3 Task Tips

1. Before entering any tasks, you have to specify how many work hours equal a workday by using option Hours per Day on the tab Schedule (ribbon File, item Options). Microsoft Project uses this setting to convert between time units; it is the time unit conversion factor. All durations will be recalculated when you change this option. For example, if Hours per Day is set to eight hours and you enter a duration of five days, MS Project knows this equals 8 * 5 = 40 hours. If you then change Hours per Day to seven, MS Project changes this duration to 5.71 days (= 5 * 8 / 7). If you start with the wrong conversion factor, MS Project will interpret durations you enter incorrectly, which may result in a schedule that is too low or high in its forecast.

2. There is a workaround to keep the current durations without having to re-enter all durations when you change the Hours per Day setting. Before changing Hours per Day, copy all durations to one of the extra text fields (Text1, for example), then change Hours per Day. Make sure you have task field Type set to Fixed Units for all tasks to ensure that MS Project does not change resource assignments. Then copy the durations from Text1 back into the Duration field.

3. MS Project sets constraints on each recurring detail task when they are Auto Scheduled. The constraints will keep them on their dates in the timescale. Although we recommend against using constraints in schedules, there is nothing wrong with constraints on recurring detail tasks. They are a legitimate exception to this rule. Recurring detail tasks are typically not hooked up into the network of dependencies and scheduling constraints will keep them on the proper dates.

This article originally appeared as content in the textbook Forecast Scheduling with Microsoft Project 2013: Best Practices for Real World Projects, by Eric Uyttewaal, PMP, MVP Project.

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Written by Eric Uyttewaal

Eric is a thought leader on project, program, and portfolio management. He spends most of his time using software from Microsoft. He has authored seven well-known textbooks including ‘Forecasting Programs,’ ‘Forecast Scheduling with Microsoft Project 2010/2013/Online,’ and ‘Dynamic Scheduling with Microsoft Project 2000/2002/2003.’ He founded ProjectPro, which specializes in Microsoft Project, Project Server and Project Online. Eric developed several Add-ins with his team that enhance the capabilities of Microsoft Project in creating better schedules (Forecast Scheduling App), managing cross-project dependencies (CrossLinksPro), identifying and documenting the Critical Path (PathsPro) and creating S-curve reports (CurvesPro). He was president of PMI-Ottawa in 1997. Eric has received awards from PMI in 2009, from MPUG in 2012, and from Microsoft from 2010 until 2017 (MVP).

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  1. Please expound on this topic as it relates to different resource and/or task calendars within the project. Also, as regards master and subprojects.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Gary, the hours per day option is a project-specific option and will apply to all resources in the project (so that days convert to hours in the same way for everyone). However, through the working hours set on the resource calendar the resulting converted number of hours may be scheduled differently for each resource and may lead to different durations.

    The hours per day option is stored in each subproject and can differ between subprojects (vendors).

    Hope this helps. Eric

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