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Glossary

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

Project Learning Limited

This glossary, containing over 400 keyword definitions that relate Microsoft Project and Project Management, is an excerpt from Project Companion—a free download from Project Learning Limited.

A

Accrual method

Costs for work and fixed costs against tasks in Microsoft Project can vary how they are accrued against time. For example, $1,000 for a 10 day task could be accrued at:

  • Start - $1,000 on day one.

  • End - $1,000 on day ten.

  • Prorated - $100 each day.

Actual Bars

Bars on a Gantt chart drawn from the actual start to complete through for tasks in progress and to actual finish for those that have been completed.

Actual Cost (Assignment)

Costs incurred for work already performed by a resource on a task. This value can be calculated by Microsoft Project or entered by the user.

Actual Cost (Resource)

For all assigned tasks, this value shows the sum of costs incurred for the work already performed by a resource.

Actual Cost (Task)

Costs for work already performed by all resources on a task, plus any other actual costs for the task. This value can be calculated by Microsoft Project or entered by the user.

Actual Duration

Until the project is progressed, this value is 0. If an Actual Start and Actual Finish are present for the task, this value will be the duration between them. If no actual finish is present, it is a value entered by the user, or calculated around the task's percent complete.

Actual Start

The date (and optionally time) that the task or assignment commenced. Can be entered (over the default of NA) or calculated from an entered actual finish or an entered percent complete value.

Actual Finish

The date (and optionally time) that the task or assignment was completed. Can be entered (over the default of NA) or calculated from an entered percent complete value of 100%.

Actual Work (Assignment)

Until the project is tracked with actuals, this value is 0. When actual work information for tasks or assignments is added, this value will increase. It will also increase, relative to the task's percent complete value if the updating task status updates resource status option is selected.

Actual Work (Resource)

The amount of work that has already been done against the assignments for a resource. It is a calculated value.

Actual Work (Task)

The amount of work that has already been done against a task. This value can be calculated by Microsoft Project or entered by the user.

ACWP

Within earned value analysis, the Actual Cost of Work Performed. This field shows actual costs incurred for work and any fixed costs for tasks, up to the project status date or its current date. When compared to BCWP, cost variance values (CV) can be determined.

Aggregation

The summing up of resource demands over time. If a resource is scheduled to work on two tasks simultaneously, aggregation will add up the units assigned to the tasks per time unit and display the total units assigned - in this case two (or 200%). If this number exceeds the resource's max units, then a resource conflict may ensue.

ALAP

Tasks will be scheduled to finish on their late finish date rather than their early finish date (as with ASAP). This can be set on a task-by-task basis and it is the default setting when projects are scheduled from a finish date (established within the Project Information dialog box).

Analysis Toolbar

Provides shortcuts to additional analysis functions and modules.

ASAP

By default, tasks are scheduled to commence as soon as they possibly can. This is either on the project start date or as soon as their predecessors have been completed. This can be set on a task-by-task basis and it is the default setting when projects are scheduled from a start date (established within the Project Information dialog box).

Assign Resources Dialog

A dialog box to quickly create assignments. Invoked by the Assign Resources button. Only shows assigned units values and not assigned work. Can be used for assignment drag and drop. For more sophisticated assignments, use the task entry view.

Assigned Units

The rate at which the resource will perform an assignment. Usually at a flat rate (100% being the default), units can be varied with a contoured assignment. Units assigned should not exceed the max units of resource availability. Assigned units is a variable within the scheduling formula.

Assigned Work

Work (and hence time) assigned to calculate the duration of an assignment. Part of the scheduling formula, it is calculated as the total work for the assignment less any overtime work. If only one resource is assigned to a task, the assigned work and the total work are the same.

Assignment Delay

To make an assignment commence later than the scheduled start of a task (or any other assignments against that task), an assignment delay can be manually applied. Assignment delays can not be cleared by resource leveling.

Assignment Finish

The date (and time) at which assigned work will be completed by.

Assignment Start

The date (and time) at which an assignment can commence. Calculated as the task's (that the assignment is against) scheduled start plus any assignment delay or leveling delay values.

Assignment Drag and Drop

A method to quickly create assignments by dragging a resource from the assign resources dialog to a task on a row of a table by using the Assign Resource cursor. Multiple assignments will use the Assign Multiple Resources cursor.

Assignment Replacement

The process where an assignment for one resource is swapped with another resource. When this is accomplished, check that the assigned work and assigned units values are appropriate to the new assignment.

Assignments

An assignment is the relationship between a task and a resource to perform the task. This assignment creates measurable work - one of the three project resources.

AutoFilter

AutoFilters are a quick and easy way to select relevant information within one of Microsoft Project's tables. They are turned on and turned off with AutoFilter button on the formatting toolbar. Available to each field within the table, they provide selections based upon the field's values as depicted in the table. Global Filters can be created by saving AutoFilter criteria.

Autolink

If tasks are cut or copied, their links may be re-established when pasted if the Autolink option is selected. This also affects when tasks are dragged and dropped or inserted within a sequence of already-linked tasks. This check box can be selected or cleared within the Schedule tab of the Options dialog box (Tools..Options).

Automatic Leveling

The mechanism by which a project's resource assignments undergo leveling every time a change is made to the tasks/resources/assignments or manually invoked by using the Level Now button within the Resource Leveling dialog box.

Automatic Scheduling

The mechanism by which a project's schedule (calculated with critical path analysis) is recalculated every time a change is made. The check box allows automatic scheduling to be selected or cleared within the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box. Manual scheduling can be activated by pressing the F9 key.

Automatic Updating

Options (within the Update Project dialog box) to update work as complete through or reschedule uncompleted work to start based around the project's current date or the project's status date.

Availability Profile

Dates when a resource is available to a project at a specific unit of availability. For example; a technical specialist may only be available from March 1 through March 31 at 50% of their available time, or three technicians are available in May, two from July to August and four from the beginning of September. Established within the resource information dialog.

B

BAC

Within earned value analysis, the budget at completion value for a task is equivalent to its baseline cost.

Backward Pass

A calculation within critical path analysis that determines the late start and late finish dates for each task in the project, along with slack (float) values.

Bar (Task)

A patterned bar on a Gantt chart representing the duration and schedule of a task.

Bar Styles

A way to format a Gantt chart's bars to emphasize attributes including; critical tasks, milestones, summary tasks, and slack. Text can also be added to the bars. One set of styles is associated with each chart-type view. The view's parameters (including bar styles) are saved with the current project document. Set by the Format..Bar Styles command or fast-formatted using the Gantt Chart Wizard.

Base Calendar

A calendar that specifies shift patterns of working time and non working time for a project or set of resources. A base calendar differs from a resource calendar, which specifies working and nonworking time for an individual resource.

Baseline

A copy of project information prior to updating a project with progress. When a baseline is created, current schedule values are copied into their relative baseline ones:

  • Tasks (start and finish dates, duration, work, cost, splits).

  • Resources (work, cost).

  • Assignments (start and finish dates, work, cost).

  • Timephased work and cost for tasks, resources and assignments.

This provides a clear comparison about the status of the project; if it is meeting its baseline or not. Created with the command: Tools..Tracking..Save Baseline. Interim baselines can also be created to assist in what-if? scenarios.

Baseline Bars

Bars on a Gantt chart depicting the baseline start and finish dates for tasks.

Baseline Cost (Task)

At the point of baseline creation, the current cost for the task (work related costs + fixed costs).

Baseline Duration (Task)

The task's current duration, at the point of baseline creation.

Baseline Start (Task)

The scheduled start of tasks at the point of baseline creation.

Baseline Finish (Task)

The scheduled finish of tasks at the point of baseline creation.

Baseline Work (Resource)

At the point of baseline creation, the total work against all assignments for a specific resource.

Baseline Work (Task)

At the point of baseline creation, the current work for the task.

BCWP

Within earned value analysis, the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (also called earned value). A measure of the cost of work performed up to the status date or the current date. It indicates how much of the budget should have been spent, in view of the amount of work done so far, and the baseline cost for the tasks and assignments that have been progressed. Microsoft Project calculates it as the task's baseline cost multiplied by percent complete. It can be compared to ACWP to determine CV (cost variance) values and to BCWS to determine SV (schedule variance values).

BCWS

Within earned value analysis, the Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled. How much needs to be spent to complete all the tasks in the project. Equivalent to the project's baseline cost.

Bottom-Up Planning

A method for creating a project's outline by first considering the tasks and milestones that are required prior to defining the phases that will summarize the detail. See also .

Box Styles

Formatting options within the network diagram to show specific task fields. These styles can be customized and applied against different task attributes: critical, non-critical, summary tasks, milestones and so on.

Build Team From Enterprise

The Build Team From Enterprise dialog box provides a convenient way to create a resource pool for a project from resources within the enterprise resource pool. Placeholder resources within the local pool can be replaced by real people within the enterprise pool. When building the team, filters can be applied to select suitable resources, for example possessing a suitable skill, or being at a particular level of the Resource Breakdown Structure.

C

Calculated Field

A custom field in which the contents display values relative to a formula or equation. These formulae can be copied in from other project files or from GLOBAL.MPT. Calculated fields can be used to:

  • Show cost / interim baseline cost performance.

  • Compare dates to show slippage values.

  • Display graphical indicators instead of numeric values.

Enterprise fields can also contain calculated values.

Calendar

A definition of working time and non working time (in shift patterns) that can be applied to individual resources working on the project, or to the project and the tasks within it. The default calendar is called a base calendar. Calendars are edited or created within the Change Working Time dialog box (Tools..Change Working Time). The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Calendar View

Project tasks are displayed in a workplanner format, with task bars spanning the days or weeks on which the tasks are scheduled. Tasks can also be created and edited here with care.

Cause-And-Effect Diagram

A brainstorming technique where project risks are analyzed by the project team. Each risk is considered, along with the actions or outcomes that would cause the risk to manifest.

Can Level

Applying to resources, a switch (Yes/No) to allow the chosen resource to be a part of the leveling process.

Cell

An intersection of a row and a column within a table, a cell contains a field about a specific object (task, resource or assignment).

Cell Drag and Drop

A mechanism to move (dependant upon its check box being selected or cleared within the Edit tab of the Options dialog box) either:

  • A cell's contents to a different cell.

  • Or an entire object task / resource to a different row of a table, having first selected a row heading.

Change Controls

Changes (often from the sponsor) that affect the project. Usually impacting the project's objectives, they can be compared to the agreed client requirements definition / project requirements definition to decide upon their inclusion or exclusion, together with the impact that they will have. May require a revision to the project's baseline.

Chart

A type of view containing a table to the left and a timescale to the right. Delineated by a divider bar. Types of chart include:

  • Gantt chart

  • Resource usage

  • Task usage

Circular Relationship

A network path that passes through the same node (task) twice; for example if task (C) is the successor to task (B), but C is also a predecessor to task (A), which is in turn a predecessor to task (B). Will cause an error in critical path analysis.

Client Requirements Definition

What the client / sponsor wants from the project and often a contractual obligation. Usually contains the following headings:

  • Objectives - why do it

    Scope - project boundaries

    Deliverables - what it will provide

    Constraints - conditions against the project; often in terms of time and of cost

    Dependant / driver projects - other related projects or parts of projects

    Assumptions - listed unknowns about the project

    Also referred to as a CRD or Terms of Reference (TOR).

