It is helpful to organize groups of closely related tasks into phases. Seeing phases of tasks helps you and anyone else reviewing a project plan to think in terms of major work items and detailed work items. For example, it is common to divide a film or video project into major phases of work such as pre-production, production, and post-production. You create phases by indenting and outdenting tasks. You can also collapse a task list into phases, much as you can work with an outline in Word. In Project, phases are represented by summary tasks.
A summary task behaves differently from other tasks. You can’t edit its duration, start date, or other calculated values directly, because this information is derived or “rolled up” from the detail tasks, called subtasks (these appear indented under the summary tasks). Summary tasks are useful for getting information about phases of project work.
The two most common approaches to developing tasks and phases are top-down and bottom-up planning.
Top-down planning identifies major phases or products of the project before filling in the tasks required to complete those phases. Complex projects can have several layers of phases. This approach works from general to specific.
Bottom-up planning identifies as many of the bottom-level detailed tasks as possible before organizing them into logical groups, called phases or summary tasks. This approach works from specific to general.
Creating accurate tasks and phases for most complex projects requires a combination of top-down and bottom-up planning. For some project work, you will already know the low- level tasks; for others, you might initially know only the broader project goals.
In this exercise, you create two summary tasks by indenting tasks.
In the Tasks pane, click the Organize tasks into phases link.
The Organize Tasks pane appears.
Select the names of tasks 2 through 6. Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:
In the Organize Tasks pane, click the Indent Tasks button. (You can also click this button on the Formatting toolbar.)
Task 1 becomes a summary task, and a summary task bar for it appears in the Gantt chart. The summary task name is also formatted in bold type. Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:
Next select the names of tasks 8 through 10.
In the Organize Tasks pane, click the Indent Tasks button.
Task 7 becomes a summary task, and a summary task bar for it appears in the Gantt chart. Your screen should look similar to the following illustration:
At the bottom of the Organize Tasks pane, click the Done link.
The Tasks pane reappears.
If your organization uses a work breakdown structure (WBS) process in the project-planning phase, you may find it helpful to view WBS codes in Project. For information about using WBS codes with Project, type View WBS codes into the Search box.