Example showing how to input COE SDEF data into Microsoft Project.

A simple concrete slab pour for my back yard:

Shown below is the start of Microsoft Project 2003, used for this example as it is far easier to upgrade the 2003 version up to 2007 or 2010 than the other direction.  We begin by simply entering the task names.  Notice that each task starts with a default of 1 day duration starting on the current default date.


Next, I go through and assign more realistic durations for each task, and then we want to link the tasks with the default finish-to-start relationship, by selecting all the tasks (control-click the far left side row selectors) then simply use the "Link Tasks" icon as shown below.  This creates a nice sequence of task bars in the Gantt Chart on the right side.  It also automatically establishes the Predecessors as shown below, and adjusts the Start and Finish dates according to the default 5-day work week calendar.


Now I'm going to put in some cost information, by typing numbers into the Cost Table.  I need to View->Table->Cost as shown below:


I type in my cost estimates into the "Cost" column, as this is the most direct way to input something like a bid cost for a task.  Microsoft Project would automatically calculate this as "Total Cost" from the sum of fixed costs and resource costs if I were to establish an entire resources table.  The Resources Table does not upload into SDEF, but a similar item is pulled from the Responsibility column later in this tutorial.  The default in MS-Project is to title the "Cost" column heading as "Total Cost" although it is really just Task.Cost.


What I also like to do the common outlining with "Summary Tasks" so next I insert new tasks as shown below, which I will turn into summaries:


After the insert of new tasks, I select the tasks under the one I want as a summary, and indent them.  See the handy Indent shortcut icon on the toolbar:


So now I still have just the 5 basic tasks of this project, with two summary tasks that are treated as roll-up tasks, or the sum of tasks below their indent level.  After establishing the summary tasks, it's important to LEAVE THEM ALONE.  The summary tasks will not upload into SDEF, because SDEF has no distinction between a summary and a task, so the summary tasks will be skipped upon output to SDEF. 

For example, I want to change my start date to July 1.  So I go to the first task (actually #002), double click the Task to get into the Task Information dialog as shown below, then change just the start date to July 1.  All other dates are adjusted automatically by MS-Project according to defined durations, task relationships (predecessors) and the calendar.

Also note that the task COSTS ARE AUTOMATICALLY ADDED to a total cost of each summary, the total of tasks under the summary.  Another reason we cannot use the summary tasks in SDEF, else we might artificially double the costs.  Only non-summary tasks will be used for SDEF.

Now I'm ready to save these data to a Baseline, and start tracking the actual progress as we go.  Under Tools->Tracking I save this as the baseline schedule:

Notice also that my title bar will change (see below) from Project1 to MSproj03 from here on out, because I also went to File->Save As and saved my work into a new mpp file.

I also need to get my Project Identification information into the file, so what I'll do is go into File->Properties and define the following entries:

Project Name will go into the Title box

Contract Name will go into the Subject box

Project Identifier into the Manager (only 4 characters allowed by SDEF)

And most important: my contract number (6 or 7 digits) should be input to the Keywords box,

and my registration e-mail address must be put in the Comments box (see below):

As of February 2012, our SDEFmpp software checks the www.geocomputer.com registrations before completing output.  Unregistered e-mail/contract combinations will be limited to 10 task ouput and have all cost information zero in the output SDEF text file.

With a baseline defined, now I'm ready to see the tracking tools, so I want to View->Table:Tracking to get what's shown here.  Now we see the baseline as grey shaded bars, the critical tasks as red bars, with solid color to indicate progress.  I've typed in some "% Complete" numbers here, and everything else happened automatically.  When we reach 100% completion, the MS-Project will automatically update the "Actual Finish" date (later on, not shown here).

Task custom fields such as "Feature of Work" and "Bid Item" are not available in MS-Project, and there is nothing even close.  So I assume that users of my SDEF software will define TEXT fields for the 8 unique SDEF definitions as listed on my site project.htm

To define these fields use View->Tables->More Tables, and the More Tables dialog will open (shown below).  We could edit any of these Tables, but I like to put these custom fields into the Entry Table, as thats where I do data entry at first.  So select the Entry able and click the Edit button on the dialog box as shown below:

Now we get a Table Definition dialog, where I use the existing Text1, Text2, etc.... fields to store the Worker per day, Responsibility, etc... fields as defined by the COE SDEF specification.

Most important of all these is usually the Bid Item, (CLIN), which will probably need to balance total costs of each bid item, up to the approved bid for the contract.  This is a QCS software issue later on, and we can go back into MS-Project and fix things if needed later,

Shown below is my customized Entry Table, with some data filled in:

This project is now at a point where we can write out the SDEF file, then upload that to the SDEF Checker or QCS for further processing.  If you desire, here's a link to the completed mpp project file.

I keep the current link to my software (plus update information) on another web page ( click here )

My SDEF output is shown below for the progress to date.  Notice this is a simple text file, which can actually be edited easily with the Notepad program that comes with Windows.  Just be certain to keep the columns exactly as defined!!!  For example, when I decide to spell "vegetation" correctly.......

(final slide please).....             I can do such simple editing in Notepad if desired as shown below.  Be aware, however, that the MS-Project mpp file still has "vegatation" so maybe it would be better to go back into MS-Project, fix it there and re-create the SDEF:    (link to completed file as shown below)

proceed into QCS import of SDEF example