Project Management

How to reuse a Microsoft Project 2010 schedule

By reusing schedules for similar projects, you have a better chance of avoiding some of the missteps from the previous project.

Your successful SAP implementation, PeopleSoft ERP project, or custom web development project from a few years ago has branded you as a project management Zen master, and you have been awarded another "opportunity" to manage a similar project. Since you keep your archive of project materials and project schedules, developing a similar schedule for the new project should be as simple as changing the project name on the .MPP file. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

The previous project schedule has baseline data from years ago. Project tasks are hopefully marked 100% complete. Project actual hours, duration, and costs are entered against the tasks, and your project resource sheet contains people who are no longer involved in the project.

This tutorial on how to reuse an existing Microsoft Project 2010 schedule should be helpful to consultants who move from engagement to engagement across multiple companies and to corporate IT managers, who will likely move into other projects where they will need to replicate the success of past projects.

Step 1: Clear the project baseline

  1. Select Project | Set Baseline | Clear Baseline.
  2. In the Clear Baseline dialog box, click OK to clear the project baseline for the entire project (Figure A).
Figure A

Step 2: Clear the project resources from assigned tasks

  1. Select View | Resource Sheet.
  2. Select all the releases and click Delete

You may also consider replacing the names with a specific project role so you can replace those names in the future.

Step 3: Set Task 0 summary task to zero percent

If you are not using an overall summary task for your project, you can also:

  1. Select all the tasks in the project schedule.
  2. Select the Task menu | Mark On Track | Update Tasks item.
  3. Set to % Complete to 0 and click OK (Figure B).
Figure B

Step 4: Remove task constraints and deadlines

  1. Select all the tasks in the project schedule.
  2. Select Task menu | Information.
  3. Set the Constraint Type to As Soon As Possible and click OK (Figure C).
Figure C

To remove any deadlines, add the Deadline column to your current view, filter on the deadline dates, and remove the Date value from the deadline column.

Step 5: Clean up specific tasks

The next step is to remove any tasks that are not specific to the current project. If there are tasks that you may want to use but don't want to include in the schedule at this time, use Microsoft Project 2010's Inactivate Task feature to exclude the task for now.

Step 6: Review task predecessors

As you review the tasks in the schedule, remove task predecessors that no longer make sense for the given project. In your previous project, you may have added predecessors to balance resources or reprioritize work. It shouldn't take too long to identify the valid task groups that need predecessors.

Step 7: Set the new project start date

With the legacy values removed, the next step is to reset the project start date.

  1. Select Project menu | Project Information.
  2. Enter a new Start Date and click OK (Figure D).
Figure D

Step 8: Continue schedule development based on your new project's scope

You've successfully reset the project schedule and have a proven-in-practice template that can be further adjusted to meet the current project needs. You should continue adding tasks, adjusting durations, and developing the project schedule.

Summary

Project asset reuse is a project manager's Swiss Army knife. Project schedules in particular contain the intellectual capital of all the lessons learned, including notes about stressful meetings and project delays. By reusing schedules for similar projects, you have a better chance of avoiding some of the pitfalls encountered in the previous project. If you tracked actuals, you also have a repository for better duration estimation for your new project. Happy scheduling!

About

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com.

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