Using Macros in Microsoft Project

Using Macros in Microsoft Project
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What Is a Macro?

A macro is a name used for a computer program which is used to execute a series of instructions. Usually a macro is utilized for something that is repetitive in nature.

Examples of where a macro can be used

  • complex calculations that need to be repeated for varied sets of inputs,
  • a particular action being performed over and over again on different input, files, etc.

Macros, if effectively used, can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on performing menial tasks and thereby improve one’s productivity.

This is one of many Bright Hub PM project management software tutorials that will help equip project managers in adding this useful skill to their repertoire of skills.

How to Create a Macro in MS Project

The following steps describe how to create a macro in Microsoft Project.

Note: While certain people choose to write their own macros, this requires certain initial expertise. Hence the best approach while starting with macros is to play around with the Record feature.

Creating the Macro

Step 1: Opening the Project Plan

  • Open your Project Plan in MS Project.

Step 2: Start Macro Recording

  • Navigate to Tools –> Macro –> Record New Macro

Step 3: Saving the Macro

  • Give the macro a suitable name. Click on OK.

Step 4: Performing the Repetitive Action

  • Perform the action that you would like to record. In this example, it is taking the screenshot of a project’s Gantt chart and exporting it as a GIF using the camera tool.

  • Navigate to the Camera Tool on the toolbar. Select the GIF option, give a filename and click on OK

Step 5: Stopping Macro Recording

Macros - Record Macro

  • Click on Tools –> Macro –> Stop Recorder.

  • Voila! The macro is ready. In order to re-run the macro on other project files, perform the following steps.

Running the Macro

Step 1: Open a New Project File

  • Now, open a new project file upon which you would like to run the macro.

Step 2: Running the Macro

Macros - Run Macros

  • Navigate to Tools –> Macro –> Macros (or press Alt+F8).

  • Select the macro that you created and click on Run.

For further reference, please visit the Microsoft Office Tutorial on creating a Macro in MS Project.

The Power of Macros

One of the programs in which macros are commonly used is in Microsoft Excel. In MS Excel, users create macros using the Record Macro tool and are able to drastically reduce the time spent on menial repetitive tasks and significantly improve their productivity.

For example, a macro can be used to collate data from 1,000+ Excel files into a single report in about 5-15 minutes. On the other hand, doing the same job manually would take almost an entire day if not more. Further, with increased repetitiveness of a task, people enter a state of complacency and boredom that results in sub-standard output of work.

However, the accuracy of a macro being a software program will be the same irrespective of whether it is processing 1 file or 10,000 files and is dependent only on how well it is written.

Due to lack of knowledge or awareness of the presence of a similar macro functionality in Microsoft Project, project managers who use MS Project sometimes fail to make use of this feature.

For an introduction to MS Project, please read this step-by-step tutorial on how to get started with Microsoft Project.