To define your tasks (task: An activity that has a beginning and an end. Project plans are made up of tasks.) most effectively, take into account the following guidelines:
- Break down tasks to the level of detail that you want to track. You should break them down in greater detail for riskier areas.
- Make sure that tasks have clear completion criteria.
- Define tasks that are short compared with the overall project duration. Shorter tasks allow you to more easily estimate time and resources.
- Avoid defining such things as vacation or training as tasks.
There are two ways to break down your task list to make it appear more organized and readable. You can use a simple outline by indenting and outdenting tasks to create summary tasks and subtasks.
You can also create a work breakdown structure (WBS: A hierarchical structure that is used to organize tasks for reporting schedules and tracking costs. With Project, you can represent the work breakdown structure by using task IDs or by assigning your own WBS code to each task.) (WBS) to help you create a task list by taking a high-level description of the work and breaking it into components using task IDs or alphanumeric codes. For example, the high-level work description, "Remodel kitchen" includes such lower level work as installing cabinets, installing a sink, and installing a countertop. "Remodel kitchen" is considered a phase (phase: A group of related tasks that completes a major step in a project.) or summary task (summary task: A task that is made up of subtasks and summarizes those subtasks. Use outlining to create summary tasks. Project automatically determines summary task information [such as duration and cost] by using information from the subtasks.). The lowest level of the WBS, the installation components, are tasks or subtasks (subtask: A task that is part of a summary task. The subtask information is consolidated into the summary task. You can designate subtasks by using the Project outlining feature.). In some organizations, tasks may also be called work packages.
Note For more information about outlining and WBS structures, see the related links in the See Also section of this page (visible only when you are connected to the Internet).