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Successful Project Management: Modifying the Project Schedule

Splitting Long Tasks into Short Ones

You might be able to improve your schedule and reduce cost by splitting a long task into several shorter tasks. Instead of the same person performing the entire task, you might be able to assign different resources to the shorter tasks, so you can overlap the tasks. And if you can assign less expensive people to some of the shorter tasks, you can reduce the overall cost. Figure 13-2 demonstrates breaking up a long task to achieve both of these benefits. The original task in the top window takes 30 days and costs $24,000. By splitting the task into work that a designer and drafter can do, as illustrated in the bottom window, the new duration is 25 days and the cost is $18,000.

Figure 13-2

Figure 13-2 By breaking up long tasks into several shorter ones, you might be able to reduce the duration and the cost of the work.

To change a long task into several shorter ones, the easiest approach is to treat the original long task as a summary task and create the shorter tasks as subordinate tasks. Here are the steps:

  1. Insert a blank row below the long task by clicking the Task Name cell immediately below the long task in the Task Sheet. For example, in Figure 13-2, you click the Task Name cell in row 4.

  2. To insert blank rows for the new subtasks, press Insert as many times as needed.

  3. The insertion point appears in the Task Name cell for the first blank task below the summary task, so you can type the name for the first subordinate task.

  4. Press Enter to save the name.

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  5. Select the task you just created and, on the Task tab, in the Schedule group, click the Indent Task button.

  6. After the first subordinate task is indented, add the remaining subordinate tasks by pressing the down arrow and typing the task names.

  7. Link the subordinate tasks based on the dependencies between the smaller packages of work and assign resources to the smaller tasks.

  8. To remove the resource assigned to the summary task, double-click the summary task to open the Task Information dialog box.

  9. Click the Resource tab.

  10. Click the cell with the original resource name in it and press Delete to remove the resource assignment from the summary task.

  11. Click OK to close the dialog box.