Using Calendars in Microsoft Project 2016

Using Calendars in Microsoft Project 2016

In Project 2016, the calendar shows the various hours in a workday, the days in a work week, holidays, and nonworking days on which a project schedule is based. Project allows you to set Base, Project, Task, and Resource calendars. A resource is anything you use to accomplish a task or to advance (and complete) the project. Resources can be employees, equipment, etc.
How Calendars Work

It helps if you know the function of each calendar before you begin to use any of them. Part of successful project management is efficiency, so it is important to take the time to learn exactly what every aspect of this software offers you.

The four calendars Project gives you help you schedule and organize different aspects of the project. Also, the four calendars interact with each other to help you manage even the smallest aspect of the project.

  •     The Base Calendar is the template calendar that all the other Project calendars are built from. There are three base calendars: Standard, 24 hours, and Night Shift. Standard reflects a default working day as 8 to 5 with an hour built in for lunch. This is Monday thru Friday. Twenty-four hours allows work to go on around the clock, every day of the week. The night shift template sets the working times as 11pm to 8am with an hour for dinner and a Monday thru Saturday workweek.
  •     The Project Calendar is the default calendar used for scheduling. It is also where you choose the Base calendar template that you will use for a project.
  •     The Resource Calendar combines the Base calendar with any exceptions that you set for a resource. An example of an exception can be nonworking times.
  •     The Task Calendar is where you can set exceptions for a certain task.

    Whenever you create tasks and assign resources to them. Project must base that work on a timing standard. For example, a workday, night shift, a week, etc.

    An example is this: If you tell Project that a task will be completed in one workday, Project knows that a workday typically means eight hours. It can also be 12 or however many number of hours that you set up in your calendar. By the same token, if you set up a resource that will be used for two weeks of work, measuring weeks by a five-day work week, it will show a timing of ten work days, not the standard 14-day period that typically comprise a two-week period.

    Just be careful. If you schedule a two-week task, but the resource needed to accomplish that task is set for three weeks, the task will not show as completed after two weeks. It will be three weeks instead. This will all make more sense as we move forward and learn more about the program.

    Setting Options and Applying Calendars

    To start with, let's open the Project Calendar, which is different from the Calendar view. Remember, this is where we choose the Base calendar that we'll use for a project. To access the Project calendar, go to the Project tab, then click the Project Information button. You will see the following dialogue box appear:

     In the dialogue box above, you can choose the base calendar that you want to use in the Calendar field.

    You can also establish start and end dates for the project. Do not worry about anything else at this time. We'll discuss advanced options later, but for now you can set your calendar if you didn't do it when we entered in project information.

    Click the OK button. This is the calendar that will now be used for your project.

    Next, let's learn how to set options for the calendars you use in Project.

    To do this, click the File tab, then select Options from the left in Backstage View.

    In the dialogue box that appears, click Schedule on the left hand side.

  •     To change the day the week starts on, go to the Week Starts On dropdown list to choose a day.
  •     If you want to change the start of the fiscal year, go to the Fiscal Year Starts in dropdown menu and select a month.
  •     You can change the work hours for a day by changing the Default Start Time and Default End Times.
  •     You can also change the hours per day, hours per week, and days per month.

    Click OK when you are finished.

    Working with Task Calendars

    If you want, you can make it so a task calendar uses a different base calendar that the one you chose for your project. When you do this, the task calendar that you use will overrule the base calendar for that particular task.

    For example, if you choose the Standard calendar for your project, but a 24-hour task calendar, a task duration of 1 day would be 24 hours instead of one workday.

    To change the calendar you use for a task, double click on the task name in the worksheet area of Gantt Chart view.

    You will then see the Task Information dialogue box.

    Click on the Advanced tab, then choose a new calendar from the Calendar dropdown list.

    Click OK when you are finished.

    Note: If you have a resource assigned to a task that has a modified calendar, the resource will only work during hours the two calendars (Resource and Task) have in common.

    Modifying a Resource Calendar

    You can only have a calendar for work resources. You cannot have a calendar for material resources, because material resources are charged by units used.

    To modify a calendar for work resources, display a view that shows the resource column, then double click a resource name.

    For this example, we've chosen the Resource Sheet view by going to the View tab, then clicking on the Resource Sheet button in the Resource views group.

    We are going to double click on Microsoft Word.

    You will then see the Resource Information dialogue box.

    Make the changes you need to make, then click OK.

    Interested in learning more? Why not take an online class in Microsoft Project 2016?

    Setting Exceptions to Working Times

    Let's say that on St. Patrick's Day, you and your employees will only be working a half day. You can create an exception to the normal working time to reflect this.

    To do this, go to the Project tab, then click the Change Working Time button.

    You will then see the Change Working Time dialogue box.

    Locate the day on the calendar for which you want to create an exception.

    Enter a name for the example in the Name field. Ours will be St. Patrick's Day.

    Add the Start and Finish dates. Since it's just one day, we entered the same date for the Start and Finish times.

    Click the Details button.

    Notice that we checked "Working Times", then entered the working time for that day.

