Creating a new project plan (book excerpt)

Applies to
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Book cover This article was excerpted from Microsoft® Office Project 2003 Inside Out by Teresa S. Stover. Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book. View other articles written by Teresa Stover.

In this article

Creating a project file

     Creating a new project with a template

     Creating a new project from an existing project

Saving your new project

Scheduling from a start or finish date

Setting your project calendar

     Working with base calendars in Project

     Applying a base calendar to the Project Calendar

Attaching project documentation

     Showing the project summary task

     Copying a document into your project file

     Hyperlinking to a document from your project file

When you create a new project file using Microsoft Office Project 2003, you first decide whether you are scheduling from a start date or finish date. You set your overall project calendar that the tasks will be scheduled against. If you like, you can attach project documentation such as your all-important scope statement and possibly other project-related documents.

Creating a project file

To start creating your new project plan, you simply start Project and choose whether you are creating a new project from scratch or from a template.

To start Project, click Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft Office, and then click Microsoft Office Project 2003. Project starts, displaying a blank project file.

 Notes 

  • If you are working with enterprise projects using Microsoft Office Project Professional 2003, you might first be prompted to enter your account name to connect to Microsoft Office Project Server 2003.
  • Depending on how you customize your setup, you might also be able to open Project from an icon on your Windows desktop.

Gantt Chart

The Project workspace is called the view, and the view that comes up by default when you first open Project is the Gantt Chart. The Gantt Chart is a single view; it has a task table on the left side and the chart with Gantt bars on the right.

Find links to more information about working with views such as the Gantt Chart in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

You can use the blank project file to start creating your project plan from scratch. If you prefer to do this, skip to the section Scheduling from a start or finish date.

You can also create a new project from a template. A template is a type of project file that contains existing project information that helps you start your project more quickly. The template usually contains a list of tasks, already sequenced and organized. The task list might be further detailed with phases, milestones, and deliverables. There might be additional task information in the template as well, such as task durations and task dependencies. You can use this task list as the basis for your project. You can add, remove, and rearrange tasks and adapt the task information as needed to correspond to your project requirements. A template can also include resource information, customized views, calendars, reports, tables, macros, option settings, and more.

The template file has an extension of .mpt, indicating that it is the Microsoft Project template file type. When you open and modify a template file, it is saved as a normal .mpp (Microsoft Project plan) file by default.

Find links to more information about basing a new project on a template in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

Templates can be generated from the following sources:

  • The set of templates built in to Project reflecting various types of products or services in different industries.

These templates are provided with Project 2003 and are based on widely accepted industry standards for projects of these types.

General use templates Commercial construction
Engineering
Home move
Infrastructure deployment
New business
New product
Office move
Project office
Residential construction
Software-related project templates Microsoft Active Directory deployment
Microsoft Exchange 2000 deployment
Microsoft Office XP corporate deployment
Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server deployment
Microsoft Windows XP deployment
Microsoft Solutions Framework application development
Software development
Software localization
  • Any previous projects you have saved as project template files.

Find links to more information about basing a new project on an existing project in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

  • The templates standard to project management within your specific industry. Professional organizations, standards organizations, and industry groups might have resources, possibly on their Web sites, which include such templates.
  • Templates available on Microsoft Office Online. New Project templates are continually added to the Templates page on Office Online.

 Note   If you use the enterprise features of Project Professional 2003, you use the enterprise global template. This is a different kind of template that is set up by the Project Server administrator, and it includes customized elements that reflect the project standards for your organization. These elements can include a set of customized views, tables, fields, and more.

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Creating a new project with a template

To create a new project from a template, follow these steps:

  1. On the File menu, click New.

 Note   If you just click the New Button image button on the Standard toolbar, a new blank project is created by default, and you do not see the template choices you need in the Project Guide.

  1. In the left pane, under Templates, click the On my computer link.
  2. In the Templates dialog box, click the Project Templates tab.

The Project Templates tab lists all templates provided with Project.

Project Template tab

  1. Click the project template that you want to use, and then click OK.

 Note   The first time you choose a template, Project might need to install it. This takes only a few moments.

New project file

A new project file is created based on the chosen template.

ShowTip: Finding more templates online

New Project templates are continually being added to the Templates page on the Office Online Web site. To see these templates, first be sure that you are connected to the Internet. Then, on the File menu, click New. In the left pane, under Templates, click the Templates On Office Online link. The Office Online Web page appears in your Internet browser.

