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Showing informational "tasks" on a schedule RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I'd like to put in informational, project level, "tasks" in my schedule so it is easy to see where some work needs to fit.  However, when I use the Critical filter to see the critical path, if one of the informational spans is the longest span then it shows as the critical path.  I tried inserting these items as a subproject (my preferred way) but it didn't help.  Is there a way to show non-schedule driving items in the Gantt view? (bonus if they can be used as a task predecessor).

     

    Thanks,

    Eric

    Sunday, January 15, 2012 12:11 AM

Answers

  • Eric,

    What you want sounds like something we called a planning package. A planning package is a placeholder task with an estimated work content and budget that is in the future. The exact detail is not yet defined. As the progress of the project gets to the point where the detail of a planning package is known and needed, the planning package is turned into a summary line with the detail performance tasks shown under it. There may be other planning packages in parallel and/or more planning packages to be expanded in the future. It's a great way to have a complete schedule plan without necessarily knowing the full detail of all tasks in the future.

    A planning package is just like any other task as far as being on the critical path and can have predecessors and successors. However a planning package is often preceded by some interim project milestone, (e.g. critical design review, framing complete, etc.). If you set a constraint on that milestone (i.e. finish-no-later-than), you can see the critical path leading up to that milestone.

    One other thought about your idea of putting your tasks in as subprojects. You can set the critical path calculation for a master project to include the whole master or just have a critical path for each subproject. This option is set under File/Options/Advanced group/Calculation options for this project - "Calculate multiple critical paths".

    Hope this helps.

    John

    Sunday, January 15, 2012 5:13 PM

All replies

  • I think you're looking for hammock tasks.  The trick there is to create one that is always the duration of the project less 1 day or so.

    You can maintain them manually, or add a macro to modify them automatically.

    Check the Project Widgets Website for a free version of a macro you can use.


    Andrew Lavinsky [MVP] Blog: http://azlav.umtblog.com Twitter: @alavinsky
    Sunday, January 15, 2012 8:25 AM
    Moderator
  • Alan's idea of hammock tasks will work but to keep the tasks from being calculated as part of the critical path relationships can not be used.  If the tasks are informational only, the duration should not be a concern.  As long as the task is within a summary grouping, it will stay with the grouping as tasks are re-scheduled.  ]

    What might be help is to create a custom column using a flag field (yes/no) and flag each task that is informational as yes.  the Marked field could also be used for this purpose.  Then the informational tasks can be filtered out when reporting is needed.  Depending on how you are doing your reporting you could use the autofilter or you might need to create a customized filter which could be applied to exports and reports.

     


    Ellen Lehnert, MVP, PMP, MCT Training/Consulting/Author ellen@lehnertcs.com, www.lehnertcs.com Author "Managing Projects using MS Project 2010 desktop" courseware, www.MVP-Press.com
    Sunday, January 15, 2012 4:59 PM
    Moderator
  • Eric,

    What you want sounds like something we called a planning package. A planning package is a placeholder task with an estimated work content and budget that is in the future. The exact detail is not yet defined. As the progress of the project gets to the point where the detail of a planning package is known and needed, the planning package is turned into a summary line with the detail performance tasks shown under it. There may be other planning packages in parallel and/or more planning packages to be expanded in the future. It's a great way to have a complete schedule plan without necessarily knowing the full detail of all tasks in the future.

    A planning package is just like any other task as far as being on the critical path and can have predecessors and successors. However a planning package is often preceded by some interim project milestone, (e.g. critical design review, framing complete, etc.). If you set a constraint on that milestone (i.e. finish-no-later-than), you can see the critical path leading up to that milestone.

    One other thought about your idea of putting your tasks in as subprojects. You can set the critical path calculation for a master project to include the whole master or just have a critical path for each subproject. This option is set under File/Options/Advanced group/Calculation options for this project - "Calculate multiple critical paths".

    Hope this helps.

    John

    Sunday, January 15, 2012 5:13 PM
  • Building off of John's looks like I misread the question.  If you're talking future planning activities, his approach is probably the best, but if you're using 2010, perhaps consider using inactive tasks?  That's still functionality that I haven't been using to the fullest, but you could create the tasks, then toggle them inactive - then toggle them back to active whenever you need to review them....
    Andrew Lavinsky [MVP] Blog: http://azlav.umtblog.com Twitter: @alavinsky
    Sunday, January 15, 2012 5:59 PM
    Moderator
  • Andrew,

    Thanks for the tip about active/inactive tasks. Project 2010 has several added features that I haven't tried yet. In a simple test case it looks like using the Active field does indeed effectively connect or disconnect tasks from the critical path.

    John

    Monday, January 16, 2012 2:09 AM
  • If you don't use dependencies on an informational task, active or inactive will not make a difference.  The inactive one, however, will have a light formatting for the task name and a line drawn through duration, dates, etc.  If you only need the notes field it might work but I don't see the value.


    Ellen Lehnert, MVP, PMP, MCT Training/Consulting/Author ellen@lehnertcs.com, www.lehnertcs.com Author "Managing Projects using MS Project 2010 desktop" courseware, www.MVP-Press.com
    Monday, January 16, 2012 5:56 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi all,

    I tried the subproject approach but it does something funny with the critical path even if I inactivate all the contents of the imported project.  Looks like for now just inactivating the informational tasks is easiest.  I'll play with the subproject and multiple critical paths when I get a chance but for now it gives different results for the critical path that I care about... 

    Thanks,
    Eric

    Monday, January 16, 2012 9:40 PM
  • Eric,

    Sorry, I gave you some bum information about multiple critical paths. In a dynamic master, which is the default, setting or clearing the option to calculate multiple critical paths does not apply. The multiple critical path option only works if you create a static master (i.e. uncheck the link to project option when inserting the subprojects), but that ends up being no different than just putting the placeholder tasks in the plan in the first place.

    I'd stick with the planning package suggestion I made earlier or if the active/inactive option works for you, use that.

    John

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:24 AM