Microsoft Project 2013 Tutorial – Scheduling

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In this video, discover the different factors that affect the schedules of various tasks and resources in Microsoft Project 2013.

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Video Transcription:

Toby: Hello again and welcome back to our course on Project 2013. In this section we’re going to start to look at scheduling which is probably the fundamental aspect of Microsoft Project 2013 for most people. And what we mean by scheduling is to take all of the information we’ve got about our project and the tasks in it, and coming up with a sequence of events that satisfies all sorts of criteria. Even if we don’t have an end date in mind, let’s take our building project for example. If we’re not specifically aiming at an end date, when we start it will normally be the case that we’ll want to get the job finished as quickly as possible. If you’re building houses, it’s obviously a high priority to get those houses on the market, sold, and moving on to your next job as quickly as you can. So what scheduling is about is taking a load of facts and producing a working schedule that makes best use of the resources available and gets the job done in a timely manner. So let me talk first about some of the key factors that come into play when we’re scheduling, and let’s start with resources.

Whatever sort of project you’re working on there will be limitations on resources. If you look at our house build example which is still pretty straightforward, if you look at this row here, the Build walls task, we have a brick layer allocated. Now if I had two or three brick layers maybe I could get the building of those walls done more quickly. But if I really have only one or I’ve got two, then it really is going to constrain you quickly I can do some parts of the job. Having said that, putting just dozens and dozens of brick layers on won’t necessarily reduce the time taken to build walls proportionally. There’s a balance. There’s an ideal number. And sometimes other factors will come in when it comes to the availability of resources. For instance, if I wanted to get those walls built more quickly, I might put my brick layer on overtime pay, but then obviously that’s going to increase the cost of building the house. So resource availability itself is quite a complex issue. If you look at the question of bricks for example, then assuming that we’ve got a good supply for bricks, the number of bricks available isn’t generally going to be a constraint as such, but it is important that the bricks are available on site by the date that we need to start using them.

Another very important factor in scheduling is the presence of dependencies. So for example, at the moment we’ve got a pretty straightforward dependency between building walls and fitting windows and door, and that is that we can’t start fitting the windows and doors until we’ve built the walls. That’s actually a bit over simplistic and we’re going to review that dependency later on. But it’s certainly true that you can’t start fitting any windows and doors until you’ve done a certain amount of brick work. You couldn’t start fitting the windows and doors at the same moment that you started building the walls because you’d have no walls to fit the windows and doors to. So dependencies can play an important part as well.

Another factor that we haven’t looked at, at all yet but which we’ll come to in a later section is what are generally referred to as constraints. Within a project you may, for example, have a constraint whereby a certain task has to be finished by a certain date or some external factor which occurs at or by a certain date will affect your project. When this happens, you may have one or more tasks with constraints on them.

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