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The ideal sequence for building a schedule in MS Project

There is only one best order in which to build an IKEA PAX wardrobe closet or LEGO Police Station with your son or nephew, WITHOUT:

  • Losing costly time
  • Having to do things over
  • Breaking things
  • Getting frustrated
  • Throwing things out of the window out of frustration
  • Bending in difficult turns to squeeze something in between


Luckily we know what the ideal sequence for building a schedule in MS Project is.
When setting up a project schedule you first need to determine the objective of the project and the major milestones (delivery dates) your project must deliver. Once you have done this, you already have some very valuable information to report to your stakeholders in a frequent manner. Achieving this first step is your learning objective in our e-course Maturity Level 1 about Milestones and Project Health. Perhaps this seems like only a fraction of what you want to do, but this is what we will start with, because this is the first thing your manager or stakeholders will be interested in. For you this is the ‘low-hanging-fruit’, that you can deliver quite fast and easily. Too many times, we see that people wait months until they can deliver the schedule’s ‘whole shebang’. Why? If you can start next week by delivering the first 20% (a schedule showing only high-level delivery dates).

For more detailed information about the content of this first course (Milestones and Project Health), click HERE.

In level 2 to 5, the courses prepare you for a more advanced schedule in MS Project. Below you can find a brief introduction of the content of the following levels. Click on the links below for a more detailed description of the course content and how you can benefit:

In Level 2, the project is broken down into major components leading up to the objective: the main deliverables. An outline of all the project’s deliverables is called a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS). This PBS results in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which shows the work required to produce the deliverables (PBS) and reach these milestones. The WBS are thus the tasks.

In Level 3, you will find your project’s critical path and learn all about the tricks how to shorten your project’s total duration. Maturity Level 3 is all about creating a robust and reliable network of linked tasks, that does all calculations for your milestones’ expected delivery dates automatically.

In Level 4, we will add resources to your schedule so your project’s duration will be calculated based on the availability of the project team. This will lead to better estimates and better insights in how your limited resource availability might jeopardize your deadlines. From this step we will be talking about the resource critical path.

In Level 5, we will add rates to the resources and we will also consider other resource types as these will drive the costs of your project. These costs will be compared to your baseline and your project budget. Also, you will be able to explain and use the concept of earned value management within your project, which is a technique that looks at your progress to-date and predicts the earned value and costs at the end of the project.

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