Home > Agile, Leadership, Microsoft Project, planning > Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 22 – Planning an agile project

Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 22 – Planning an agile project

Yes, I wasn’t supposed to do this just yet, but since the number 1 request after the last post was just how I use project during an agile Project, here goes.

1. Fix the settings

Tools—>Options is the first place to go. I start with the calendar settings setting a focus factor. In the example below, I use a 25 hour working week:


I then move on to the Schedule tab and change assignment unit to Decimal and Duration to Weeks. Default task type should be Fixed duration (without effort driven) or Fixed Work, depending of what you like but here I use Fixed Duration.

I move on to the Calculation tab and deselect Updating task status updates resource status:


I confirm with OK and move to Tools—>Change Working time.


This dialog box works differently in different versions of Microsoft Project. In one of my previous posts, I described it as it works in version up until 2003. In version 2007 you select the Work Weeks tab and click Details.

Select all working days, Set day(s) to these specific working times: and the time you specified in Tools—>Options.


Add other holidays and free time. In Project 2007 you add a new exception, specify dates and click Details. There you can specify that these times are non working. (I think the new dialog box in 2007 is really confusing so make sure that the days are really off. It should look something like this before you click OK:


Then I double click the time scale and set the Middle Tier:


And the Bottom Tier:


Click OK.

Then I select Format—>Grid lines and set Gantt rows and Bottom Tier column as dotted:


I insert the column Work and now I have a Gantt chart which looks something like this:


I set the Project Start under Project—>Project Information:


Confirm with OK.

If I just want to make a simple plan, I just enter the sprints and add the sprint length in Duration:


I then link the sprints to each other (for example by dragging the bars to the next sprint:


You then move on to the Resource sheet which you can find under the View menu.

Here you enter your resources and now you see why you changed the metric for units: instead of talking percentage you specify how many guys you have of each type. Of course you can enter names here instead. I do so when different resources are available during different parts of the project.


I can now for each sprint plan how many resources are working on each sprint by returning to the Gantt chart. I click AssignResources , select a sprint and enter how many resources are available during that sprint:


The result looks something like this. As you can see I can see how many man hours we can count on during each sprint and this gives you an idea of how velocity might fluctuate due to resource changes.


Now I can update status, take out reports, etc on a project level. For example using the Task Usage view:


Or the resource usage view:


Observe that you can right click the chart part of these views and add Baseline values and Actual values if you wish to view or update this.

But during the sprints then? Well, I use other tools then in the form of TFS and the Scrum dashboard based on Conchango Work item template. I have no need to track this double, so I don’t use the Project integration. Project is good for planning and follow up plans, not for keeping requirements or priorities,

If I’d used Project during the sprints, I would create a new project file for each sprint and insert hyperlinks between the files. Just so I focus on that sprint and don’t mix up the metrics.

And this is the full extent of my using Project in an agile project. The usage of the calendar functions makes it easy to calculate how much man hours we have available and since I use the Gantt chart form, it is easier to show the stuff for managers.

Yes, you still have the risk that “add a new resource late in the project” looks great in the calculations, but that is up to me to debate with the stakeholders. To make them understand the logic and the effects.

  1. Nuno Guerreiro
    2009/09/01 at 10:35 pm

    Can you share a .mpp file sample ?



    • Anna Forss
      2009/09/02 at 5:34 am

      I can post that, probably this week

  2. 2009/12/10 at 3:32 pm

    This was great! Very helpful!!

    The only thing that threw me off is why you set working time to 25 hours, I assume we’d want to do 35 assuming most people do 7 hours of productive work per day…

    Could you explain why it was set to 25 hours?

    • Anna Forss
      2010/01/05 at 6:19 pm

      Hi! Sorry for a late response. The reason for the 25 hours a week setting is that I always plan for people doing other stuff. Corporate meetings, sick leave, etc. If a developer says something takes three weeks, he don’t take that in consideration. Not in my experience, anyway. But you should use the focus factor which you have seen in your organization

  3. Paul D.
    2010/01/13 at 3:14 pm


    Great posts- very helpful!

    I am having trouble replicating this layout in Project 2003. Re: the Dialogue Box, you mention “In one of my previous posts, I described it as it works in version up until 2003” however I’m having trouble finding the previous post where you describe how it works.



    • Anna Forss
      2010/01/16 at 8:21 am

      It’s the post on how to handle part time workers (part 9). Be sure to select the week day names to change all working days. And get back to me if you have questions

  4. 2010/01/30 at 9:10 pm

    I think this is the best information I have gotten about planning a sprint. We are in our second sprint and had a ton of issue with velocity in our first sprint with our new team.

    • Anna Forss
      2010/01/31 at 8:06 pm

      Thank you! Please get back to me if you have other questions and if you need to have something clarified

  5. fikre
    2011/05/13 at 9:12 am

    What do you think of the idea of an application that integrates with MS Project to make it easier to work on agile projects? I was thinking of writing one with some work mates and was wondering if you have any ideas of what we could add, or of what it mainly lacks in when dealing with agile projects.

    • Anna Forss
      2011/05/25 at 2:53 pm

      I mostly use copy and pasting into other tools/documents if needed. When it comes to agile projects I find that it’s important to decide what you need project for and use it for just those needs. What do you see as the most important use of ms project in an agile project?

  6. Ian
    2011/06/23 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Could you provide link to the .mmp file, or e-mail it to me? The link provided above is broken. Thanks

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: