The Inactivate Task command works very much like “strike-out” or “Track Changes” in Microsoft Word. It allows you to remove segments of your project schedule to do “what-if analysis” or temporarily remove tasks not currently required while still preserving them for easy re-introduction to the schedule.

As an example, my project was originally planned to produce a deployment plan, but on review, it now appears that it won’t be required. The upgrade will be implemented as part of a larger financial system deployment. Therefore, I need to remove the deployment plan work from my plan.

Kenneth Steiness scheduling figure 3

However, I have a concern that this larger implementation may not be viable, and I would prefer to keep the details of the deployment plan available should it need to be re-introduced into my schedule later. Therefore, I select the Deployment Plan group, and from the right-mouse short-cut menu, I select Inactivate Task.

Kenneth Steiness scheduling figure 4

This action strikes out all the tasks associated with the deployment plan, changes the task dependencies to remove the predecessor and successors for the deployment plan, and removes the resource requirements for all the inactivated tasks — effectively removing the WBS element from the schedule. As a result, the schedule is recalculated to reflect the updated dependency network and resource availability. Change highlighting shows the impact of inactivating these tasks.

Kenneth Steiness scheduling figure 5

Reviewing the two screen shots above will reveal the power of the “Inactivate Task” command: Not only is the entire WBS group for the deployment plan struck out, but also the project is rescheduled so that all subsequent tasks are moved forward based on the “removal” of these tasks. For example, the planning start date changed from Aug 5 to July 16. But the deployment plan remains visible and can be easily reactivated if the project situation changes; the system preserves the original dependency network and resource requirements.

Another instance where I make use of the Inactivate Task command is when I’m processing change requests and want to be able to see the overall impact of a given change request. Because Change Highlighting shows only the last change made and most change requests impact several tasks, I’ll make all required changes to my project schedule to address the change request. Then, using multiple select, I select all the changed tasks and “inactivate” them then immediately reactivate them. When I reactivate all the changed tasks in this single action, Change Highlighting will show the total impact of all the changes resulting from my change request.