Faith Weber's Questions on MS Project

Subject: Faith Weber's Questions on MS Project
From: "George F. Hayhoe III" <george -dot- hayhoe -at- SRS -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 09:29:00 -0400

I'm not sure that I undertand the problem that Faith Weber identified in
her post about Microsoft Project. Documentation projects are like any other
projects--they involve tasks, dependencies, resources, schedules, and
milestones. Any project management software capable of handling relatively
complex projects should be capable of managing the typical documentation

Was Faith saying that Project can't break a task down into subtasks? That's
true--you have to elevate subtasks to the task level and create the
appropriate dependencies. (More complex project management software
packages can handle subtasks, but they impose a lot of other overhead in
terms of learning curve.)

It sounds to me like she needs to create three tasks: Draft writing--phase
1, Lag time, and Draft writing--phase 2.

She could handle the three week lag time in a couple of ways.

If it involves a review external to her organization, she could schedule it
as a review task with a three-week duration, assigned to the resource
"Customer" (or some such).

If it's an interruption to work on another project, she could schedule it
as an interruption task with a three-week duration, assigned to the
resource "Other Project."

Or she could eliminate the lag time as a task and simply schedule the start
date of the second phase of draft-writing for three weeks following
completion of the first phase. This is admittedly tricky--Project doesn't
really like constraints placed on start and end dates, and it seems to
change or eliminate the constraints apparently without any notice,
especially if you use the leveling feature.

I found several things very helpful in connection with implementing Project
in my group. The first was a two-day project management course that
everyone in my section was invited to take. It really explained project
management concepts that were a foreign language to me prior to that point.
Second was a half-day class on getting started with Project. It showed me
how to navigate through the software, though the instructor didn't
understand project management concepts and thus didn't understand how to
USE Project even though he knew how to OPERATE it (an important
distinction!). Finally, I have the good fortune to have a Project guru
sitting two cubes away from me. He's been invaluable any time I've had a

I'd highly recommend that documentation project managers and project
leaders tap the resources of their organizations' project management
experts. They'll be flattered that you asked, and they may learn something
about documentation in turn--not a bad trade-off!

Hope this is helpful.

--George Hayhoe (george -dot- hayhoe -at- srs -dot- gov)
Assistant to the President for Recognition Programs, STC

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