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Creating Custom Groups in Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project 2007 lets you group similar items together to help you keep track of all the data you enter. The Group feature essentially enables you to organize information by certain criteria — for example, by hourly rate, duration, or cost.

Organizing tasks or resources in this way can help you identify a potential problem in your project. For example, say that you find that the majority of your resources at project startup are unskilled and that most of the tasks at the end of your project are on the critical path. In that case, you should probably build in more time and money for training, build in more slack, and move out your final deadline.

Like filters, groups come predefined, and you can create custom groups. Custom groups include three elements that you can make settings for: a field name, a field type, and an order. For example, you might create a group that shows the field name (such as Baseline Work) and a field type (such as Tasks, Resources, or Assignments) in a certain order (Descending or Ascending). A group that shows Baseline Work for Tasks in Descending Order would list tasks in order from the most work hours required to the least.

Other settings you can make for groups control the format of the group's appearance, such as the font used or a font color to be applied.

Follow these steps to create a custom group:

1. Choose Project --> Group By --> More Groups.

The More Groups dialog box appears.

2. Select either Task or Resource to specify in which list of groups you want the new group to be included.

3. Click New.

The Group Definition dialog box appears.

4. In the Name field, type a name for the group.

5. Click the first line of the Field Name column, click the down arrow that appears to display the list of choices, and then click a field name to choose it.

6. Repeat Step 5 for the Field Type and Order columns.

Note that if you want the Field Type option of grouping by assignment rather than by resource or task, you must first select the Group Assignments, Not Tasks check box to make that field available to you. Otherwise, the Field Type of Task or Resource appears by default.

7. If you want to add another sorting criteria, click a row titled Then By and make choices for the Field Name, Field Type, and Order columns.

8. If you want the new group to be shown in the list when you click the Group box on the Formatting toolbar, select the Show in Menu check box.

9. Depending on the field name you've chosen, you can make settings for the font, cell background, and pattern to format your group.

10. If you want to define intervals for the groups to be organized in, click the Define Group Intervals button.

This displays the Define Group Intervals dialog box; use the settings here to set a starting time and an interval.

11. Click OK to save the new group and then click Apply to apply the group to your plan.

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