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My 30 Golden Rules for Creating a Realistic Project Plan in Microsoft Project

By Dominic Moss:

Over the past 20 years I have met numerous individuals who aspire to create the perfect project plan. Whilst their dedication to the cause is unquestionable their expectations are probably best described as unrealistic and that will ultimately lead to disappointment.

Perfection and fit for purpose are two subtly different things. I am not advocating carelessness or low standards but a more realistic and workable approach to project planning.

Computer based tools provide us with the means to craft sophisticated and valuable project schedules, however using a tool does not automatically ensure a perfect project plan. Back in the mid 1990’s I was issued with a portable computer that ran a project scheduling software package. This was back in the day when few people in their roles had access to a computer let alone one that could be carried with you. We would visit potential customers and proceed to produce a project plan using the computer, the output was invariably regarded as being beyond question as it was computer generated – in this day and age we are more aware of computers and appreciate that their outputs are only ever as good as our inputs.

A project schedule is an indicative guide rather than a definitive timetable. Producing a precise and 100% accurate project schedule is nigh on impossible as not everything always goes to plan and we cannot always anticipate every possible eventuality that might arise in the prosecution of a project.

However you should strive to build a realistic and workable project schedule to act as your reference point for you to manage and control your project and the following suggestions point as to how you can use Microsoft Project to provide this information.

1. Use “Project Information” to specify the Start Date for your project, for your own sanity and peace of mind stick with the default option “Schedule from Project Start Date” so that all tasks begin as “soon as possible”.

2. Use Auto Scheduled Task Mode not Manually Scheduled Task Mode.
Continue reading My 30 Golden Rules for Creating a Realistic Project Plan in Microsoft Project

Primavera P6 Vs. Microsoft Project

Often folks are asking about the differences between Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera P6. While coming up with a definitive list is more than challenging, below highlights some of the detailed feature differences between Primavera P6 over Microsoft Project.

It’s All About The Enterprise

It’s clear that Primavera P6 was designed for the enterprise from the start, while Microsoft Project migrated from a desktop application and added enterprise capabilities with Project Server. Now that Oracle owns Primavera P6, this gap is accentuated with the introduction of other heavy weight Oracle applications that support Primavera P6. Examples of these include Primavera P6 Analytics, Business Intelligence Publisher, Workflow and Primavera Gateway. These tools allow for integration with other enterprise applications marrying project information with other corporate data, applications and dashboards. Microsoft has not stood still either, with additional offerings such as SharePoint and Dynamics.

With all these true enterprise capabilities in mind, below are some of the more detailed features differences listed by real users. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is also important to note that we’re not recommending one product over the other.

Multiple User Access

Microsoft Project doesn’t allow multiple users to work on a single project at the same time, Primavera P6 does. In Primavera P6 you can specify what features of Primavera a particular user is permitted to use. Microsoft Project Server supports many projects at the same time, but a user locks a project when it’s in use.


In Microsoft Project, 11 baselines can be created for a project. In Primavera P6, unlimited baselines can be created and as many as four of these baselines can be assigned at any one time to a schedule. Continue reading Primavera P6 Vs. Microsoft Project

PRINCE2 vs PMP Certification? Get Both

PRINCE2 vs PMP is the wrong question to ask.  PRINCE2 and PMP are useful and complementary tools in your skill set – they don’t compete.  Certification in the PRINCE2 methodology is an excellent complement to your PMP credential and awards  PDUs for instructor led classes or online learning.  If you are a PMP, PRINCE2 already recognizes your prior learning so you can skip the PRINCE2 Foundation exam.

So do I need PRINCE2 and PMP Certification?

Short answer:  yes – they cover different sides of the project management coin.  They increase your earning potential, enhance your skills and improve your employability

PRINCE2 and PMP are the most popular global project management certifications: but they are different:

  • PRINCE2 is a project management methodology – it covers, in detail, the processes and activities which a project management team must carry out to deliver a project of value to the sponsoring organization.
  • The PMP credential, based on the PMBOK Guide, is the sum of knowledge of the project management profession. It covers what is generally accepted on most projects, most of the time.

Continue reading PRINCE2 vs PMP Certification? Get Both

10 Reasons why you should adopt Project Management

One-fifth of the world’s GDP, or $12 trillion, is spent on projects. And with many skilled practitioners leaving or scheduled to leave the workforce due to retirement — in the United States alone, 40% of the workforce by 2015 — there is a great demand for knowledgeable project managers. So much so that $4.5 trillion of that total is at risk, and the talent gap is widening. Continue reading 10 Reasons why you should adopt Project Management

Top 10 Characteristics of GREAT Project Managers

Good project managers are hard enough to find, and great project managers are rarer still. Thanks to Andy Crowe, though, we now have a peek inside the top 2 percent of project managers, based on a study of 860 of them as rated by their peers/clients. Not surprisingly, great project management requires a lot more than the ability to move a milestone. Continue reading Top 10 Characteristics of GREAT Project Managers

Why Your Project Might be Failing

Is your project going OK? Are you sure? Often project managers think their project is progressing to plan and by the time they realize that something is wrong it is too late to implement corrective actions and get the project back on track.

Here’s a quick health check that you can carry out on your project. Run through these 6 points and see if your project is at risk from failing.

1. You Don’t Have A Project Plan

You do have a detailed project task list, don’t you? A task list forms the foundation of your project schedule, and this is critical so that everyone knows what they need to be working on when. Each task should have a designated owner. Having one person responsible for a task, even if several people end up working on it, ensures that it doesn’t slip through the cracks as somebody else’s problem. Continue reading Why Your Project Might be Failing

The Business Plan versus the Strategic Plan

By Charles A. “Chip” Brethen
Quite often the two terms, Business Plan and Strategic Plan, are used interchangeably, but they are not interchangeable to the professional. Occasionally, I find myself trying to keep from misusing the terms. An example might be the interchangeability of terms like goals and objectives and the confusion derived from their use or misuse. It is important to define terms and make sure that everyone involved is speaking the same language. Continue reading The Business Plan versus the Strategic Plan