Synchronizing MS Project and MS Outlook

Sep 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Items for Project Managers

I had a colleague just the other day ask me a question I hadn’t thought about for a while. The question was basically this, “Is there a way to coordinate tasks created in project and schedule it in my outlook calendar?” It had been a while but I knew that I have used this ability on occasion. Once you learn how to do it, it becomes a real time saver.

So a little background about why this ability is useful. Let’s face it, the reality is that most people are not going to begin on their assigned tasks until right before they are due. Until prodded into action, we all have other things to work on and other priorities. Part of your responsibility as a project manager is to provide the nag factor when it comes to upcoming tasks. However, as project managers, we are usually charged with keeping track of numerous tasks ourselves. What could be better than have Outlook prod us about upcoming tasks? We can then turn this information around and aid our project resources in getting started on their own tasks.

It turns out that MS Project has had the ability to coordinate project tasks with resources for a while. Here’s how you put it into play.

There are two ways:

  1. If you are running MS Project Server, it is a built-in function. However, since most people aren’t running that server or have it set up, look at option #2.
  2. MS Project will coordinate with your personal Outlook out of the box.
      • What you need to do is set a “reminder” in MS Project, which will then set a “reminder” in your Outlook.
      • You can then either leave the reminder alone or assign it to someone else.

    How to Do:

    Turn on the Tracking Toolbar:

    1. Go to “View/Toolbars” and click on the Tracking Toolbar to turn it on
    2. You should see the reminder bell which is defaulted to the second to last icon. When you hover over it says “Set Reminder”. If you don’t see the bell, look at the bottom of this email on how to add it.
    3. Select the task you want the reminder set for.
    4. Click on the “Set Reminder” bell and indicate the time in advance for the reminder.
    5. The reminder will appear in your Outlook calendar (“Tasks/To Do List”)
    6. Either keep the reminder or assign it (it is really a task reminder) to someone else.

    If you don’t see the reminder bell on the Tracking Toolbar:
    Please note that the default installation for MS Project includes the Tracking Toolbar which also includes the Set Reminder bell.

    1. Go to “Tools/Customize/Toolbars”.
    2. Switch to tab “Commands”.
    3. Select “All Commands”.
    4. Scroll to “ReminderSet”.
    5. Drop the toolbar button on a toolbar of your choice.
    6. Click “Close”.

    That’s all there is to it. Once you’ve set the reminder, Outlook will continue to monitor it for you. Once the task is completed just go back into MS Project and mark it complete.

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