Lesson 1: Project Management Basics

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In this part of the tutorial you will understand basic concepts related with Project Management, that are involved in the following lessons.

What is a Project?

A set of carefully planned activities whose execution aim at accomplishing well defined objectives; a project has well defined start and end dates and involves several resources which draw some costs.

What is Project Management?

A series of activities undertaken along the entire lifecycle of a project, meant to ensure that the objectives of the project are accomplished. Project management requires the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to successfully initiate and plan a project, control its execution, manage the resources and, in the final phase, close the project.

What is a Project Manager?

A person responsible for accomplishing the expected project objectives, having responsibilities such as creating clear and attainable project objectives, building the project requirements, and managing constraints such as time, costs, scope and quality. A project manager can have the responsibility of planning, execution and closing of any project in a specific field and they represent the bridging gap between production team and the client. Typically project managers are users that create or edit project plans and they are the authors of the project plan.

What is Project Planning?

A series of activities that aim at developing an action plan which, if followed, ensures that the goals of the project are fulfilled. While planning, the following questions must be addressed: what is to be done (the result is a WBS), when it should be done (scheduling is usually performed by CPA - Critical Path Analysis), who must do it (resource assignment), howmuch does it cost (cost estimation). Project planning is a cornerstone in project management, a primordial step that dictates the future execution of the project.

What is a Project Planning Tool?

It is a software used for project planning, scheduling, resource allocation and change management. It allows project managers (PMs), stakeholders and users to control costs and manage budgeting. It is also used for collaboration and communication between project stakeholders. Its main purpose is to facilitate the planning and tracking of project components, stakeholders and resources and can assist in keeping track of all the components of the project to be sure it is delivered on time and within budget.

What is Project Plan 365?

A solution for project planning in an agile framework, with teams working in fast-paced collaborative environments that may include disparate geographic locations; it offers support for efficiently building a project plan, tracking the plan during execution and sharing the plan with team members that have restricted write access as decided by the PM.

What is a Task?

An activity in the project necessary to reach the project specific goals, characterized by duration, clear starts and finish dates. Tasks are the bricks (basic units) used for building a project plan.

What is a Subtask?

A smaller task that is part of a summary task. Commonly several subtasks that denote related activities are grouped beneath a summary task, that summarizes the data of their subtasks.

What is a Summary Task?

It is a higher level task, grouping related activities. Summary tasks behave as recipients and their content is addressed as subtasks.

What is a Project Summary Task?

The task summarizing the entire work of the project; it is the root of the WBS and its duration, start and finish dates and costs are just an aggregate off all the tasks in the project.

What is an Inactive task?

It is a task that stays in the plan, but does not affect resource availability, the project schedule, or how other tasks are scheduled. They appear dimmed with a strikethrough.

What is a Null Task?

? It is a blank row used to delimit some phases in your project or for any visual arrangements.

What is Task Information?

A dialog that allows the user to edit or view basic information about the selected task. You can change:
1. Task durations and indicate whether the durations are estimated or set.
2. Progress on a task by entering the percentage of completion.
3. Task start or finish date to set a Start No Earlier Than or Finish No Earlier Than constraint.

What is a Blank Project?

Can be seen as a canvas in which you can make your project become reality.

What is a View?

A visual representation that allow you to simply view any aspects of your project quickly and easily, so that you can view critical information about your projects in a specific format.

What is a Gantt Chart View?

A visual representation of a project plan, very popular in project management. Tasks are represented as horizontal bars along a timeline. The start/end dates and the duration of a task may be inferred from its projection on the timeline.

What is a Task Usage View?

It is a view that lists for each task the resources assigned to it and the amount of work that each resource has performed over time. It is a matrix of work assignments. In a table spanned over the project's period, workloads are presented for each task, and within it, each resource, if any is available.

What is a Calendar View?

A view that displays tasks in a calendar in which you can review the start and finish dates for tasks.

What is a Network Diagram View?

A graphical representation of the tasks in the project in the form of a directed graph: the tasks are vertices and the interdependencies among tasks are arcs. The network diagram is used to perform CPA (Critical Path Analysis).

What is a WBS?

A decomposition of the entire work of the project on several levels, resulting in a tree structure: the work of the project (first level = root of the tree) is divided in several activities (second level), which, successively may be divided into shorter-term tasks, etc. Successive subdivisions, corresponding to new levels in the tree, may be necessary until the components obtained are manageable in terms of estimates (on duration, costs), work and responsibility.

