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Lesson 2 - Plan Tasks

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Step-by-Step Project Planning with MS-Project

Previous Article in this Series
Lesson 1 - Setup Calendar(s)


Plan the tasks in as great a detail as possible and also organize them (e.g., by task category (UI Design, Programming, etc.), by phase, etc.). Planning the smallest details and organizing them in a structure that mimics the process flow helps track the project and identify risks early on.

  1. List all the tasks. A sample task structure is shown in Figure 6.
  2. Task Planning

    Figure 6: Task Planning
  3. After listing the tasks, indent them to reflect the task levels. For example, in the above plan, “Demo for BKM” is the level 1 task, “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” are level 2 tasks and so on. The arrow icons shown circled in Figure 6 are used for indenting the tasks.
  4. Assign task dependencies in the “Predecessors” column as shown in Figure 6. For example, tasks in rows 15, 18 and 19 (DB design, Logo, and Home page template, respectively) have row 12 listed in the predecessors column. This indicates that the task in row 12, viz., Phase 1 signoff, must be completed before these 3 tasks can start.
  5. celeroo-smiley Note: The dependencies between tasks can be of the following types:

    • Finish to Start (FS) (this is the default and is the one shown in the above example) - This indicates that the dependent task can start only after the task it is dependent on in finished.
    • Start to Start (SS) - This indicates that the dependent task can start only after the task it is dependent on has started.
    • Start to Finish (SF) - This indicates the relationship between the finishing of the dependent task and the starting of the task it is dependent on.
    • Finish to Finish (FF) - This indicates the relationship between the finishing of the dependent task and the task it is dependent on.

    In all these types, a duration lag can be added. For example, SS+2d indicates a 2 day lag between the start of the dependent task and the start of the task it is dependent on.

  6. Verify the task hierarchy by collapsing all tasks so as to see only level 1 task as shown in Figure 7, levels 1 and 2 as shown in Figure 8, levels 1, 2 and 3 as shown in Figure 9 and so on. This will help in having a properly organized task structure.
  7. Level 1 Task

    Figure 7: Level 1 task

    Level 1 and 2 Tasks

    Figure 8: Level 1 and 2 tasks

    Level 1, 2 and 3 Tasks

    Figure 9: Level 1, 2 and 3 tasks

Now that the tasks have been planned and organized, the next step is to allocate resources to the tasks, and set timelines.


Next Article in this Series
Lesson 3 - Allocate Resources and Set Timelines



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