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Microsoft Project 2010 : Setting Up Project for Your Use - Defining Calendars (part 1) - Calendar Hierarchy , Modifying and Defining Base Calendars

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11/25/2014 3:31:43 AM

One of the first major assumptions you have to make in any schedule is how much time is available to complete tasks. You need to account for all holidays, vacation time, and all other foreseeable nonworking time to build a schedule with any degree of accuracy.

As previously mentioned, by default Project applies a Standard calendar of 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with an hour off for lunch. You can modify this Standard calendar, and you can create additional project calendars as well.

Tip

It is important to keep your organization’s working environment in mind when constructing base calendars for projects. Choose a calendar so that you can plan for success. If you simply accept the Standard base calendar, you automatically run into an issue: Your people cannot spend eight hours a day working only on your project. Your project schedule ought to reflect reality.

A resource might typically spend six out of the eight hours in a day working on your project, and the other two hours on administrative tasks or miscellaneous activity. You could change your base calendar to reflect six hours of working time in a day. However, it may be better to simply keep in mind when you are creating your task list that an eight-hour task may take a little more than an eight-hour day.

For most organizations, it is recommended that you keep your eight–hour-a-day calendar or another calendar that reflects the general start and finish working times of an average day/week, and instead adjust the percentage of time that resources have available each day.


Calendar Hierarchy

Project makes it possible to assign calendars at the Project, Resource, and Task level. Tasks using Auto Schedule mode will honor working and nonworking time according the following hierarchy of calendars:

1.
The Task Calendar— If a task has a specific calendar, Project honors the Task Calendar unless a resource assigned to the task also has a specific Calendar; in this case, Project will attempt to honor both calendars. (It is also possible to check the Scheduling Ignores Resource Calendars box in the Task Information window, Advanced tab. In the event of a conflict, Project will display an error message, telling you that it will default to this setting to resolve the conflict.) If the task does not have a specific calendar....

2.
The Resource Calendar— If a resource is assigned to a task and the resource has a specific calendar assigned to it, Project honors that calendar. If the resource does not have a calendar (which is common) and the Task does not have a calendar....

3.
The Project Calendar— All tasks without specific calendars, lacking resources with specific calendars, will honor the Project Calendar.

This hierarchy is a very powerful scheduling feature. Unfortunately, in past versions of Project, it often led to confusion; Project Managers and schedulers found it difficult to understand exactly why some tasks were scheduled to occur when they were. With 2010, you can simply hover over the information column. The driving calendar will be clearly identified, unless it is the project calendar.


Modifying and Defining Base Calendars

Much of your calendar modifications will occur on the Change Working Time dialog box. To access it, click the Project tab, Change Working Time. Figure 1 shows the Change Working Time dialog box. The Change Working Time dialog box contains a For Calendar field to define which calendar you are viewing, a legend, a calendar, and two tab options (Exceptions and Work Week) to modify the calendar. When you open the Change Working Time dialog box, the current date is highlighted in bold on the calendar.

Figure 1. The Change Working Time dialog box is where you can modify and create base calendars.

Defining Exceptions

You can define exceptions individually, or you can define a recurrence exception along with its recurrence pattern, so each exception only has to be defined once.

For example, if Labor Day is always a nonworking day at your company, you can tell Project to define every Labor Day as an exception. To do this, follow these steps:

1.
Open the Change Working Time dialog box (Project tab, Change Working Time).

2.
Scroll to the month of September using the arrows on the right side of the calendar.

3.
Click on Labor Day, the first Monday of every September. In 2011, Labor Day is September 5th.

4.
Under the Exceptions tab, type Labor Day in the Name column, and click Enter, or press the directional arrow to the right. The Start and Finish columns will display the date of the highlighted day in the calendar (in this case, 9-5-11).

5.
Select the cell in the Start column next to the exception name (in this case, select the 9-5-11 cell in the Start column next to Labor Day) and click the Details button.

6.
The Details dialog box will appear, as shown in Figure 2. If Labor Day is a nonworking holiday, leave the Nonworking option selected. If you want to define working hours (such as a half day), select Working Times and enter the hours of working times for Labor Day.

Figure 2. The Details dialog box enables you to define the details of your exception, including its recurrence pattern and range.

7.
Under Recurrence Pattern, select Yearly, because Labor Day happens once a year. Figure 2 shows this selection.

8.
Because the date for Labor Day changes annually, select the The... option, and then the First Monday of September is filled in automatically. Because this is the appropriate description for Labor Day, you do not have to change anything else.

9.
The Range of Recurrence automatically fills the selected date from the calendar in the Start field. Because this is the first Labor Day in your project, you do not have to change this field. If you wanted the exception to start on a different date, you can type in the date or use the drop-down list to choose from a calendar.

10.
The final step is defining the end of the range of the exception. You can select End By and fill in a date (type it in or use the drop-down), or you could select End After and fill in the number of occurrences you want the exception to end after. Project supports information up until 12-31-2049, so the maximum number of occurrences you could enter is 39, because there are 39 Labor Days between 9-5-2011 and 12-31-2049.

Tip

The Recurrence Pattern options are Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly. Click each option to familiarize yourself with defining in detail the recurrence pattern information for all four options. Information appears at the right of the options and varies depending on which one you choose.

11.
Click OK. The date is now highlighted as an Exception Day (as defined in the legend), and if you scroll through every month of September, you will notice the same for every first Monday. Click OK again to close the Change Working Time dialog box, or continue modifying your calendar.

