Once you’ve identified the tasks that comprise a project, the next step is figuring out how many hours or days of work those tasks entail—and the length of time to allocate for that work. For example, you need to know how long it takes to repair and paint the front of a ’67 Mustang Fastback to figure out whether you can hide the evidence before your parents get home from vacation.
In Project, as in life, building good relationships is a key to success. When you define relationships between tasks in a Project file—called task dependencies or task links—the program calculates task start and finish dates based on those relationships. Some tasks have to finish before others can start. For example, the law of gravity requires that you finish a building’s foundation before you start pouring the concrete for the first floor’s walls. With all the task dependencies in place, tasks nestle into sequence, and you can finally see the entire project schedule from the start date for the first task to the finish date of the last task. Placing tasks in sequence is what turns a task list into a project schedule.
In this chapter, you’ll learn different ways to estimate time and duration, how to improve estimates, and how to avoid estimation landmines. You’ll also learn how to create spreadsheets for collecting estimated numbers from team members, and how to import those numbers into Microsoft Project.
Once your Project file includes tasks with estimated values, you can ...