Instructor-led training - project introduction course
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MS Project Introduction Training CourseMS Project Introduction Training Course

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Designed for MS Project 365, 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010

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  • 1 day Instructor-led
Introduction to Project training - London and UK wide

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Project Introduction

Unit 5: Managing the Project and understanding project views

Customising the Gantt Chart

The Gantt Chart is a horizontal bar chart that represents each task in the time scale of the project.  Each task entered in the project will be shown and by default the name of the resource allocated to the task appears next to the bars.

Gantt Charts form the significant part of a regular communication about your project and can be quickly formatted to display the critical tasks, the current progress, comparison with the original plan, and the new projected completion.

Critical Path

Critical Path Analysis or CPA is an important part of project management. It will enable you to interrogate the tasks in your project to see which tasks form the basis of a successful completion of the project.  These tasks, should they be delayed or indeed, completed sooner than planned will have a critical and fundamental impact on your project.  We need to be able to view these statistics from time to time and it will enable us, by viewing them, to either shorten the plan or concentrate on costs.

When you use Auto Schedule mode, Project schedules the tasks based on the project start or finish date and any task relationships you have defined.  Using the scheduled start and finish dates, Project determines which tasks must finish on time for the project to finish on time. 

Because other tasks are linked to the critical tasks, if a critical task finishes late, it causes all of the tasks that follow, to start and finish late.  By extension, the project finishes late.  Conversely, if a critical task finishes early, the project can finish early.

In the example below we have three tasks that are all due to start on the same day and each has varying durations:

Task 1 is the longest task; Tasks 2 and 3 are not linked to Task 1, which has the longest duration. So long as they are completed prior to the end of Task 1 the project will not overrun.

In most projects, you have many tasks linked to one another with numerous relationships.  If you link all the tasks with only Finish-to-Start relationships, all of the tasks are critical.  The start of one task depends on the completion of the previous task.  So, all of the tasks must start and finish on time without the project going astray. 

If, however, you have assigned other types of relationships in your project, some of your tasks will be non-critical tasks:

To view the critical path in the Gantt view

On the Format tab of the ribbon, click the Critical Path check box:

Changing Time Scale

The time scale of the Gantt Chart is change by using the Zoom Slider on the Status bar, but you can also use the Timescale dialog box to customise the way the Timescale is displayed:

In the Timescale dialog box you can choose to display up to three tiers (Top, Middle and Bottom) and within each of these it is possible to alter the units, the label and the count of the interval.

Formatting the non-working time

On the Non-working Time tab of the Timescale dialog box you can change the colour of the non-working time and whether it is displayed behind or in front of tasks.  You can also choose which Calendar is displayed on the Gantt Chart:

Using the Formatting Tab of the ribbon

To quickly apply different colours to the Gantt Chart bars, choose a different Gantt Chart Style:

To manually change the look on one Gantt bar:

  1. Select the task
  2. Click the format command
  3. Click bar
  4. Select the required colours and shapes in the dialog box:

Use the Bar Styles command to manually change the display of the different types of tasks (for example, you might display the planned and actual times for each task, in different colours).

  1. Select the type of task you want to change, for example Milestones
  2. Chose the required colour and shape
  3. Click OK

Use the Text tab of the Bar Styles dialog box to change what information is displayed next to the bars on the Gantt Chart:

Add a new (custom) Gantt Bar

If you want to spotlight a particular task category that is not represented by its own Gantt bar, you can create a new Gantt bar. For example, you can create a Gantt bar to show available slack or to call attention to delayed tasks.

  • On the Format tab, click Format and select Bar Styles.
  • In the Gantt bar list, click the Insert Row button.
  • In the Name column of the new row, type a name for the new bar style. Example below - 'Yet to start'.
  • In the Show For Tasks column of the new row, type or select the task type you want the bar to represent. Example below - Not Started.

To exclude tasks with a specific bar type, type not before the task type. For example, you can define a bar type as not milestone to display only tasks that are not milestone tasks.

To display a Gantt bar for tasks of multiple types (such as tasks that are milestones and critical), type a comma (,) after the task category in the text entry box, and type or select a second task category.

  • In the From and To columns, type or select the fields you want to use to position the start and finish points of the new Gantt bar.  For example, to  create a symbol that represents a single date, type or select the same field in the From and To columns.
  • Click the Bars tab, and then under Start, Middle, and End, select shapes, patterns or types, and colours for the bar.
  • Click the Text tab and choose the type of information you want to print next to your new Gantt bar
  • Click OK.

Click the Gridlines command and choose Gridlines to display the Gridline dialog box.  You can change the display of the vertical lines for the current date and project finish date line, etc:

Click the Layout command to display the Layout dialog box where you can change how Links are displayed as well as the bar height.

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