Similarly, if you have a long meeting every Friday, you can simply click on the Friday of the first meeting and repeat the process. Define working hours around the meeting, select a Weekly recurrence pattern on Friday, and define the end of the exception.

Note

If you were defining a nonworking day that occurs each year on the same date, such as Christmas Eve, you would select the On option and type in the date.


You can also define longer exceptions, such as office closures for an extended period. For example, if your company shuts down starting on Christmas until the end of the year, you can define that entire time period as non-working time. To set this up so that it occurs each year, the changes must be made one day at a time:

1.
Open the Change Working Time dialog box by selecting Tools, Change Working Time.

2.
Scroll to the month of December using the arrows on the right side of the calendar.

3.
Click on December 26th.

4.
Under the Exceptions tab, type Holiday in the Name column, and click Enter, or press the directional arrow to the right. The Start and Finish columns will display the date range of the highlighted period in the calendar.

5.
To set up the recurrence pattern for this date, click the Details button. Under Recurrence Pattern, select Yearly, and the On (December 26, in this case) option is automatically selected.

6.
Under Range of Recurrence, you can either specify the number of years by selecting the End After option and then entering the number (of years, in this case) that this exception will apply to. Or you can also select the End by option and select the specific date (in this case, 12/26/2011) until which the exceptions will apply. The date you provide here is inclusive, so in this example, the last year the exception will be applied is 2011. Click OK.

Repeat this process for each day in the closure period, even if it falls on a weekend in the first year. This will enable you to make sure that all days between 12/26 and 12/31 are nonworking days, regardless of where they fall in the week. You can verify that the change is correct by reviewing the number of occurrences shown in the dialog box in Figure 3. In this example, the number is “3” because the recurrence time period was established as three years.

Figure 3. The Details dialog box allows you to define the details of your exception period and set up the exact period as well as the recurrence pattern in which it occurs.


If you have successfully made an exception, the numbers on the dates of the exception will appear as defined in the legend.

Creating New Base Calendars

It is helpful to make exceptions to your base calendar to account for small changes in working time. However, sometimes it is more efficient to simply create a new base calendar completely and apply that to your project. For example, assume that your resources work 40 hours a week, but only four days a week. Rather than going through and changing every Monday through Thursday to 10 hour days and making Friday a nonworking day, it is easier to just create a new base calendar that more accurately depicts your standard working time.

To do this, follow these steps:

1.
Open the Change Working Time dialog box by selecting the Project tab, Change Working Time.

2.
Click the Create New Calendar button at the top, which opens the Create New Base Calendar box.

3.
Type in a distinctive name in the Name field.

4.
Select the Create New Base Calendar option if you want to start from scratch on the standard 40-hour workweek, or select the Make a Copy Of option if you want to use an existing base calendar as your template. Click OK.

Note

Selecting Make a Copy Of changes your calendar name from what you named it to Copy of [name of calendar you are making a copy of]. If you still want to call it your original name, change it back.

Notice that the For Calendar field at the top of the Change Working Time dialog box has defined the new base calendar with the name you gave it. Also, when you are finished creating the calendar, if you open your Project Information dialog box (Project, Project Information), you see the new base calendar listed as an option for the project base calendar in the Calendar drop-down list.

5.
After you have defined your new base calendar, it is time to define your workweek. Click the Work Weeks tab, and click the Details button or double-click Default in the Name column. The Details dialog box appears, in which you define your workweek (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Define your workweek when creating a base calendar in the Details dialog box.

6.
To define a 40-hour, four-day workweek (Monday–Thursday, 10 hours a day), go through each day in the Details dialog box. Sunday is selected first. Because this is a nonworking day, you can select either Set Days to Nonworking Time or Use Project Default Times for These Days.

Tip

To enter time for multiple days simultaneously, hold down Shift and drag your mouse over the multiple days you want to change. Alternatively, hold down Ctrl and click each day individually.

7.
Next, highlight Monday. Select Set Day(s) to These Specific Times. In the From and To columns, set the appropriate working hours. Be sure to press Enter after each cell entry to save the information. For example, you could type 8:00 a.m. in the From column, press Enter, and type 12:00 p.m. in the To column and press Enter. Then for afternoon hours, type 1:00 p.m. in the From column, press Enter, and type 7:00 p.m. in the To column and press Enter. This will give you a 10-hour day with an hour off for lunch. If you are satisfied with this schedule, repeat the process for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Note

You can enter time in 12-hour clock format or 24-hour clock format (military time). If you’re using the 12-hour format, noon is 12:00 p.m. and midnight is 12:00 a.m. If the time is on the hour, you only have to enter the single number (5 p.m. for 5:00 p.m.). Be sure to define a.m. and p.m. Otherwise, Project may misinterpret your times.

Generally, only the first four working hours boxes are defined: the top two for morning hours and the bottom two for afternoon hours. Sometimes you will use the remaining boxes to account for multiple breaks or meals, or for other unusual work schedules. You must define the To and From fields as pairs, and the From field must come later than the To field.

8.
Finally, highlight Friday and select Set Days to Nonworking Times. Do the same for Saturday, and press OK.

Notice how the new calendar is created, with all Fridays set as nonworking days, and the working times for Monday through Thursday reflect what you defined.

When you have finished, click OK to close the Change Working Time dialog box, or click Cancel to exit without saving.

 
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