Like many Project Managers, I used MS Project as a spreadsheet without realizing its power until MPUG India-Chennai initiated the transformation in me to use it as MS Project itself! Let me share a few of my learning experiences from the day MPUG was launched at India-Chennai.

  • Project Start Date
  • Calendar
  • Resources

Project Start Date

My project start date always used to be the start date of the first task until I realized it has to be defined in the ‘Project Information.’



The ‘Schedule from’ option gave me the insight of scheduling a project with an end date in mind. This is very crucial when we run a project with a customer specified end date, wherein everything else needs to be planned backward to meet this date. I had never explored this option when using it as a spreadsheet.

The other field that you would see to the right of ‘Schedule from’ is the ‘Calendar.’ It is neither our daily sheet that we tear and throw away nor a monthly sheet that we flip over every month (when someone points to us). From what I have learned, I see this as an engine on which the project runs.



I had never used the calendar when using MS Project as a Task entry sheet. Now, I could not think of scheduling a project without the Calendar.


  • The standard calendar is the default base calendar which provides:
    • Default working hours (e.g. 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM).
    • Default working days (e.g. Monday through Friday).
  • Any exception to working days (i.e. Non-working days/Holidays) can be specified in the ‘Exception’ tab.
  • Any exception to non-working days (i.e. working days) can be specified in the ‘Work Weeks’ tab.
  • The other calendars available are:
    • Night Shift – when shifts are involved.
    • 24 hours – where onsite and offshore types of engagements are involved.
  • In addition to the above, we can create our own customized calendar for the project and individual resources by using one of the existing calendars as a base.
  • The calendar definition plays a vital role in scheduling.




Are you in a hurry to enter your tasks immediately after creating a calendar? Calendars are more meaningful with Resources; the other major driving factor of a project.


The following items are key characteristics of a resource:

  1. Type – Indicates the type of resource such as Work, Material and Cost.
  2. Max – The % of availability of the resource to the current project.
  3. Std. Rate – The standard cost the project would incur by utilizing the resource.
  4. Base Calendar – The calendar that the resource would stick in the project tenure.

resources 2

Please don’t be surprised when your Resource Sheet does not match with the above example! I have hidden the other columns for the sake of simplicity.

resources3   The symbol in the above snap is an indicator that gives information about the resources that would help us to understand and fix issues. Please do not hide these indicators in whichever view you see it.




Stay tuned next week for more information on Task Entry!



Written by Thangavelu Sundararajan, PMP


Having 10+ years of Project Management experience in IT industry, managing Development, Maintenance and Support projects for Global Customer.