Advanced Task Types –Transcription

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Praveen Malik’s session, Advanced Task Types – Everything You Need to Know, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Melanie: Welcome to Advanced Task Types. We will get started here today. During today’s session, we will be sending an always appropriate and adorable MPUG pug to the audience member that asks the first question today. Please, just post your questions to the question chat window that you can see on your screen now and on your control panel, and I will present those to our expert near the close of session. Now, I’d like to introduce said expert, Praveen Malik, PMP. Praveen has over two decades of experience as a project management instructor and consultant. He regularly conducts project management workshops in India and abroad, and you could read his insights regularly in our weekly MPUG Newsletter. Praveen, welcome, and I will hand over the presentation to you.

Praveen: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. I hope you are able to hear me clearly, and thank you for the nice introduction. Let me just quickly, for maybe about 30 seconds, chat little bit more about myself. I’m born and brought up in India. I started my working career in 1995. I am a computer engineer by education, and MS Project or any tool, software tool, comes sort of naturally to me. In 1995, I started as a software developer, grew up in the ranks, started managing projects very quickly in my career journey. And in 2005, I did my PMP, Project Management Professional certification. And after that, I completely devoted myself to project management, so as to say.

Praveen: From 2005 to 2008, I was still working in a job, but I started conducting training programs while in the job, mostly for my company, but a few charitable trainings also. After I left my job in 2008, I have become a freelance [inaudible 00:02:32] consultant on project management. My journey as a training consultant started mostly with the PMP trainings. But lately, they have grown into all aspects of project management trainings. I write a popular blog called PM being project management, and PM being Praveen Malik, so stands for Project Management by Praveen Malik.

Praveen: As I said, project management also comes naturally to me. Jokes apart, I have become a pitching project management, but without any further delay, let us get started on what we are supposed to do today. We will talk about task types in MS Project. And before I talk about the task types, let me just quickly open the presentation I have prepared for today. I hope you are able to see my screen now. Okay. We’ll talk about task types. And talking about the task type, I started working on MS Project back in 1997, and at that time there were rarely any books, or study material apart from the help file, or any support that you would get from Microsoft, but there was nothing much literature available, so as to say.

Praveen: So you had to learn MS Project tool yourself, and that’s what I did. Of course, got as little support from my project manager at that point of time, but mostly, you can say 70 to 80% I learned on my own. And it was quite difficult in a sense, especially with the task types, because you wanted to do something and Microsoft Project would turn around and do something else, so you’d have to go and figure out what really happened. I learned on the way, but this session is specifically for all of you, so that you don’t have to do the mistakes that I initially did, and you can develop a Microsoft Project schedule without any hindrances, without any setbacks.

Praveen: In today’s agenda, we’ll talk about a few definitions, then we’ll talk about the three task types, which are mainly fixed work, fixed unit, and fixed duration. Let’s quickly look at the definitions. There are three definitions here, and they are combined with a formula which is down below in the screen, which is called… The formula is Work = Duration X Units. This is the whole formula that governs the task types. Now, let us quickly look at what is Work, what is Duration, and what is Units. Let’s start with Units.

Praveen: Units signify the number of resources assigned to a task. This is a very simplistic way of saying that. In Microsoft Project, you have tasks, you could have 10 tasks, 100 tasks, or 1,000 tasks depending on your product size. Now, on each task, you will assign some resources. It could be one resource, two resource, or maybe more. So simplistically speaking, the number of resources assigned to a task is number of unit, but going into a slightly more complex thing, it is possible that the resources assigned to a task are not fully assigned. What I mean is they could be only 50% assigned, or 25% assigned, or just maybe 10% assigned.

Praveen: So depending on how much are they assigned to that task, that is how much time are they working during the day on that particular task determines the number of units. For example, if a resource is assigned 50% on task A, and this resource will not be considered as one resource, it’ll be considered as 0.5 or 50%. Similarly, if a resource is assigned on task A and they’re assigned 25%, then they will not be considered as two resources, they’ll be considered as two and two 25%, which is again 0.5 or 50%.

