Whether you are opening Microsoft Project for the first time or you use it frequently, you will realize how easy it can be to fill a project plan with unnecessary content. How do you know what columns to include when there are literally hundreds of options? On the other hand, what if your project plan is so basic that you’re not leveraging columns that could be making your life easier?

Every company has different requirements and standards, but at minimum, there are core columns that should be included for based on what they represent for your IT project plan (this excludes financial content).

By default, the Task Mode, Task Name, Duration, Start, Finish, Predecessors, and Resource Names columns are in place when opening a new Microsoft Project plan. There are additional columns that you should utilize to make sure your project tasks and resources stay on track:

Task Mode Unique ID Predecessors Task Name Duration Start Finish Resource Names % Work Complete Notes
Manually Scheduled  


       N/A Begin network discovery    1 hr Mon 1/4/16 Mon 1/4/16  Mirazon 75% Task details are included here


Column Key:

Task Mode: Manually Schedule should be made default to be in control of project schedule

Unique ID: Assigns a unique number to each project task, so that tracking tasks will be easier as they are moved, changed, or removed

Predecessors: Helpful in identifying dependent tasks

Task Name: Should be descriptive of the task so that others can recognize the purpose

Duration: Default should be set to “hours” instead of “days”

Start: Date that task should be started

Finish: Estimated finish date for the task – can be substituted with “Deadline” if hard date is required

Resource Names: To identify which engineer, customer, or vendor will be responsible for the task

% of Work Complete: Percentage of work complete for a task

Notes: To elaborate on the intent or status of a project task


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