Under Business and Legal, click More. On the Business and Legal templates page, under Meetings And Projects, click Project Management. A list of project management templates appear. Click a template, and a preview of the template appears. If you want to download the template, click Download Now, and then follow the instructions. When finished, the downloaded template is loaded into Project as a new file based on that template. Return to this templates page periodically to check for new templates you can use.

 Note   Looking for the old New dialog box? As of Microsoft Project 2002, the New dialog box is replaced by the New Project pane in the Project Guide area. This is true even if you close the Project Guide pane and completely turn off the Project Guide.

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Creating a new project from an existing project

If you have an existing project that you want to use as a starting point for your new project, you can simply copy and modify it for your current purposes. You will save it under a different file name, creating a completely new file.

Follow these steps:

  1. On the Standard toolbar, click Open Button image.
  2. Browse to and select the existing project file, and then click Open.

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Saving your new project

Whether you are creating a new project from scratch, from a template, or from an existing project file, your next step is to save your new project. To do this:

  1. On the File menu, click Save As.

ShowTip: Saving a new project

If you are creating a new project from scratch or from a template, you can simply click the Save button on the Standard toolbar to open the Save As dialog box.

  1. In the Save As dialog box, choose the drive and folder in which you want to save the new project.

If you are set up for enterprise project management using Project Professional 2003 and Project Server 2003, you will see the Save To Project Server dialog box instead.

  1. In the File name box, enter a descriptive name for your project, and then click the Save button.

If you are working with Project Server, and you want to save the project to the server, click the Save Button image button. Depending on how your organization has set up enterprise project management standards, you might need to add information in custom enterprise fields.

If you want to save the project locally on your own computer instead, click the Save As File button.

Find links to more information about publishing project information to Project Server in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

ShowUsing the Define the Project Wizard

The Define the Project Wizard can walk you through the setup of your new project and complete the necessary dialog boxes quickly for you. To set up a new project by using the Define the Project Wizard, do the following:

  1. Create your new project file, either from a blank project or from a template.
  2. In the Project Guide, open the Tasks side pane by clicking the Tasks button on the Project Guide toolbar.

The Project Guide side pane is similar to the task pane in other Microsoft Office XP applications.

  1. Click the Define the Project link.

The Define the Project Wizard starts in the side pane.

  1. Enter the estimated start date for your project, and then click the Save and go to Step 2 link at the bottom of the pane.
  2. Continue working through the Define the Project Wizard, clicking the Save and go to link after each step.
  3. At the final step, click the Save and Finish link.
  4. In the Tasks pane again, click the Define general working times link, and then work through the Project Working Times Wizard.

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Scheduling from a start or finish date

Your first scheduling decision is whether you want Project to calculate the schedule of your new project from a start date or from a finish date. Often, you have a finish date in mind, but you can still schedule from the start date and then make sure you hit the targeted finish date. You will get more predictable results when you schedule from a start date.

For example, suppose you set up a project with 100 tasks. You specify task durations and sequence, link the tasks in the order they are to be done, and indicate whether any tasks have specific dates by which they must be completed. When you do not enter specific task start or finish dates, Project schedules tasks to be done as soon as possible. Using task durations, links, and date constraints, Project schedules the first task to start on your project start date and the remaining tasks from that point forward until the last task is completed. If that last task is done on a date that is too late for your project requirements, you can adjust the duration and sequencing, as well as the scope and resources assigned, to bring in the finish date where you need it to be.

However, you might know the project finish date but not when your project will begin because you are receiving work from another source that could be delayed. Or the project management methodology you use might require you to schedule from a finish date.

ShowInside Out    Beware of scheduling from the finish date

If you must schedule from the finish date, be aware that your task constraints and leveling tools will behave differently than in a project that is scheduled from the start date.

Find links to more information about task constraints and resource leveling in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

Consider that same project of 100 tasks. In a project scheduled from the finish date, any tasks that do not require a specific date are scheduled to be done as late as possible, rather than as soon as possible. Project schedules the last task to be finished on your project finish date and works backward from that point until the first task is started. If that first task is scheduled before the current date or too early for your project requirements, you can adjust the tasks and other aspects of the schedule.

To set up your project plan to be scheduled from the project start date, follow these steps:

  1. On the Project menu, click Project Information.

The Project Information dialog box appears.