Praveen: Going ahead, duration. Everybody knows what duration is. It’s the length of time required to complete a task or an activity. So it could be number of hours, or it could be number of days. For example, a task, it could take six days, three days, five days or any number of days. Lastly, work. So as we discussed earlier, Work = Duration X Units. Simply speaking, work is the effort required to complete a task or activity.

Praveen: Simply speaking, let us assume that there’s a task A and only one resource is assigned to that task A, and the task duration is five days. Then you say that the work or the effort is five person days, so one person working for five days, the total effort is five person days. If you have any questions around this, as we talked earlier, you can jot it down on your notepads, and at the end of this training program maybe we’ll give 10 to 15 minutes and then you can ask those questions. Right now, we will go ahead.

Praveen: We already discussed about the example, but let’s talk about, formally talk about the example here, which we will continue this example throughout our presentation. Let us assume we have a task, which is to be completed in three days by two people. So units says book two, assuming that both these persons are assigned fully, that is 100% assigned, to the task. Duration is three days, so work is equal to six person days. Let us now look at our task types, fixed work, fixed duration, fixed units, one by one. Let’s start with fixed work.

Praveen: If you understand one of these, you’ll be able to understand all three of them. Let’s just talk about this and then we’ll jump over to Microsoft Project and look at how this has to be done. So what is fixed work? Essentially speaking, fixed work means that the work has to remain fixed. Work will remain constant. So if you change the duration, Microsoft Project will do some jugglery and it will reduce or increase the units to make… to keep the work constant. Similarly, if you change the units, again, Microsoft Project will recalculate the duration to keep the work constant. Basic formula remains work is equal to duration, equal… and to… Work = Duration X Units, so that’s the basic formula that will remain.

Praveen: Like here, in this case, our example was that we had… Let’s go back to the previous slide. So our example was that we had two units and three days, so total of work, six person days. Now, going back to the slide we were talking earlier on. Yeah. So if you change the number of resources from two to three, that is we have increased the number of resources, we have increased the units from two to three, then the work has to remain constant. So how it’ll remain constant, that is initially the work was six person days, so it has to remain as six person days.

Praveen: Now, since the resources are changing from two to three, so the duration has to change. So how will MSP recalculate duration? Look at the third bullet point here. It will say duration equal two work divided by units. So work has to remain constant, it will remain six person days, divided by three, which is the new number of resources. So our new duration becomes two days. We’ll do the same thing on Microsoft Project, and let’s see how it works. Again, if you have any questions, please hold your horses, write it on your notepads, and then we’ll discuss it later.

Praveen: Okay. Here we are on Microsoft Project, which is a familiar screen here. And on the left side you have Gantt… the table, and right side you have the Gantt chart. [inaudible 00:12:55] called the Gantt chart. Here let’s just quickly define a task, let’s call it A. And let’s say the duration here is, let’s go… Duration is three days, and let’s add a resource, let’s call him Praveen. What I’ll do is, for the simplicity’s sake, I’ll just hide… Hide this column, and this other one also, so that we’ll look at only this column, which where we are… which are useful for us.

Praveen: Now, you see the task name is A, duration is five… three days, and it is assigned to a person called Praveen. Duration is three days. Okay. Now, let us add one more column here called Units… or sorry, Work. This comes here. Okay. So you will see that Microsoft Project had automatically calculated the work as 24 hours. It is actually 24 person hours. So just to give you a background, Microsoft Project calculates everything, when we’re talking about the work, it calculates everything in person hours.

Praveen: It takes one day as eight hours, so when we say three days of duration, it does a simple calculation, simple multiplication. It says three days of work means, three into eight, 24 hours. Since it is assigned to only one unit, it is one resource, so total 24 hours. Just to give you an example here, if I assign one more resource, yes? So Praveen, Malik. There are two resources [inaudible 00:15:24]. Sadly, I’m only one, but if I were two, I would be able to do double the work. Anyway, so now you will see, now we will have two words here, and [inaudible 00:15:41], which means… Let me open Notepad just to show you the calculation.

