Microsoft Project, Microsoft’s project management software, is a comprehensive software suite allowing for full and easy project supervision through the development of project plans. These plans allow managers to establish project tasks and milestones, assign resources, identify task dependencies and estimate phase durations, making the software a useful tool for several kinds of projects, from construction and marketing projects to manufacturing and artistic endeavors. The suite allows managers to organize themselves and anticipate complications across all such example projects.
Creating Tasks for Marketing Project Plan
New projects can appear rather daunting at first, with ambitious and far-away objectives seeming nearly unachievable. Microsoft Project, however, helps divide large projects into sets of smaller tasks, making the project far easier to manage and implement. In the hypothetical case of a Web marketing campaign, a project plan would divide the campaign into its constituent parts, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, website redesign and affiliate programs. Each of these broad areas could be further divided into smaller tasks, such as “prepare market research on competing websites,” “obtain quote for new website” and “complete mock-ups of new design” under the website redesign section. Microsoft project also allows users to “indent” and “outdent” tasks to create a hierarchy of importance to the overall project and calls the completed set of all tasks the “work breakdown structure.”
Assigning Resources for Film Project Plan
Once a project is divided into its constituent tasks, Microsoft Project allows users to assign resources to each task. Resources include everything from financial assets to equipment and employees. To use a film project as an example, the project plan would assign different cameras and filming equipment, budgets and technicians to each set or shooting location, where each take would be a task with its own assigned resources. This organizational scheme allows project managers to better visualize their resource needs, distribute available resources effectively and budget accordingly.
Estimating Task Durations for Manufacturing
In the case of a manufacturing project, where a plant has just received an order for 800 flashbulbs, a complete project plan also includes estimates of the amount of work it takes to complete the project and the expected duration of the project until delivery. If it takes one hour to manufacture a flashbulb, the project requires 800 hours of labor, the work requirement for the project. The project duration is then determined by the resource allocation to the work. If 10 employees, each working an eight-hour day, participate in the project, then the plant produces 80 flashbulbs a day and the full-project duration will be 10 working days. These project plan estimates help determine the impacts of different resource allocations and allow for timely project delivery.
Identifying Task Dependencies in Construction Project Plan
Not all tasks can be completed simultaneously in most projects. In the case of a construction project, for instance, carpenters cannot install the windows in a house until builders have completed the walls around the windows. These relationships are called “dependencies” in Microsoft Project and the project plan allows you to represent these relationships through a visual gantt chart. Essentially, a gantt chart takes the stated durations of each task and, whenever the user has indicated a dependency between phases, organizes the tasks to make clear that one cannot start until the last has been completed. This sequential organization allows managers to anticipate potential delays and prepare a realistic time-table for a project with numerous dependencies. To return to the example, if the wall finishings take four weeks and are a necessary prerequisite for the two-week process of installing windows, then the full process takes six weeks and any delay in the first task will result in a similar delay in the second.
Original Author : Charly Mercer
Courtesy : http://smallbusiness.chron.com/