Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Linking tasks, part of Microsoft Project 2010 Essential Training.
- To build a schedule, you need to put tasks into the right order. Task start or finish dates are usually determined by the start or finish dates of other tasks. In Project Management terms, these relationships are called task dependencies or task links. Task links are about which task triggers the other, not which task comes first. The trigger task is called the predecessor, and the other one is the successor. Let's take a look at design office space and prepare drawings.
Well first of all, to make things easier to look at, I'm going to go to the view tab over to the split view section on the right side and turn on the details check box. That way I have the task form down in the details pane, and I can see the predecessors to tasks. I'm going to select prepare drawings, and when I do that, those two tasks are linked. In the timescale you can see the link from the finish of the first task to the start of the second one. Down in the task form the predecessor is design office space and the type is set to fs, which stands for finish to start.
These finish to start links are the most common. There's even a command on the ribbon to do those. I go to the task tab, the schedule section, and here is the link tasks button. So let me show you how that works. I'm going to select pack office and load moving truck. I can do that by dragging over the task IDs for the two tasks. Now they're both selected. Then when I click link tasks, I get a finish to start between those two tasks.
If I select load moving truck in the table, down in the task form the predecessor shows up as pack office. You can also link tasks even if they're not right next to each other in the task list. First let me just drag this horizontal divider down a little bit so I can show a few more tasks. What I want to do is I want to link load moving truck with unload moving truck. To do that, I've already got load moving truck selected. To select the second one, I hold down the control key and then click unload moving truck.
Now the two tasks are both selected. I can come up to the task tab and click link tasks. There I have my finish to start between those two tasks. Well that's just one type of link, and there are three others to look at. The next one is start to start. That means the start of one task triggers the start of a second. So for example, let's say we have registration. Well when you start registration and those registrations start coming in, you also start recording the submitted registrations.
So you want these two tasks to be linked start to start. Here's how I do that using the task form. I'm going to select record submitted registrations, then down in the task form, I can come down to the predecessor name cell, click that cell, click the down arrow, and choose the predecessor, start registration. Now I also have to specify that I want it to be start to start. I click the type cell, click the down arrow, and then choose ss for start to start, then click OK.
I have the link in place, and you can see it in the timescale. It goes from the start of the one task to the start of the other. The next task is finish to finish. We've got recording submitted registrations and sending registration confirmations. You can make those finish to finish because once you finish recording registrations, then you're also finished sending the confirmations. So once again, I'll select the successor, send registration confirmations, come down to the predecessor name cell, click the down arrow, and then choose record submitted registrations.
When I click the type cell, I can choose ff or I can type it, and then click OK. There in the timescale you can see the link between the finishes of both tasks. The last type of link is start to finish. These don't happen very often, and that's a good thing because they're a little bit confusing. That's because the start of one task triggers the finish of the other. So here's an example of that. The second shift of watching the truck has to start before the first shift can finish.
If you think about it, if the first shift leaves before the second shift shows up, then there's nobody watching the truck. To add that link, I'm going to select watch truck first shift, go down to the predecessor name cell, click the down arrow, and choose the second shift. Then in the type cell I'm going to choose start to finish and click OK. There you have the link that is a little confusing because the later task controls the earlier task.
There's one other thing about links that you need to know, and that has to do with a Project option. So I'm going to go to the file tab and then click options and choose the schedule category. Down in scheduling options for this project, there is a check box: auto link inserted or moved tasks. If this happens to be turned on, you want to turn it off. The reason for that is if it's turned on, Project will automatically add links if you insert tasks, move tasks, or delete tasks, and you won't even notice that it's doing that.
You could end up with a lot of task links that you don't want or task links that you wanted that are no longer there. By turning this check box off the way it is here, you stay in complete control over your task links. Now you've seen how the four task link types work. In other movies you'll see how to fine tune links as you develop your Project schedule.
- Setting up projects and calendars
- Creating tasks and milestones
- Linking and timing tasks
- Setting up and assigning resources
- Understanding duration, work, and units
- Filtering and grouping items with views
- Adding tasks to a baseline
- Updating progress and costs
- Viewing project status
- Running reports
- Importing and exporting projects