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Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 4) - Project Tools for Change - Seeing What Changes Do

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1/13/2015 2:54:42 AM

Project Tools for Change

As you start changing the schedule in search of shorter duration or lower cost, you can put a triumvirate of Project’s change-oriented features through their paces:

  • Task Inspector is a beefed-up version of Project 2007’s Task Drivers feature. It shows the elements that make tasks start when they do or last as long as they do, so you get some hints about how to fix them. In many cases, the task or assignment editing commands you need (Reschedule Task and Team Planner if resources are overallocated) are ready for you, right in the Task Inspector pane.

  • Change highlighting shades all the cells whose values change in response to an edit you make. You can easily review these highlighted cells to see whether the changes you make produce the results you had in mind.

  • Multilevel Undo lets you undo as many changes as you want. If you zip through several edits only to find that another strategy is in order, you can undo the changes you made and try a different tack.

See Why Tasks Occur When They Do

Whether you’re trying to shorten a schedule during planning or recover from delays during execution, a typical strategy is to make tasks start or end earlier. What you must change to start a task sooner isn’t part of the task that should start earlier—it’s an element that controls the task’s start date, like predecessors and date constraints, to name a few. If an important task takes too long, the factors affecting it help identify what you can change to get back on track. For instance, you may talk to the person whose work calendar is overbooked. In Project 2010, when you select a task and open the Task Inspector, it lists factors that affect the task and any issues like overallocations.

Tip

The Task Inspector is a good start, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all for optimizing your schedule. For example, the Task Inspector shows task predecessors. But you have to dig deeper to discover that a predecessor’s duration is due to a resource who’s scheduled for medical leave and that the resolution may be to reassign the predecessor task to someone else.

To open the Task Inspector pane, choose Task→Tasks→Inspect. Similar to the behavior of the Task Form, the Task Inspector pane shows the factors for the selected task, as shown in Figure 12-6.

If resources are overallocated or task links are a problem, the Task Inspector includes repair options. For example, in Figure 6, Task Inspector includes Reschedule Task and Team Planner if you want to remove the overallocation on an overallocated resource.

Seeing What Changes Do

There’s no guarantee your changes will correct the problems you’re trying to fix. For example, you could assign more resources to shorten a critical path task only to find out that another task prevents the finish date from changing. Fortunately, Project’s change highlighting feature shades table cells that have changed due to your last task edit, so you can see whether the results are what you want.

Suppose you assign an additional resource to shorten a task’s duration. When the task finishes earlier, its successor tasks start and finish sooner. Change highlighting lights up the task Start and Finish cells with background color, as Figure 7 demonstrates. Similarly, if the additional resource increases the cost, the task’s Cost field (and its summary task’s Cost field) might light up as well.

The factors that appear in the Task Inspector pane may change as you modify the schedule. For example, if you find another resource to replace the one that’s overallocated, the overallocation issue disappears. However, you could discover that the new resource’s calendar or a predecessor task is now the controlling factor.

Figure 6. The factors that appear in the Task Inspector pane may change as you modify the schedule. For example, if you find another resource to replace the one that’s overallocated, the overallocation issue disappears. However, you could discover that the new resource’s calendar or a predecessor task is now the controlling factor.

Modifying the Project view doesn’t wash away change highlighting. You can display a new table, filter the schedule, or group tasks, and still see highlighted cells from the last edit. For example, if the Summary table is visible, you can review the changes in dates, duration, and cost. Switching to the Cost table would highlight cost cells affected by the last edit.

When you make another edit, change highlighting shows the effect of this new change. In addition, saving the Project file erases any current change highlighting.

Tip

It’s unlikely, but if you want to turn change highlighting off for some reason, you must add the Change Highlighting command to a custom group on the ribbon. See Creating Custom Groups to learn how to customize the ribbon. The Change Highlighting command is in the All Commands group on the “Customize the Ribbon” screen.

Change highlighting shades cells affected by the last task edit. Project considers all changes you make in a Task Form before you click OK as one edit. So to make the most of change highlighting, make all of your changes in the Task Form at the same time. As soon as you click OK, change highlighting shows the results.

Figure 7. Change highlighting shades cells affected by the last task edit. Project considers all changes you make in a Task Form before you click OK as one edit. So to make the most of change highlighting, make all of your changes in the Task Form at the same time. As soon as you click OK, change highlighting shows the results.

 
Others
 
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 3) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Reviewing Project Costs
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 2) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Finding the Best Tasks to Shorten
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 1) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Comparing Finish Dates to Deadlines
- Microsoft Onenote 2010 : Using Tables to Organize Information (part 5) - Deleting a Row in a Table, Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Modify Tables
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