Project Information dialog box

You can use the Project Information dialog box to specify settings for the entire project.

  1. In the Start date box, enter the project start date.

By default, the Start date box shows today’s date.

  1. In the Schedule from box, click Project Start Date.

Leave the Finish date box as is. Project will calculate this date for you later.

To set up your project plan to be scheduled from the project finish date, follow these steps:

  1. On the Project menu, click Project Information.
  2. In the Schedule from box, click Project Finish Date.
  3. In the Finish date box, enter the project finish date.

Leave the Start date box as is. Project will calculate this date for you later.

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Setting your project calendar

Your project calendar sets the working days and times for your project and its tasks. The project calendar is also the default calendar for any resources working on your project. The project calendar indicates when your organization typically works on project tasks and when it is off work. By setting your project calendar, you are establishing one of the fundamental methods for scheduling the tasks in your project.

Working with base calendars in Project

Project comes with three base calendars. These base calendars are like calendar templates that you can apply to a set of resources, a set of tasks, or the project as a whole.

Standard Working time is set as Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., with an hour off for lunch from noon until 1:00 P.M. each day. This is the default base calendar used for the project, for tasks, and for resources.
Night Shift Working time is set as an 11:00 P.M. until 8:00 A.M. night shift, five days a week, with an hour off for lunch from 3:00 A.M. until 4:00 A.M. each morning. This base calendar is generally used for resources who work a graveyard shift. It can also be used for projects that are carried out only during the night shift.
24 Hours Working time is set as midnight until midnight, seven days a week — that is, work never stops. This base calendar is typically used for projects in a manufacturing situation, for example, which might run two or three back-to-back shifts every day of the week.

You can modify the base calendar in any way you want. To modify an existing base calendar, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Change Working Time.
  2. In the For box, click the name of the base calendar you want to modify.

Change Working Time dialog box

  1. Do any of the following:
    • Change the working time of a single day    
      Click that day, and then do one of the following:
      • If you are changing working time to nonworking time, select the Nonworking time option.
      • If you are changing the working time to something other than the default, select the Nondefault working time option, and then change the times in the From and To boxes as needed.
    • Change the working time of the same day in every week    
      Click the day heading. (For example, click the M heading to select all Mondays.) Select the Nonworking time or Nondefault working time option, and then change the times in the From and To boxes as needed.
    • Change the working time of a day in another month    
      Scroll down in the Select Dates box until you see the correct month. As before, click the Nonworking time or Nondefault working time option, and then change the working times as needed. (This is a good method for setting holidays as nonworking time.)
  2. When you finish changing the selected base calendar, click OK.

To create a new base calendar, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Change Working Time.
  2. Click the New button.

The Create New Base Calendar dialog box appears.

Create New Base Calendar dialog box

Using this dialog box, you can create a new base calendar from scratch or adapt it from an existing one.

  1. In the Name box, type the name you want for the new base calendar.

For example, you could type: Swing Shift

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Adapt your calendar from the Standard base calendar    Click the Create new base calendar option, and then click OK.
    • Adapt the new calendar from a different base calendar, such as the Night Shift calendar    Click the Make a copy of option, click the name of the existing calendar you want to adapt, and then click OK.
  2. Make the changes you want to the working days and times of individual days or of a particular day of every week, as needed.
  3. When finished with your new base calendar, click OK.

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Applying a base calendar to the project calendar

If you are using the Standard base calendar as your project calendar, you do not need to do much — the Standard calendar is the project calendar by default. Just make sure to modify the Change Working Times dialog box to reflect your team’s working times and days off, as well as any holidays you will all be taking.

If you want to use a different base calendar, you must select it as your project calendar. Follow these steps:

  1. On the Project menu, click Project Information.
  2. In the Calendar box, select the name of the base calendar.
  3. Click OK.

ShowTip: Calendars in Project

Project uses three types of calendars as tools for scheduling the project, as shown in the following table.

Project calendar Governs when tasks are scheduled to be worked on and when resources are scheduled to work on assigned tasks.
Resource calendar Governs when resources are scheduled to work on assigned tasks. One group of resources (for example, day shift resources) can be assigned to a different base calendar than another group of resources (for example, swing shift resources). Each resource can have his or her own individual resource calendar, which can reflect special work schedules, personal days off, and vacation time. By default, the resource calendar is the Standard calendar.
Task calendar Governs when tasks are scheduled to be worked on. As a rule, tasks are scheduled according to the project calendar and the calendars of any assigned resources. However, sometimes a task has special scheduling requirements that are different from the norm. For example, a task might be carried out by a machine running 24 hours a day. In such a case, it is useful for a task to have its own calendar.