Code

A free-format field providing additional information about the resource such as cost centre or job title. This field can be grouped and filtered upon. For more sophistication, use an outline code.

Collapsing

In a project's outline, a mechanism to hide normal tasks beneath their summary tasks, to see just relevant levels of detail. Usually achieved using the Hide Subtasks button. Can also be used to collapse by group and to collapse assignment detail (on task usage and resource usage views). See also expanding.

Column

As a part of a table, columns show field information for each task / resource / assignment in relevant cells.

Column Heading

The grey area to the top of each column. Clicking on a column heading selects the entire column, highlighting its field for each task or resource. Double-clicking on the column heading allows a change of field or a different title for the column.

Combination View

A view that contains two views. The view in the lower pane shows detailed information about the tasks or resources selected within the upper pane. The 'Task Entry' view (for example) shows a Gantt chart view in the upper pane and the task form view in the lower pane. When a task is selected in the Gantt chart, the task form view displays detailed information about that task shown above. The resource allocation view is another useful combination view.

Common Resource Pool

A common resource pool contains resources; people or material resources that are to be shared between a program of multiple projects. They can take two basic forms:

  • A new project file that contains only resource information (no tasks), whereby all projects use this project's pool of common resources (recommended).

  • Use an existing project as the "pool" project, with all projects using this project's resources. With this option, all of the resources in the pool project, as well as the projects that are sharing resources with it, are combined and available to each other.

Within Microsoft Project 2002, consider the creation of an enterprise resource pool, especially when using Project Server.

Complete Through

This field indicates the progress of a task on a Gantt chart. It is the date/time that actuals have been reported up until. It is only available as a bar style.

Component

Components are the building blocks of a project document. In addition to the tasks, resources and assignments, components are used to manage the project's data. They include:

  • Views, tables, filters, groups, calendars, reports, forms, toolbars, maps, and VBA modules.

The Organizer can be used to manage components within the project document and between project documents.

Composite Project

A program file that contains one or more inserted subprojects without links to their source projects. When the composite is saved to disk, changes to the inserted projects are not reflected in their source files.

Consolidated Project

A program file that contains links to one or more subproject files. The inserted projects retain links to their source projects so that any changes to them within the consolidated file are passed on to the source file when the consolidation is saved to disk.

Contoured Assignment

An assignment where the hours are scheduled at a non-uniform rate. Microsoft Project's options include:

  • Back loaded

  • Front loaded

  • Double peak

  • Early peak

  • Late peak

  • Bell

  • Turtle

  • User-defined

All contoured assignments will take more time than a flat assignment (which is the default). Contours are displayed as timephased fields within the task usage and resource usage views.

Constraints

A scheduling protocol that establishes when a Task should happen. Constraints (which can be flexible or inflexible) are:

  • ASAP - As soon as possible (no real constraint).

  • ALAP - As late as possible.

  • FNET - Finish no earlier than.

  • SNET - Start no earlier than.

  • FNLT - Finish no later than.

  • SNLT - Start no later than.

  • MFO - Must finish on.

  • MSO - Must start on.

See also: deadlines.

Cost

The total scheduled cost for a summary task, normal task, resource, or assignment or for an entire project. This is sometimes referred to as the current cost, or budget. Cost can be simply a fixed cost for a task, or it can also include costs incurred as a result of measurable work.

Cost / Use

A field that shows the cost that accrues each time a resource is used, irrespective of the work for the resource carrying out an assignment.

Cost Breakdown Structure

Used as an alternative to the WBS, the CBS is a useful way to use outline codes to group the project's tasks by cost centre. Sophisticated totals and subtotals can be created to determine how effectively the project is progressing, cost area by cost area.

Cost Objective

One of the three project objectives. A definition of the budget available (as defined within the client requirements and project requirements documents) in cost terms to complete a project and hopefully produce all the deliverables within the project's overall scope. This often becomes the project's baseline cost or BCWS and can be compared to actual costs to determine cost variances. See also time objective; quality objective.

Cost Rate Table

Defined within the resource information dialog box, resources can have a variable standard rate for the work that they will perform. Up to five rate tables can be applied, each of which can be varied over time.

Cost Variance

The difference between the baseline cost and total cost for a task, resource or assignment. If a task is in progress, its total cost is actual cost plus its remaining costs. See also CV.

Count

Specifies the incrementation of the major scale or the minor scale for the timescale of a chart. For example, if the unit is weeks, a count of 2 will show 1 increment (column) for every other week.

CPI

Within earned value analysis, the Cost Performance Index. Calculated as the ratio of budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP) and actual cost of work performed (ACWP). CPI = BCWP/ACWP. If this value is 1 then the project, summary task or task is exactly on budget. If the value is less than 1, then things are over budget; greater than 1, things are ahead of budget. See also CV.

Critical Path

The series of tasks that must be completed on time for a project to finish on schedule. Each task on the critical path is a critical task; any delay to it would delay the project's schedule.

Critical Path Analysis

A method for scheduling when tasks will happen. Comprising of a forward pass and a backward pass, it determines how quickly and how slowly the tasks can be accomplished.

Critical Task

A task that must be completed on schedule for the project to finish on time. If a critical task is delayed, the project finish date might also be delayed. A series of critical tasks makes up a project's critical path.

Cross-Project Links

Links between tasks in different projects. Usually created within a consolidated project, cross-project links make a task within one project dependant upon an external task in another project.

Crosstab Reports

Printed information about tasks and resources over a specified time period. For example, a report comprising of tasks (or resources) and assignments within the rows and periodic cost or work values in the columns. Provides similar information to a crosstab view, but with more formatting options but no data editing options.

Crosstab Views

Screen-based information about tasks and resources over a specified time period. Can be seen from a task's (task usage view) or from a resource's (resource usage view) perspective. Can show work and cost values and provides editing facilities. Similar to a crosstab report.

CTRL+Click

Holding down the CTRL (Control) key on the keyboard and clicking the left mouse button. This can be used to select more than one object when the objects are not adjacent to one another. Useful when linking tasks together with the Link Task button or removing links with the Unlink Tasks button. Can also be used in conjunction with the Task Information button to make changes to multiple tasks / resources / assignments. See also SHIFT+Click.

CTRL+DELETE

Removes the selected information within the current cell. Does not delete the entire object (task / resource) as the DELETE key can.

Current Date

The Current Date is the boundary between the past and the future. Using the PC's system date by default, it can be edited within the Project Information dialog box. Tasks between the project start date and the current date should be complete, those happening after the current date should possess remaining work. The current date display on a Gantt chart can be altered using the Gridlines dialog box (Format..Gridlines). The current date is sometimes referred to as the as-of date. See also: status date.

Custom Field

A field (for Tasks or Resources) that is user-definable. Entries can be made against: cost; date; duration; finish; flag; number; outline code; start; text. Custom fields can be simply renamed or can contain value lists. A calculated field can contain a formulaic expression and also display graphical indicators. Custom fields can be defined within the Customized Fields dialog box (Tools..Customize..Fields). Custom fields are project-specific and can be copied from project to project using the Organizer. See also Enterprise Fields.

CV

Within earned value analysis, the CV (earned value cost variance) field is calculated as BCWP - ACWP. It is the difference between how much it should have cost to achieve the current level of completion on the task and how much it has actually cost to up to the status date or the current date. A positive CV value indicates that progress against the task, summary task, project or resource is ahead of the baseline cost (under budget) and a negative value indicates that progress is currently over budget. See also CPI and cost variance.

D

Dangle

A task that either has no predecessor task or no successor task linked to it. Also known as a hanger.

Deadline

A date by which a task should ideally be complete by. This can affect the slack value for the task, but it does not impose any constraint upon the task. If a task exceeds its deadline it can create a scheduling conflict.

Default Rate

New resources can inherit a rate; standard rate for standard work and overtime rate for overtime work. This setting, within the General tab of the Options dialog box, will only apply to newly created resources in the resource pool.

Default End Time

Specifies the finish time that Microsoft Project assigns by default to tasks with a constrained finish. Usually equivalent to the end of the shift pattern for the base calendar. Defined within the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box.

Default Start Time

Specifies the start time that Microsoft Project assigns by default to tasks with a constrained start. Usually equivalent to the start of the shift pattern for the base calendar. Defined within the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box.

Delegation

When using Project Web Access with Project Server, team members can delegate their assignments to other team members. When this happens, the delegatee completes the work on that assignment. The delegator can then review and approve status and actuals on the assignment before returning updated information to the project manager to in turn update the project plan.

Deliverables

The major things that the project (or even the tasks within it) creates to meet the overall Time / Cost / Quality objectives. These are usually listed within the client requirements definition (CRD) and project requirements definition (PRD). Deliverables may also make up the upper levels of a project's product breakdown structure (PBS).

Demand Assignment

An assignment for a resource that could not be substituted by the Resource Substitution Wizard. Even if this resource has a resource conflict, the wizard can not create the substitution. See also request assignment.

Dependency Types

Microsoft Project supports four types of dependencies to link one task to another:

  • Finish-to-start dependency, in which one task can not start until another task finishes.

  • Finish-to-finish dependency, in which one task can not finish until another task finishes.

  • Start-to-start dependency, in which one task can not start until another task starts.

  • Start-to-finish dependency, in which one task can not finish until another task starts.

Dependant Project

A project (or commonly a task or milestone within a project) that has its schedule driven by a task or milestone within another project. These projects often form a consolidation, with external tasks used to provide the links.

Destination Program

The program into which data is placed when exchanging data from Microsoft Project. See also source program.

Details

Different sets of options to display sets of information within views. Primarily used in the task form; task usage; resource usage; resource graph views.

Dimmed

Options within Microsoft Project that are unavailable. This often occurs if the object is read-only or because the option is not available for the current view.

Divider Bar

The vertical divider bar separates the table and chart portions of the view. The horizontal divider bar delineates a combination view with an upper pane and a lower pane.

Divider Cursor

The cursor that changes the width of a column or the width of a part of the view, or the depth of a upper pane or lower pane of a combination view. Double-clicking on the cursor will force a best-fit of a chart to a table or to open or close a lower pane.

Drawing

A graphical image which can be embedded as an object in Gantt charts, task notes, report headers and so on.

Driver Project

A project (or commonly a task or milestone within a project) that determines the schedule of a task or milestone within another project. These projects often form a consolidation, with external tasks used to provide the links.

Drop Down

An icon indicating the existence of a list.

Duration

The total span of working time or elapsed time required to complete a task. When applied to summary tasks, it represents the amount of time between the start of the earliest subtask and the completion on the latest subtask. Duration can also be displayed at project level against a project summary task. Durations against tasks can be estimated or confirmed. If the task has assignments against it, the task's duration may be calculated according to the scheduling formula.

Duration Suffix

A suffix after the duration value to determine the time unit the duration applies to:

  • min = minute emin = elapsed minutes

  • hr = hour ehr = elapsed hours

  • day = day edays = elapsed days

  • wk = week ewk = elapsed weeks

  • mo = months emo = elapsed months

Note that the number of hours per day, hours per week and days per month values are set within the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box (Tools..Options).

