Project 2007 New Features

Microsoft Project 2007 is a powerful tool for creating and managing projects. As a Microsoft Office software instructor, I have had the opportunity to use and train Microsoft Project for over ten years now. This has given me the opportunity to see the progress in Microsoft Project through five versions of this application. In my opinion one of the biggest leaps in development occurred with Project 2000. The two versions since then (2003 & 2007) have added some very fine improvements to a very powerful product. My focus in this article are the five stand-out new features for Microsoft Project 2007.

The first change that caught my eye is change highlighting” which can be turned on or off under the view menu. This feature highlights cells in the task sheet whose values changed due to a modification in the value of one cell. A classic example would be changing a duration or start date of a task early in an early phase of the project, which would in turn cause the start and finish dates of successor tasks to change too. In the past, these effected tasks might not be as easily identifiable. Now they really stand out.

The task driver pane is another new feature along the lines of improved visualization of cause and effect. This pane displays linked predecessor tasks and constrained tasks that impact the start date of any task you select. Here again, this makes analysis of your schedule much easier and faster, especially in a larger project file. As an added convenience you can click right on the task listed in the task driver pane to go directly there, giving you the ability to ‘back-track’ through your project.

On the resource side, a new resource type has been added to the work and material resource types in the prior version. It is the cost resource type and it is quite useful for tracking individual unique costs throughout your project. Unlike the work resource type, it does not impact your schedule or put forth effort” and unlike the material type, it has no standard rate. It is a flexible container for random costs per task. Some examples for its use would be travel or lodging expenses which typically vary from task to task. It’s other advantage is that additional pertinent information can be added with existing or custom fields to better tie into an accounting system, if required. A major improvement has been made in the report menu. A new category for visual reports” has been added. This is a very powerful feature which takes the data from your project and automatically exports it into an Excel pivot table with charting if you choose, or to Visio too if you prefer. There are several reports to select from or you can create your own mix of fields from your project file. I know this will save some of you hours of work and provide some really impressive analysis functionality.

Last, but not least, is the ability to now do multiple level undo’s. Project was the last holdout for this common Microsoft Office feature, and it is none too soon. Many of the students I have trained over the years have yearned for this improvement from a single undo, because they sometimes would make a change which had a unintended impact on their file, but was not obvious until later, when it was too late to undo the change.

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