Project Properties

Once you have created a new project, the Project Information dialog will be displayed. Lets look at the options of this dialog:

  • Start Date – This dropdown box displays the anticipated start date of the project and defaults to the current date. Selecting the dropdowns arrow displays a calendar for you to select the start date.
  • Finish date – This is disabled since the projects finish date will be calculated from the tasks of the project. The default project scheduling model used in Microsoft Project is to schedule from the projects start date.
  • Schedule From – The default project scheduling model used by Microsoft Project is to schedule from the projects start date. Another common project scheduling model is to start with the finish date and work backwards. This is known as scheduling from the project end date. If you change to this method of scheduling, the Finish date dropdown become active, allowing you to enter the projects expected end date.
  • Calendar – Microsoft Project supports three types of calendars: standard, 24-hour, and Night Shift. Select the calendar appropriate to your project.
  • Click ‘OK’.

Microsoft project properties

Creating a New MS 2000 Project

To create a new project in Microsoft Project you can either click the ‘New’ icon on the toolbar or select ‘New’ from the ‘Files’ menu. Unfortunately, the two methods of creating a project do not behave the same. If you clicked the ‘New’ icon a new blank project will automatically be created for you. If you selected the menu method, you will be presented with a dialog box like the one below.

From the New dialog box you have the option of creating a new blank project or from selecting from one of the predefined templates. Looking at the templates can be helpful, especially if you are new to Project Management. Depending upon the type of project you are undertaking, they typically follow the same pattern and this pattern has been laid out for you in the project template. (They may also help you to think of things you may have forgotten!)

Create new project

choose project template


As you can see, there are pre-built templates for construction, software develop, to developing a new project or business. For this tutorial will start with a Blank Project.

Startup Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is based off of the Microsoft Office model and has many similarities to other Microsoft Office products. It uses the standard Microsoft Office interface of menu’s, toolbars and graphical icons to accomplish most tasks common to managing a project with Microsoft Project.

When Microsoft Project starts, you’ll see a screen similar to the one below. Microsoft Project’s screen is divided into three main areas: the menu/toolbar area, the outlook style toolbar down the left side of the screen, and the data area. The data area changes depending upon which task you are doing. All toolbars and menus are also customizable.

To become familiar with Microsoft Project we’ll now step through the creation of a small project this will introduce the most commonly used features of Microsoft Project.

start up microsoft project

Introduction to Microsoft MS Project 2000

Microsoft Project 2000 (along with Project 95) is perhaps one of the most popular desktop Project Management tools available on the market today.

While no tool can ensure the success or failure of a project, knowing how to use the tools effectively can make your job easier.

Microsoft Project is a full-featured tool with many options available to you as project manager. However it’s this great flexibility and size of Microsoft Project that can make it intimidating to use. Microsoft Project assumes that you have a basic understanding of project management, so we’ll take a brief moment to review some of the basic knowledge of Project Management you’ll need in order to effectively use Microsoft Project and to run your project.

Key Elements of Project Management

What is Project Management ?

To get the most out of Microsoft Project we need to first understand some common terms because ambiguity can cause confusion later as we move through how to use Microsoft Project.

Ambiguity is perhaps one of the greatest causes of failure of projects. Ambiguity causes scope creep, missed deadlines, run-away costs, under/over utilization of resources, and others. It’s your job as project manager to identify and eliminate ambiguities, otherwise your project plan is nothing more than a guess.

Let’s first look at what is and what is not a project.  We’ll use the definition of project from the Project Management Institute, which is:

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service.

A project is consider temporary since once the projects objectives are met, the project team will break-up and go onto other projects. The goal of a project is to create something new, or unique.

Elements of Project Management

All projects have three basic elements: tasks, resources and time. These are interrelated and any change in one has an effect on the other two. This is one area where Microsoft Project excels. Whenever you make any changes, the affect of those changes will become instantly visible through Microsoft Project’s graphical presentation of your project.

Project--Management - Tasks Resources Time Triangle

Think of tasks as individual pieces of work which need to be done. Some typical tasks may include:

  • Reports to management
  • Pieces of code for an application
  • Project definition documents
  • Any small (or large) item that contributes to reaching the state goal of the project

Resources are anything used to meet the stated goals of the project:

  • People
  • Machinery
  • Money

For time you originally start with an estimate (also know as a guess) on how long it may take to reach the stated goal of the project. As the project progresses, the time estimate becomes more solid as each piece of the project is examined and a more firm estimate as to how long it’ll take to produce the individual pieces.

These three pieces are interrelated. If you think of the three as a triangle, in order for the triangle to remain balanced, any change on one side required changes on the other two. For example, if a new task is added to the project, you’ll need a  resources to work on this new task, and the new task may (or may not) affect the time side of the triangle .

It is within this area, the management of tasks, resources and time, that Microsoft Project excels and will help you to successfully manage your project…

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