    Since this is a one-time instance only, we have it set to end after one occurrence.

    Click OK when you are finished.

    The Importance of Calendars

    In Project 2016, calendars will determine the working hours that tasks and resources run. They are highly necessary to successful project management because they keep you organized and "on task, on time." It is important that you take the time to set your calendars at the beginning of each project. What's more, it is also important that you become familiar with everything we've learned related to calendars in this article.

    Organizing Tasks

    Your project could have dozens, if not hundreds, of tasks. It's easy to go through those tasks and list them in Gantt Chart view. However, when a task list gets long, managing the tasks during the duration of the project could get very daunting. Taking the time to organize your tasks will make managing them easier - and improve the efficiency of your team while working on the project.

    In this article we are going to discover how to organize tasks in Project 2016.
    About Organizing Tasks

    It makes it easier to organize tasks if you have the right mindset regarding them. It helps if you think of your list of task as an outline with main tasks, then subtasks that fall under the main task, and so on. In an outline for a report, for example, you have an organizational structure that breaks larger sections of the report down into smaller sections until you've listed everything you want to include. Look at the outline we've created below.

    As we go through this article and you perhaps start to organize your tasks in Publisher, keep the outline in mind. Pick out tasks, then subtasks, etc. Not only will you organize your tasks, you'll structure your project.

    Summary Tasks

    The summary task is the captain of the ship, so to speak. It is the task that all your other tasks will fall under. Just like its name, it summarizes all the tasks that will be done. More often than not, it is also the title of the project and all other tasks will be born from it. A Summary Task does not have any work assigned to it. This is because its sole function is to summarize the other tasks.

    To create a summary task, click to select a cell in the Task Name column. Typically, this will be the very first cell under Task Name since summary tasks are above other tasks. If you already have a task listed first and want to insert a summary task above it, that's okay too. Just click to select the task that you want to place BELOW the summary task.

    Next, go to the Task tab, and click the Summary button in the Insert group.

    As you can see, Project 2016 inserts the summary task.

    Click inside the cell to name the summary task, as we did below.

    Summary tasks have the little triangle to the left of them, as shown above. This arrow allows you to collapse the outline so you only see the summary task and not all the other tasks.
    Creating Subtasks

    Below the summary task, you have your first parent task. Next will come subtasks. Subtasks are tasks that are directly related to a parent task. If a parent task is to paint a wall, a subtask would be to tape before painting. We do not have subtasks yet. However, we are going to add a few subtasks for the Research task in our project now. You can see them pictured below.

    As you can see, the two tasks that fall under Research are actually subtasks because they relate to research.

    NOTE: To insert a new task, click on the task below where you want to insert the new task. Right click, then select Insert Task from the context menu.

    Although we've added two subtasks, we can't tell that they're subtasks by simply looking at the task list. This will be a problem as we start to assign tasks and as the progress progresses.

    To fix this problem, we can indent and outdent tasks to organize parent tasks and subtasks.

    Let's look at our last snapshot again.

    Let's indent the first subtask: Review What's New in Project 2016.

    To indent a task, click the task to select it, then go to the Task tab.

    Click the Outdent Task button to outdent a task, or move it to the left.

    Click the Indent Task button to indent a task, or move it to the right.

    Since we are dealing with subtasks, we want to indent.

    To indent, we click on the task to select it, then click the Indent Task button.

    We can now clearly see a subtask.

    In the snapshot below, you can see our Summary text highlighted in yellow, the parent tasks highlighted in purple, and the subtasks highlighted in pink.

    Moving Tasks

    Most projects will not go according to plan. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but when it happens, you need to know how to adjust your plan as well as the information you have recorded in Project. This may mean that you need to move some tasks around.

    If you need to move a task further up or lower down on your outline, use the click and drag method and these steps:

    Go to the Gantt Chart view.

    Select the task you want to move by click its ID number (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). Click and release. Do not hold down the mouse button.

    Click on the dark border around the task row, as highlighted in pink below. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the task to where you want it.

    A gray line will appear that shows the new task position.

    Let go of your mouse button to move the task.
    The WBS Code

    The WBS code, or work breakdown structure code, is simply a code that is applied to your outline of tasks that makes different elements of your project easier to identify. These codes are automatically generated for you so that each task has a unique identity that is based on the order that it appears on your project.

    Here's an example. The second task in the second phase of a project has the WBS code 1.2.2. This means that the task belongs to the first phase (all tasks do), is in the second phase, and is the second task.

    To view the WBS code in your project:

    Go to the Gantt Chart view.

    Go to the "Add New Column" column, and look at the dropdown menu.

    Select WBS.

    You can see the WBS code in the snapshot below.

    About Subprojects

    In addition to adding tasks and organizing them, you can also insert another project into your project. This is helpful if your project is dependent on work being one on another project. For example, let's say the course on project management had to be written before we began writing this course on Project 2016. We could insert that project into our Project 2016 course. The project will appear as a task with its tasks appearing as subtasks. We've highlighted the inserted project below.

    To insert a subproject, click the Subproject button under the Project tab.

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