Best Practices for Using Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is a project management software that has been in use since 1984. It is widely used by businesses of all sizes to manage tasks, resources, and schedules. As with any software, there are best practices that can help users get the most out of it. In this article, we will explore some of the best practices for using Microsoft Project.

Creating a Project Plan

The first step in using Microsoft Project is to create a project plan. This involves defining the project scope, setting objectives, and creating a timeline. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating a project plan:

Define the Project Scope

Defining the project scope is one of the most important steps in creating a project plan. It involves identifying the objectives, deliverables, and constraints of the project. This information should be captured in the project charter, which serves as a guiding document throughout the project.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Once the project scope has been defined, it is time to create a work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS is a hierarchical decomposition of the project into smaller, more manageable components. It helps to break down complex projects into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Task Name Duration Start Finish
Project Planning 10 days Mon 1/3/22 Fri 1/14/22
Defining Project Scope 2 days Mon 1/3/22 Tues 1/4/22
Creating WBS 2 days Wed 1/5/22 Thurs 1/6/22
Resource Allocation 6 days Fri 1/7/22 Fri 1/14/22

Identify Project Risks

Identifying project risks is an important part of creating a project plan. It involves identifying potential problems that could impact the project and developing strategies to mitigate those risks.

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” - Denis Waitley

Tracking Progress

Once the project plan has been created, it’s time to start tracking progress. This involves updating the project schedule, monitoring progress against milestones, and communicating with stakeholders. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when tracking progress:

Update Task Status

Updating task status is a crucial part of tracking progress. It involves marking tasks as complete, updating the percentage of completion for in-progress tasks, and adding notes about any issues or delays.

  • Use the percent complete field to indicate the progress made on a task.
  • Use the actual start and actual finish fields to record the actual dates when work started and finished on a task.
  • Use the notes field to provide additional information about a task.

Monitor Progress Against Milestones

Milestones are key points in the project timeline that mark the completion of a significant phase or deliverable. Monitoring progress against milestones is important to ensure that the project stays on track.

  • Create milestones to mark key points in the project timeline.
  • Use the milestone view to see all the milestones in the project.

Communicate with Stakeholders

Effective communication is essential to the success of any project. It involves keeping stakeholders informed of progress, addressing concerns and issues, and soliciting feedback.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” - James Humes

Managing Resources

Managing resources is an important part of project management. This involves assigning tasks to team members, tracking resource availability and utilization, and managing costs. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when managing resources:

Assign Tasks to Team Members

Assigning tasks to team members is an important part of managing resources. It involves identifying the skills required for each task, matching tasks with team members who have the necessary skills, and communicating the assignments to the team.

  • Use the resource sheet to view and manage resource assignments.
  • Use the Gantt chart to see how tasks are assigned to team members.

Track Resource Availability and Utilization

Tracking resource availability and utilization is important to ensure that resources are used effectively. It involves monitoring resource availability, identifying resource conflicts, and resolving those conflicts.

  • Use the resource usage view to see how resources are being used.
  • Use the resource graph to see how resource availability changes over time.

Manage Costs

Managing costs is an important part of project management. It involves estimating costs, tracking actual expenses, and ensuring that the project stays within budget.

  • Use the cost table to view and manage project costs.
  • Use the earned value analysis to track project performance againstbudget and schedule.

Use Resource Pools

Resource pools allow you to share resources across multiple projects. This can help to optimize resource utilization and reduce costs.

“It’s not the resources you lack, it’s your resourcefulness.” - Tony Robbins


Microsoft Project is a powerful project management tool that can help businesses of all sizes manage tasks, resources, and schedules. By following these best practices, users can get the most out of the software and improve their project management processes. Remember to define the project scope, create a work breakdown structure, identify project risks, update task status, monitor progress against milestones, communicate with stakeholders, assign tasks to team members, track resource availability and utilization, manage costs, and use resource pools. With these best practices in mind, users can successfully manage their projects from start to finish.