Unlike processes or operations, which are repetitive functions carried out to produce existing products or services, a project is a new task to be performed over a fixed period time with the goal of creating a new product or service which brings added value to the business. Every new project is a challenge to a business, one which must be closely supervised by a project manager to realise the desired objective within the set constraints.

Microsoft Project 2003 is an exceptionally versatile application at the disposal of the project manager. It facilitates the planning of a new project, the organisation and allocation of resources, the forecasting of budgets, day to day management of the project, the updating of information and the communicating of the project's status.

Using a scheduling algorithm a complex project can be broken down into a set of simple steps, producing a schedule that would otherwise be impossible to produce manually. The user inputs the project parameters: task information (name, duration, relationships, fixed costs and constraints), resource information (who, availability and cost) and scheduling into the program.

Microsoft Project 2003 will take the information entered by the user and produce a project schedule that can be viewed graphically in the form of a GANTT chart, a network diagram chart and/or a resource graph. The project schedule produced by Microsoft Project 2003 can be used by the project manager to calculate the start and finish dates of the project, to determine the availability and workload of the assigned resources, to warn of upcoming deadlines and to analyse the percentage of the allotted budget that has already been spent.

As a complimentary tool, Microsoft Project 2003 is a tool that, if used correctly, greatly facilitates the project management cycle providing critical information for the manager to act on to ensure that resources are allocated and used efficiently and that objectives are met on time.

Once the project is completed the data, such as actual task duration metrics and successful task sequencing, collected can be evaluated, gaining knowledge that will be invaluable for future projects. A template of the finished project can also be saved and easily modified where necessary to meet the needs of a new project.

Undertaking Microsoft Project 2003 training will give the user a good working knowledge of the application and all the necessary skills to confidently set up, schedule and monitor tasks for their next project.