A project is a specific set of operations that is created to meet a single goal and the application of knowledge, practices, skills and tools in order to meet this specific set of goals and certain specific requirements is known as Project Management. It is a specialized career path, generally involves working in a team and is a much respected profession in the corporate world. The rapid worldwide growth of Project Management demanded a dedicated software to assist its supervision and Microsoft Office Project or MS Project as it is most often known, caters to the need quite efficiently.
About MS Project
Project Management is a complex and multifaceted process and MS Project is a project management software program developed and sold by Microsoft. It is a very convenient-to-use tool that project managers across the globe vouch for. Microsoft is helping project managers in the following tasks:
• Creating schedules
• Assigning resources to tasks
• Tracking progress
• Managing budgets
• Evaluating workload
It creates specific budgets depending upon the work assigned and rates demanded by resources. While assignment of resources to tasks and work estimation takes place, MS Project gets into cost calculation for task level and culminates at the project level. Every resource can possess a separate calendar that explains particular days and shifts during which a specific resource is available.
MS Project is a feature heavy software and automates a majority of tasks. However, it does have a few constraints and is unable to replicate human thinking. Remember, Microsoft Project can create a practical schedule for the project but it cannot create a plan and most managers are unable to distinguish between the two.
For example, a Project Manager has to provide solutions to the following questions:
• How much will it cost to complete each task?
• What sort of resources will be needed to accomplish each task? Is it Man, machine or material?
• Are there any specific time deadlines and constraints for the project or individual tasks?
• Is there a defined order while completing tasks and how are the tasks defined?
Microsoft Project is capable of creating more than just a schedule as it can:
✓ Form dependencies within tasks
✓ Solve resource conflicts
✓ Create Constraints
✓ Review costs and schedule performances
MS Project training helps project managers in envisaging their project in standard defined layouts. By using this software, it is possible to schedule tasks and resources in a fairly reliable and effective manner. Project Managers can rely on it when it is essential to track information about the work, time taken for individual tasks and also assessing the resource needs for the project. Another important and time-consuming task the MS Project handles in an efficient manner is the generation of reports that are required during regular progress meetings.
What does Microsoft Project look like?
The Microsoft Project interface includes the following:
Quick Access Toolbar: A customizable area that allows commonly used commands to be added for quick use.
Tabs on the Ribbons & Groups: A part of the “Fluent User Interface”, this “office menu” is a single tool bar that has a ribbon having various tabs, where every tab contains a toolbar button and at times, other controls too. Toolbar controls have assorted sizes and are divided into visually distinct groups, which are essentially a group of related commands.
Each tabs includes various commands, which when pointed at, unfurl a description inside a tooltip. These commands are basically specific features one utilises to perform different actions in MS Project.
Zoom Slider: Helps in zooming the view in or out
View Shortcuts: Allows quick and easy switching between commonly used views in the project
View Label: This tab is located along the left side of the active view and contains various views like Task Usage view, Gantt chart view, network diagram view, amongst various others. Microsoft Project is capable is displaying single or multiple views in individual panes.
Status Bar: Shows details like scheduling mode of tasks (automatic or manual) and specifics of filters applied to the active view.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Microsoft Office Project
MS Project is a highly flexible application that offers multiple tools that help in the management of projects in government institutions, business firms and construction organizations. The planning, allocating and collection of resources for different tasks becomes fairly simple and easy with the use of MS Project. It helps project managers to estimate budgets accurately so that the right amount of money is set aside for the project and for contingencies too.
It is prudent to realise that MS Project, though it is designed to allow multiple users to work in congruence, it takes a longer time to train people with different learning pace and the training itself could turn out to be an expensive affair.
Summary: Microsoft Office Project is a suite of tools to help in efficient project management and is used in industries like pharmaceuticals, construction, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and financial services to name a few. Contractors and project managers are able to have better control over their finances and resources and is integrated with Microsoft office suite along with a Client Access Licence for quick connectivity with Office Project Server.