks down what the project has to delivery into separate physical chunks and then split these down into their component parts.  The aim is to arrive at the detail of what has to be delivered in order to hit the overall objective.  You then drive out the tasks required to deliver each component.
At the end of it you have all the activities required in an obvious structure.
You can then key this into Project as you have the line level detail (tasks) and the summary level detail (the components and summaries of tasks)
Aim – build a new house
First level:
1.  Land
2.  Foundations and earth works
3.  Walls
4.  Roof
5.  Windows and doors
6.  Drive
7.  Internal decoration
8.  Electrics
9.  Drainage
10. etc

Foundations and earth works could be split:
2.1 Get JCB
2.2 Dig foundations
2.3 layout sticks in ground to show foundations
2.4 produce plans for foundations, drainage, etc
2.5 locate main sewer line across plot
2.6 Hire skip to remove earth
 and so on

2/ Dependencies
Once you have a list of all the activities in MS Project it is simple to join them.  Ensure that you have the following columns on the screen: Name, Predecessor and successor.
It is probable that successor will not be shown when you first open the view –select Insert/Column and from the drop down box select “successors”.
You can move the columns around by clicking on the title of the column, release the mouse and you will have a four way arrow, click and hold and then drag the column to where you want it and release the mouse.
Notice that down the left of the screen each row has a number.  It is this number that you put in the predecessor or successor field to show a link.
Thus if task 3 can’t start till the end of task 1 you would put “1” into the predecessor field of task 3.  Notice that MS Project automatically adds a 3 in the successor column of task 1.
Go through the plan adding these links to show the chains of dependencies.
In addition to the normal link (which runs from the finish of one to the start of the other task = FS) there are three other types:
Start – Start (SS) = if two tasks should start at the same time, triggered by the start of the first
Finish – Finish (FF) = tasks which can’t finish until the linked task finishes
Start – Finish (SF) = an odd one – some task has to finish before another one can start.
When typing these into the dep / suc fields the format is 3SS
There is an additional thing that you can do with links – if it is traditional that something start 5 days after the end of the predecessors task you can show this with a lag of 5 days.  This is written as 3fs+5days.
Clicking on a link within the GANNT diagram (bars on the right of the normal view in project) will show you all this information.
Personally I prefer to only link tasks and not summary lines – I only use the summary lines to group tasks and provide structure, I also dislike tasks which do not link into anything – this suggests that they might be pointless if they’re not feeding into the end of the project at least.

3/ Add times
Go through the plan and estimate how long each task will take.  Put this into the column duration

4/ Add resources
Go into the resource sheet view (view/resource sheet) and enter your resources names and initials
Go to the Gantt chart view and either type their names in the resource names field for each task (separating names with commas) or click on the “apply resources” button on the tool bar (two heads) to display a very useful box.  Click on the task(s) you want to apply a resource to and then click on the resource in the apply box and click on “apply”.
As a default a resource is applied at 100% - i.e. they will spend 100% of their time on this resource.  If you know that they will actually spend only half their time on the task - show this as 50%.
Notice that once you have applied a resource to a task MS Project works out the work (man days) for that task.  If you then change the resource loading (i.e. apply more people or tell project the person on it will only be working half time) MS Project will change the duration of the task, as you would expect.

Can I suggest that you crack on with this and come back with supplemental questions over the next few days when you run into problems?  What you have asked for is pretty difficult!  This is the sort of thing that I do for my living and I’m more than aware of the issues that can arise and that it is basically impossible to talk someone through learning project remotely with no idea what you are actually trying to do!

Hope this helps

Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
OK my basic steps to building a belivable and realistic project plan:

1) produce a "work breakdown strcuture (WBS)" (paper)
2) Link the resulting tasks in a logical diagram showing the flow of activities (i.e. Task 3 can't start till task 1 is finished) - MS Project
3) Add times to the tasks - MS Project
4) assign resources - MS Project

Now you have a project plan.

I'll expand on these in the next post.

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