D.B. Crane and Associates, Inc.

Project Management Training and Consulting

Microsoft® Project Tips:


Working with Unique ID Numbers:

The Task Numbers (as well as the resource numbers) are dynamic. If the user inserts, deletes or moves tasks, the Standard ID numbers associated with tasks below that spot in the list will change. This can be problematic as tasks are often referred to in conversations and written communications by their ID number. In addition, the ID numbers can be used for recording Dependency relationships in a rows and columns style view.

There is another ID number that is not, by default, shown on any of the Views. It is the Unique ID. This is a number that the software assigns to each new task as it is added to the file and then never changes. It is much like a data base record number. If a task is deleted, its Unique ID is put into a reserved category, for that file, and not reissued in it.

To show this number on the screen:

1.   Right click on the column (field) heading that you’d like to insert the Unique ID number column to the left of.

2.   Left click on Insert Column…

Menu for setting up unique ID numbers, Insert Menu, in Microsoft Project

3.   From the Column Definition Option Box, use the Field Name, Pop Down Button to scroll to Unique ID. Click on it to select it and then click OK.

Column Definition Menu with Field Name as Unique ID

4.   The Unique ID column (field) has now been added to the View. Note in the sample, that the Unique and Standard ID’s do not match. This is an example of a file that has had a great deal of inserting, deleting and other restructuring of the task display order.

Microsoft Project view of Unique ID Column

Creating A Simplified Gantt Chart For Day To Day Management:

For many, the traditional Gantt chart is a bit heavy in the “visual noise” department. Also, with its Summary Tasks and indented outline it’s a combination management reporting and daily/weekly task management chart. This tip will show you how to create a chart that displays only the detail tasks, sorts them by start and finish dates and displays the Critical Path as red bars.

1.   With the Gantt Chart on the screen, right click in a blank spot in the graphics area (not on top of a bar, line or text).

2.   From the Popup Menu, select Gantt Chart Wizard. Note, the Wizard can also be selected from the Tool Bar or the Format Menu.

Menu Selection in Microsoft Project for Gantt Chart Wizard ...

3.   In the “Welcome…” box, click Next.

Gantt Chart Wizard Start Up screen in Microsoft Project

4.   In the “What kind of information… in your Gantt bars?” box, click the radio button for Critical path the display the Critical Path task bars in red. Click Next.

Gantt Chart Wizard Display Selection Menu to select - Standard, Critical Path, Baseline, Other or Custom Gantt Chart

5.   In the “What kind of information… with your Gantt bars?” box, click the Radio Button for none. This will remove the text (Resource names) from the chart and make it easier to see the schedule. Click Next.

Gantt Chart Wizard Display Selection Menu for Gantt Bars to select - Resources and Dates, Resources, Dates, None or Custom Task Information

6.   In the “Do you want to show link lines…? box, click the Radio Button for No. The Link Lines (a.k.a. Dependency Lines) often like a spider web and contribute to the “visual noise.” They can be quickly replaced by right clicking the Gantt Chart, selecting Layout and clicking the line style of your choice.

Gantt Chart Wizard Display: Do you want to show link lines? Yes or No.

7.   In the “Congratulations” box click Format It.

Gantt Chart Wizard Congratulations Window. You are now ready to Format your Gantt Chart.

8.   In the “Your Gantt Chart is finished” box click Exit Wizard.

Gantt Chart Wizard Finished. For more information you can search help for Gantt Chart. Exit Wizard Choice.

9.   Your Gantt Chart should like similar to the sample with the Critical Path bars displayed in red, the Link Lines and Resource Names no longer shown. There are however a few more steps to finishing up the chart. The Summary bars are still shown and we’d like to remove them so that this chart only shows detail level tasks.

Microsoft Project Gantt Chart sample with the Critical Path bars displayed in red, while the Link Lines and Resource Names no longer shown. The Summary bars are still shown but we want this chart to only shows detail level tasks.

10.   From the Main Menu select Tools and from the drop down menu, Options.

11.   In Options, select the View Tab. At the bottom of the View Tab, in the section labeled “Outline options for (file name),” remove all the check marks then click OK. This will remove the indented outline and Summary Tasks for the view that is currently on the screen (your Gantt Chart). Note, it will only effect this one view, no others. The tasks in the chart are still grouped (sorted) by their outline (WBS) categories and Standard ID numbers. The final step is to re-sort the chart so that the tasks are sorted by their start dates first and finish dates second.

Options Selection Window in Microsoft Project.  Selected View Tab then “Outline options for .....”. We remove all the check marks then click OK to remove the indented outline and Summary Tasks for the view that is currently on Gantt Chart.

12.   From the Main Menu, select Project and Sort. From the Sort fly out menu select Sort by…

Drop down menu for Project and Sort by A to Z

13.   In the Sort Option Box, using the pop down buttons, change the first level sort from ID to Start. Select Finish for the “Then by” secondary sort. As a final step remove the check mark for “Keep outline structure.”

Sorting Window to sort by Start Column, Ascending, and Finish Column Ascending

14.   Your final product should look similar to this sample. Only the detail level tasks are shown and they are sorted (arranged) by the start and finish dates. This sort order provides a stair step or waterfall arrangement. Standard MS Project filters such as Critical, to show only the Critical Path tasks in the view, can now be applied. Another that works well with this view is Date Range, to show only the tasks that are occurring in a date period such as the next two weeks.

Final Gantt Chart View in Microsoft Project with just detail level tasks shown and sorted by the start and finish dates.

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