E

EAC

Within earned value analysis, the estimate at completion shows the total scheduled or projected cost for a task, resource, or assignment. This is calculated as: EAC = ACWP + (BAC-BCWP)/CPI

Earned Value

A measure of the cost of work performed up to the status date or the current date. It uses baseline cost values and actual work to date to show if the actual costs incurred are on budget. It indicates how much of the baseline cost should have been spent, relative to the amount of work done so far. Earned Value is also referred to as budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP).

Earned Value Analysis

A method for determining project performance. It compares the value of the work that was planned (BCWS) with the how much work was actually earned (BCWP), with what was actually spent (ACWP). These comparisons provide invaluable information about actual conditions within the project and trends that may be developing in terms of schedule and cost performance. Earned Value Analysis is commonly abbreviated as EVA.

Early Finish

The earliest date that a task could possibly finish, based upon dates from its predecessors or successors, other constraints, any leveling delay and the duration of the task itself.

Early Start

The earliest date that a task could possibly start, based upon dates from its predecessors or successors, other constraints and any leveling delay.

Effort-Driven

Where the work on a task is shared between its assignments. When resources are assigned or removed from a task, Microsoft Project will extend or shorten the duration of the task to accommodate the additional or fewer resources applied, but it will not change the total work for the task. This is the default option for new tasks.

Elapsed Time

Time that does not take any calendar considerations into account; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Enterprise Field

A field defined within the enterprise global template. The most commonly used enterprise fields will contain enterprise outline codes or RBS values. Enterprise fields can only be created by a user with appropriate access privileges. All projects that link to the enterprise global template can use these standardized fields and apply them to tasks / resources or even projects. Enterprise field definitions can not be changed in a local project file. See also custom fields.

Enterprise Global Template

Standard program components (including views, tables and enterprise fields) can be stored within the enterprise global template to ensure that all projects within an organization adhere to standards. Unlike GLOBAL.MPT the enterprise global template is opened from within Project Server. Only a user with administrative privileges to project server can check out and change the enterprise global template. The enterprise global template should not contain any tasks or resources.

Enterprise Outline Code

Custom tags for common tasks, projects, or resources. Tasks can use these codes to define cost areas. Resources can use these codes for skill definition and to create assignments automatically using the resource substitution wizard. Only a user with administrative privileges can add or edit enterprise outline codes.

Enterprise Resource Pool

A global pool of resources that are available to work upon all projects within a program. When local resources are imported into the enterprise pool by using the resource import wizard they then become enterprise resources.

Enterprise Resources

Enterprise resources are resources that can be made available to a program of projects. They are stored within the enterprise resource pool and must be checked out of the enterprise pool (by a user with appropriate permissions) for editing of standard rates, skill codes and so on.

Enlargement Factor

A percentage value representing the width of a minor scale increment for a chart. See also size.

Entry Bar

Placed below the toolbars or within dialog boxes, the entry bar displays the current cell's contents. The ENTER and ESCAPE keys confirm or reject an entry and the F2 key provides in-cell editing.

Entry Table (Resources)

Displays basic information regarding resources, including resource group, resource units, standard rate, overtime rate, cost per resource use, accrual method, and resource code. This table is mainly used in adding resources to the project's resource pool. It is the default table within the Resource Sheet view.

Entry Table (Tasks)

Displays basic information in fields regarding tasks: ID; indicators; task name; duration; start; finish; resource names; predecessors. Mainly used to add and edit general task information. Provided by default in the Gantt chart view.

Estimated Duration

A duration for a task suffixed with a '?' to indicate that the duration is still tentative. Tasks with estimated durations can be filtered against and reported upon. They can then be confirmed by a project manager or by workgroup members.

Expanding

In a project's outline, a mechanism to show normal tasks beneath their summary tasks, to see more levels of detail. Usually achieved using the Show Subtasks button. Can also be used to expand by group and to show assignment detail (on task usage and resource usage views). See also collapsing.

External Task

A task in another project (or part of the program) that is linked to a task in the current project. This can help determine the schedule of the current project (relative to linked projects). A link between a task and an external task can be edited, but an external task itself can only be edited within its own project.

F

Field

Information about a project's tasks, resources or assignments. Fields (which may be contain entered values or be customized) include:

  • Name

  • Start / Finish

  • Work

  • Cost

File Format

Files in Microsoft Project can be saved to disk in a number of formats: .MPP (the default); .MPX (a comma delimited file - Microsoft Project 98 only); .XLS (Excel spreadsheet); .MDB (Access database). Some files (usually databases) can contain all project data. Others are normally used to export/import data using maps. A portfolio of projects can also be saved to Project Server.

File Properties

Details about a file that help identify it (such as a descriptive title, the author's name, the subject, and keywords that identify topics or other important information in the file). Properties can also be added to views and reports within the page setup dialog box.

Fill Handle

Allowing adjacent cells to be populated with the initial cell's data. Available in task usage and resource usage views and also for cells within tables.

Filter

Provides a way of selecting information meeting a filter criteria. Types of filter are:

  • Global Filters

  • Highlight filters

  • AutoFilter

Filter Criteria

The statement that specifies which tasks or resources should be displayed when the filter is applied. For example, the 'Top Level Tasks' filter has the criteria: outline level >= 1.

Filter Library

A list of all available filters, applicable to tasks or resources. Accessed by using the Project..Filtered for..More Filters command. Originally held in GLOBAL.MPT, filters are stored to the local project document once they have been accessed. Existing filters can be edited or new ones can be created within the library. In addition, saved AutoFilter criteria are saved within the filter library as new global filters.

Finish (Task)

The scheduled finish for a task.

Finish Variance

How much a task has been delayed within a project's schedule. Calculated as the difference between baseline finish and the current scheduled finish. Often referred to as slippage.

Fiscal Year

With a Fiscal Year commencing other than January, Microsoft Project displays years on the timescale using the fiscal year rather than the calendar year. For example, with April as the beginning of a fiscal year, Microsoft Project displays the year "2003" for the date March 2nd, 2004.

Fixed Consumption Rate

Upon completion of an assignment, a fixed quantity of a material resource that will have been consumed. See also variable consumption rate.

Fixed Cost

A set cost against a task that remains constant regardless of the task duration or the work performed by a resource; for example a delivery of some goods, or some work that has been subcontracted to a third party organization.

Fixed Cost Accrual

The accrual method to schedule how fixed costs will be incurred.

Fixed Duration

For a constant task duration, as assigned work is increased so will assigned units. Decrease the units and the work will correspondingly reduce.

  • Duration = Work à Units

If assigned units are greater than max units, a resource conflict will arise.

Fixed Units

As the task's assigned units remain constant, an increase / decrease in assigned work will result in a corresponding increase / decrease in task duration. Changes to the task's duration will have a corresponding effect upon work.

  • Units = Work à Duration

Fixed Units is the default task type for new tasks.

Fixed Work

If assigned work should remain constant, then as a task's duration goes up assigned units will go down (and vice versa).

  • Work = Duration × Units

If assigned units are greater than max units, a resource conflict will arise.

Flat Assignment

An assignment where the hours are at a uniform level, unlike a contoured assignment where the hours assigned per day/week vary.

Flexible Constraint

As opposed to inflexible constraints, flexible ones schedule tasks as follows:

  • Finish no earlier than (for projects scheduled from the project's start date).

  • Finish no later than (for projects scheduled from the project's finish date).

  • Start no earlier than (for projects scheduled from the project's start date).

  • Start no later than (for projects scheduled from the project's finish date).

These constraints will not cause schedule conflicts if a task is delayed beyond its constrained date.

Float

The amount of time a task can slip before it affects another task's dates or the project finish date. Also referred to as slack.

FNET

Finishes the task on or after the date entered. Use this flexible constraint when a task can not finish before a specific date.

FNLT

Finishes the task on or before the date entered. Use this inflexible constraint when a task must finish by a specific date. Can create a scheduling conflict if this date is violated.

Folder

Project documents (files) are stored in folders on a local PC or on a network. Folders branch off from the root directory (usually C:\). The 'My Documents' folder is the default working folder in Windows 98/2000/XP.

Font

A typeface depicting letters, numbers and symbols. Font sizes and attributes can be set from the formatting toolbar, or by applying text styles or in report headers or footers by using the page setup command.

Forward Pass

A calculation within critical path analysis that determines the early start and early finish dates for each task in the project, along with the project finish date.

Footer

Text that appears at the bottom of a printed page. A footer typically contains information such as page number, total page count (for collation purposes) and date. It could also contain the project manager's name and the project's version number.

Form

Representing information in a format similar to a paper form. Forms show information about only one task or resource at a time. Common forms are the task form and resource form. The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Formatting Toolbar

Provides tools for changing how a view is displayed: fonts; text alignment; filters; outline options and so on.

Free Slack

Free slack (or free float) is the amount of time a task can slip before it delays any other task. See also total slack.

G

Gantt Chart

A graphical representation of the project's current schedule. It will often contain bars for:

  • Normal tasks

  • Summary tasks

  • Milestone tasks

  • Slack values

  • Delay values

Gantt charts are also referred to as Bar Charts as they depict task bars against a timescale.

Gantt Chart Wizard

A series of interactive dialog boxes containing options to quickly format a Gantt chart, it configures bar styles and layout options. Running it reconfigures any manually applied bar styles, so be careful in its use. Invoked by the Format..Gantt Chart Wizard command.

Generic Resource

A placeholder resource that is a skill category that could be required to complete a task, rather than a named person. Assignments for these resources can then be replaced by real people. The resource substitution wizard can be used to substitute a generic resource with a named person.

GLOBAL.MPT

A Template file (GLOBAL.MPT) that contains information applied to many projects. Information in a global file can include components such as views, calendars, forms, reports, tables, filters, toolbars, menu bars and macros. When a new project is created, it takes its components from the global file. Information within the global file can be read or written using the Organizer. Warning: Overwriting a global file may require a re-installation of Microsoft Project to reapply default settings.

Global Filter

Compared to the AutoFilter (which makes selections based on column contents), the global filter shows only the tasks / resources / assignments that meet a specific filter criteria. If a filter criteria is used to emphasize, rather than select, a highlight filter can be applied instead. Global filters are one of the project's components. They reside within a filter library.

Graphical Indicators

By using pictures to replace values, Microsoft Project can highlight good or poor schedule / cost performances. Usually used in conjunction with calculated fields. Views can be filtered or grouped by graphical indicator.

Granularity

The degree of resolution to be applied by time unit (daily or weekly for example). Useful when leveling resources.

Gridlines

To help the readability of a view, gridlines of different patterns and colours can be applied. These gridlines may appear once (such as the current date) or repeatedly (such as the lines that divide rows and columns).

Group

The ability to sort and subtotal a view by applying group criteria. Pre-defined groups include: 'milestones' and 'constraint types' for tasks and 'resource group' and 'Response Pending' for resources. Custom groups can be created and applied by using the Project..Group By... command and they can be shared between projects by using the Organizer.

