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Entering Tasks The Right Way RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I’m hoping that there’s an MS Project expert that can help get me on the right track.

    Information about my project schedule as it stands:

    I have all of my tasks, subtasks, dependencies, and resources defined. What I don’t have fully completed is the work, duration, and start/finish times.

    Question 1:

    One of the tasks in my schedule is a one-hour conference call with three resources assigned. Would that be considered 1 hour or 3 hours in the “Work” field? Would the duration be 1 hour? Given that I have all of the resources listed and know that the call is 1 hour, would it make sense to change the Task Type from the default of Fixed Units to another type, or would I just leave it alone?

    Question 2:

    Some of the tasks for the project were performed before I had a chance to put them in the schedule (I know that’s a bit out of order). For example, there was a phone call on a specific date in the past and when I enter it in MS Project, it wants to make the start date the day after another dependent task’s end date. Since the reality is that the phone call happened about a week after the dependent task's end date, is the right thing to do:

    a) just change the start date of the phone call,
    b) add lag time of a 7 days to the task, or
    c) make use of the “Actual Start Time” and “Actual End Time” fields?

    I hope that makes some sort of sense and I appreciate any help people can give me to get on the right path.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015 9:31 PM

Answers

  • Hi Mike, great questions.

    For 1, I would make it fixed duration, enter the duration as 1 hour, and assign your 3 resources. Work will calc to 3 hours which is right.

    For 2, I'd go for a) and then set the task to be 100% complete. This will update the actual start/finish dates anyway.


    Ben Howard [MVP] | web | blog | book | P2O

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015 10:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Question 1/Answer 1: leave it alone because changing it will have no effect unless you change the resource assignment units, or change the duration or change the work. If you use the assign resources dialog you can assign all three people at 100% units to the 1 hour task in one go, so this is the initial assignment, not a change. However, since you know in advance that the duration of the task is 1 hour and must not change even if you do later decide to change the resource assignment units or change the work, then you can or may as well make the task fixed duration, as Ben says.

    Duration is 1 hour and work is 3 hours. Work is the number of people x the duration, so although it is measured in "hours" this really is "people hours".

    Question 2/ Answer 2: Your third choice c) is best and the others are unnecessary and in any case even if you do a) and b), c) is still where you end up. Warning, do not fiddle around with lag in predecessors just to make things "look right". It has a specific meaning, and should only be used sparingly, reluctantly and appropriately.

    If you want say that the call cannot happen (cannot be scheduled to happen) any earlier than 7 days after the predecessor (for some reason), then 7 days of lag would be appropriate. But if this is not the case, ie not true,  then the call should be scheduled to happen asap after the predecessor (FS, no lag). Then, the fact that it actually happened on some other later date can be picked up in the actuals (tracking table).

    Since the phone call has happened and is an actual fact, it has an actual start date/time and an actual finish date/time. The columns you need are in the tracking table. If the task had predecessors, they are no longer relevant and can be removed after inputting the actuals, or before, especially if the phone call occurred before its predecessors would have allowed, since if this happened it clearly indicates that the predecessor was wrong. Or, in your case, the phone call had a predecessor which would have allowed the phone call to happen as early as, but no earlier than, immediately after the finish of the predecessor, but the call actually happened a week after its other wise earliest start, no problem, the predecessor is probably correct and can be left there.

    It may have successors. They cannot be removed.

    • Proposed as answer by Trevor Rabey Tuesday, December 1, 2015 11:20 PM
    • Marked as answer by Mike Scalise Wednesday, December 2, 2015 1:09 AM
    Wednesday, November 25, 2015 2:04 AM

All replies

  • Hi Mike, great questions.

    For 1, I would make it fixed duration, enter the duration as 1 hour, and assign your 3 resources. Work will calc to 3 hours which is right.

    For 2, I'd go for a) and then set the task to be 100% complete. This will update the actual start/finish dates anyway.


    Ben Howard [MVP] | web | blog | book | P2O

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015 10:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Question 1/Answer 1: leave it alone because changing it will have no effect unless you change the resource assignment units, or change the duration or change the work. If you use the assign resources dialog you can assign all three people at 100% units to the 1 hour task in one go, so this is the initial assignment, not a change. However, since you know in advance that the duration of the task is 1 hour and must not change even if you do later decide to change the resource assignment units or change the work, then you can or may as well make the task fixed duration, as Ben says.

    Duration is 1 hour and work is 3 hours. Work is the number of people x the duration, so although it is measured in "hours" this really is "people hours".

    Question 2/ Answer 2: Your third choice c) is best and the others are unnecessary and in any case even if you do a) and b), c) is still where you end up. Warning, do not fiddle around with lag in predecessors just to make things "look right". It has a specific meaning, and should only be used sparingly, reluctantly and appropriately.

    If you want say that the call cannot happen (cannot be scheduled to happen) any earlier than 7 days after the predecessor (for some reason), then 7 days of lag would be appropriate. But if this is not the case, ie not true,  then the call should be scheduled to happen asap after the predecessor (FS, no lag). Then, the fact that it actually happened on some other later date can be picked up in the actuals (tracking table).

    Since the phone call has happened and is an actual fact, it has an actual start date/time and an actual finish date/time. The columns you need are in the tracking table. If the task had predecessors, they are no longer relevant and can be removed after inputting the actuals, or before, especially if the phone call occurred before its predecessors would have allowed, since if this happened it clearly indicates that the predecessor was wrong. Or, in your case, the phone call had a predecessor which would have allowed the phone call to happen as early as, but no earlier than, immediately after the finish of the predecessor, but the call actually happened a week after its other wise earliest start, no problem, the predecessor is probably correct and can be left there.

    It may have successors. They cannot be removed.

    • Proposed as answer by Trevor Rabey Tuesday, December 1, 2015 11:20 PM
    • Marked as answer by Mike Scalise Wednesday, December 2, 2015 1:09 AM
    Wednesday, November 25, 2015 2:04 AM
  • Thanks so much for the great advice. That worked perfectly.

    Also, do you find that it's fairly common to have several different task types within the same MS Project schedule? In other words, even though MS Project defaults to fixed unit, do you find that you often mix fixed unit, fixed duration, and fixed work? It really is on a task-by-task basis and shouldn't matter if I've added resources before estimating duration, for example?

    Thanks again,

    Mike

    Monday, November 30, 2015 9:03 PM