What is an Outline?

A hierarchical structure for a project that shows the tasks groupings. You create an outline for your tasks by indenting and outdenting them to create the summary tasks and subtasks.

What is a Milestone?

A timestamp in the project marking the end of a major project goal or phase.

What is a Successor?

It is a task whose start or finish date is driven by its predecessor task. The Successor is the task completed "after" the current task.

What is a Predecessor?

It is a task whose start or finish date determines the start or finish date of its successor task. The Predecessor is the task completed "prior to" the current task.

What is a Task Dependency?

It is a relationship between the tasks in the project that drive the schedule for the project. The nature of the relationship between a predecessor task and a successor task determines the type of task dependency to use. We can use 4 types of task dependencies: Finish - To - Start (FS), Start - To - Start (SS), Finish - To - Finish (FF) and Start - To - Finish (SF).

What is a Task Note?

It represents a descriptive text associated to that task containing additional or supporting information or a comment for that task.

What is a Completed Task?

It is a task whose percent complete is 100%, indicating that the task was finished.

What is a Critical Task?

A task for which any delay of its execution draws delays of the project finish date.

What is a Critical Path?

A set of interconnected critical tasks seen as a path in the network diagram ending at the project finish date. A delay of any task on a critical path results in a delay of the project finish date. A project may have several critical paths corresponding to distinct paths in the network diagram, all ending at the project finish date.

What is a Manually Scheduled Task?

Task with task mode manually scheduled. They should be used when you want to explicitly set a task's start and finish dates and not allow it to be changed automatically by the scheduler based on changes to other tasks. When a task is in manually scheduled mode, the Start, Finish, and Duration columns can be blank or include text values in addition to recognizable dates.

What is an Automatically Scheduled Task?

Task that has Start, Finish and Duration values calculated by Planner based on dependencies, constraints, calendars, and other factors.

What is a Constraint?

Allow you to control the start or finish date of an automatically-scheduled task.

What is a Constraint Type?

Constraints can be Flexible, Semi-flexible, and Inflexible. 

What is Fixed Work Task Type?

A task in which the amount of work is a fixed value and any changes to the task's duration or the number of assigned units (or resources) do not affect the task's work.

What is Fixed Duration Task Type?

A task in which the duration is a fixed value and any changes to the work or the assigned units (that is, resources) don't affect the task's duration.

What is Fixed Units Task Type?

A task in which the assigned units (or resources) is a fixed value and any changes to the amount of work or the task's duration do not affect the task's units.

What is a Project Resource?

It is a person, equipment or materials that belongs to a project. Resources are defined and maintained at the project level.

What is a Team Member?

It is a person that belongs to an organization - team members are assigned at the organization level and can be shared across multiple projects.

What is Resource Information?

A dialog that allows the user to edit or view the Resources Name, Initials, Email, Group, Code, Type, Material Label, Max. Units, Base Calendar, Cost and to add Notes.

What is a Resource Sheet View?

A view that displays resource information in a sheet format, in which you can review, add, or edit information about each resource. Such information include resource name, initials, type of resource (work or material) and payment rate.

What is a Resource Usage View?

It is a matrix of work assignments. In a table spanned over the project's period, workloads are presented for each resource, and within it, each task if any is available.

What is a Resource Graph View?

It is a view that graphically displays information about the resource allocation over time. Resources are displayed in a list and for each selected resource corresponding bars are shown. The bars are colored part in blue for the work span within normal capacities of that resource and part in red for the over allocated work assignments.

What is a Resource Assignment?

It represents an association between specific tasks and the resources needed to complete them. Assigning resources to tasks will indicate who or what is needed to complete the tasks in your project. More than one resource can be assigned to a task. Both work resources (e.g. people) and material resources can be assigned to tasks.

What is Overallocation?

The situation corresponding to a resource of type work who dedicates more than 8 hours a day to accomplish some tasks. Overallocation may have two distinct causes: 1) the resource is assigned to several tasks that are scheduled during the same period (i.e. the resource is supposed to work 4 hours at task1 and 8 hours at task2 in the same day); 2) the PM wants the resource to dedicate more time and assigns more than 100% units for that resource.

What is Duration?

A value that indicates the amount of time required by the task to be completed. It is the length of working time between the start and finish of a task.

What is Work?

It represents the total amount of time scheduled on a task for all assigned resources, the total amount of time to which a resource is scheduled on all assigned tasks, or the total amount of time scheduled for a resource on a task. It is the amount of effort, measured in time units (like hours or days), that a resource needs to complete the task.

