Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Scheduling summary tasks manually
Scheduling summary tasks manually
In Chapter 4, “Building a task list,” you worked with summary tasks and subtasks. Recall
that the default behavior of Project is to automatically calculate a summary task’s duration
as the span of time between the earliest start and latest finish dates of its subtasks. For this
reason, Project sets summary tasks as automatically scheduled—their durations are
automatically determined by their subtasks, regardless of whether those subtasks are manually
or automatically scheduled (or are a mix of both).
There might be times, however, when you want to directly enter a duration value for a
summary task that is independent of its calculated duration as determined by its subtasks.
For example, a summary task might represent a phase of work for which you want to
allocate 60 working days and compare that duration with the calculated duration determined
by the subtasks (their durations, task relationships, and other factors). This is especially true
during the initial planning of a plan, when you might need to account for the gap between
how long you’d like a phase of work to take and its duration as determined by its subtasks.
Fortunately, you can enter any duration you want for a summary task. When you do so,
Project switches the summary task from automatic to manually scheduled and reflects
both the automatically calculated and manually entered durations as separate parts of the
summary task’s Gantt bar. If the summary task is a predecessor of another task, Project will
reschedule the successor task based on the manual, not automatic, duration.
Setting a manual duration for a summary task is a good way to apply a top-down focus to
a plan. You can, for example, introduce some slack or buffer to a phase of work by
entering a manual duration for the summary task that is longer than its calculated duration.
Conversely, you can enter a desired manual duration that is shorter than the scheduled
duration of a summary task.
The scenario: At Lucerne Publishing, the publisher has challenged the team to aim for a
30-working-day duration for the Editorial phase of the new children’s book project. The
publisher is not focused on a specific completion date here, so applying a deadline date is
not your best option. Instead, you’ll record a manual duration on the Editorial summary task
and later compare that duration with the automatically scheduled duration provided by
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