Group Criteria

Similar to filter criteria, group criteria determine the fields (for tasks or resources) that the grouping sorts upon. There can be groups within groups. Sophisticated grouping can be achieved with the use of outline codes.

Group Library

A list of all available groups, applicable to tasks or resources. Accessed using the Project..Group by:..More Groups command. Originally held in GLOBAL.MPT, group criteria are stored to the local project document once they have been accessed. Existing group criteria can be edited or new ones can be created within the library.

H

Hanger

A task that either has no predecessor task or no successor task linked to it. Also known as a dangle.

Header

Text that appears at the top of a printed page. A header typically contains information such as the project or company name, together with the project start and project finish dates.

Highlight Filter

Instead of selecting the tasks / resources that meet the filter criteria (as with a global filter), a highlight filter is used for emphasis.

Highlights

A highlight will emphasize specific tasks or resources whilst still displaying all tasks or resources. To set the text style for highlighted information, use the Format..Text Styles command.

Hours Per Day

The constant value that Microsoft Project uses when calculating duration and work. Taking the default of 8 hours, a one-day task will be calculated as 8 hours and an assignment of 1 unit will calculate as 8 hours also. Changing the hours per day to 6 would retain the assigned work as 8 hours and change the duration of the assignment to be 1.33 days. If the shift pattern for that day is unaltered (from the default 8 hours), the assignment (and task) will be complete at the end of that day and not within the next day.

Hours Per Week

The constant value that Microsoft Project uses when calculating duration and work. Taking the default of 40 hours, a one-week task will be calculated as 40 hours and an assignment of 1 unit will calculate as 40 hours also. Changing the hours per week to 32 would retain the assigned work as 40 hours and therefore change the duration of the assignment to be 1.25 weeks. If the shift pattern for that week is unaltered (from the default 8 hours/day), the assignment (and task) will be complete at the end of that week and not within the next week.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language. Web pages are written in HTML. They often end with an .htm or .html extension. Microsoft Project's help files are HTML compliant, allowing the creation of user-defined help. Custom Project Guides can also be written using HTML.

HTML Template

A template of HTML tags and codes that are exported along with project data.

Hyperlink

From your project file, hyperlinks can be created to jump to other files (using a URL) on a local computer, network or intranet, or to the World Wide Web itself. This destination file can be another Microsoft Project file, other Microsoft Office documents, or any web site.

I/J

ID

Displays the identifier number that Microsoft Project automatically assigns to each task or resource as it is added to the project. Entries in lower rows within a table will have higher ID values. The ID is usually displayed in a row heading (the grey area to the left of each row). This ID may change as a result of a cell drag and drop. See also unique ID.

Indenting

Moving a task to a lower outline level (to the right) in the task name column. When a task is indented, it becomes a subtask of the summary task above it. See also outdenting.

Indicators

Small icons representing information for a task or resource that are displayed in the indicators column within a table. Pointing to an indicator reveals additional information associated with it. Indicators include:

  • A task note.

  • The task has an actual finish.

  • A resource conflict requiring leveling.

  • A flexible constraint.

  • An inflexible constraint.

  • An inserted project.

Inflexible Constraint

As opposed to flexible constraints, inflexible constraints schedule tasks as follows:

  • Finish no later than (for projects scheduled from the project's start date)

  • Must finish on (for all projects)

  • Must start on (for all projects)

If a task is delayed beyond its constrained date, an inflexible constraint can cause a scheduling conflict.

Information Dialog Boxes

Invoked by the Resource Information button, dialog boxes that allow immediate changes to tasks, resources and assignments. Can be used to change default settings or to update with revised estimates, schedule revisions, achieved progress and so on.

Initial Assignment

The first assignment of a resource (or resources) to a task. This assignment determines the total work for the task. If any assigned units are subsequently altered, the task's duration may have to change to balance the scheduling formula. Changes to an assignment should be performed within a task form view, as it displays all data relevant to that assignment.

Inserted Project

A project file embedded within a consolidated project. Changes made within the consolidation will be saved within the inserted project's file.

Interim Baseline

In addition to a master baseline, a further 10 baselines can be set. These can used in what-if? scenarios and as useful schedule comparisons. As an addition, current start and finish dates for all tasks or just those selected can be copied to interim values (Start1/Finish1). Both of these options can be accessed within the Save Baseline dialog box (Tools..Tracking..Save Baseline). Interim baseline information can be displayed on charts using a variety of bar styles.

K/L

Lag

A delay on the link between a predecessor and a successor; for example to create a 5 day delay between finishing one task and starting another. Lag times can also be a percentage of the duration of the predecessor task. A negative value against a lag is known as a lead.

Labels

Standard formatting option to express a chart's timescale. For example: 'Feb/02/04' or '02/02/04'.

Landscape

A horizontal page orientation, with more columns than rows, this style is best suited to charts and crosstab reports.

Layout

A formatting option that defines the general appearance of a chart, the positioning of task bars or boxes and the displaying of links to improve screen-based or printed views.

Late Finish

A task's late finish is the latest date that a task can finish without delaying the project finish date. This date is based on the task's late start date and duration, as well as the late start and late finish dates of predecessor and successor tasks, together with any other applied constraints.

Late Start

A task's late start is the latest date that a task can start without delaying the project finish date. This date is based on the task's scheduled start date, as well as the late start and late finish dates of predecessor and successor tasks, together with any other applied constraints.

Lead

An overlap between a predecessor and a successor. For example, if a task can start when its predecessor is half finished, use a finish-to-start dependency with a lead time of 50 percent. Lead time is entered as a negative lag value.

Left-Aligned

Text aligned to the left-hand side of a column or cell.

Legend

General project information displayed at the base of a printed page, together with the explanatory list of symbols printed on a chart. Note that this display is shown or hidden within the Page Setup dialog box, but its contents are controlled by the currently chosen bar styles.

Level Now

A command within the Resource Leveling dialog box to commence the leveling process. Also copies a task's scheduled start and scheduled finish values into relative preleveled values.

Leveling

Resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain tasks. During leveling, assignments are rescheduled according to the resource availability profiles, assigned units, and resource calendars, as well as the task's duration and constraints. Leveling can be controlled by various leveling parameters. It is instigated either automatically or (more commonly) by the command level now.

Leveling Delay

Leveling Delay is how much a task (or assignment) has been delayed to resolve any resource conflicts. It is often drawn on a Gantt chart from a task's early start to its scheduled start. Leveling delays can be entered manually of created as a result of resource leveling. Clearing leveling will clear any previously applied leveling delays.

Leveling Gantt View

A variation of the Gantt chart view, showing what has happened as a result of the leveling process. The Table portion displays a list of tasks and information about leveling delays. The chart portion shows a comparison of the bar's current schedule with its preleveled state, together with an indication of the leveling delay that has been applied.

Leveling Order

Parameters that establish how tasks are leveled around other tasks. Three options are available:

  • ID Only - Priority will be given to tasks with the lowest ID numbers (usually those earliest in the schedule).

  • Standard (the default) - Microsoft Project considers slack values (both free and total - a task with more free slack time is delayed first, followed by ones with total slack), dates (later starting tasks will be delayed before earlier-starting ones) and constraints (as they affect the schedule and the critical path).

  • Priority, Standard - Microsoft Project will apply user-defined priorities as the primary factor in deciding which tasks are to be delayed. Tasks with equal priorities will then be delayed according to the 'Standard' parameter above.

Leveling Parameters

Switches that determine how leveling is performed. They include:

  • When to level (automatically or manually using level now)

  • Leveling granularity

  • Dates to level within (entire project, or just the next couple of weeks/months)

  • Leveling order

  • Level within/beyond slack (allow the critical path to be or not be delayed)

  • Delay discrete assignments

  • Allow tasks to be split

See also selective leveling.

Lifecycle

The period of time between the project moving from a simple collection of ideas in a client requirements definition to a finished entity that meets all its originally agreed requirements. Often defined within a methodology, it can be summarized into four basic headings:

  • Startup

  • Plan

  • Do

  • Review

As the majority of measurable work is contained within the 'Do' stage, this is where the majority of the project's costs will come from and where the majority of the project's risks will be found.

Link

Links between tasks represent the sequence in which they will occur. For example; the successor task 'Boil Water' will first depend upon the completion of the predecessor task 'Fill Kettle'. Links can have a number of dependency types. Create links by selecting two tasks (with click and CTRL+Click), followed by the Link Tasks button.

Local Defaults

As compared to default settings that apply to Microsoft Project in general (which are saved within the PC's registry), local defaults apply to the current project only and override any inherited settings. These settings usually apply to the view, schedule and calculation parameters of the project.

Local Resource

Local resources are resources local to a specific project and not part of an enterprise resource pool.

Lower Pane

As part of a combination view, the object (task / resource) in the upper pane selects the detailed information that is displayed in the lower pane beneath. For example, with a Gantt chart view in the upper pane and the task form view in the lower, when a task in the Gantt chart is selected, the task form view displays detailed information about just the selected task.

M

Major Scale

Specifies the units and count for the upper lines (tiers) of the timescale of a chart. Its units must be larger than or equal to the minor scale units.

Manual Scheduling

When Microsoft Project calculates the schedule of the project at a user's request (rather than automatic scheduling - the default). This can apply to all open projects or just the currently active project. Manual scheduling can be activated by pressing the F9 key.

Map

A customizable set of instructions to export task, resource, and assignment data to other applications such as Access or Excel. Maps can be based on existing tables and can have filters applied to them. Maps can also be used to import data back into a project file (with care). The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

MAPI

The acronym for Messaging Application Programming Interface, which is the standard Microsoft email programming interface.

Margins

The distance (in centimeters or inches) between the top, bottom, right and left of the page to the area that will be printed upon.

Mask

Applied to outline codes and WBS codes, the mask defines the numeric and alphanumeric strings that make up the code, together with the delimiters that separate them.

Master Project

A project containing one or more subprojects. The subprojects can be inserted into a master composite project or they can be embedded within a master consolidated project. These subprojects often share resources by accessing a common resource pool.

Material Resources

Consumables that are assigned to tasks in a similar way to normal work-type resources. Material resources are consumed by the tasks to which they are assigned (and hence incurring cost), but they do not create any measurable work.

Matrix Organization

An organizational structure in which the project manager shares responsibility with functional managers for assessing priorities and assigning tasks to resources that may or may not be within their own workgroup.

Max Units

Contains the maximum percentage or number of units of resource availability, the default value being 100 percent. It can be varied with an availability profile. Resource conflicts can arise if assigned units > max units (which can happen with task types that are not fixed units).

Menu Bar

The menu bar is used to select menus and commands to perform actions within Microsoft Project. It appears below the program's title bar and it can be customized.

Methodology

A statement of how the project will be managed, including its lifecycle, terms of reference, reports required and so on. Methodologies can be informal or company specific. PRINCE is an example of a commercially available project management methodology.

MFO

Finishes the task on a specific date. Use this inflexible constraint when a task has to finish on a given date. Can create a scheduling conflict if this date is violated.

Milestone Tasks

A reference point marking a major event in a project and used to monitor the project's progress. Milestones are usually tasks with a duration of 0 time units (hours, days or even weeks) and may often have a constraint applied to them or they may be an external task within a consolidated program.

