Microsoft Project: Creating a Project Plan

Usually each project is developed in multiple phases. Commonly the phases are:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring & Controlling and
  • Closing

Project plans creating with Microsoft Project contains tasks and each tasks can be entered into the different phases mentioned above.

This article explains how to create a project plan using Microsoft Project.

This article applies to:

  • Microsoft Project Professional 2010

Step (1). Open Microsoft Project application.

Step (2). Click on File menu and then select New item.

Microsoft Project - File - New menu

Microsoft Project – File – New menu

Step (3). Microsoft Project displays Available Templates. Select Blank Project icon and click on Create button to create a blank project.

Step (4). Microsoft Project will create a blank project and depending on the settings Microsoft Project will display couple of panes to allow you to prepare a Project Plan.

Usually three panes will be displayed when Blank Project is created. Left Pane is the Task Pane, Right Pane is the Gantt Chart Pane and Top pane is the Timeline Pane.

  • Task Pane is used to enter tasks related to the Project plan.
  • Gantt Chart Pane will display the Graphical representation of the Project plan.
  • Timeline Pane will display the timeline of the project.

Step (5). Enter project title in first row in Task Pane. Then start entering project phases into each row. After entering these, the project window looks like below:

Microsoft Project - Task pane - with phases entered

Microsoft Project – Task pane – with phases entered

Step (6). For each phase, we need to enter the tasks in Task PaneTo enter the task, select the row where you want to enter the task and click on Insert Task button. You can find “Insert Task” button in Task Ribbon control under Insert group.

Microsoft Project - Insert New Task

Microsoft Project – Insert New Task

  • A task can be either Manually Scheduled or Automatically Scheduled.
  • Manually Scheduled tasks have user-defined Start & Finish dates whereas Automatically Scheduled tasks have Start & Finish dates automatically calculated by Microsoft Project.

Once we click on Inset Task button, Microsoft Project will insert a new task above the selected row (or task) from Task Pane.

Enter the tasks for all phases.

Step (7). Now we need to align the tasks into respective phases. To align the task select the tasks and click on Indent Task icon from Task Ribbon control. Indent Task icon will be under Schedule group in Task ribbon control.

Microsoft Project - Indent tasks

Microsoft Project – Indent tasks

Once the tasks are indented, those tasks will be aligned to particular phase.

Step (8). Provide more details to each task in Task Pane. Enter Duration, Start Date & Finish Date for each task. 

You can change task mode as Manually Scheduled or Automatically Scheduled by clicking on the respective buttons from Task Ribbon control. These buttons will appear under Tasks group. Select the task you want to change its task mode and click on either Manually Schedule or Auto Schedule button.

Microsoft Project - Tasks with details

Microsoft Project – Tasks with details

If the task mode is Auto Schedule, its Start & Finish dates automatically updates when you enter task Duration.

Step (9). Now all the tasks are entered. Observe the tasks’ Start and Finish dates. Project start date is 7th April 2014 and close date is 8th April 2014. Looks like the dates are not adjusted properly.

Remember that usually the project phases are sequential. One phase will start after completion of another phase. Some times the phases are also overlapped. Lets consider all of our project phases are sequential and they will start one after another.

So, we need to adjust our project dates. Observer that, all of our tasks are Auto Scheduled; which means, if we update the duration of one task, automatically the dates will adjusted.

And one important thing we need to remember is; order the tasks. To order the tasks, we need to set the task order in Predecessors column. Once the tasks are ordered, the Gantt chart will update appropriately in Gantt Chart Pane.

Microsoft Project - Sample project plan

Microsoft Project – Sample project plan

Step (10). Once you made necessary changes, Save the project. The project will be saved into .mpp file.

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