Praveen: Here. So if we look at three days, three days is… Let me increase the font size, just in case you are not able to see here. Okay. So 3 days = 3X8 hours, or equal to 24 hours. Duration of three days means 24 hours of duration. Now, our work formula was Work = Duration X Units. So in our case, it becomes 24X2. Why I’m saying two? Because there are two resources assigned to it, which becomes 48. And that’s what Microsoft Project has calculated for us. Instead, in Microsoft Project, you will notice that it says 48 hours, but in fact it is 48 person hours.

Praveen: Whenever you are reading the unit and the work, you would read the units as person hours, or person days. Whenever you’re reading the duration, you would read just as days or hours. Okay, so let’s go back. This was a very simplistic example, which we… I have shown it to you. Now, if you have any question, just please note it down, because we’ll take those questions at the end of the day. Sorry, not at the end of the day, end of this session.

Praveen: Going back to our slide. Now, if it is fixed work, fixed work means that the work will remain constant. So let’s do this, let’s make this task as fixed work and then see what will Microsoft Project do. Going back. Let’s make this… Task is auto scheduled. And once you click on the task, double click on the task in fact, you will see this dialog box. It says, “Task Information.” And here, in the Task Information dialog box, you can go to Advanced. There are a number of tabs, we will go to Advanced.

Praveen: And in Advanced, you would look at the… this portion which is at the bottom. There’s a field, an attribute called Task type. In the Task type, you have a dropdown which has three options: fixed duration, fixed units, and fixed work. For our purpose, we are to take fixed work, but you must remember, by default Microsoft Project treats everything as fixed units, usually. Let’s make this thing as fixed work and press okay. Now, before pressing okay, let me talk about why fixed work, in which situation we’ll use fixed work. Example is when you have a task where now the people or the resources can be interchanged, when adding a new resource can shorten the duration.

Praveen: Reducing the number of resources can increase the duration. For example, erecting a wall leading down a road. These are labor-oriented tasks. So one laborer can be replaced by another laborer without hampering anything. These are usually semi-killed or non-skilled jobs. So let’s say you’re erecting a wall, and there were two laborers, and you thought that these two laborers will take three days to finish the job. Now, two laborers, three days to finish the job would mean six person days from our example, is two people working for three days. Now, let us think management told us you can increase one laborer, but you have the finish building the wall [inaudible 00:21:46].

Praveen: In that case, you need [inaudible 00:21:51] number of resources, the duration will reduce. And how it will calculate it? By our formula, Work = Duration X Units. Okay. Coming back, what we have is the task type, fixed work, and I’ll say okay here. Now, what has happened is there’s a task called A, the duration is three days, it is assigned to two resources, Praveen and Malik, and initially work is 48 person hours. Going back to our PPT, now what we want to do is we want to change the number of resources from two to three.

Praveen: So what will happen? Let us go back, and what I’m going to do is Praveen, Malik, Third Resource. I added one resource here. As soon as I press enter, Microsoft Project will do something, and we already know what it will do. It will not change the work, because the work… because the task type is fixed work. Let’s press enter here, see what happened. Task models… auto schedule. So it should have… Ah, I know what happened, just give me one minute. [inaudible 00:24:07] okay. Let’s add… Just quickly look at the number of units here, and let’s see what has happened. Resources… Okay, it’s not taking the resource name. Strange. Why is it not taking resource? Now it is taking the… Ah. I think it’s not all my data, I entered some other thing. Sorry, folks, my mistake. The third resource.

Praveen: Okay, now it should do the trick. Now you will see that duration has automatically changed to two days, and the work has remained as 48 hours. Sorry for before, I think instead of comma I entered something, stop, or something, some other character, and that’s what created the problem. Okay. So if I change it back, change it back meaning I remove Third Resource, then what will happen is it will revert the duration to three days. The work will remain as 48 hours, so that’s the trick. Basically, fixed work means whatever you might do, Microsoft Project says, “You can change duration or you can change resources, but I will keep the work as constant, as fixed.”

Praveen: Let us go back to our PPT. This is what we have, let’s quickly take a look at one or two more examples here. Another example is, if you change the duration from three days to four days, again, the work will remain constant. MSP will change number of units. Units will be calculated as Units = Work/Duration. So invert our formula, and the units will be equal to work divided by duration. So since the work has to remain constant, so initially it was six person days or 48 person hours. So here, in the PPT, I have it written as six person days, so six person days divided by duration which is four days, the units will become 1.5.

