Join Lorna Daly for an in-depth discussion in this video Project management basics, part of Project 2007 Essential Training.
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What is project management? Well, project management is the management of a project. Now, what's a project? Well, a project is a list of tasks that need to be performed by certain resources within a specific time frame. Now, in projects that we are going to be looking at in this system, they are usually interrelated tasks, so that means that they have dependencies on each other-- one has to be done before the other one in order to get to the end result. The resources that are required are usually people, equipment, or materials in order to get the job done, and the time frames are your deadlines that you need to meet in order to get the job completed.
Now, you have different types of projects that you can work with. Some are very complex, like rolling out a software application to a large organization; others may be fairly simple. So these are the different kinds of project types that you can work with in project management. We're going to be working somewhere in the middle in our discussions about project management in different videos that we're going to looking at later. Now why would you want to use a project management software such as Project 2007 in order to do this? Well, it's going to help you organize your task list, so that you have a list in a readable manner in order to get through the project.
It's going to help you estimate time frames for different tasks, so that you can take a look at different things as you go through. It's going to help you get an overview of all of the different things that you need to do in order to deliver your project on time and within cost. Now every project has a workflow and there are several different keystones that we're going to take a look at in order to get the project done. First of all, you need to set a goal; you have some kind of endpoint that you want to achieve. Then you need to plan the tasks that need to be down in order to achieve that goal, as well as any resources that may be in place that you also need to take advantage of.
You want to determine if there's any dependencies and constraints between these tasks in order to make sure you're doing the right thing in the right way, and at the right time-- you're not putting the cart before the horse, as you would say. You also want to establish a baseline so that you can determine later on whether or not your plan was a well-conceived plan and did you come in within the time frames and within your budget. You want to see your critical path, these tasks that are required to be achieved on time so that your whole project doesn't slip. You want to be able to track your progress, so that you can anticipate whether or not you're going to be on target and on time, and make any adjustments that you need to as you go through.
And finally you want to report, so that everyone knows how you achieved your project and whether or not you did a good plan in the first place. Let's take a look at some of these in more depth. First of all, setting the goals. You want to identify the major phases of the project, and this is usually done by creating a goal scope or a statement about where you want to go with your project. You can then create a list of tasks that are going to be a sequential set of steps that you need to accomplish in order to achieve that phase.
Now, you also want to collect the information in order to help you scope out your project, and in doing this and setting the goal statement or the goal scope, it's going help you identify whether or not you've bitten off more than you can chew when you're doing your project. For large, complex projects, maybe you really have a set of mini projects that you can accomplish independently of one another, so that you can get the whole job done. You don't want to be setting a goal that is not available to be completed or is larger and going to be changing by the time you finally get to the end result.
So this is a very important phase of the project setting planning process. Next is the planning process. Here you want to plan the tasks and the resources you need to do and have in order to get the job done. So the tasks are your steps that you need to complete in order to get the project underway and progressing and the resources are the people, material, and equipment you need to have in order to get the job done. This is good time to get input from other members of your team to make sure you're using the right combination of people, material, and equipment in order to get your job done, and you haven't missed any tasks that you may not be aware of that are critical to accomplish for your project.
If you have time, it's also a nice time to be able to use the power of Project to view different plans to complete your project, to see which one is going to be the most cost-effective in terms to your resources and your time. The next thing you want to do is you want to identify dependencies and constraints on your tasks. These will help to determine what needs to be done when and what tasks are dependent upon the other in order to get the job completed. So dependencies are relationships between your different tasks that are going to affect the timing of the overall outcome.
You also want to identify constraints in terms of deadlines and timing, so that you can make sure that the tasks are done and performed in the right order. As soon as possible is the default constraint that Microsoft Project works with, but this can be overwritten, and we'll explore that more in subsequent movies. Now, once you've done all your planning and placed it into the project, you're going to establish a baseline, which is an overview of your schedule once the planning is complete. So it gives you an outline of where you're going to be going and how long it's going to take you.
And you can look up to 11 different baselines that you can track within Project 2007. It's going to help you determine whether or not your initial plan was the effective plan. And are you able to match it and work within it? Establishing a baseline is also good to have if you're going to working with future projects, because it helps you learn from your past in order to plan better projects in your future. There will be certain tasks in your project plan that are critical to the success of your project, and these are your critical tasks. If you miss the deadlines on these ones, your project overall deadline will slip.
You will identify these tasks into what we call a critical path. It's important to manage this critical path well, to ensure the success of your project. This is where you're going to see the real power of Project 2007, when we go to look at determining your critical path within the project. Now that you have done all your planning, this is only the beginning. Tracking the progress on your project is equally important, and this is easily done in Project. This also plays a major role in determining the success of the project. You want to solidify your tracking methods before you start to track them, to avoid frustration and confusion as you get into the day-to-day workings of your project.
You want to know who's going to track what and when. Finally, you're going to want to report on how this project went, what the success of the project was. So it's important to keep the project on track. There are many preset reports in Project 2007 that are going to help you. As you enter your data and track your progress, Project is going to calculations and automatically update your schedule so that you have real-time reporting to share easily with those who need to know. Now that you know what project management basics are all about, we're going to go and take a little bit more in- depth look in Project 2007 to see why it's important to use them.
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