MS Project: A Simple Way to Streamline the Testing Process

May 18, 2015

At our Rustburg, VA EMI/EMC testing facility, customers have the opportunity to work closely with our tight-knit team; managers and engineers to technicians and administrative staff. To ensure every program runs smoothly from start to finish we utilize Microsoft Project to build and post schedules, providing customers with a detailed timeline of each testing phase. This is especially helpful for complicated projects requiring full EMI testing with multiple pieces of equipment over a long period of time.

Our technical writer in Rustburg has offered this short guide below to get you started with the basics of MS Project. You may find it useful to manage the pre and post-testing phases of development!

Microsoft Project is a powerful project management tool. It has many advantages over Excel, primarily because it is more dynamic and scheduling changes can be easily made following a change in project timeline.

You can track each task of a project, as well as its duration, hierarchy, and resource requirements. This information can then be viewed in numerous different ways, most commonly in a Gantt chart or Timeline. These easy to view, but still very detailed formats, allow the NTS Rustburg team to effectively communicate and exchange project information within our group and with our customers.

Starting a New Project

  • Open Microsoft Project 2013 program
  • Select Blank Project
  • Go to Project Tab, select Project Information, enter Project Start date

Entering Tasks

  • Double click on cell under Task Name heading in Gantt chart
  • Enter Task Information into dialogue box
  • Name task, enter duration, select Auto Scheduled for Schedule Mode

  • Tasks can also be added from Task tab, Insert Task
  • Summary Tasks and Milestone Tasks can also be added from Task tab
  • A Summary Task will include tasks below it in the Gantt chart. Summary tasks will be outdented to the left and displayed in bold. The Duration (and Start and Finish dates) of Summary Task will include all of the tasks included in Summary Task.
  • Milestone Tasks mark an event in a project and have a zero day duration.

Change Working Time

  • Project tab, Change Working Time
  • Project start day was set to 5/25/2015 which is a holiday.  After entering the holiday in the Change Working Time dialogue box, the project Start Date will automatically change (to next working day 5/26/2015).

Assigning Task Precedence

  • Many tasks during a project must be completed in a certain order, e.g. testing must be completed prior to writing of test report.
  • In Predecessors column of Gantt chart, assign a row number to any task which must be completed before the next. Because tasks are Auto Scheduled, Start and Finish dates will automatically adjust on Gantt chart. Highlighted cells show ant changes in response to assigning Predecessors. Note: Project can’t link a summary task to one of its subtasks.
  • When the inevitable change to your schedule occurs, Project will automatically adjust the schedule and update the dates of tasks that come following the change, e.g. Technical Writer takes 2 days instead of 1 day to write the report.
  • Once you become comfortable entering tasks, there are many other features of Microsoft Project that can be utilized to create a very detailed and powerful project schedule. You can assign resources to a task, such as a Technician, Engineer, or Technical Writer.

Changing the View

  • Finally, on the Task tab under Gantt Chart, View can be changed to Resource Usage to see how many hours have been allocated to a specific person

We hope this brief tutorial might encourage you to explore MS Project for your scheduling process!

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