Praveen: Let’s do this example on MSP. Okay. What we have to do is we have to change the duration from three days to four days. So I simply enter four here, and I will press the enter key and let’s see what happens. Now, you will notice that 48 hours is still 48 hours, that resource names are still Praveen, Malik, but let’s double click on this row, go to the resources tab here. Again, what has happened? No, this is still, this is fixed work. It should have changed the number, the percentage here. Why it didn’t change? Again, I would have done some goof-up somewhere.

Praveen: Let’s take a simple case first, and let’s move this. Okay. So we have a… Yeah. We have a task which duration is six days, and assigned to only one resource. Now, I want to change the number of days to, let us say 12 days. Before that, let me just show you… reflect on it. Only assigned to one resource, and allocated 100%. What I’m going to do is I’ll change this to let us say 12 days, that is duration of 12 days assigned still to one resource. And it is 48 hours, so it is telling me something, let’s look at it.

Praveen: “Resources will work fewer hours per day, so the task will take longer.” This is what we want to do. And it has given another option also, “Work required to do the task has increased, so it will take longer,” which is not fixed work, so I will not… Ignore the first option, we’ll stick with the second option, which is what it has done, and double click here. Again, it is still 100%, I don’t know why. Let me take a look at… Here. Still, it is saying 100%. Yeah, here it is showing okay. I don’t know why. Let’s look at the Gantt chart. Let me just tell you what is happening here. Just give me one minute. [inaudible 00:31:46]. Open the resource usage here. Here.

Praveen: Okay. Now, you see this resource is working fewer hours a day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, whatever the days may be, it’s working four hours a day, making it a total of 48 hours. Okay, if I do six days here, then you will see it is working eight hours. Okay, just to recap, so when you change the duration manually, that is as a project manager you have changed the duration, on a fixed work task type, then the resources or the number of units will change.

Praveen: Now, obviously, a resource cannot be cut into half or anything like that, so what Microsoft Project will do is instead of doing eight hours a day for that particular resource, it will do four hours a day, or two hours a day, or something like that. So instead of… Let’s go back to our example from the PPT and let’s look at it again. So initial duration was three days, and we are changing it to four days. So this is three days, and let’s go back to our original thing, let’s assign Malik to this task. Okay, and let’s say three days.

Praveen: Okay. This was our example scenario. And in this example scenario, there is a task which has a duration of three days and two resources assigned, Praveen, Malik. And the total work comes out to be 48 hours. Now, if I change it to four days, from three days to four days, my number of resources should change from two to 1.5. Of course, you cannot cut a resource into half, so let’s see what Microsoft Project will do. I changed it to four days, so what it has done is instead of working eight hours a day, now it is doing six hours a day. It has reduced the duration for which… or rather the working time [inaudible 00:35:27] Praveen and Malik. Okay. This was easy, easy in that sense. Let’s go back to our formula, the original formula.

Praveen: This was the formula, Work = Duration X Units. So if the work has to remain fixed, then if you change one of these factors, you change duration, Microsoft Project will change units. If you change units, Microsoft Project will change duration automatically. This was easy. Now, if you change the work itself, what will happen? That’s the third scenario. And let’s take a look at another example here. Fixed work. Now, in the fixed work situation, I increase the work itself. If you change the work from six person days to let us say eight person days, then what will happen?

Praveen: Going back to that, so initially six person days, I’m just writing PD, is equivalent to 48 person hours, as we already know. Now, if you change to eight person days, eight person days would mean eight into… So with three resources, it would mean three into eight, into two, which will mean 64 days. Am I doing it correctly? Let us be clear. 48… Yeah, 64 person hours. Now, if I change it to eight person days or 64 person hours, what will happen? What will MS Project do? Let’s look at it.

