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Project management goal: Create a new project schedule in Project desktop

After you complete the initial thinking about your project’s objectives, it’s time to put together a schedule.

When you start a new schedule, you add tasks and organize them efficiently so that the project end date occurs as soon as possible.

For more articles in this series of project management instructional guides, see The Project Road Map

Project management tips before you start . . .

  • Make sure you’re starting at the right place.    If you’re early in the planning process, you might not want to use Project at all. Perhaps you have a simple list on a SharePoint site, or in Excel, or on a paper napkin. Share those ideas with other people first before you start Project and put a schedule together. Learn more about the early stages of project planning.

  • Make sure you know what a project is and what it isn’t.    In the early phases of project creation, your project might lack clarity or be too broadly defined. Here a few examples to help you narrow down the objectives of your project.

    Projects too broadly defined

    Projects defined with more clarity

    Reduce cost overhead

    • Project to upgrade a manufacturing plant to increase efficiency.

    • Project to locate maintenance plant closer to manufacturing facilities.

    Reduce risk from competition

    • Project to replace security software.

    • Project to recruit risk specialists from related industry.

  • OK, everybody has bought off on your great idea. Now what?    Start Microsoft Project and get going. Add tasks, organize them into an outline, and set up a project calendar so you know what the working hours are. You could also start adding people at this point, but this typically happens later. Learn more about adding people to your project.

Step 1: Create a new project

Create a new project from a template

Base a new project on a template pre-populated with tasks from projects similar to yours. Many of these templates have been created by industry experts to help you get started.

Create a new project from scratch

Start with a clean slate and then populate it with tasks, people, and other schedule information.

Open an existing project

Open a project you already set up and base your current project on it.

Open a project from a previous version

Open a project you made in an earlier version of Project.

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Step 2: Add tasks

Add new tasks

Add tasks to a schedule to break the work down into manageable pieces.

Set the length of task duration

Set the time span (or calendar time) a task should take. You can enter a number or just type in a placeholder duration like “TBD” or “Talk to Sarah first”.

Set the amount of work that people perform on tasks

Set the amount of time (or person-hours) for a task to be completed. This is the amount of time regardless of the number of people on the task.

Import Excel data into Project

If your tasks are already in Excel, you can copy them from Excel into Project. Project will keep the formatting and organizational structure of the task list.

Add a milestone

Mark the end of major portions or phases of your project with milestones to show progress toward major deliverables.

Inactivate a task, rather than delete it

You can cancel a task but keep a record of it in the project plan. This is a useful way to test how changes could affect your project.

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Step 3: Organize tasks

Link tasks in a project

Link any two tasks in a project to show their relationship (also called a task dependency). Linked tasks reflect project realities. When one task changes, so does the other.

Outline tasks into subtasks and summary tasks

Show task hierarchy by creating an outline with the Indent and Outdent buttons.

Split a task

When there are interruptions in a task, you can split it into sections to show when it stops and starts.

Create WBS codes

Use Work Breakdown Structure (or WBS) codes to outline tasks numerically so that work matches your business’s accounting practices.

Top-down planning

Set up the major phases first and then break them down into individual tasks.

How Project schedules tasks: Behind the scenes

Learn more about how Project works with tasks and their relationships to help calculate the schedule.

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Step 4: Set up the project calendars

Set working days for everyone on the project

Set the standard work days for everyone on your project, such as Monday through Friday, 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Add holidays and vacation days

Change people’s work schedules by adding holidays and vacations.

Create a calendar for only one task

Identify working and nonworking time for only one task, such as a computer process that runs by itself during a 24-hour schedule with one day off for maintenance.

How Project uses calendars: Behind the scenes

Learn more about how resource and project calendars work together to help Project calculate the schedule.

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Step 5: Save and publish the schedule

Save a project

Save a local copy of your project as an MPP file.

Save and publish a project to Project Web App

Make your project work available online to other users on Project Web App

Save a project file as PDF

Save a project to the PDF format that can be read with a PDF reader or on a web page.

Return to the Project Road Map

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