Using Recurring Tasks

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Using Recurring Tasks

If you have one or more tasks that need to be repeated regularly during the life of a project, you can enter them as recurring tasks . For example, you might want to schedule weekly project status meetings every Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Other examples could be monthly inspections or biweekly equipment maintenance.

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Recurring tasks are a great way to capture time and effort on a project and do not have to be specifically tied to work- related tasks. Status meetings are the most common use of this feature of the software, but other uses include quality reviews, risk assessment, and change review meetings.


Creating Recurring Tasks

To insert a recurring task in a task list, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Task Name field on the row where you want to insert the recurring task. You don't have to create a blank row for each recurring task; each row is inserted automatically, and the row you have selected is pushed down to make room for it.

  2. Choose Insert, Recurring Task. The Recurring Task Information dialog box appears (see Figure 5.11).

    Figure 5.11. You use the Recurring Task Information dialog box to add tasks that repeat regularly.

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  3. Type the task name in the Task Name text box and the duration of each occurrence of the task in the Duration box.

  4. From the Recurrence Pattern group of controls, choose a general frequency: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly. In Figure 5.11, the Weekly option has been selected.

  5. Define the specific frequency in the group of options to the right of the general frequency selection. This group varies, depending on the general frequency you choose. If you choose Weekly, you can use the Week On drop-down list to specify a frequency ranging from every week to every 12th week. Then, select the day of the week on which you want to schedule the tasks. The specific frequency choices for Daily, Monthly, and Yearly are discussed later in this section.

  6. Next, define how often the task is repeated by defining the date range within which the tasks should be scheduled or by specifying the number of times you want the task scheduled. Project shows the projected number of occurrences in the Occurrences box.

    NOTE

    Initially, the Start and End By text boxes show the start and finish dates for the project, and the End After <nn> Occurrences box shows the calculated number of occurrences that can be scheduled in that date range.

    If you want the first occurrence of the recurring task to start some time after the project starts, change the Start date. Specify a start date in the Start box. If you want the tasks to be scheduled at a specific time of day, enter the time as well as the date in the Start text box. To select a date from a calendar, click the drop-down arrow.

    Change the End By date if you want to specify when the last occurrence of the recurring task should be scheduled. Alternatively, select the End After <nn> Occurrences option and enter a number to specify how many occurrences are to be scheduled.

    CAUTION

    If you enter a number larger than the calculated default, Project schedules the number of occurrences you enter, but the later occurrences are beyond the original finish date of the project, which extends the duration of your project.

  7. If you have a special task calendar you have created for scheduling the recurring task, select its name in the Calendar box. Task calendars are covered in Chapter 6.

    If you want to create and assign a special calendar for a task, see "Creating and Using Task Calendars," p. 223 .


  8. Each resource you assign to a task has its own calendar of available working times. If you assign a calendar to the task, you can select Scheduling Ignores Resource Calendars if you want Project to ignore the availability of assigned resources when scheduling the recurring task. This is useful when you expect resources to work on the task some but not all the time (for example, to attend some but not all the meetings).

    To learn how to define resources and their working times, see "Understanding Resources and Costs," p. 279 .


  9. Click OK or press Enter to complete the recurring task definition.

Sometimes, your definition of a recurring task might lead Project to place a task on a nonworkday. If this occurs, Project warns you (see Figure 5.12) and asks you how to proceed:

  • Click Yes to let Project reschedule the affected tasks at the earliest available working time.

  • Click No to skip those dates and leave those tasks out of the series of recurring tasks.

  • Click Cancel to stop the creation of the recurring tasks altogether.

Figure 5.12. Microsoft Project adjusts recurring tasks to the working calendar.

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When you have entered the recurring task, it is placed in the task list as a specially formatted summary task (see Figure 5.13). Like all summary tasks, this one spans multiple subtasks ; in this case, it extends from the beginning of the first meeting to the end of the last meeting. The formatting for this summary task is the special rollup formatting: instead of being one solid bar, it shows short segments that represent the scheduled times for the subtasks.

Figure 5.13. The summary task for a recurring task displays the rolled-up schedule for all the subtasks on a single row of the Gantt Chart.

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TIP

An icon representing recurring tasks is displayed in the Indicators column to the left of the task name (refer to Figure 5.13). If you point to the indicator with the mouse, Project displays a ScreenTip showing the number of occurrences and the overall date range for the group of tasks.


Unlike the duration of normal tasks, the duration of a summary task is the amount of working time on the project calendar from the start of the first subtask (in this case, the first occurrence) to the end of the last subtask (that is, the last occurrence). In Figure 5.13, the Duration column for the recurring task shows 100.13 days, but this doesn't mean that those who attend the meetings log a total of 100.13 days of meeting time. Rather, the last meeting ends 100.13 workdays after the first meeting begins. Remember, there were 21 meetings in this example (see the Occurrences box in Figure 5.11). That's one meeting per week (every 5 days). The start of the last meeting is exactly 20 weeks after the start of the first meeting (100 days). The finish of the last meeting is another hour later, which is 1/8, or .125, day (which Project rounds to .13).

In Figure 5.13, the task ID numbers 3 through 23 do not appear. That's because the summary task for the recurring task has hidden subtasks (the individual meetings that are currently hidden from view). Each of the subtasks is rolled up to the summary taskbar.

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Figure 5.14 shows the project with the subtasks displayed. To display the subtasks, select the summary task and choose the Show Subtasks button on the Formatting toolbar. To hide the subtasks, choose the Hide Subtasks button. Complete instructions for working with subtasks are covered later in this chapter.

Figure 5.14. You can display and hide the subtasks (that is, recurring tasks) by clicking the outline symbol to the left of the summary task or by double-clicking the task ID number.

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NOTE

You can link individual occurrences of the recurring task to other activities in the project. To create the link, you must show the subtasks as described previously. See the section "Entering Dependency Links," in Chapter 6 for more information.


CAUTION

Each of the subtasks in a recurring task is constrained to start no earlier than its scheduled date. Constraints can create problems in a schedule if you make major changes in the project schedule. To learn more about working with task constraints, see the section "Entering Task Constraints," in Chapter 6.


The steps outlined previously describe how to create weekly recurring tasks. The process for creating daily, monthly, and yearly recurring tasks is equally flexible and very similar. The Recurring Task Information dialog box changes based on the general frequency you select.

Editing Recurring Tasks

If you select the summary task for a recurring task and choose the Information button, the Recurring Task Information dialog box appears, as though you were beginning to create the recurring task. After you make changes, click OK. A Microsoft Project warning message warns you that Project will change the frequency of the recurring task (see Figure 5.15). Click OK if you do not mind losing the existing subtasks that need to be deleted to change the frequency of the recurring task.

Figure 5.15. Project must delete the existing tasks if you change the frequency of a recurring task.

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Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

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