We’ve considered three great reasons to upgrade to Project 2007 so far in this series of articles: Multiple undo and redo, Change Highlighting and Cost and Budget resources. In this article I’ll examine another valuable addition to the latest version of Project: Task drivers.

A number of factors come into play when scheduling tasks. Task scheduling is defined by resource assignments, calendars, constraints and predecessors. It can take a lot of time to analyze and troubleshoot a schedule, so any tool that helps figure out a scheduling problem is of high value. The Microsoft Project team has delivered just such a tool with Task Drivers.

Before you can use it, you have to turn it on. Here’s how:

  1. Open your project file.
  2. From the menu choose Project and then Task Drivers. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Click on a task.

The Task Drivers pane will appear on the left side of your project and display what factors are affecting the timing of the task you selected.

Figure 1: Turning on the Task Drivers Pane.

5 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Project 2007: Project Task Drivers

Depending on the task you selected, the Task Drivers pane’s content will vary. If you selected a project or regular summary task, the earliest sub-task will be identified as the task driving the start date of the summary.(See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: Task Drivers content with summary task selected.

5 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Project 2007: Project Task Drivers

If the task has an actual start date or is completed, the effect is that of a constrained start date, and so this important information is presented. (See Figure 3.) Any resource assigned to the task will also be noted. Should the task have a constraint, this information is also offered. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 3: Task Drivers content when a task has actually started.

5 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Project 2007: Project Task Drivers

 

Figure 4: Task Drivers content when a task has a constraint applied.

5 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Project 2007: Project Task Drivers

In most projects, a task’s location in time in the sequence affects the schedule as do resource and task calendars. If any of these exist, Microsoft Project 2007 will show them as Task Drivers. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5: Task Drivers content indicating predecessor tasks and calendars affecting schedule.

5 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Project 2007: Project Task Drivers

If you’ve used earlier versions of Microsoft Project or are a heavy user of the software, you understand what a time saver this new feature is. When used with the multiple undo/redo and change highlighting, you should be able to avoid many scheduling errors by finding, viewing and analyzing your Task Drivers easily.

Next time: Visual Reports