Praveen: The work has to remain constant. Work has to remain constant, but it cannot remain constant because you have changed it, so Microsoft Project has to change something. It will either change duration or units. In this case, it will change the duration, thinking that number of resources will remain same. And how will it recalculate the duration? Duration = Work/Units. Let’s go to here. Now, if I change 48 to 64, so what will happen? The number of units, that is Praveen, Malik, will remain the same. First, let us go back to our original thing which is three days, then… Okay, so it will…

Praveen: In the original thing, it was three days, two resources, 48 hours, both the resources working for eight hours a day. Now, if I change it from 48 hours to 64 hours, what will happen? It will not change the number of resources, which is Praveen, Malik. It will not change the hours of these resources, in hours they are working during the day. It will change the duration. Let’s see. So I’m really changing the work, and I’m pressing the enter key. What really happened was instead of three days, it has become four days.

Praveen: And you see here they’re still working eight hours a day, but since number of days had increased, instead of 24 hours, now they will be working for four days, which is 32 hours, total of 32 hours they leave it. Okay. So far so good. Let us quickly summarize this. I’ll show you a table at the end of this presentation and then come back. Here. So here, you will notice this table here, and you can maybe take a screenshot, a snapshot of this slide. This is the most important slide. For a task type which is fixed work, what is recalculated when you change something?

Praveen: So when you change work, the duration changes. When you change units, duration changes. When you change duration, units changes. The last two are easy. When you change units, duration changes. When you change duration, units changes. This is something that you will have to remember, that when we change work, duration will change. This table contains the summary for all task types, which is for fixed units and fixed duration also, that’s why I’m suggesting that you take a screenshot or maybe quickly jot it down on your notepads. I’ll just give you 30 seconds more, and then we’ll go back.

Praveen: Okay, so let us go back. Okay, so we looked at fixed work. In fixed work, we looked at three examples. In the first example we changed the duration, in the second example we changed the units, and in the third example we changed the work itself. Now, let us look at fixed units. Again, this thing is the same, the formula is the same, Work = Duration/Units. Now, the thing is, if you have fixed units, fixed units mean the number of resources have to remain fixed. So what will happen if you add a resource? What will happen if you add number of days, that is increase the duration, what will happen? If you change the work, what will happen?

Praveen: These are the three scenarios. In the fixed unit, let us quickly look at an example here. Let’s say there’s a task B, and again, we will start with three days and two resources. In this case, let us call these resources as First and Second to avoid confusion. Now, you see it wrote it as task B. Let’s make it auto scheduled. Yeah. So there’s a task B, duration three days, two resources have been assigned to it, and total work is 48 hours.

Praveen: Now, first of all, what we are going to do is make it fixed unit, so we’ll double click on it, go to the Advanced tab, it’s already fixed unit, as I told you, that by default everything is fixed unit. It’s already fixed unit. We come back here, so two people assigned to a task working for three days, the total work is 48 hours. Now, let us do one thing, let us increase the duration. Let me increase the duration. What will happen is since the units are to remained fixed, that is only two resources, the work will also increase, so let’s renew the duration to four.

Praveen: So four into two into eight, 64 hours. Let me just show it to you on the Notepad here. What will happen is initially it was three days with two resources, so the work became six person days. Six person days is equal to 6X8 = 48 person hours. Now, what I did was increase the duration to four days. Now, [inaudible 00:45:44] says the number of resources have to remain constant, which is two. What will happen is Microsoft Project will increase the work to four into two eight person days. So eight person days becomes 8X8 hours a day = 64 person hours. This is what Microsoft Project has done, as soon as I increase it to four person days with two resources, it increased to 64 hours.

Praveen: Let us go back. Similarly, what we can do is we can change the number of units, we can change the work, and automatically Microsoft Project will do what it has to do. And this is what has been explained here in these slides, and with the example. So what I will do is, since we have understood the basic concept, I will skip these examples and just take you to the last slide again, and just show it to you.

Praveen: In the fixed units, when you change the work, duration changes. When you change the units, again duration changes. If you change the duration, work changes. In the fixed duration, which is the last one, if you change the work, units change. If you change the units, work changes. If you change the duration, again work changes. This is what it is. Just remember that formula, Work = Duration/Units. If one thing is changing, Microsoft Project will try to balance the equation. If one thing is changing, then it will automatically see what is fixed in the other two attributes. And then, accordingly, it will change the third parameter. That’s what this table is all about.

