Goal: Start a project plan

Applies to
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Microsoft Office Project Server 2003
Microsoft Project 2000 and 2002

After initial planning, you can start your project, enter your preliminary project data, and attach your planning documents to the project.

 Tip   This article is part of a series of articles that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project. The project life cycle is outlined in The Project Map, where you can find a link to an article about each project management goal. Most of the articles include links to supporting information or procedures that you perform in Project or Project Server. These "goal" articles were designed to help you not only use Project but also better understand project management.

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See all goals on the Project Map

Woman and man discussing a project

number 1  Decide if you need a project?     Before you start a lengthy series of activities, you should ask yourself if what you are doing constitutes a project.

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From the perspective of project management, a project exhibits most of the following attributes:

  • A project is temporary and unique     It is a one-time program, and not a series of ongoing activities. Designing a truck manufacturing plant is a project because it is a one-time activity. The manufacturing of the cars coming out of the plant, while involving numerous linked steps, is an ongoing series of activities and therefore not a project.
  • A project has a life-cycle with a beginning and an end     In the example above, the design of a car manufacturing has an end date, but the manufacturing of cars is ongoing. When the manufacturing plant is complete, the project ends.
  • Projects consume resources     Resources—people, or material resources like tools and textiles—need to be managed carefully, especially if they are shared across projects.
  • A project has funding limits as outlined in its budget     Project managers are typically concerned with the overall profitability of a project, and whether the activities of the project fall within the costs allocated toward the project.

Examples of projects include:

  • Developing a new product or service.
  • Designing a new business procedure or restructuring an organization.
  • Constructing a house or other structure.
  • Developing an environmental review policy.
  • Designing a type of vehicle with low emissions.
  • Designing a new addition to a house.

Number 2 Create a project     You can create a new project, which is the usual way to start. Or, you can base your new file on an existing project or template that contains tasks or resources that are similar to those you'll need for the current project.

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Number 3 Enter the file properties     File properties, such as the project title or the company name, can help you and others in the organization identify and locate project-specific information.

Number 4 Link or store project-related documents in Project      You can attach documents that are related to your project to the project file. For example, you may want to link a scope (scope: The combination of all project goals and tasks, and the work required to accomplish them.) management plan or risk management plan (risk management plan: A document defining how risk will be managed throughout the project. It can include identified risks, probabilities, contingency plans and methods for implementing them, and a strategy for allocating resources if a risk event occurs.) to your project for easy access.

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Number 5 Set the working time for the project calendar      You may need to change the working days and hours for your project calendar (project calendar: The base calendar used by a project.). In Project, the default working times are 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. weekdays, with an hour off for lunch. You can change working hours for all working days, specific days (such as every Tuesday), or certain dates such as holidays.

Number 6 Save a project     From time to time, you need to save your project to keep changes that you made, create a backup copy of your project, or create a template that you can use for another project. Project provides several ways to save a project.

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