Tip #4: Use Manual Scheduling to Plan Your Project in a "Rolling Wave" Fashion
Microsoft® Project 2010 allows you to turn off the scheduling engine and to treat Project much like you do Excel. Rolling wave planning lets you plan as much detail as you currently know... then to later add more detail (not more scope) to the plan.
To use Manual scheduling to accomplish this, click on the lower left of the screen where it says New Tasks: Auto Scheduled and change this to Manually Scheduled. If it is already showing Manually Scheduled, you are all set. Go to the Format tab and check the box that says Project Summary Task. This will put line 0, a Project Summary Task on the first line of your schedule. On the next line down, click on the Task tab, Summary (in the Insert group). This inserts a summary task with an indented detail task underneath it, into your schedule. With your cursor on the next blank line, Click on the Task tab, Task arrow (in the Insert group.) Do this several times to represent multiple tasks under the summary task. Put your cursor on the next blank line and click on the Task tab, Milestone (in the Insert group.) You now have a summary task with multiple detail tasks underneath and a milestone representing the end of the summary task. Repeat this process to enter as many summary tasks as you require. You can now start filling in this generic template with whatever information you know at this point in time. You can also type text into date fields (i.e. TBD). Notice in the Task Mode column, the summary tasks are still Auto Scheduled. If you leave them this way...they will behave as they always have. If you change them to Manually Scheduled, they will show your original estimate on the summary task and, as you fill in the detail tasks below, it will show how your estimates on the summary task compare with the estimates on the detail tasks (and when you have exceed the original estimate on the summary).
Ed Lively (PMP, APMC, MCTS, MCITP, MCSE) is a highly skilled IIL trainer and consultant with extensive project management experience across several industries. His broad level of experience includes operations, information technology, corporate finance, and process improvement.