Review: Microsoft Project Do’s and Don’ts

Microsoft Project Do’s and Don’ts: The definitive guide to jumpstart your project, by Sam Huffman

I’ve read several books on Microsoft Project and I even wrote one, but this is the first one I would recommend to a beginning project manager. Sam Huffman worked at Microsoft as a member of the Microsoft Project development and support team, so he’s widely considered to be one of the leading authorities on the product. He’s also a trainer, and this book reflects that experience.

Chapters One and Two describe the user interface, the hierarchy of calendars and how to configure and use them, and how to choose between manual and automatic scheduling. Chapter Three goes into best practices for organizing tasks and creating a task outline. Chapter Four explains task types and durations, followed by dependencies and sequencing tasks in Chapter Five. When working with junior project managers, I find that this is the place where they need the most guidance—Sam does a masterful job of explaining alternatives and best practices.

Chapter Six covers creating resources and assigning them to tasks. This is another place where MS Project can overwhelm the noob, and Sam’s guidance is excellent. Chapter Seven goes into the why and how of creating baselines, while Eight explains Tracking. This is an area where even experienced project managers don’t necessarily understand the alternatives or how to choose among them, and the level of detail is just right. Chapter Nine covers reporting, closing with three Appendices.  Appendix C is a simple checklist of steps to create and maintain a project file.

Highly recommended.

New Post at AITS: Managing Globally Distributed Project Teams

My latest article for AITS was published today: Managing Globally Distributed Project Teams.

I’ve been managing projects with globally distributed teams for a lot of years. Between the scheduling problems, the communication issues, and simply keeping everyone aligned on priorities in order to stay on schedule, it can be a handful. I’ve included several links to useful resources, as well as my usual suggestions for solving some of the common problems. But entirely aside from what’s in this article: become knowledgeable about different cultures. Call it a part of business acumen, call it being a citizen of a larger world. Just realize that the jobs at the upper end of the pay scale require a global mindset today and that requirement will spread downward in the years to come.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.

Commonly Observed National and Religious Holidays 2018

As I remind everyone each year: if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to update your project schedules with non-working days for 2018. Below is a list of commonly observed national and religious holidays, and the dates they are commonly observed. Naturally, you’ll need to confirm which holidays apply to your project team.

And here are instructions for updating the working calendar in MS Project.

Holiday Weekday Celebrated
New Year’s Day Monday 1/1/2018
Martin Luther King’s Birthday (US) Monday 1/15/2018
Republic Day (India) Friday 1/26/2018
Ash Wednesday Wednesday 2/14/2018
Chinese / Vietnamese New Year Friday 2/16/2018
President’s Day (US) Monday 2/19/2018
Holi (India) Friday 3/2/2018
Good Friday Friday 3/30/2018
Beginning of Passover Saturday 3/31/2018
Easter Monday (UK) Monday 4/2/2018
May Day (China: Labor Day) Tuesday 5/1/2018
Early May Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 5/7/2018
First day of Ramadan Wednesday 5/16/2018
Shauvot Sunday 5/20/2018
Victoria Day (Canada) Monday 5/21/2018
Spring Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 5/28/2018
Memorial Day (US) Monday 5/28/2018
Eid al-Fitr Friday 6/15/2018
Canada Day Sunday 7/1/2018
Independence Day (US) Wednesday 7/4/2018
Pioneer Day (Utah, US) Tuesday 7/24/2018
Independence Day (India) Wednesday 8/15/2018
Eid al-Adha / Festival of Sacrifice Wednesday 8/22/2018
Summer Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 8/27/2018
Labor Day (US and Canada) Monday 9/3/2018
Rosh Hashanah Monday 9/10/2018
Yom Kippur Wednesday 9/19/2018
Sukkot Monday 9/24/2018
National Day (China) Monday 10/1/2018
Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (India) Tuesday 10/2/2018
Columbus Day / Indigenous People’s Day (US) Monday 10/8/2018
Thanksgiving (Canada) Monday 10/8/2018
Dussehra (India) Friday 10/19/2018
Veteran’s Day (US) / Remembrance Day (Canada) Sunday 11/11/2018
Diwali (India) Saturday 11/17/2018
Thanksgiving Day (US) Thursday 11/22/2018
Day after Thanksgiving (US) Friday 11/23/2018
First day of Chanukah Monday 12/3/2018
Christmas Eve Monday 12/24/2018
Christmas Day Tuesday 12/25/2018
Boxing Day (UK, Canada) Wednesday 12/26/2018
Kwanzaa Wednesday 12/26/2018
New Year’s Eve Monday 12/31/2018