Minor Scale

Specifies the units and count for the lowest line (tier) of the timescale of a chart. Its units must be smaller than or equal to the major scale units.

Module

A simple program (usually written in VBA) to automate a command or procedure. Also referred to as a macro. The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Monte Carlo Analysis

A form of quantitative risk analysis that, using complex sequences of random numbers, creates a likely distribution of various project schedules. A much simpler method is provided by PERT analysis.

MSO

Starts the task on a specific date. Use this inflexible constraint when a task has to start on a given date. Can create a scheduling conflict if this date is violated.

MPP

The default binary file storage format for Microsoft Project. Can not be read by any other applications.

Multiple Critical Paths

Microsoft Project can calculate and display a critical path for each independent network of tasks within the project or program. This sets the late finish date for tasks without successors or constraints to be to be the same as their early finish date, thus becoming critical. A project-specific setting, this setting is set or cleared within the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box (Tools..Options).

Multiple Task Information

A variation of the Task Information dialog that allows one setting to be applied to several tasks at the same time. For example; to change two tasks to be a fixed duration type, select both of them (with Click and CTRL+Click) and then click on the Task Information button.

My Documents Folder

The My Documents folder is the default working folder used by Microsoft Office applications. Documents will be opened from or saved to this folder by default.

N

Negative Slack

When the total slack (or total float) on a task is negative, its scheduled finish is too late for its successor(s) to begin on the date required by an inflexible constraint. Negative slack is sometimes referred to as 'Hyper-Criticality'.

Network

A combination of predecessor and successor tasks linked together in a logical sequence by means of precedence.

Network Diagram

A diagram that graphically shows tasks and their associated links. Tasks are represented by boxes (or nodes), and links are represented by lines that connect the boxes. Various layout and box style options are available. Network Diagrams are also referred to as PERT charts.

Non-Critical Path

The series of tasks that need not be completed on time for a project to finish on schedule. Each task on the non-critical path possesses a degree of slack.

Non-Critical Task

A non-critical task possesses some slack (or float). This task can be delayed within its slack without delaying the project finish date.

Non Working Time

Time scheduled by the shift pattern within a calendar to indicate when work can not be accomplished. Microsoft Project's default non working values are from 12AM-8AM, 12PM-1PM and 5PM-12AM (00:00-08:00 and 12:00-13:00 and 17:00-24:00).

Normal Tasks

The most common task. Assignments are made against normal tasks. Drawn on a Gantt chart from scheduled start to scheduled finish.

O

Objectives

Why you are doing the project, as listed in the client requirements definition. The business benefits that the project will provide when it is completed. Often broken down to three basic project objectives: Time; Cost; Quality.

Office Assistant

The animated character that provides advice within Microsoft Project and other Microsoft Office products. Can also be used to locate specific help topics and items.

OLE

Object Linking and Embedding - a program-integration technology to share information between applications. Information can be shared through linked and embedded objects between all application programs that support OLE.

Organization Breakdown Structure

A hierarchical depiction of the project organization, often broken down by functional area, department, manager, team leader and so on. This links with the work breakdown structure to form a responsibility matrix. An OBS is often referred to as a Resource Breakdown Structure.

Organizer

A tabbed dialog box in which to copy project components: views, tables, filters, calendars, reports, forms, toolbars, maps, and VBA modules to other documents. It can also copy objects to and from the GLOBAL.MPT file.

Orientation

The aspect of a printed view or report. Charts suit a landscape orientation, whilst sheets suit a portrait orientation.

Outdenting

Moving a task to a higher outline level (to the left) in the task name column. Usually done with the Outdent button. See also indenting.

   

Outline

A structured collection of tasks to represent phases of work within a project, in which the normal tasks and milestones are grouped (as subtasks) beneath their respective summary tasks. The outline is also referred to as a work breakdown structure (WBS).

Outline Code

A user-defined code that is primarily used to identify tasks within the project. This code (which can be formatted using a mask) can be used to create additional structures within the project (for example cost breakdown structures or product breakdown structures) in addition to the standard WBS. Outline codes can also be applied to resources. Use enterprise outline codes for use in a program environment.

Outline Level

The hierarchical position of the task within the project's outline. A level of 1 is at the top (usually the main summary tasks) with levels 2,3,4 and so on representing subsequent levels beneath.

Outline Number

Numbers that indicate where a task is positioned in the project's outline. For example, a task with an outline number of 3.4 indicates that it's the fourth subtask within the third top-level summary task.

Outline Symbol

An icon beside a summary task to indicate that its subtasks are displayed, or collapsed. Clicking on the icon will expand or collapse the outline, similar to the way that Windows Explorer expands or collapses the view of folders on a hard disk.

Overtime Rate

A rate applied against a resource for work (by the hours or days or even week) which is entered as overtime work.

Overtime Work

The amount of work on an assignment that can be scheduled beyond a resource's normal shift pattern. Charged at the resource's overtime rate, it is not additional work against the assignment. For example, if an assignment has 48 hours of standard work and 16 hours of overtime work, the total work on the assignment is 48 hours, but the assignment will only take 32 hours to complete, hence reducing the duration of the assignment and potentially reducing the duration of its related task.

P/Q

Page Break

A way to keep related information on a page by inserting a page break, putting the information above the break (shown by a gridline) on one page and the information below the break on another printed page.

Page Setup

Providing controls for; margins, orientation, headers, footers and other general formatting options when printing views and reports.

Parallel Assignments

When assignments for a resource overlap in the same time frame. This often causes a resource conflict if demand exceeds supply.

Peak Units

The highest assigned units value for all assignments for a resource. If a resource is assigned to 1 task at 50% assigned units and another task at 150% assigned units, the peak units value would be 150%. If peak units > max units, there will be a resource conflict.

Percent Complete

When a task is first created, its percent complete is zero. When the task is updated with values for actual duration, remaining duration, or actual work (which affects actual duration), Microsoft Project calculates percent complete as:

  • Percent Complete = (Actual Duration / Duration) * 100

If a value is entered in the % Complete field, Microsoft Project automatically calculates actual duration and remaining duration, based around the a task's currently scheduled duration. Microsoft Project will also copy a task's scheduled start into actual start and scheduled finish to actual finish if the task is marked as 100% complete.

Percent Work Complete (Resources)

The percentage of the resource's work that has been completed. It is a calculated value based upon the actual work done by the resource across all their assignments, using the formula: Percent Work Complete = (Actual Work / Work) * 100.

Percent Work Complete (Task)

The percentage of the task's work that has been completed. Either an entered value, or it is calculated from the actual work (task) as percent work complete = (actual work / work) * 100 (by default).

PERT Analysis

PERT analysis is a simple form of quantitative risk analysis and can be applied to a schedule to help estimate the duration of a task. After the entry of optimistic, pessimistic, and expected durations for each of the tasks, Microsoft Project will calculate a weighted average of the three durations and determine a single duration estimate for each task. Gantt charts can display the results of critical path analysis taking all tasks at their optimistic, pessimistic and expected values. A button on the analysis toolbar provides access to PERT commands.

PERT Chart

A diagram that graphically shows tasks and their associated links. Tasks are represented by boxes (or nodes), and links are represented by lines that connect the boxes. The PERT Chart is more correctly called a network diagram.

Phase

A number of subtasks summarized by one or more summary tasks within the project's outline. Phases are often used to group common items of work together.

Physical Percent Complete

A user-defined estimate of the progress of a task that is not calculated by Microsoft Project or based upon the task's duration. Use this value as a personal estimate of a task's progress. BCWP values for tasks can be calculated based upon percent complete (the default) or physical percent complete.

Pivot Chart

A graphical representation of the data contained within a pivot table.

Pivot Table

An interactive table to summarize or crosstabulate large amounts of data. Different summaries can be found by manipulating its rows and columns, or by applying filters. Pivot tables can be found within the portfolio analyzer or they can contain exported data within Microsoft Excel.

Placeholder Resource

A temporary resource name used for estimating resource requirements. Once a project is approved, placeholder resources can be replaced with actual resources (real people). This replacement can be achieved manually or by using the resource substitution wizard.

Planning Wizard

Planning wizards provide advice as you work with Microsoft Project. They are active by default, but their options can be selected or cleared within the General tab of the Options dialog box.

Portfolio Analyzer

A way to analyze resource performance, costs, or schedule information within a project or across multiple projects by using a pivot table or a pivot chart.

Portfolio Modeler

A way to model different project resource scenarios to determine the feasibility of a new project. It can also be used to prioritize existing projects and resources, or find potential problems within a portfolio of multiple projects.

Portrait

A vertical page orientation, with more rows than columns, this style is best suited to sheets and reports.

Predecessor

A task that must start or finish before another task can start or finish. Tasks without predecessors are known as dangles or hangers.

Precedence

The method for creating a network of linked tasks. In order for a task to take place, consider what preceding tasks must first be complete.

Preference Settings

Accessed using the Tools..Options command, preference settings that apply to the current project and to Microsoft Project in general are contained within a tabbed dialog box entitled Options. A wide number of settings within this dialog box define:

  • Scheduling parameters

  • Calculation options (including critical path analysis)

  • How views are displayed

  • General system switches

  • Editing rules

  • Calendar defaults

  • Spelling rules

  • Workgroup parameters

  • Save options

  • Collaboration options (workgroup options)

Preleveled

The start and finish of a task prior to resource leveling being activated. It provides a before / after comparison to display the change in schedule as a result of the leveling process. Preleveled bars are displayed in the Leveling Gantt view.

PRINCE

A methodology for controlling 'PRojects IN Controlled Environments' that looks at planning and controlling a project from the perspective of the products that the project will provide.

Printer Driver

Information that tells Windows a printer's characteristics, so that Microsoft Project can provide hard-copies or print-previews.

Priority

The importance of a task when leveling is carried out. It is a numeric value from 0 (lowest) to 1000 (highest) - with 500 being the default. Priorities are especially useful when leveling in a program environment.

Product Breakdown Structure

Used as an alternative to the WBS, the PBS is a useful way to use outline codes to group the project's tasks by the products that the project will produce. These products could be the high-level deliverables that are defined within the CRD and PRD documents.

Program

A number of interrelated projects form a program. They often contain external tasks and share scarce resources from a common resource pool. Thought should go into how programs are established regarding information flow, access privileges, leveling priorities and many other important factors. Programs are usually made up of consolidated projects, built up from a number of master projects and subprojects. Programs can be stored as a common database of projects within Project Server.

Program Office

Often found in larger organizations, program offices oversee the work of several project managers. The program office may create consolidations of projects and they would usually be responsible for creating and administering project management standards and procedures. A Project Server administrator would normally reside within a program office.

Progress Lines

A visual display of project progress that can be added to any of the Gantt Chart or Tracking Gantt based views. Based around a given progress date (usually the current date or status date), a progress line connects in progress tasks. If peaks within this line point to the left, work is behind schedule and if peaks point to the right, work is ahead of schedule.

Project Center

A way to access all the projects that have been published to Project Server.

Project Document

Information about the project stored as a file within a folder on a disk upon a computer. Project documents can be accessed by more than one user and can be saved in more than one file format. Project documents can also exist as database tables within Project Server.

