Introduction

Introduction

In today’s fast-paced, production-oriented work environment, managing one project after another—and often juggling several at once—is a way of life for many middle managers. Project management is a complex field to which some people dedicate their careers. A professionally trained project manager may have a graduate degree in project management and be certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP); however, more and more job descriptions include elements of project management, whether or not project management appears in your title, job description, or training. If you are ever responsible for coordinating a variety of tasks that must be completed within a specific timeframe for a set amount of money, you are a project manager and we wrote this book for you. We’ve included background about quality project management, especially as it applies to small- and medium-sized projects. This book does not focus on projects such as sending a probe to Mars or building a skyscraper. Instead, we focused on the projects that millions of project managers like you are involved with every day: developing a software product, publishing a newsletter, establishing a new office in another city, or implementing a training program. These projects of the workaday world might not involve a multi-million or billion-dollar budget, but they must still be managed effectively. Careers are advanced or stalled based on our success in managing projects of every size.

If you’re a professional project manager, we hope that this book helps you find the best ways to utilize the tools offered with Microsoft Project 2002. If you’re an experienced project manager, you may want to forgo the appetizers and skip to the main course, beginning in Chapter 5. Refer to the section called “Using this Book,” later in this Introduction, to see what chapters you might find most interesting.

Note 

If you are interested in finding out about what it takes to be certified as a project manager, you should check out the Project Management Institute at www.pmi.org. This is how PMI defines itself: "Since its founding in 1969, Project Management Institute (PMI®) has grown to be the organization of choice for project management professionalism. With over 50,000 members worldwide, PMI® is the leading nonprofit professional association in the area of Project Management. PMI establishes Project Management standards, provides seminars, educational programs and professional certification that more and more organizations desire for their project leaders."

Using This Book

Mastering Microsoft Project 2002 was written to help demystify the process of managing a project with personal computer software. This is not always an easy proposition. Microsoft Project gives the appearance of being an enhanced task manager. You can make lists of tasks and then assign them to individual resources and resource teams. You can assign costs to tasks and to resources so you can track budgets and expenses; however, Microsoft Project’s primary mission is not to help you create task lists. First and foremost, Project is designed to schedule projects. Project 2002 calculates project schedules based on the estimates you provide for variables such as task duration, assigned resources, effort, and start and finish constraints. If you don’t understand the way Microsoft Project calculates schedules, you cannot use Project effectively to manage your projects. When you grasp the concepts that underlie the schedule calculations, Project not only helps you manage your projects, but it also identifies over- and underallocated resources, estimates cost overruns, and helps you make informed managerial decisions to get the project completed successfully.

Throughout this book, we make every attempt to help you understand these project management concepts, specifically as they relate to Microsoft Project 2002, so you can apply the concepts to the features you need to use. We discuss general project management concepts in Chapters 1—4. Other project management topics are interspersed through the chapters when we introduce specific Project features. If you are new to project management, we recommend that you read Chapters 1—4; then follow Chapters 5—12 through developing the project plan and into tracking project progress. You could skip from there to Chapters 16— 19 to learn how to report on and close a project. If you have trouble understanding specific features, you may want to review the general concepts information to help put the features into perspective.

If you are an experienced project manager who has used previous versions of Microsoft Project, the chapters stand on their own, so feel free to skip around to the topics you need most to get your project underway.

Note 

Project 2002 is based on the Office XP software model, and was designed for increased interaction with Microsoft Office XP. If you need additional information about Office XP software or features, consult Sybex’s excellent companion book, Mastering Microsoft Office XP, Premium Edition by Gini Courter and Annette Marquis with Karla Browning, ISBN 0-7821-4000-9 (Sybex 2001).

This book is divided into five parts, each of which focuses on specific skills related to project management. Part I gets you started in project management and Microsoft Project 2002. Part II is the main course, from opening to closing a project in Microsoft Project 2002. Part III covers how to manage multiple projects, assess risks in a project, and work effectively with a project team. In Part IV, you’ll learn how to evaluate what’s going on in a project, respond to problems that could affect the project’s outcome, and use importing, exporting, and reporting tools to make the most of project data. Part V is all about the workgroup and enterprise management functions of Project 2002, focusing on Project Professional, Project Server, and Web Access. Finally, Part VI gives you the skills you need to customize and automate Project to meet your specific needs—including programming Project applications in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).

Part I: Introducing Microsoft Project 2002

The first three chapters in Part I introduce the various editions of Microsoft Project 2002 and provide an overview of project management. You’ll learn about project management concepts, such as the project triangle and the project cycle. If you are an experienced project manager and you are raring to go, you’ll find Chapter 4 particularly helpful; it’s a complete overview of how to use Project from start to finish. If you are new to this arena, Chapter 4 lets you see the complete picture so you’ll have a better idea of where you are going as you move forward and develop your project plan.

Part II: Creating a Project from Start to Finish

Part II is the longest section of the book because it covers the nuts and bolts of working with Project: from building a new project to preparing your project for publication, tracking progress, and making management decisions. In Part II, you’ll learn how to enter and schedule tasks, define and assign resources and costs, identify over- and underallocations, and control scope creep. You’ll also learn about using earned value analysis to analyze costs and variances. This part also discusses how quality standards affect projects and how you can assess your project for quality.

Part III: Juggling and Managing Projects

Part III introduces a method of creating estimates and analyzing risk in projects: PERT (Performance Evaluation and Review Technique). In complex projects or projects with unfamiliar tasks, PERT is used to more accurately estimate the project schedule.

Very few projects are completed in a vacuum, and most project managers have more than a few irons in the fire. In Part III, you’ll also learn how to share resources and tasks among multiple projects and how to communicate project information to members of the team.

Part IV: Evaluating and Analyzing Project Data

Getting data in and out of Microsoft Project is always a challenge. In Part IV, we’ll show you how to create views and reports that include the information you want to see represented. Chapter 18 is an exhaustive review of importing and exporting methods that you can use to move Project data back and forth between other database and spreadsheet products for analysis and reporting.

Part V: Using Microsoft Project Server

This section is all about the workgroup and enterprise features of Project 2002. You’ll learn how to install and configure Project Server, and manage enterprise-wide projects in Project Professional. You’ll also explore everything there is to know about Web Access, the Project 2002 component that enables anyone to log onto Project Server for project management— even if you don’t have a version of the program installed on your machine.

Part VI: Customizing and Automating Project 2002

Chapter 23 begins with a discussion of customizing the Project 2002 environment to suit your needs, including customizing toolbars, setting options, creating and using templates, and working with the Organizer—Project’s tool for copying and moving Project forms and objects. In Chapter 24, you’ll create and use macros in Project. Chapter 25 focuses on customizing Project fields and creating custom forms for your use in Project. Finally, in Chapters 26 and 27, you’ll see how to use Visual Basic for Applications and the Project object model to create custom applications in Project.