Praveen: Okay, so I think we are near the end of our session time. There are 10 minutes left. What we are going to do is we’ll take some questions. If you want, I can show you some more examples, but basically we’ll take questions and see what… if there are still any doubts, and I’ll try to clarify those doubts. So over to all of you.

Melanie: Thank you, Praveen. One thought I just had is that table that you just had up, the how Microsoft Project recalculates table, that would be lovely to share.

Praveen: Yeah.

Melanie: And I can send that out to folks on the call and also have it with the recording.

Praveen: Yeah, sure. What I can do is… PPT. The whole PPT, you can share it with everybody, it’s for it.

Melanie: Wonderful. Let’s give you a question, shall we?

Praveen: Yeah.

Melanie: Why when you change a task type from fixed units to fixed work does the system not recalculate duration if, for example, you add a resource?

Praveen: I’m sorry. I couldn’t understand the question. If I change the task type from fixed? Let’s first [inaudible 00:49:41] the task type C, and-

Melanie: Fixed unit to fixed work.

Praveen: Fixed unit to fixed work. Okay. So let’s say there’s three days and only one person is assigned, One, let’s call it One. And let’s say this is fixed unit, which automatically should be fixed unit. Yes, it’s automatically fixed unit, and now I change it to fixed work. That’s what the question is?

Melanie: Yeah. And it said, “Does the system not recalculate duration if you add a resource?” So you’ve changed this, and would it recalculate the duration if you add a resource?

Praveen: Here, in fixed unit, if I change the… if I add a resource, yes, then… Already a fixed unit, let’s just add it. I’ll say Two here. So you will notice that the work is recalculated.

Melanie: It’s recalculated. Excellent.

Praveen: If it was fixed work, then something else would happen. Let me just undo it. So there is one resource, you will notice that it is 24 person hours right now. Now, if I add one more resource, I go here and I say Two, then automatically it’s a fixed unit thing, and I am forcing Microsoft Project to accept one more resource. Either Microsoft, it will change duration or it will change work, but in this case it will change work. That’s what it is. Was that the question or was it something else?

Melanie: I believe you’ve answered that question, but if Mike who asked the question would like to clarify or add something else, he will… He can raise his hand and I will open up his mic for us as well. And anyone else can do that as well, if they’d like. So I do have another question for you from Bob.

Praveen: Yeah.

Melanie: “Please explain the effort-driven check box and how that affects the various calculation aspects of work duration units.”

Praveen: Okay. Great question. So somebody was very attentive there, or somebody has used Microsoft Project and got trouble with that, because of effort-driven check box. Effort-driven check box, let’s add one more task B and let’s say auto scheduled, and let’s say we allocate three days and let’s add only one resource, let’s call him Alpha. Okay. So three days, Alpha working, total work is 24 person hours. And you’ll see here, we go to Advanced because by default fixed unit, and for [inaudible 00:53:46], you will see there’s a effort-driven box here. Effort and work are synonymous in Microsoft Project.

Praveen: So when I click on effort driven, Microsoft Project will tend to keep the work as constant. So it’s not a fixed work task, it’s a fixed unit task, but since I have checked effort driven, Microsoft Project will keep the work as constant. How will it do it? Let’s say effort driven and say okay. Now, if I change the duration, let’s see what will happen, let’s say I change this from four days… sorry, from three days to four days, the work will change, because the basic thing, basic nature of the task is fixed unit, so the units cannot change. Okay? Let me undo this.

Praveen: But if change the number of units, then… Let’s go to Resources and Alpha, and let’s call it Bravo. And since this is already… Let’s go to Advanced, this is already effort driven, what will happen is that the work will remain constant, now the duration will change. Like in the previous case, for the task C, work changed [inaudible 00:55:25]. Now here, our duration will change. Let’s press okay. So you see that duration has [inaudible 00:55:36] from three days to [inaudible 00:55:36] days. Does this make sense?

