Opening Merlin for the First Time
When you first open the Merlin project management software, you are given four options. The first option is to view a tutorial that will give you an overview on how to use Merlin to plan your project. The second option is to open an existing project. Options three and four allow you to create a new project, either from scratch or from a template.
Creating New Projects from a Template
Since I am new to project management software, I chose to create a new file from a template. Merlin gives you a list of templates in English and in German. Select your template to begin your project.
Starting a New Project
The next screen allows you to enter the project name, set the budget in the currency you choose, set the start and end dates for your project, and whether you want to set the direction forward or backwards.
Type in the objective in the Objective panel, set your work schedule in the Working Time panel, and select or create your project’s phases in the Phases panel.
The Merlin interface is divided into four sections. On the left is the Activities section. The Gantt chart is in the middle. The Activity Plan Inspector and Resources panes are located on the right.
For the purpose of this guide and because I’m new at project management, I selected a simple To-Do list. As you can see from the screenshot, there are a list of five activities. The top one is shaded in red, which means that it is a hot item. When I select this item, a form appears in the Activity Plan Inspector. I entered in a fictitious title in the title field, which appeared in the Activities section.
The Resource Info Inspector
This panel appears when you add a resource in the Resources panel at the bottom right of the screen. This inspector lists the information about the person, company, equipment, or material that you added. In this case, I added myself and watched the panel fill with a contact sheet.
The next subsection allows you to set your hours to the day and hour. Set the base calendar to the standard setting, night shift, or 24 hours. Configure the person as a user of the project management file, assigning her a password and configuring exactly what she has access to in the database. Also configure the user-defined fields and add notes about this person.
The Activities section is not about a list of top-level tasks. It is a multi-tiered listing of every aspect of your project. I mentioned earlier that the first title in the Activities section changed when I changed it in the Plan Inspector. After the title changed, I moved my mouse over to it and right-clicked.
A submenu appears that gives you several options. You can enter new sub-activities, assign or remove resources, elements, insert an existing project, link sub-activity timelines, set milestones, completion percentages, and more. Everything that you enter into the Activities section will reflect the data posted in the Gantt chart and the inspectors.
I have given you a very basic guide to starting a project with Merlin. If you are familiar with project management, I think that you will agree that this program is user-friendly and easy to learn.
If you are new to project management, I suggest you learn the basics of this process before trying to learn the Merlin software. By doing so, it will save you a lot of confusion. Deanna Reynolds has written a four-part series on the basics of project management that is very beneficial to users.