Project management goal: Set up a project

Setting up a project conceptual image.

Once you've finished your initial planning — or if you haven't even started! — use Microsoft Project 2010 to create and set up your project plan. You can then use Project's powerful features to more effectively manage your project.

This overview shows you the big picture of setting up a project. Follow the links in each step for detailed information about each process.

This article is one of many project management goals on the Project Road Map.

What do you want to do?

Step 1: Create a project

Step 2: Add and link tasks

Step 3: Outline your project

Step 4: Create calendars

Step 5: Save and publish

Step 1: Create a project

The usual way to start to use Project 2010 is to create a new blank project plan. Or you can base your new file on an existing project or template that contains tasks or resources that are like those you need.

Create a new project

Start with a clean slate, which you can then populate with tasks, resources, and other schedule information.

Open a project

Leverage the thought that went into previous projects by using an existing project or template as the basis for your project.

Project templates

In Word 2010, choose File > New to search for templates for Project 2010 and earlier that are available on

Open a file from an earlier version

Project 2010 opens projects created by using earlier versions of Project, but the conversion might affect certain features.

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Step 2: Add and link tasks

Most projects begin with a task list that will grow in complexity until it becomes a full-blown project plan and schedule. Once you create or import your task list, you can then define the relationships between them.

Add tasks

Create regular tasks and recurring tasks and add them to your project plan.

Import tasks

Add tasks and field data from other programs into your project plan.

Add a milestone

Milestones are tasks that act as reference points marking major events in a project.

Set task durations

Determine how long it will take to complete a task and add that information to the plan.

Link tasks

Create links (dependencies) between the tasks in your task list. If one task runs late, it affects the next one in line.

Inactivate a task

Cancel a task but keep a record of it in the project plan. This is a useful tool for testing the effects of changes to your project.

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Step 3: Outline your project

You make your task list more organized and readable by just indenting and outdenting the project's tasks to create an outline of the summary tasks and subtasks. Unlike earlier versions, Project 2010 lets you start with a list of summary tasks and create subtasks for them, instead of the other way around.

Outline tasks

Create tasks and subtasks to add structure to your task list.

Add WBS codes

If you want to show work breakdown structure (WBS) codes, you can use the existing structure in your project or create a custom WBS code mask to specify the structure of WBS codes when you create tasks.

Use top-down planning

Set up the major phases first and then break them down into individual tasks.

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Step 4: Create calendars

Once you have a better idea of what must be done and how all the parts relate to each other in your project, you can begin to adjust the schedule. In Project, the default working times are 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. weekdays, with an hour off for lunch. You can set calendars for your whole project, specific tasks, and resources doing work on the project.

Set working times, vacations, and holidays

Change the hours for all working days, certain days (every Tuesday), or specific dates (holidays).

Create a calendar for a task

Identify working and nonworking time for a specific task.

How scheduling works in Project

Learn how Project calculates the schedule and how you can manually schedule tasks.

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Step 5: Save and publish

From time to time, you need to save your project to keep changes that you made, make a backup copy, create a template that you can use for another project, or even publish your project to Project Server.

Save a project

Save a local or enterprise project on your computer.

Publish a project

Make your project work available to other users on Project Server.

Save or convert to PDF or XPS

These formats can be viewed on almost any computer, even if it doesn't have Project installed.

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