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Moving from P6 to Project...Help!

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UK Planning Engineer
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I've recently been asked to take over a team of Planners by my boss however the team are using Microsoft Project whereas the rest of the company uses P6.

Having used P6 for 11 years I'm not new to Planning but am completely new to Microsoft Project and have had no training.


  • Does anyone have any advice on my first encounter with Microsoft Project?
  • Any suggestions regarding books or resources for training
  • Any quirks/big differences from P6 to look out for?


Thanks everyone!


Santosh Bhat
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I'd also add that if you need to ever transfer from one to the other (that is MSP <> P6), don't rely on their native XML formats. There is a tool available called XER Transfer that is the best for maintaining the intergrity of the schedules between the two applications.

Tom Boyle
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Yes, Paul Harris's book is a good start.  

Other notes:

Default "Manual" scheduling mode in MSP should be avoided at all cost by any professional scheduler.

Default MSP scheduling is much more resource-oriented than P6.  Task types are defined a bit differently, and default task types tend to be resource-driven.  Most P6 users are advised to use tasks of fixed-duration type.  These correspond most closely to task-type activities in P6, but they are not the same.    

Un-progressed schedules in MSP are pretty close to those in P6, with some caveats:

1. Only one constraint is allowed in MSP.  (Plus a Deadline, which functions the same as a FOB constraint in P6.)

2. By default, in the event of a conflict between a constraint and precedence logic, the constraint wins.  (Logic always wins in P6).  You can change this in the MSP settings.

3. Only one relationship is allowed between any two tasks in MSP.  Combined SS/FF relationships require use of a dummy milestone.

4. In P6, the ALAP constraint is a zero-free-float constraint, but in MSP it's a zero-total-float constraint.  Avoid it.

5. MSP offers a backward-scheduling mode ("Schedule from Finish").  It's pretty sophisiticated but like much of MSP offers many chances to paint yourself into a corner.  Avoid it.

MSP and P6 schedule behavior deviates a bunch when progress-updating is introduced.  One of the biggest differences any long-time Primavera user will note is the absence of a true Data Date, with corresponding changes in required updating processes.  Unlike the Data Date in P6, the Status Date in MSP exists primarily for earned value, not for scheduling of remaining work.  The impact of a true data date is imposed by schedule constraints.  Progress updating requires a lot more effort and attention to detail.  Without a true data date, there is no true "retained logic" calculation for out-of-sequence activities.  ("Split in-progress tasks" comes closest but is not the same.)  Finally, out-of-sequence task updates can introduce some real goofy changes to task total slack.

Read Ron Winter's article on MSP vs. P6 differences!

Good luck, tom

Jerome Odeh
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Buy Paul E Harris' "Planning and Control Using Microsoft Project 365: Including Microsoft Project 2013, 2016 and 2019" from Amazon. It should get you up to speed fast.

And you can always pop back to Planning Planet and ask questions if stuck.

I've also got some tutorials and tips on Microsoft Project on my blog.