What is Cost?

It represents the total scheduled or projected cost for a task, resource, or assignment, based on costs already incurred for work performed by resources assigned to the tasks, in addition to the costs planned for the remaining work. for a resource on a task.

What is Timescale?

A ruler with time units, used usually in association with a Gantt Chart, to measure the duration of tasks. Time units may vary from minutes to hours, days, weeks, months or years.

What is a Report?

A graphical representation that captures specific information in a project so that can aid in sharing of current project information with team members or other stakeholders.

What is a Table?

A representation used to show specific information about tasks, resources, and assignments in a sheet view. Tables are made up of sets of columns containing fields of information describing the tasks or resources within each row of the table. Tables can be applied to Views. There are separate tables for tasks and for resources (for example, there is an Entry table for tasks and an Entry table for resources).

What is a Dashboard?

It is a master project that aggregates multiple project files (either located on the user machine or online) to help the user get a higher-level perspective on his projects. It offers the advantage of bringing projects together in order to analyze them, without having to manually insert them as subprojects into a master file expressly created for this purpose.

What is Currency?

It is a form of money used in circulation throughout the public. This functionality allows you to change the currency settings for your project.

What is Date Format?

It is a time representation that varies between countries.

What is Deadline?

Indicates the final time that a task must be completed by.

What is a Filter?

It allows the user to view a particular type of information in the project by displaying only the information the user is interested in and hiding the rest.

What is an Auto Filter?

It allows you to view specific rows in a MPP file, while hiding the other rows.

What is Sort?

It arranges tasks or resources in the current view, based on the specified criteria. Tasks can be sort by multiple columns at the same time, sort tasks by date, sort tasks by resources or sort by other tasks properties.

What is a Project Calendar?

A system of organizing days for administrative purposes that determines the standard working time and non-working time for the project.

What is a Baseline?

It is a static copy of plan data that’s compared with actual and current data. It refers to a set of data about project that represents state before the work actually began. Baselines helps to compare actual vs. planned. Baseline schedule means taking a copy of your schedule and set aside for comparison later on. A baseline is a snapshot/a picture of your project at a particular moment in time. Baseline is a copy of the final approved schedule. It is the target to aim. As much is possible, the baseline should remain the same throughout the project.

What is a Finish Date?

Specifies the task's scheduled finish date. If you specify a start date and duration, Project calculates the finish date. If you enter a finish date for a task, application sets a moderately flexible constraint, such as Finish No Earlier Than (FNET) on the task.

What is a Start Date?

Specifies the task's scheduled start date. If the task has a predecessor, Project calculates the start date. If you enter a start date for a task, Project sets a moderately flexible constraint, such as Start No Earlier Than (SNET), on the task.

What is Group By?

? It allows you to categorize and report project information in a variety of ways. Grouping also helps you to view rolled-up summary information of tasks, resources, or assignments in sheet views.

What is a Hyperlink?

It allows to add files that reside locally on your disk or web addresses to the tasks.

What is Lead Time?

Lead time is overlap between tasks that have a dependency. For example, if a task can start when its predecessor is half finished, you can specify a finish-to-start dependency with a lead time for the successor task. You enter lead time as a negative value. To enter lead time, type a negative value in the Lag column, such as –2 for two days of lead time.

What is a Master Project?

It is a collection of multiple smaller projects (subprojects).

What is a Subproject?

It is a smaller project that is part of a Master Project.

What is Percent Complete?

It is a field that is calculated based on Actual Duration and Duration and it indicates how much progress has been made on the project or on tasks.

What is Project Start Date?

It is a date that marks the point in time when the activities related to the project may start.

What are Project Statistics?

They are a set of crucial information gathered for an overall view of the project. With this functionality, you can easily review scheduled and actual start and finish dates, durations, work, and costs.

What is Split Task?

It allows the user to interrupt work on a task, due to cases such as an unplanned event or even a task reprioritization, you can split the task so that part of it starts later in the schedule. This might match the situation where the work for a task in your project needs to start, then stop somewhere in the middle of the task, and then resume at a later date.
In this way, Project Plan 365 gives you the possibility to account for interrupted work, when an issue arises that causes a non-work period delay in the schedule. This allows for the individual task duration to remain the same, while potentially extending the duration of the project.
You can split a task into as many sections as you need. However, you can only split a task into the smallest increments shown on the timescale view in the bar chart area of the Gantt Chart.

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