Define project tasks At its core, a project is a set of tasks. Each task represents a piece of work that must be done to complete the project.
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A properly defined task is one that has a clear beginning and end, so that the project manager can easily determine when the task is complete.
Keep the following in mind when you make tasks:
- For practical purposes, tasks should be at least one day long. In long-term projects, tasks are likely to have longer durations. In short-term projects, they tend to have shorter durations.
- Generally, it's a good idea to enter tasks in the order in which you expect work to begin on them. However, some projects may require that you group similar tasks together or group tasks by the type of resource that will work on them. If your organization traditionally views work in certain categories, you can group the work in these categories. Note that if you group tasks, you won't be able to outline them later, because grouping tasks constitutes another type of outlining.
- The structure of your task list determines the level of detail for your project plan. If you list only the phases of the project and each phase covers a large time period, your plan will be a high-level view of the project. If you list even the smallest pieces of work, your plan will be an extremely detailed one. Most of the time, you'll want to strike a balance between these two extremes.
One way to help you decide the level of detail for your task list is to consider how closely you want to track your project:
- If you list every piece of work that must be done, however minor, you'll need to track each of these tasks and enter progress on them, probably at least once each day. Then you'll know when even the smallest work item is a little late.
- If you list and track only the phases of your project, you won't need to update the project very often. Then you won't know when work is running late until the phase is over.
- Consider how critical the project is, how often you can feasibly get and enter task updates, and what level of task that you need to track to keep a project from derailing.
Import tasks into a project Import tasks if you already have the task list information stored in another location.
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- Copy and paste existing tasks into a project from another program as a simple way to add tasks to a project.
- Import data from another file format into your project. You can import task data that is in a Microsoft Office Excel 2003 file, database, or text format, and then map that data to corresponding fields (field: A location in a sheet, form, or chart that contains a specific kind of information about a task, resource, or assignment. For example, in a sheet, each column is a field. In a form, a field is a named box or a place in a column.) in Project. You can also import tab-delimited (tab delimited text format: A record-based ASCII text format in which each field of a task or resource record is separated by a list-separator character, usually a tab stop. Each task or resource record ends with a carriage return/line feed.) and comma-separated values (CSV: The comma-separated values [CSV] file format is an ASCII, record-based text format in which each field is separated by a list-separator character, usually a comma or semicolon. Each task or resource record ends with a carriage return and linefeed.) text format files into your project file.
- Import a Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 task list if you keep a list of tasks in Outlook, and you want to copy the list into the project plan.
Enter a task into a project Add recurring tasks and tasks that occur only once.
Create phases and subphases in a project Organize your project by grouping related tasks that complete major steps in a project.
Create a milestone Milestones allow you to create reference points that mark major events in a project. Milestones are used to monitor the project's progress.
Add supporting information about a task Add more information in the form of notes, documents, and links to Web pages.
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