Inactive Tasks and the Five-minute Fix

While building a schedule, I came up with a technique I want to share.

First, the background. Using a populated template to build a schedule for a new project (or working in an existing project), we periodically inactivate tasks that aren’t needed or that are “de-scoped.” In Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and 2013 this new feature enables you to cancel a task but keep a record of the task in the project plan. It causes the task to get grayed out and to show a strike-through. It also causes the successor task(s) to release its logical drive to that predecessor, and if that was the only predecessor, it would show a start date equal to the project’s start date. Predecessors and successors remain in the logic train; they just have no effect. The task remains in the project plan, but doesn’t affect resource availability, the project schedule or how other tasks are scheduled.

When we look at tasks using the Task Detail window in the lower half of the split screen and display Predecessors and Successors, we have no visual way to see if they are inactivated. This is where the brainstorm occurred. We were having trouble understanding why a successor task was starting at the beginning of a project when it had one or more predecessors!

I devised a solution by quickly and easily filtering all inactivated tasks and adding a tilde ~ prefix to the task’s name! This simple five-minute addition lets us see in the Task Detail form which tasks are inactive!

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Written by Angelo Arcoleo
Angelo Arcoleo, PMP,  brings over 30 years of experience in engineering, project management, planning and training. He leads projects and teams to plan and execute critical projects utilizing his experience, quiet-leadership, passion and versatility to work with anyone. He is a professionally trained civil engineer and has a bachelor of science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Angelo is a Master Scheduler for Harris Corp., formerly Exelis, in the Geospatial Systems Division. He holds an Orange Belt in Microsoft Office Project and is President of the Western New York Chapter of MPUG and a training consultant.
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