In this post, I continue to annotate the Project 2010 Step by Step outline with information about new or substantially revised chapters, continuing where I left off previously. The 2010 edition is available for preorder now, and should ship soon.
Following is the outline of the Part 2 chapters plus my commentary on noteworthy new or revised content. I hope you find this blog entry useful in planning your own upgrade to or initial use of Project 2010.
Part 2, Advanced Scheduling
As I mentioned in a previous post the core organizational strategy of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books is iteration on the project lifecycle. In Part 1 we cover planning and tracking with a focus on simpler features and strategies. In Part 2 however we dive much deeper with another iteration through a project lifecycle.
Part 2 is really the meat on the bones of the book. The subjects covered in Part 2 are what distinguishes a casual Project user from a real zealot--a ProjHugger. So let's take a look.
Chapter 7, Fine-Tuning Task Details
This chapter is the "advanced" big brother of Chapter 2, as is Chapter 8 for Chapter 3 and 9 for 4. This is probably the most complex chapter in the book. Features covered include adjusting task relationships, task calendars, and task types. It is also here where we cover the mechanics of Project's signature capability, solving for variables of the so-called Scheduling Formula: Work = Duration x Assignment Units.
TIP Click the screenshot image to see a larger view.
Some new features that get coverage in this chapter include:
-An adjustment to how the scheduling formula recalculates assignment unit values and represents a resource's maximum assignment units value in a new field called peak units. This was a brainbender for Tim and me to figure out, but the bottom line is that Project now reports more accurate assignment unit values.
-Manually scheduling summary tasks. This is a feature that gives you more options beyond straight baselining and deadline dates to indicate how much time you want to allocate to a summary task, regardless of how much time its subtasks will really take.
-Inactivating tasks, a Project Pro-only feature that I've previously discussed.
Chapter 8, Fine-Tuning Resource Details
In this chapter we address a set of resource-related features that you're either likely to never need, or need them very badly. These include resource calendars (something every Project user should know), as well as some less frequently-used resource features like multiple pay rates.
There wasn't much new functionality to cover in this chapter but we took a different approach with material resources.
Material resources is a feature I wish I could apply in my own real-world project management, but it doesn't really come up in my work.
Chapter 9, Fine-Tuning Assignment Details
Here we apply some of the task- and resource-related fine tuning settings we introduced in the previous two chapters. These include applying different resource cost rates, contouring assignments, and delaying the start of assignments.
One old feature that we gave new exposure to was customizing the Resource Usage view to show remaining availability per time period.
This is a technique a colleague of mine showed me last year--see, you can teach an old dog new tricks!
The major new feature covered in this chapter is the Pro-only Team Planner view.
This view is a real breakthrough for visualizing and adjusting assignments.
Chapter 10, Fine-Tuning the Project Plan
The main focus of this chapter is resolving resource overallocations (easy) while simultaneously keeping the project cost and finish date within set targets (hard).
We thoroughly walk through the options for automatic resource leveling.
This is for me a frustrating feature because it does incredibly complicated calculations about time, but is almost always unable to produce the results we want. In this chapter we explain why this is so.
Chapter 11, Organizing Project Details
Chapter 11 is the one-stop shop for all your sorting, grouping, filtering and view customization needs. I like this chapter because it exposes great features that give Project some of that Excel-like goodness.
Chapter 12, Tracking Progress on Tasks and Assignments
This is the cognitive big brother of Chapter 6 from Part 1. Here at last we get into the nitty-gritty of tracking timephased actuals.
Chapter 13, Viewing and Reporting Project Status
Project has a great set of status reporting tools and guess what--many of them don't involve the Gantt Chart! We cover various views and reports that help answer that most basic project management question: How are we doing?
Along the way we take a fun little side trip into custom field and formulas in this chapter to create a stoplight view.
This is one of our more complex sections, and hints at the calculating options afforded by custom fields.
Chapter 14, Getting Your Project Back on Track
This chapter is pure project management. There's no feature set in Project identified as the "getting back on track" tools. Instead, we revisit features that were for the most part previously introduced, but in this chapter our focus is unique: adjusting a project plan to meet the time, cost and scope of work constraints (these are three variables of the "Project Triangle" model).
In fact, the sections of this chapter are organized with a sharp focus on the troubleshooting aspect of project management: Troubleshoot Time and Schedule Problems, Troubleshoot Cost and Resource Problems, and Troubleshoot Scope-of-Work problems.
Next week I'll conclude this walk through the book's outline. In the meantime, if you want to add to my discussion about these features, please do so through a comment.