Less is More: How to Not Get Trapped Under Microsoft Project

Do a quick search for project management jobs and you will usually find an emphasis on the ability to create and manage plans in Microsoft Project.  Although nearly every project manager has used this tool before, it is frequently misused and misunderstood.  This often leads to frustration and reversion to other methods of planning and tracking.

Keep it Simple – How much do you really need to know about Microsoft Project?  To get through your career as a project manager, not as much as you think.  Perhaps a small fraction of the actual features.  But how can you distinguish useful features vs time wasters which don’t add value?  One effective answer is a combination of a hands-on course led by an instructor with real project management experience; and, a commitment of time to work with the tool using recommended best practices.

Don’t get overwhelmed in detail.  Complex project plans should be worked from the top down.  Project managers can keep things manageable by only going into as much detail as necessary.  Using your judgement on the areas of risk within a plan can streamline the information and help maintain sanity.

Understand the Tool – Microsoft Project is not a complete project management tool.  In fact, there are some key areas in the process where you might need to supplement the tool.  The front end planning and requirements gathering steps are key areas where project managers need to come up with accurate and meaningful information.  Project was not designed to effectively support these steps.  However, with a little creativity and some third party plug-ins, this process can be easily achieved.

Get more information on an upcoming Microsoft Project course at UCSC Extension in Silicon valley – Managing Projects with Microsoft Project.

Jim Park
Instructor, UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley

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1 thought on “Less is More: How to Not Get Trapped Under Microsoft Project”

  1. I have seen and been guilty of managing the project plan instead of the project. Some of the most successful projects I have led (albeit less than 6 months in scope) was a simple sequenced task list assigned by roles. With good teamwork, that works fine.

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