Project Finish Date

The latest date for any work in a project plan to complete by. This date is normally calculated with a forward pass. It is relative to the project start date plus the longest schedule of tasks within the project. Resource leveling beyond slack can also determine this date. A project finish date can also be entered within the Project Information dialog, whereby all new tasks will be set as ALAP.

Project Guide

Situated within a sidepane, the Project Guide provides step-by-step assistance in undertaking frequently done tasks within Microsoft Project. Use it to help in the creation of new plans, to assign resources, to format views and so on. Custom guides can also be created.

Project Initiation Document

Similar to the CRD and PRD documents, the Project Initiation Document (PID) contains information needed to start the project and ways to convey information to project team members and stakeholders. Used as part of the PRINCE methodology.

Project Information Dialog

When a new file is created, Microsoft Project prompts for general project information, by default. You are required to enter a project start date or finish date and (optionally) a current date and a status date. In addition, you can determine which calendar is used as a base calendar and the default leveling order that will apply to all new tasks.

Project Objectives

Three basic objectives that a project must meet to ensure its successful conclusion:

  • Time Objective

  • Cost Objective

  • Quality Objective

Often drawn on the corners of a triangle, the objectives form the basis of the project's strategic information. They also relate to one another; for example a reduction in time may incur additional cost or may reduce overall quality. Project objectives are often a contractual agreement between the project manager, the project's sponsor and the project's stakeholders.

Project Requirements Definition

What your project will deliver and how you will be judged (often by the project sponsor). Usually contains the following headings:

  • Key personnel - who is responsible for what who the stakeholders are

  • Objectives - why you are doing it

  • Scope - project boundaries

  • Deliverables - what it will provide

  • Acceptance criteria - how you will be judged

  • How you will be performing it: major milestones; change control procedures

  • Constraints - conditions adhering to the project

  • Dependant / driver projects - other related projects or parts of projects

  • Assumptions - listed unknowns about the project

  • Client acceptance - a signature

Project Resources

Work, time and cost are resources of the project that are consumed in its execution. For example, doing some work will take some time and incur some cost, as its accomplishment adds to meeting the project's overall objectives.

Project Server

A centralized database to enable collaborative planning and status reporting among workgroup members, project managers, and other stakeholders. Utilizing a web-based format, data can be manipulated and analyzed using Project Web Access.

Project Statistics

A project-level summary displaying a comparison between baseline, current, actual and remaining values for the project's schedule and its duration, work and cost. Also displays percent complete and percent work complete values for the project as a whole. Accessed by the Project Statistics button or the Project..Project Information..Statistics command. This information can also be printed by using the 'Project Summary' report.

Project Summary Task

A task (on row 0 of a table) to display the length of the project's schedule, the total work involved, and the total cost of the project. The option to display the project summary task is selected or cleared within the View tab of the Options dialog box.

Project Start Date

The earliest date in a project plan. Set within the Project Information dialog box. When work on tasks can commence unless they posess predecessors or constraints. When projects are scheduled from a start date, all newly-created tasks are set as ASAP.

Project Web Access

A method for viewing and manipulating information within a Project Server database using a browser interface. Each copy of Project Web Access requires its own client access license (CAL).

Publish

A method by which a Project Server database (and the workgroup members that are linked to the server) is updated with task, assignment or project information (for example schedule changes to assignments or revised project costs).

Qualitative Risk Analysis

An interactive team-based method for determining the likelihood and impact of risk upon a project. It utilizes techniques such as cause-and-effect diagrams to find risks and risk matrices to help qualify and quantify risks. Following this analysis, risk mitigation would be performed to eliminate or reduce risks.

Quality Objective

One of the three project objectives. A definition of the quality (as defined within the client requirements and project requirements documents) that the project must adhere to deliver the items defined within the project's scope. By carefully defining the project's deliverables and monitoring progress against them, you can see if this objective is being met. See also cost objective; time objective.

Quantitative Risk Analysis

A mathematical approach to the likelihood and impact of changes to a project's schedule. Involves techniques such as PERT analysis and Monte Carlo analysis.

R

Recurring Task

A task that is repeated at defined intervals. These intervals can be for a fixed number of occurrences or based around specific dates. Each recurring task has a SNET constraint applied to it.

Remaining Duration

The amount of time required to complete the unfinished portion of a task. With a value for an actual duration, it is calculated as:

  • Remaining duration = duration - actual duration

If a % complete value is entered for the task, it is calculated as:

  • Remaining duration = duration - (duration * % complete)

Remaining duration values can also be entered against tasks, recalculating the task's duration and percent complete values.

Remaining Work (Assignment)

Shows the amount of time, or hours, still required by a resource assigned to a task to complete an assignment. Calculated as remaining work = assigned work - actual work.

Remaining Work (Resource)

Shows the amount of time, or person-hours, still required by a resource to complete all assigned tasks.

Remaining Work (Task)

Shows the amount of time, or person-hours, still required by all assigned resources to complete a task. This value should be for review purposes; as if a value is entered, Microsoft Project divides the remaining work entered amongst the assigned resources.

Report Library

A list of all available reports, applicable to tasks or resources. Accessed by using the View..Reports command, followed by the Custom button. Originally held in GLOBAL.MPT, reports are stored to the local project document once they have been accessed. Reports can be edited directly (or copied to create new reports) within the library.

Report Template

A predefined format for a hard-copy report (which may be customizable).

Reports

A tabular format for hard-copy reports. Can be based around tables or in a crosstab format. Reports can be edited and new ones created by selecting the 'Custom' option. The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Request Assignment

An assignment for a resource that could be substituted by the Resource Substitution Wizard with an alternative resource that possesses suitable skills to carry out the assignment and who also possesses greater availability. See also demand assignment.

Reschedule Uncompleted Work To Start

An automatic updating option that reschedules remaining work on a task or tasks after the current date / status date, controlled upon the setting of split in-progress tasks.

Resource Allocation View

A combination view showing a Leveling Gantt view below and a resource usage view above. It is especially useful in displaying why resources are overallocated, as the task bars below relate only to the resource currently selected above. Decisions can then be made as to how best to resolve any resource conflict or simply how to utilize resource time most efficiently. Can be applied by using the Resource Allocation View button on the resource management toolbar or from within the view library.

Resource Breakdown Structure

A hierarchical depiction of the project organization, often broken down by functional area, manager team leader and so on. Custom outline codes can be used to define the RBS in greater detail. RBS fields are also used within an enterprise resource pool. The RBS can also be linked with the work breakdown structure to form a responsibility matrix. The RBS is also known as an Organization Breakdown Structure.

Resource Calendar

A calendar that specifies working time and non working time for an individual resource. Resource calendars can define unique exceptions for individuals, such as holidays / vacations, different working days, or different shift patterns. Resource calendars use the project's calendar (normally called 'Standard') as their base calendar.

Resource Center

Utilizing Project Server, how the enterprise resource pool can be accessed, for example to change enterprise resource details, such as skill codes or costs.

Resource Conflict

A conflict is where the demand for a resource exceeds its supply. This is usually for the following reasons:

  • Assigned units > max units

  • A resource is assigned outside the boundaries of its availability profile

  • Resource assignments are in parallel

Resource conflicts can also exist when a resource from a common resource pool or an enterprise resource pool is assigned to parallel tasks across two or more projects.

Resource Form View

The resource form view provides detailed tracking and scheduling information about a project's resources, one resource at a time. This form can be used in isolation, but it is most useful when displayed in a lower pane, displaying additional information about the resource selected in the upper pane.

Resource Graph View

Displays information about the allocation, work, or cost of resources over time. It displays information for one resource at a time, for selected resources, or for a resource and the selected resources simultaneously.

Resource Group

A way to categorize resources by a common grouping. For example, a group name could be 'Technical' or 'Sales'. This field can be grouped and filtered upon.

Resource Group Filter

A global filter to select resources by resource group. Ensure that all resources share the same group name for consistency; for example 'Management' and not 'Mgt.' or 'Mgmt.'

Resource Import Wizard

A step-by step way to add resources to the enterprise resource pool. Resources can be imported from an existing project's resource pool or they can be imported from other sources including Excel spreadsheets and ODBC databases.

Resource Management Toolbar

Provides tools to assist in scheduling and optimizing assignments; for example resource allocation and task entry.

Resource Pool

A set of resources that are available for assignment to project tasks. A resource pool can be used exclusively by one project or can be shared as a common resource pool in a program environment. See also enterprise resource pool.

Resource Sheet View

Displays information about each resource in a number of tables. Useful in creating a project's resource pool, especially when using the entry table as its fields are most appropriate to the resource definition process.

Resource Substitution Wizard

An automated way to assign and replace requested resources for one project or within a program of projects. The wizard takes into account the skills required to perform tasks, skill codes for resources in the enterprise resource pool, together with resource availability across several projects.

Resource Usage View

Providing rows of resource and assignment information, together with values (work / cost / baseline and other information) that are timephased. Provides full editing facilities in how an assignment may be defined.

Resources

Resources are the people, equipment and supplies used to complete tasks in a project. When work-type resources are assigned to complete tasks, they create the project resource: Work. Resources that are assigned to tasks but do not create work are known as material resources. Resources that simply represent skill categories are known as generic resources.

Resource View

A view that displays information from the resource database within Microsoft Project. Resource views include:

  • Resource sheet

  • Resource graph

  • Resource usage

  • Resource allocation

  • Resource form

Responsibility Matrix

A structure that relates the tasks from the work breakdown structure with the resources from the organization breakdown structure to ensure that all of the project's scope is assigned responsibility and accountability. It is also useful in determining what information is provided for and received from which project team member or stakeholder.

Resume

A task field that indicates the beginning of the remaining portion of a task. This would normally be immediately following the stop date if a task is on schedule. If the task has been split so remaining work is after the current date or the status date, the resume date may be much later than the stop date. This field is usually calculated by Microsoft Project, but it can also be entered.

Right-Aligned

Text aligned to the right-hand side of a column or cell.

Right-Click

Using the secondary mouse button (the right button by default) to provide an alternative course of action - usually a shortcut menu.

Risk

An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or (more often) negative effect upon the project's objectives.

Risk Analysis

Methods for determining and mitigating the risks that may be present in a project. Risk analysis takes two basic forms:

  • Qualitative risk analysis.

  • Quantitative risk analysis.

Risk Matrix

A diagrammatic way of determining the likelihood of a risk occurring, compared with the impact upon the project if it did occur. This method is an ideal way for a project team to qualify and quantify which risks require mitigation.

Risk Mitigation

A qualitative strategy for dealing with project risks. Mitigation options include:

  • Acceptance - Not changing the project plan to deal with a risk that is usually determined to be either very unlikely or have a very low impact.

  • Avoidance - Changing the project plan to eliminate a risk or protect a project's objectives from the impact of the risk.

  • Contingencies - A plan of action to deal with the time or cost impacts of a risk occurring.

  • Risk reduction - Actions to reduce the likelihood of a risk occurring or the impact upon the project if it did.

  • Risk transfer - Shifting the impact of a risk (along with its ownership) to a third party.

Row

Within a table, objects (tasks resources or assignments) occupy the rows. Information about the objects is contained in cells, which relate to fields displayed within the table's columns.