Melanie: That makes sense to me. [crosstalk 00:55:51].

Praveen: When you check the effort-driven checkbox, the priority will be given to work over duration. Okay. Maybe we have time for one more question?

Melanie: I see a hand raised here, but I don’t think we have a question. Oh, let’s see if we can unmute Ronald Smith there. Ronald, can you… Do you have a question to share with us? Okay. I don’t think we have another question at this stage. I’m sorry if I missed one, please keep sending them in to us. And Praveen, a big thank you for an excellent session. I am sure we will have other questions coming in that I will share with you and a big thank you [crosstalk 00:57:27] live here today.

Praveen: Yeah. Regarding the questions, if anyone of you has any questions, you can… Please feel free to send me your queries. My email ID is written over here, you can just, without any hitch, without any problem, you can just send an email to me and I’ll answer those questions. And thank you everybody for being such nice participants. Only two questions came, whether I was too bad or I was too good, I don’t know. Only your feedback will tell me.

Melanie: I think that means you did well, but I did have two more quick questions come in. You want to try it?

Praveen: Yeah, yeah. Why not?

Melanie: [crosstalk 00:58:17] people would appreciate the chart that I mentioned. And first question, “Is there a general rule of thumb to tell us which one to select?”

Praveen: Okay. This is again a great question. Okay. So let me just go back to our example which I was talking about building a wall. So if it is a labor-oriented work, non-skilled or semi-skilled kind of work, then you will tend to choose a fixed work kind of task. Right? But if it is a skilled-person work, something like software development, now some… Let’s say you have to write a piece of code, so one developer writing a piece of code is… Okay, so you can have a task called Writing Code, and you are assigning one developer to that task, which is okay.

Praveen: Now, if you assign two developers, it will not make any sense, so it’s not that by adding one more resource you can reduce the duration of writing code. So in that case, you can go for either fixed unit or fixed duration. Typically, depending on what kind of work you are doing, your task type will be determined from that. So in a whole project, if there are 1,000 tasks, some of those tasks will be fixed work, other tasks will be fixed unit, and [inaudible 00:59:57] task will be duration. Microsoft Project by default keeps the tasks as fixed units, but if you think your task is around non-skilled or semi-skilled laborers, then you can go for fixed work. Hope that answers the question.

Melanie: That was very helpful. One more, “What task type would be the best if you have a time constraint?”

Praveen: Okay. If you have a time constraint, then the best thing is that you… Because let’s say the time constraint is let’s say, you have a time constraint of 10 days. Now, the duration cannot change, that’s the time constraint, so the units can change, that is you can increase the number of resources. You can increase the work, if required, but the duration cannot change. To answer the question, the time constraint means fixed duration type of task.

Melanie: Okay. Thank you. I think we are finished. Again, thank you, Praveen, thank you, audience. I am going to put up the slides with the PDU at this stage so everyone can see that. And I also want to give a congratulations to Bruce who is adopting a beautiful MPUG pug for being the first question today. And I wanted to quickly draw the audience’s attention, I’ll put the PDU back up here in a moment, but we have some great sessions coming up November 3rd. Next week we’ll be doing Microsoft custom reporting outside of Microsoft Project, why Jeff will tell you it’s better to do with Excel. New on-demand, we have The Power of Power BI with Bill Dow. I have worked with Bill Dow for about 20 years and he is wonderful.

Melanie: And then, we have two panel discussions coming up, one around requirements management, there’s a great course online about that, and we’re going to have a lot of experts here for that. That’s the first week in December. And then the second week in December we’ll have another panel discussion with the head of Microsoft Project Project Management to answer questions about common misconceptions with Microsoft Project and the direction they’re going in, so that’s all very exciting. We’ll be taking live audience questions for those, and you’ll be able to speak your question or chat it or whatever you like, so please come with your questions. And again, I will lock us up on the PDU slide here, and thank you again for attending with us today. It’s been our pleasure.

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Written by Praveen Malik

Praveen Malik, PMP, has two-plus decades of experience as a project management instructor and consultant. He regularly conducts project management workshops in India and abroad and shares his project management thinking in his blog, PM by PM.

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