Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Linking tasks, part of Microsoft Project 2016 Essential Training.
- Part of building a schedule is putting tasks into the right order. The start or finish of some tasks trigger the start or finish of others. In project management terms, these relationships are called task dependencies, or links. Well, task links aren't about which task comes first, it's really about which task controls the other. So, for example, here are two tasks and they're linked finish-to-start. That means that finish of Design office space determines when Prepare drawings starts.
So Design office space is the one that's in control, and it's called the predecessor. Prepare drawings is the one that's being controlled, so it's called the successor. Well, if you're working on task links, the best way to do that is with Task Form in the Details pane. So to do that, on the VIEW tab, over in the Split View section, turn on the Details check box. And Project automatically displays the TASK FORM at the bottom of the window. Well, if all you're working on are links, you can actually show predecessors, and successors, in this form.
So, just right-click, and choose Predecessors & Successors. And now you have a table for both. And you can see here, because I have Design office space selected up in the Gantt chart, that you can see the successor for that task in the Successor table. You can also see the Type is FS for finish-to-start. Finish-to-start links are, by far, the most common type of link. So, if I go to the TASK tab, and then select the Pack office task, you can see that there's an icon for linking tasks.
That actually creates a finish-to-start dependency. So, if I select these two tasks, just drag across their Task Name cells, and click the icon, you can see the finish-to-start link just drops into place. You can also see, here, the type is finish-to-start. Well, there actually three other types of links. The next type is start-to-start. Well, that means that the start of one task determines when another task starts. For example, let's say we have an event.
So, we have registration going on. Well, when registration starts, people start recording the submitted registrations. So those tasks are start-to-start. So to do that, I've got Start registration selected, and come down in this table, choose Record submitted registrations. But in this case, in the Type field, I choose SS for start-to-start. Then when I click OK, you can see the task links go from the start of one bar to the start of the next.
The next type is finish-to-finish. Well that means that the finish of one task determines when another task finishes. And, in this case, we've got recording submitted registrations, and sending confirmations. Well, once you've finished recording submitted registrations, you don't have to send anymore confirmations. So, they both finish at the same time. So, in this case, I select Record submitted registrations, choose Send registration confirmations in the Name cell, and, in this case, I choose FF for finish-to-finish.
And when I click OK, you can see that the link line goes from the finish-to-finish. Well, the fourth type is start-to-finish, and it's kind of confusing. So it's really good that it doesn't happen very often. And what this says is that the start of one task controls the finish of another. So it really puts the whole timing thing completely opposite of what you expect. So, let's see an example of this one. So, we've got this moving truck and there's stuff in it. So, you want to make sure that somebody's watching the truck so no one walks off with any of the contents.
Well, the first shift can't end until the second shift starts. That means the people on the first shift have to stay there until the people for the second shift show up, otherwise no one's watching the truck. Well, you create that link just like any other. Select the first task. In the Successor Name cell, choose the successor. In this case, choose SF for start-to-finish, and click OK.
And now you can see that the first shift finishes when the second shift starts. You can also tell Project to automatically add links when you insert, move, and delete tasks. So to do this, go to the FILE tab, click Options. Go to the Schedule category. We'll scroll down to the Scheduling options for this Project section. And what you want to turn on is Autolink inserted or moved tasks. And click OK.
Well, here's what happens. Let's look at Pack office and Load moving truck. And you can see there's a finish-to-start between those two tasks. Well, if I select Load moving truck, and then insert a task, I've got this new task, and you see, Project automatically took care of getting rid of the original link, and now linking all three tasks finish-to-start. Depending on how you're trying to link tasks, this can be really handy or not. So, just change the setting depending on what you're trying to do.
After you get your project tasks linked with the right types of links, your project schedule really begins to take shape. Then you can fine tune links with lag time or date constraints which are discussed later.
NOTE: This course updates our Microsoft Project 2013 Essential Training course for Project 2016, and most videos will work with both versions of the software. For Microsoft Project 2010 compatibility, see Project 2010 Essential Training.
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- Choosing the right Project edition
- Creating and saving projects
- Setting up calendars
- Creating individual and recurring tasks
- Linking and timing tasks
- Assigning tasks to resources
- Viewing your data differently with sorting, grouping, and filtering
- Fine-tuning the project schedule
- Understanding baseline, schedule, and actual values
- Reporting on the project status
- Sharing projects