Forecasting Programs with Microsoft Project 2010/2013/2016/2019 and Project Online

This course is for program managers, their support staff and their (sub)project managers who use Microsoft Project Standard or Professional to manage an integrated program schedule that is broken into multiple subprojects. The course will cover MS Project versions 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and Project Online used as a standalone application or in combination with Project Server. 

The course material is the NEW 375-page textbook 'Forecasting Programs' by Eric Uyttewaal. You will get a high-resolution PDF course certificate at course completion.

About This Course

What to do when you have a 10,000-task program schedule with 10 subprojects and 500 dependencies between them? Programs are notoriously hard to schedule: the amount of data is mind-boggling, projects are interdependent upon each other and the client wants to see the Critical Path for the entire program. You may even face the challenge to integrate a software Agile schedule with Waterfall hardware schedules.

The presenter will share special techniques and tools that he and his team developed for integrating a variety of schedules and identifying the Critical Path in large programs to forecast it. With these special techniques and tools, you will be able to manage your program as if it were a project. If you have more than 1,000 tasks in your program schedule, you should attend this course.

Each participant will receive a copy of the 375-page published textbook 'Forecasting Programs' (published in January 2018) and an electronic certificate with PDUs upon course completion.

This course is based on and aligned with the PMI® Standard for Program Management, 4th edition, and PMBOK® Guide, 6th Edition.

Program Prerequisite

Participants must have managed at least one project from beginning to end with Microsoft Project. If you don't meet this requirement, we recommend you take our Fundamentals and Forecast Scheduling courses first.

Course Learning Objectives

Overall, you will learn how to use Microsoft Project effectively when managing programs. You will achieve the following learning objectives (subject to customization in onsite training):

  • Choose the right scheduling approach for the projects in your program: Agile, Critical Path, Resource-Critical Path, Critical Chain, Earned Value or Earned Work
  • Combine Agile project schedules with Critical Path project schedules in one program schedule e.g. in new product development programs with a hardware and software component
  • Determine whether to keep one large schedule for the program or split it into sub schedules
  • Choose the best orientation to break a program schedule into project schedules
  • Be able to re-integrate project schedules into a program schedule
  • Create dependencies across the project schedules in the program ('handoffs') and create an integrated master schedule (IMS) 
  • Track the slippages of handoffs between projects
  • Identify the Critical Path leading to the next major milestone(s) in the IMS and for the program as a whole
  • Determine and take corrective actions in order to bring the program back  on time
  • Track progress in project schedules and the program schedule during execution
  • Be aware of best practices for managing integrated program schedules

Course Topics


  • What is a 'program'? How is it different from a 'project' or 'project portfolio'?
  • Modeling a large program: How to prevent drowning in the data?
  • What orientations are possible for breaking down programs into projects? Pro's and con's of each orientation
  • What kind of schedule to request for the projects in the program: time model, workload model or cost model?
  • How to avoid that important stakeholders hijack your breakdown structure - use tagging and grouping to meet their report needs (multiple, parallel breakdown structures)
  • Establishing scheduling guidelines and standards for project schedules, e.g. 
    • Importance of focusing on deliverables ('handoffs' between subprojects)
    • What is the appropriate level of detail: 1%-10% rule
    • The beneficial use of Deadlines (target dates)
    • Minimizing the use of date constraints (fixed dates): how they make your program schedule rigid unnecessarily and maintenance-hungry
    • Creating complete and correct network logic: importance of identifying all dependencies within each subproject schedule (intra-dependencies) as well as between the projects (inter-dependencies or 'handoffs')
  • Rolling wave approach: Look-ahead window for detailed planning. How many months ahead?

Centralized versus Delegated Scheduling?

  • Keeping one large program schedule or splitting it into separate subproject schedules? Pro's and con's.
  • Time modeling, workload modeling or cost modeling?
  • Centralized scheduling:
    • The need for a program management office and sufficient scheduling support services
    • How many schedulers do you need?
  • Delegated scheduling: Splitting the program schedule into multiple sub schedules:
    • What orientations for breaking a program into projects are there? Pro's and con's
    • Transferring ownership of the projects to project managers
    • The chain is only as strong as its weakest link: Implementing quality assurance to sub schedules: What are the minimum scheduling guidelines: How many checks do you need at least? This can range from 35 checks (time model) to 86 checks (cost model).
  • Training schedulers / subproject managers on the minimum scheduling guidelines needed for the program

Re-integrating the Subproject Schedules

  • Ways to re-integrate sub schedules: cross-project links feature, deliverables feature, our add-in (CrossLinksPro) to create and remove cross-project links on an as-need basis, or other third-party solutions
  • Creating the cross-project dependencies: use the master schedule!
  • How to check the completeness of the network logic in a large program schedule (while keeping your sanity)
  • What to do if circular dependencies appear suddenly?
  • Creating the back-end schedule for the program where all subprojects come together: Assembly and/or integration testing
  • Monitoring cross-project impacts and managing cross-project impacts:
    • Manual date coordination between subprojects
    • Automated date coordination between subprojects

Reporting: Monitoring and Managing Projects as a Program Manager

    • Keeping multiple breakdown structures side-by-side for reporting purposes
    • Tracking Gantt view:
      • How to verify if schedules are up-to-date?
      • How to assess the performance of subprojects
    • Using tagging and grouping to meet diverse reporting needs
    • Program WBS: put the major milestones at the top? Pro's and Con's; our work-around to break the tie
    • Creating one-page reports ... always and ever ... even on very large programs!
      • Milestone chart
      • Timeline chart
      • Earned Value chart and table
      • Swim Lane chart
    • Working with large schedules requires you to become a master at filters:
      • Filters with multiple conditions using And's / Or's (Boolean logic)
      • Filters that prompt: interactive filters
    • Reporting the project the way you want: developing custom Views using custom Fields, Tables, Filters and Grouping
    • How to defend a visible time buffer or visible cost reserve to your manager, sponsor or client?

    Optimizing: How to Keep Your Program on Schedule?

    • Should we find either:
      • The Critical Path for the entire program schedule that has, for example, 1,000 tasks in a 10,000 task schedule? AND/OR
      • The Critical Path in the next major milestone with about 100 tasks in the 1000-task subnet of the milestone?
    • We recommend identifying at least the detailed Critical Path into the next major milestone of the program and we will explain a manual technique we developed to identify the Critical Path into the next major milestone as well as automated solutions
    • Manual technique:
      • Sequester the subnet of the major milestone
      • Isolating the Critical Path into the major milestone
      • Shortening the Critical Path
    • Automated solutions: Your options for automatically identifying the Critical Path to any major milestone using add-ins for MS Project
    • Monitoring the forecasted finish date for the entire program


    • Updating tasks: what update info to ask for?
    • Maintaining the integrity of the Program Baseline Schedule
    • An easy check to verify if a subproject schedule is up-to-date
    • Interpreting the Tracking Gantt chart of the project schedules in a program


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