Row Heading

Usually displayed in the locked first column of a table, clicking on a row heading selects the entire task / resource, rather than a cell of information. Use this when cutting and pasting tasks / resources, or when moving objects with the cell drag and drop function.

S

Schedule

The timing and sequence of tasks within a project. A schedule is calculated (using critical path analysis and (optionally) resource leveling) taking task durations, links and constraints into account.

Schedule Table

Displays information for reviewing when tasks can start and finish, together with any free time (slack) that they may possess. The table's columns contain the fields: ID; task name; scheduled start; scheduled finish; late start; late finish; free slack (float); total slack (float).

Scheduled Finish

The current date and time when a task can be completed by. Initially equal to the task's early finish, it can be delayed as a result of constraints or by a leveling delay. If the task is completed, this date will be equivalent to the task's actual finish date.

Scheduled Start

The current date and time when a task can commence. Initially equal to the task's early start, it can be delayed as a result of constraints or by a leveling delay. If the task is in progress or completed, this date will be equivalent to the task's actual start date.

Scheduling

By default, Microsoft Project provides automatic scheduling, calculating when tasks will occur by using the process of critical path analysis. More advanced scheduling will take resource leveling and PERT analysis into account.

Scheduling Conflict

Where a combination of task durations and links violate a constrained date or a deadline date. This gives rise to negative slack. Can also be caused by resource leveling.

Scheduling Formula

The method by which work is calculated. It takes the format:

Assigned work = assigned units x task duration

Dependant upon the chosen task type, a change to one variable can affect another variable.

Scheduling Messages

Messages about schedule inconsistencies; for example the existence of a scheduling conflict.

Scope

The boundaries of the project (or even the task); what it will and will not include. This is usually listed within the client requirements definition (CRD) and project requirements definition (PRD) documents. This also relates to the quality objective for the project.

Screen Tip

A small pop-up help bubble, indicating what a command does, or what an indicator displays, or further information about what the cursor is currently placed over.

Scroll Arrow

To scroll forwards (to the right), click on the arrow to the right of the scroll bar. To scroll backwards (to the left), click on the arrow to the left of the scroll bar.

Scroll Bars

Use the scroll bar to scroll within charts or tables. Scroll bars can be either vertical or horizontal and are located at the right side and bottom edge of scrollable panes of the window.

Scroll Box

The small grey square in the middle of a scroll bar. To scroll rapidly to another part of the chart or table, drag the scroll box.

Search

A project document can be searched by its file name, type, date last modified, or text within the file or by the file properties. Search criteria can also be saved to the project document.

Select All Button

The select all button appears in the upper-left corner of tables and selects all the rows and columns in a table. It can also be used to force a critical path analysis reschedule of the plan. It also provides a useful shortcut menu for table selection.

Selective Leveling

A mechanism by which only certain resources are included or excluded from the leveling process. Can be achieved by selecting particular resources to be levelled or by using a can level switch against particular resources.

Set as Default

Copies current preference settings to the PC's registry, making them available to all new projects. Beware of using this button inadvertently.

Sharer Project

A project that takes its resources by sharing with a common resource pool.

Sheets

Made up from tables, sheets represent information in rows and columns. Sheets include:

  • Task sheet

  • Resource sheet

Sheets are often useful as the basis for printed views and are best produced in portrait notation.

SHIFT+Click

Holding down the SHIFT key on the keyboard and Clicking the left mouse button. This can be used to select all objects between the first and last click points. See also CTRL+Click.

Shift Pattern

A period of working time defined within a calendar. Microsoft Project's default shift pattern for all new projects is from 8AM-12PM and 1PM-5PM (08:00-1200 and 13:00-17:00). Care should be taken to ensure a degree of consistency between the shift pattern and the project's hours per day.

Shortcut Menu

Shortcut menus appear when you Right-Click while the cursor is over an enabled region of the screen. They provide a quick alternative to accessing frequently used commands.

Side Pane

Situated to the left side of a window, the sidepane displays help and additional information defined within the Project Guide.

Size

A percentage value representing the width of a minor scale increment for a chart. See also enlargement factor.

Skill Codes

An enterprise outline code to define the specific skills that a resource possesses.

Slack

The amount of time a task can slip before it has an affect on other tasks or the project finish date. There are two basic types of slack:

  • Total slack

  • Free slack

Also referred to as float.

Slack Bar

A bar on the Gantt chart to represent a task's calculated slack (normally drawn from the scheduled finish to the late finish (total slack)).

Slippage

How much a task has been delayed within a project's schedule. Usually equivalent to the task's finish variance (the difference between baseline finish and the current finish).

  • If finish variance = start variance - task is usually delayed due to a predecessor.

  • If finish variance > start variance - task is due to take longer than planned.

  • If finish variance < start variance - task may be catching up on any delays.

Use the global filter 'Slipping tasks' for general slippages, AutoFilters to help find discrete ones.

Smart Tag

Offering immediate assistance with a choice of possible outcomes, smart tags explain some of the idiosyncrasies within Microsoft Project. They can be invoked when:

  • Assigning more than one person to a task.

  • Changing task start / finish dates.

  • Editing work / units / duration values.

  • Making deletions within a name column.

Smart tags can be selected or cleared within the Interface tab of the Options dialog box.

SNET

The most common constraint (with the exception of as soon as possible). Starts the task on or after the entered date. Use this flexible constraint when a task can not start until a given date. This constraint can be created by typing in a date in a task's 'Start' field, or by dragging a bar through time using a Gantt Bar cursor . An indicator highlights the presence of this constraint.

SNLT

Starts the task on or before the entered date. Use this flexible constraint when a task must start by a specific date.

Source Program

The program in which the data originally resides when exchanging data with Microsoft Project. See also destination program.

SPI

Within earned value analysis, the Schedule Performance Index. Calculated as the ratio of budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP) and budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS). SPI = BCWP/BCWS. If this value is 1 then the project, summary task or task is exactly on schedule. If the value is less than 1, then things are behind schedule; greater than 1, things are ahead of schedule. See also SV.

Spin Control

A spin control allows you to go up or down through options without using the keyboard, for example changing a task's duration.

Split In-Progress Tasks

With the option selected, you can enter the date that work stopped on a task and the date it resumed. Also when selected, Microsoft Project can reschedule uncompleted work to start. With the option cleared, the stop and resume fields can not be edited when task tracking information is updated. Also when cleared, Microsoft Project can not automatically reschedule remaining work into the future. This check box is set or cleared within the Schedule tab of the Options dialog box (Tools..Options).

Split Task

Usually used to suspend and resume work upon a task. A split can be created manually with the Split Task button.

Sponsor

One of the project's stakeholders who will receive the business benefits that the project will provide. Usually provides (or authorizes) the client requirements definition. Usually communicates strategic information to and from the project manager.

Stakeholder

An individual, individuals or organization with a vested interest in a project. This interest may be financial, procedural or the stakeholder may receive the business benefits that the project provides. The most obvious stakeholder is the sponsor. Stakeholders provide and receive strategic information.

Standard Rate

A rate applied against a resource for standard work (by the hours, day, week and so on) that represents assigned work less any overtime work. By default, this rate is constant for each resource, but it can be varied by the application of a cost rate table.

Standard Toolbar

Provides Microsoft Office standard tools; new, open, save, cut, copy, paste and so on plus Microsoft Project-specific ones including; information, zoom in, zoom out, copy picture.

Standard Work

The total amount of work (expressed simply as work) for a task, resource or assignment. It includes assigned work, actual work and remaining work, but does not include overtime work.

Start (Task)

The scheduled start for a task.

Start Variance

How much a task's start date has been delayed within a project's schedule. Usually calculated as the difference between baseline start and the current scheduled start. Sometimes used as a parameter when determining slippage.

Status Bar

Displays information at the base of the window about the current activity or mode. The right side of the status bar shows whether the Caps Lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, Overtype, Add To Selection and Extend Selection modes are enabled, whilst in the centre, messages appear for special conditions that apply to the active project.

Status Date

A date (usually the same as the current date) against which earned value calculations are performed. Set within the Project Information dialog box.

Stop

A task field that indicates the end of the actual portion of a task. If a task is complete, this will be the actual finish date. If the task is in progress, this date will be a date between the actual start and the actual finish, relative to the task's actual duration or its percent complete. This field is usually calculated by Microsoft Project, but it can also be entered. See also the resume field.

Strategic Information

High-level information about how the project is meeting its objectives:

  • Time - milestone dates; summary task schedules; slippage reports.

  • Cost - earned value analyses; cost variance reports.

  • Quality.

Communicated between the Project Manager and the project's stakeholders. See also tactical information.

Subproject

A project inserted into another (master) project. Use subprojects as a way to break complex projects into more manageable parts. Subprojects can be inserted into composite projects or they can be embedded within consolidated projects. Subprojects often share resources by accessing a common resource pool.

Subtask

A normal task or milestone task that is part of the project's outline, which is encompassed within a summary task.

Successor

A task that can not start or finish until another task starts or finishes. Controlled by a link of various dependency types. Tasks without successors are known as dangles or hangers.

Summary Task

A task that summarizes a group of tasks (normal tasks and milestone tasks) beneath it. It is drawn from the scheduled start of the earliest of its subtasks to the scheduled finish of the latest of its subtasks, taking its work and cost values as the sum of its subtasks. Summary tasks are used to represent phases within the project and are at the top levels of a project's outline.

SV

Within earned value analysis, the SV (earned value schedule variance) field is calculated as BCWP - BCWS. It is the difference in cost terms between how much work should have been achieved up to the status date or the current date and how much work has been achieved. A positive SV value indicates that progress against the task, summary task, project or resource is ahead of the baseline schedule. A negative SV value indicates a schedule slippage. See also SPI.

System Date

The PC's current date and time. When Microsoft Project starts, the project's current date is set from the PC's system date.

T

Table

Tables within Microsoft Project are made up of sets of columns containing fields of information describing the tasks or resources within each row of the table. Tables include:

  • Entry

  • Schedule

  • Tracking

  • Variance

  • Work

Tables are applied to charts or sheets. There are separate tables for tasks and for resources (for example, there is an entry table for tasks and an entry table for resources). The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Table Definition Dialog Box

A dialog box to allow existing tables to be modified, or new ones to be defined. Provides access to task or resource fields, dependant upon the type of table (task/resource).

Table Library

A list of all available tables, applicable to tasks or resources. Accessed by using the View..Table..More Tables command. Originally held in GLOBAL.MPT, tables are stored to the local project document once they have been accessed. Tables can be edited within the table definition dialog, or new ones can be added to the library.

Tactical Information

Detailed, localized information regarding the project's tasks and assignments. Often communicated to and from the "Doers" (who may be workgroup members) within the project by using reports, Project Web Access or email. At a task level, it may comprise of:

  • Actual start, actual finish, remaining duration, percent complete.

Information can also be at an assignment level. See also strategic information.

Task Bars

Graphical bars on the Gantt chart depicting the timing of project tasks. They are normally drawn from the task's scheduled start to its scheduled finish.

