O'Reilly logo
live online training icon Live Online training

Building a Microsoft Project Schedule

Best practices for efficient and strategic project management

Cindy Lewis

Organizations create projects to implement changes, deliver value, and map to strategic goals. Projects are complex because they involve many things such as time, activities, people, and money. Microsoft Project is a powerful scheduling tool that can coordinate all of these things and improve your communication with others. Leveraging the powerful features of Microsoft Project can make you more efficient, keep you on top of potential scheduling issues, and help you achieve your project goals.

This training will make sure you build your schedules strategically and efficiently. You will receive hands-on experience building a complete project schedule using either attendee exercises or working with your own personal project details. A successful schedule will estimate delivery dates of tasks, highlight your critical path, account for corporate holidays, keep track of who is working on what, and help you communicate your plan to others. Cindy Lewis has worked with thousands of companies and will provide the business reasons and stories behind features to ensure you leave with practical knowledge to fortify your project management portfolio.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • Master the scheduling engine and its benefits
  • Build an organized task list with milestones and task connections
  • Create a team of resources and give the resources task assignments
  • Apply best practices when building your schedule
  • Learn about the power of incorporating deadlines in your schedule to plan against a goal
  • Navigate features in Project to easily obtain the information you need in helpful layouts
  • Ensure your schedule is ready for internal approval and ongoing management of the project

This training course is for you because...

  • For beginning Microsoft Project users who want to learn how to build schedules.
  • Schedulers, project managers, or anyone with an interest in Microsoft Project.
  • Experienced users can fine-tune their skills to become more efficient and broaden their project management skills.
  • Project Management Institute (PMI®) credential holders who need to earn professional development units (PDUs) as part of their continuing certification requirements (CCR). This course will count as Technical Project Management skills in the PMI Talent Triangle®.


Course Set-up

Attendees will need one of the following versions of Microsoft Project: - Project 2013, 2016, 2019 (standard or professional) - Project Online Professional (subscription version) - Project Online Premium (subscription version) - To confirm your software version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEaIwfxkdKg - Note: 2010 users may also attend but some features will not be available.

This course will use the desktop features of Microsoft Project. Project Online features will not be covered. - To confirm you are running in computer mode (Professional version only) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyH5xEymWrM&t=11s

Recommended Follow-up

About your instructor

  • Cindy Lewis is a project management consultant and trainer with 4 Pillars of Success®, her consultancy business. She travels frequently to help clients around the world gain business value and is also a sought-after speaker who presents on a variety of topics related to project management.

    Cindy is a multiyear recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award, with specific expertise in Microsoft Project and Project Online. She is also a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT).

    In addition, Cindy is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI). She earned her MBA degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and her Bachelor's degree from WMU in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

    To stay current with the latest industry developments and explore new ideas, Cindy attends as many professional events and conferences as she can. She is active in her local chapter of the PMI and enjoys both sharing her knowledge with the project management community and helping others gain satisfaction in what they do.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Segment 1 - Learning about Microsoft Project Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will set expectations for the class, help students configure Microsoft Project for training, provide the benefits of Microsoft Project, demonstrate the scheduling engine, and illustrate features to communicate with others.
  • Participants will learn the goals for the class and the benefits of Microsoft Project as a scheduling tool.
  • Exercise – Configure Microsoft Project, use a sample project to see the scheduling engine at work, practice switching between common views.

Segment 2 - Setting Preferred Options Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will discuss how to set preferred schedule and program options to tailor the software.
  • Participants will learn which options are schedule specific and which options apply to the entire program.
  • Exercise – Modify options for a schedule.

Segment 3 – Configuring the Corporate Calendar Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will demonstrate how to enter exceptions into the corporate calendar and how to change working hours.
  • Participants will learn how to tailor the corporate calendar to match their organization.
  • Exercise – Enter public holidays and modify working hours.

Break (10 min)

Segment 4 – Creating a Multi-Level Task List Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will demonstrate how to enter tasks, milestones, and summary tasks. Tasks will be grouped into multi-levels and rearranged to be more logical. Duration estimates will be included with the tasks.
  • Participants will learn how to build a multi-level task list that is in their preferred order and how to enter task estimates.
  • Exercise – Enter multiple types of tasks and make corrections to a task list. Use outline features to organize the task list. Enter task estimates.

Segment 5 – Avoiding Accidental Restrictions Length (5 min)

  • Instructor will discuss and demonstrate how constraints are entered and provide tips to avoid accidentally constraining the schedule and how to remove constraints.
  • Participants will learn what constraints are and how they impact the scheduling engine.
  • Exercise –Remove unneeded constraints.

Segment 6 – Setting Task Dependencies Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will discuss and demonstrate all of the constraint types and how they create relationships between tasks.
  • Participants will learn how to quickly create new task links and modify existing links.
  • Exercise – Create links between tasks and observe calculations.
  • Additional Q&A Time

Break (10 min)

Segment 7 – Entering deadlines in the schedule Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will illustrate how to enter deadlines and what happens when a deadline is missed.
  • Participants will learn the importance of entering their corporate deadlines in a schedule and how the are automatically monitored.
  • Exercise – Entering deadlines and missing a deadline to generate notifications.

Segment 8 – Building a Resource List & Resource Assignments Length (10 min)

  • Instructor will demonstrate how to enter work resources, how to provide key resource properties and how to quickly assign resources to tasks.
  • Participants will learn how to build and configure their resource list.
  • Exercise – Entering and assigning resources.
  • Additional Q&A Time (10 min)