You can use any of the three base calendars (Standard, Night Shift, or 24 Hours) as the basis for the project calendar, resource calendars, or task calendars.

All three of these types of calendars can easily be customized for specialized working days and times. If you need to apply a common working schedule to a group of resources or a set of tasks and it is not built in to Project already, you can create your own base calendar.

Find links to more information about about the task calendar and resource calendar in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

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Attaching project documentation

You can make Project the central repository for all your important project documentation. For example, you might want to attach or link your scope statement to your project plan, as well as other documents such as the needs analysis, market study, and product specifications.

Showing the project summary task

To attach planning documentation to your project, the first step is to display the project summary task. Not only does the project summary task eventually provide summary date and cost information for the project as a whole, it can serve as the location for your attached or linked planning documents. To display the project summary task, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.
  2. Under Outline Options, select the Show project summary task check box.
  3. Click OK.

A summary task appears in Row 0 of the Gantt Chart, adopting the name of the file as the project summary task name, as shown in the following illustration.

Summary task

If you want to change the name (of the summary task only, not the project overall), click in the Task Name field for the project summary task, and then edit the name in the entry field above the task sheet.

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Copying a document into your project file

You can include documents created in other programs within Project. Although this can significantly increase your file size, you will know that all your project information is stored in one place. To include the documents, follow these steps:

  1. With the project summary task selected, click Task Information Button image on the Standard toolbar, and then click the Notes tab.

You can also double-click the task to open the Summary Task Information dialog box.

  1. On the Notes tab, click the Insert Object Button image button.
  2. In the Insert Object dialog box, select the Create from File option, and then click the Browse button.
  3. In the Browse dialog box, browse to and select the project planning document you want to attach or embed into your project file, and then click the Insert button.
  4. Back in the Insert Object dialog box again, select the Display As Icon check box.

 Note   If the document is small, consider clearing the Display As Icon check box. Clearing this check box embeds the content of the file into your project Notes box, so you can read it directly from there.

Insert Object dialog box

  1. Click OK.

The document’s icon appears in the Notes area of the Summary Task Information dialog box.

Document icon in Notes area

Double-clicking the icon opens it in its originating application.

  1. In the Summary Task Information dialog box, click OK.

The Notes Button Image indicator appears in the Gantt Chart.

Indicator in Gantt Chart

Now, whenever you want to review the document, you can just double-click the Notes Button Image indicator to open the Notes tab of the Summary Task Information dialog box, and then double-click the document icon.

Find links to more information about about inserting documents into project plans in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

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Hyperlinking to a document from your project file

You can also hyperlink to a document from Project. Hyperlinking is a preferred method when you want to keep your file size trimmer and you know that your project plan and associated planning documents will always be in the same place. It is also a very efficient method for opening associated documents quickly. To insert a hyperlink, follow these steps:

  1. With the project summary task selected, click Insert Hyperlink Button image on the Standard toolbar.
  2. In the Text to display box, type a descriptive name for the document to which you are linking.

For example, you could type Project Scope Statement

  1. Browse and select the project planning document you want to link to your project file.

Insert Hyperlink dialog box

The path and name of the selected document appear in the Address box.

  1. Click OK.

The Hyperlink indicator Button image appears in the Indicators field of the Gantt Chart.

Now, whenever you need to review the document, just click the Hyperlink indicator. The document opens in its own application window.

Find links to more information about hyperlinking to documents in other applications in the See Also section, which is visible when you are connected to the Internet.

If you are using Project Professional with Project Server for enterprise project management, the preferred method for keeping all project documents together is to use the document library. By setting up Microsoft Office Project Web Access 2003 with Windows SharePoint Services, you can set up and maintain a document library. This way, all your team members and other stakeholders can view the documents through their Web browsers. They can also check documents in and out, providing vital version control.

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About the author     Award-winning author Teresa Stover has written 11 computer books and countless user manuals, tutorials, and online help systems. She is a project management expert who's served as a consultant to the Project team since Version 4. Teresa is the author of Microsoft® Project Version 2002 Inside Out and manages her own technical and business writing consultancy.


 
 
Applies to:
Project 2003