Task Calendar

A definition of working time and non working time (in shift patterns) that can be applied to a task or tasks within a project. Task calendars can be created (in a similar way to creating base calendars) within the Change Working Time dialog box (Tools..Change Working Time).

Task Entry View

A combination view containing a Gantt chart in the upper pane and a task form in the lower pane. Useful for modifying resource assignments. Can be called from the Task Entry View button on the resource management toolbar or from the view library.

Task Form View

The task form view provides detailed tracking and scheduling information about a project's tasks, one task at a time. This form can be used in isolation, but it is most useful when displayed in a lower pane, displaying additional information about the task selected within the upper pane. It is normally invoked by the Window..Split command.

Task Notes

Additional words that can convey more detail or instructions about a task. They could contain:

  • Deliverable lists.

  • Quality criteria.

  • Links to other documents (spreadsheets / WP documents and so on).

  • To-do Lists.

Task Pane

Situated to the left of the window, a task pane provides a number of shortcut options, for example in opening project documents from disk.

Task Sheet View

Displays information about each task in a number of tables. Useful in creating a project's task list when using the 'Entry' table, as its fields are most appropriate to task definition. Can also be used as the basis for printed date information, best displayed in a portrait notation.

Task Type

Tasks in a project can be scheduled according to which type best suits the nature of the task:

  • Fixed units (the default).

  • Fixed work.

  • Fixed duration.

Task Usage View

Providing rows of task and assignment information, together with values (work / cost / baseline and other information) that are timephased. Provides full editing facilities in how an assignment may be defined.

Tasks

An activity that has a beginning and an end. Projects are made up of tasks; which, when all completed, indicate the completion of the project and a meeting of the project's objectives. Types of task are:

  • Normal tasks.

  • Summary tasks.

  • Milestone tasks.

Task View

A view that displays information from the task database within Microsoft Project. Task views include:

  • Calendar.

  • Gantt chart.

  • Leveling Gantt.

  • PERT chart / network diagram.

  • Task entry.

  • Task form.

  • Task sheet.

  • Task usage.

  • Tracking Gantt.

Templates

A file (suffixed .MPT) containing source information about resources, calendars, filters views and other project components. Templates can also contain tasks. Projects can be created from templates, just as documents are created from templates using word processors. This promotes standardization. The global file (GLOBAL.MPT) is a master template file that can contain formatting information for all projects, but can't store task, resource, or assignment information.

Text Styles

A formatting parameter that applies to every occurrence of a particular item. Useful in highlighting text entries that meet criteria (for example; milestones, summary tasks, highlight filters). Set by using Format..Text Styles command, or with the Text button when defining reports.

Time

The total span of working time or elapsed time required to complete a task, summary task or the entire project. When related to work, it is the time between when the first work (assignment) commenced and the last work was completed.

Time Objective

One of the three project objectives. A definition of the time available (as defined within the client requirements and project requirements documents) to complete a project from its project start date to when it should be finished (which becomes the baseline finish). This can be compared to the current project finish date to see if this time objective is being met. See also cost objective; quality objective.

Timephased Field

Values for tasks, resources and assignments distributed against a timescale. For an assignment, this field can also be edited, creating a user-defined contour. Timephased fields are visible within the task usage and resource usage views.

Timescale

The time period indicator that appears at the top of most chart views. It consists of a major scale (middle tier) and, below it, a minor scale (bottom tier). These scales can display in units ranging from minutes to years. A size value (or enlargement factor) controls the width of the minor scale increments, which can be displayed using a variety of labels. Within Microsoft Project 2002, a top tier is also available. This tier could display yearly information, for example a fiscal year.

To-Do Lists

Rather than break a task down into lots of subtasks (which all need to be tracked with progress), a to-do list can tell someone responsible for the task what discrete jobs it contains. These jobs can form a simple checklist of what must to be done; but not necessarily how it needs to be done. Within Project Server, a to-do list can be created to outline a number of jobs that need to be done. These jobs can eventually become a series of tasks, or even an entire project.

Top-Down Planning

A method for creating a project's outline starting with a project summary task and successively breaking the project down into phases and ultimately tasks and milestones. See also bottom-up planning.

Toolbars

Sets of buttons that are shortcuts to commands. The default toolbars are:

  • Standard toolbar.

  • Formatting toolbar.

Other popular toolbars include:

  • Analysis

  • Resource management

  • Tracking

The Organizer allows this component to be shared between projects.

Top Level Tasks

Usually summary tasks, top level tasks are at the highest level within the project's outline. Use the global filter 'Top level tasks' to create management reports.

Total Slack

Total slack (or total float) is the amount of time a task can slip before it delays the project finish date. See also free slack.

Tracking Gantt View

A variation of the Gantt chart, with bar styles set to show actual bars, baseline bars and percent complete values. By default it displays the entry table.

Tracking Table

Displays information for updating tasks with progress: ID; task name; actual start; actual finish; actual duration; remaining duration; actual work; remaining work; percent complete; physical percent complete. Useful when many tasks require updating at once.

Tracking Toolbar

Provides tools to help update a project, including update work as complete through, reschedule uncompleted work to start, project statistics.

U/V

Undo

Reverses the last command performed, if possible, or deletes the last entry typed. Be aware that Microsoft Project only has a single-level of undo facility and undo options may often be cleared if the current view is changed.

Unique ID

Similar to ID, this is a number relating to a task or resource, except that it can not be changed by the user or by using cell drag and drop.

Updating Task Status Updates Resource Status

Selected, Microsoft Project will automatically calculate the actual work, remaining work and cost for resources assigned to a task relative to the tasks percent complete. Cleared, Microsoft Project will expect actual work and remaining work to be entered for both tasks and assignments. Set within the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box (Tools..Options).

Update Work as Complete Through

An option for Microsoft Project to automatically update (for a task or number of tasks) actual start, actual finish, actual work and percent complete values based around the project's current date.

Upper Pane

As part of a combination view, the object (task / resource) in the upper pane selects the detailed information that is displayed in the lower pane below. For example, with a Gantt chart view in the upper pane and the task form view in the lower pane, when a task in the Gantt Chart is selected, the task form view displays detailed information about that particular task.

URL

An acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, a standard convention for naming and locating an object on the Internet. They can be used in project documents to link to other HTML enabled documents on an intranet, an extranet or the Internet. When connecting to Project Server, the server's URL will need to be used within each Microsoft Project client PC and also within the browser software that is using Project Web Access.

Value List

An option when creating custom fields to define a list of possible field values. These values can be a restricted list, allowing ONLY list items to be applied to a task or resource. An example would be a list of cost areas, departments or responsibilities.

Variable Consumption Rate

Upon completion of an assignment, a variable quantity of a material resource that will have been consumed, dependant upon the duration of the task to which it has been assigned. See also fixed consumption rate.

Variance

The difference between the project's baseline and its current schedule values. Variances in task information usually refer to differences between the baseline and scheduled dates/work/cost. Variances in resource information usually refer to differences between the baseline and the scheduled work and costs.

Variance Table

Displays information for reviewing if the current schedule of tasks are on time or not (compared to the project plan's baseline). Its columns contain the fields: ID; task name; scheduled start; scheduled finish; baseline start; baseline finish; start variance; finish variance.

VBA

Visual Basic for Applications - the standard Microsoft language to create program modules (or macros).

View

A way to look at and modify information in Microsoft Project and, if applicable, contain a table and a filter. Views can have many formatting options. The most common views are:

  • Calendar view

  • Gantt chart

  • Network diagram

  • Task usage

  • Tracking Gantt

  • Resource graph

  • Resource sheet

  • Resource usage

Changes to views are stored in the local project document. All views are available from the view library. Views are one of the project components and can be copied between projects using the Organizer.

View Bar

The view bar appears along the left edge of the Microsoft Project window and provides a quick means of changing views by just clicking on the icons that appear within it. If the icons are hidden, more of the window is available for tables and charts. Different views can still be selected with a Right-Click in the narrow left margin.

View Library

A list of all available views, applicable to tasks or resources. Accessed using the View..More Views command. Originally held in GLOBAL.MPT, views are stored to the local project document once they have been accessed. Views can be edited directly (or copied to create new views) within the library and can also be added to the view menu.

W

What-If? Analysis

A method of experimentation to determine the optimum schedule of tasks or utilization of resources. Project documents are usually saved to disk before and after this analysis, often with different version numbers. Interim baselines can also provide useful comparisons.

Work

Work is the total effort required to complete a task. It is created by the assignment of a resource to accomplish the work against a task, that will be complete once the work has been done. Subsequent assignments may share this total work value or increase it, dependant upon the task's effort driven status. Work can be summed by resource, by task and by summary task. It can also be summed by group.

Work Breakdown Structure

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) provides a hierarchical arrangement of the tasks within the project. Normal tasks and milestones are usually grouped beneath their respective summary tasks, forming the project's outline. This structure can be linked with the organization breakdown structure to form a responsibility matrix.

Work Table (Resources)

Provides fields to display how much work is being accomplished on a resource by resource basis. Fields include: percentage work complete; work, overtime work; baseline work; work variance; actual work; remaining work.

Work Table (Tasks)

Provides fields to display how much work is being accomplished on a task by task basis. Fields include: work; baseline work; work variance; actual work; remaining work; percentage work complete.

Workgroup

A group of people composed of a workgroup manager and workgroup members who are working on the same project. The workgroup manager assigns tasks to the workgroup members, when a project plan is published and usually receives progress information from the workgroup members. Within a program there may be many workgroups.

Workgroup Manager

The person in the workgroup responsible for creating and maintaining a project's schedule. Often referred to as a project manager as well. Assignments against tasks are sent to the workgroup members when a project plan is published. A workgroup manager will use Microsoft Project and also use Project Web Access.

Workgroup Member

Members of the project team who receive workgroup messages from the workgroup manager. One individual can belong to many workgroups. Workgroup members will usually communicate with the workgroup manager using Project Web Access.

Working Time

Time scheduled by the shift pattern within a calendar to indicate when work can be accomplished. Microsoft Project's default values are from 8AM-12PM and 1PM-5PM (08:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00). Care should be taken to ensure that the working time and the project's hours per day do not clash.

Workplanner

A way to illustrate tasks to be accomplished in a diary-type format (calendar view). This approach in describing who will do what and when is ideal for repetitive work over short timescales. It appeals to people who are unfamiliar with the Gantt chart method of reporting.

X/Y/Z

XML

A structured method for formatting data for use within web browsers and across the internet. Applications that support XML (Extensible Markup Language) will be able to share common data elements.

Zoom Factor

The degree to which a chart's timescale is formatted to fit the current window. Values include: '1 week'; '3 Months'; 'Entire Project' and so on. Accessed using the View..Zoom command.

Zoom In

Changes the timescale of a chart by using smaller units for major scale and minor scale values, thus showing a smaller timescale in greater detail.

Zoom Out

Changes the timescale of a chart by using larger units for major scale and minor scale values, thus showing a longer timescale in less detail.

About Project Learning Limited

In addition to Project Companion (the free of charge reference guide to Microsoft Project), Project Learning Limited (http://www projectlearning.net) also provides Project Mentor (a complete self-paced learning tool for Microsoft Project), together with classroom courses, master classes, and Microsoft Project implementation and consultancy solutions.

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