Someone asked me these days how he can plan the critical cut over phase of his project when he has to go down to an hourly granularity and specify tasks which need to start on a specific hour of the day and which might take only a few hours, while the rest of the project is planned on a daily base as usual. His question was: can this be done with one plan in MS Project or should he better use two plans – an extra one for the cut over period ?
My recommendation was to not start with two plans. Maintaining two plans for one project could easily become a nightmare, at least would be hard to handle, even MS Project does allow to combine multiple plans or to have one resource pool for mutiple plans.
There is no need to deal with that complexity since MS Project
- has all the flexibility you need to adjust the timescale of your gantt chart
- and allows to specify timestamps for e.g. a task’s start date also including hours and even minutes.
To view that part of the gantt chart showing the cut over period with hourly granularity it is possible to simply “zoom in” until hours start appearing in the timescale, or to adjust the timescale by doing a right-click on it, then select “Timescale…” to open up the timescale dialog. This would allow e.g. to set up a third tier on the timescale and to show hours there.
In order to be able to specify task related timestamps including hour and minute a default option of MS Project has to be changed, since by default those timestamps are only treated as a simple date. This can be achieved by going to the Tools -> Options menu item and selecting the “View” tab in the appearing Options dialog. Open up the “Date format” drop down and select the appropriate format containing also hours and minutes. This now will allow to specify hour and minutes for each timestamp field in MS Project.
Note that when you click on the arrow besides such a field still the date picker calendar comes up allowing you to select a date only. Per default the time will be set to the default start time of a day, as can be seen and changed under the “Calendar” tab of the Options dialog. After having selected a date however it is possible to edit that field and type in a new time.