Part 1 -- Project Fundamentals

Part I

Project Fundamentals

Chapter 1: Introducing Microsoft Project 2002

Chapter 2: Understanding Projects and Project Management

Chapter 1

Introducing Microsoft Project 2002

Consider this scenario: You are a product manager of a small startup company. In addition to handling research, development, material procurement, marketing, and staff development, you have been assigned the responsibility of being the project manager of the launch of your company's newest product next year.

Consider a second scenario: You are a project management professional who manages projects for several departments in your corporation at any given time. You are responsible for managing thousands of tasks, hitting hundreds of deadlines, and assigning scores of resources. You need to plan and monitor each project, work with different managers, and make the best use of team members—some of whom might work on only one project, and others might be shared among several of your projects.

As these two scenarios illustrate, project management is a process and a discipline that can be one of many tasks in your job description or the full focus of your career.

Numerous industries rely on sound project management for their success:

  • Construction
  • Computer system deployment
  • Engineering
  • Events planning
  • Filmmaking
  • Logistics
  • Publishing
  • Software development

Effective project management is vital at the start of a project when you're determining what needs to be done, when, by whom, and for how much money. Effective project management is also essential after you kick off the project, when you are continually controlling and managing the project details. You frequently analyze the project—tracking the schedule, the budget, resource requirements, and the scope of tasks. In addition, you're managing the level of quality in the project, planning for risks and contingencies, and communicating with the members of the project team as well as upper management or customers.

Throughout this intricate process of planning and tracking your project, Microsoft Project 2002 is a valuable assistant—a software tool that can help you manage the many responsibilities associated with your project. Many software applications can help you work toward producing a specific result that you can print, publish, or post. Although it's true that you use Microsoft Project to set up a project schedule and print reports that reflect that schedule, Microsoft Project goes beyond just the printed outcome. It helps you brainstorm, organize, and assign your tasks as you create your plan in the planning phase. Microsoft Project then helps you track progress and control the schedule, your resources, and your budget during the execution phase. All this so you can achieve your real objective—to successfully achieve the goals of your project on schedule and under budget.

Using Microsoft Project—an Overview

Microsoft Project is a specialized database that stores and presents thousands of pieces of data related to your project. Examples of such data include tasks, durations, links, resource names, calendars, assignments, costs, deadlines, and milestones.

These pieces of information interrelate and affect each other in a myriad of ways. Underlying this project database is the scheduling engine, which crunches the raw project data you enter and presents the calculated results to you (see Figure 1-1). Examples of such calculated results include the start and finish dates of a task, resource availability, the finish date of the entire project, and the total cost for a resource or for the project.

Figure 1-1. Use Microsoft Project as your database of project management information.

You can then manipulate and display this calculated information in various views to analyze the planning and progress of your project. This information helps you make decisions vital to the project's success.

You can also communicate your progress and provide the feedback necessary to keep your team and other stakeholders informed of essential project information create and print reports for status meetings or distribution to stakeholders, and print or publish certain views or reports to your team's Web site.

Microsoft Project 2002 Editions

With Microsoft Project 2002, you have a choice of two editions: Microsoft Project Standard 2002 and Microsoft Project Professional 2002.

Microsoft Project Standard 2002 is the basic desktop edition of Microsoft Project, and it is the updated version of Microsoft Project 2000. It supports project management as well as online team collaboration. It includes all the essential features to support management at the individual or workgroup level. These features include:

  • Task scheduling
  • Tracking
  • Team collaboration
  • Resource management
  • Reporting
  • Customization

With this substantial set of features, you can start planning, managing, and reporting your project information "out of the box"—that is, immediately upon installation (see Figure 1-2).

Figure 1-2. Develop and execute your project plan with Microsoft Project Standard 2002.

Microsoft Project Professional 2002 provides everything that Microsoft Project Standard 2002 does. In addition, with this new edition, project management is now fully scalable across multiple departments and divisions in a corporation or other enterprise (see Figure 1-3).

Figure 1-3. Develop and execute multiple project plans with Microsoft Project Professional 2002.

Microsoft Project Professional includes the following features:

  • Global templates, enterprise fields, and other elements, enabling a system administrator to standardize and customize the use of Microsoft Project for the way your enterprise manages projects.
  • The ability to choose and manage resources from the pool of a specific group or the entire company. You can see resource availability across multiple projects and have Microsoft Project automatically find resources that will appropriately fill project team requirements.
  • High-level overviews of all the projects taking place throughout the organization. With the new enterprise capabilities of Microsoft Project Professional 2002, all information is gathered, organized, and reported consistently throughout the organization, providing a complete and accurate picture of all projects.

Project Server and Web Access

Microsoft Project Server is the separately licensed companion program that can accompany either Microsoft Project Standard 2002 or Microsoft Project Professional 2002. Microsoft Project Server provides for team collaboration among project managers, team members, and other stakeholders.

Project managers use Microsoft Project to enter, store, and update project information. They can then send project information, such as assignments or task updates, to specific team members through Microsoft Project Server.

Team members and other associated stakeholders in the project can view and work with the information held in Microsoft Project Server through the use of a Web-based user interface called Microsoft Project Web Access. Not only can team members review their assigned tasks and other project information in Microsoft Project Web Access, they can add tasks, update progress information, and send status reports through Project Server. This ultimately updates the project plan being maintained by the project manager.

Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Web Access are the updated version of Microsoft Project Central, which you might have used with Microsoft Project 2000.

For more information about installing Microsoft Project Standard 2002, Microsoft Project Professional 2002, Microsoft Project Server, or Microsoft Project Web Access, see Appendix A.