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Introducing Inactive Tasks in Project 2010

Introducing Inactive Tasks in Project 2010

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Inactive Tasks is a powerful new feature in Microsoft Project 2010 Professional that allows you to cut tasks in your projects, while maintaining a record of these cut items. Inactive Tasks allows you to quickly and effectively:

· Manage Scope: As project begins to go over budget or over schedule, inactive tasks should be used to manage the scope of the project and retain a record of the tasks that you cut. Later, if there becomes additional funding or more time, you can re-activate some of the inactive tasks to fill the remainder of the budget or schedule

· Perform What-if Analysis: You may want to experiment with different combinations of adds or cuts to your project. Inactive Tasks gives you the ability to quickly test multiple options by temporarily inactivating certain parts of the project without losing the original data.

How to Inactivate a Task

There are several ways to inactivate a task:

· In the Tasks tab of the Ribbon, click Inactivate

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· Right-click and choose Inactivate Task in the context menu

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· In the General tab of the Task Information dialog, click the Inactive checkbox.

· Set the Active field to “No”

You can also perform one of the steps listed above to re-activate an inactive task.

Appearance

In Task Sheet views, an inactive task will appear crossed-out in semi-transparent gray text. In the Gantt Chart, the task will be outlined and filled with solid white. The task will retain its original duration, start, and finish values. If you do not want your inactive tasks to appear in the task sheet views, you can filter them out. To do this, in the Views tab of the Ribbon, select the Filter “Active Tasks”.

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Inactive tasks will not appear at all in the following views:

· Timeline

· Team Planner

· Network Diagram

· Relationship Diagram

· Calendar

Behavior

Inactive tasks will no longer be taken into account by the scheduling engine. Assignments to inactive tasks do not roll up to the task or resource summaries. Inactive task do not affect resource availability and will not be taken into account by Leveling. Baseline values that have already been taken are retained, but any new baselines taken will not include data for inactive tasks. Tasks with actuals cannot be inactivated.

Project Server and Inactive Tasks

Inactive tasks will appear in the Schedule WebPart on PWA, however they will be read-only. Inactive tasks are not published, so inactive task assignments will not appear on a team member’s task list.

Tips and Tricks

Links

Inactivating a task that is linked to other tasks has some interesting effects because it is no longer taken into account by the scheduling engine. In a schedule from start project, if you inactivate a task with successors, the successors will be scheduled as if that link does not exist.clip_image008

It is important to be aware of this behavior when inactivating a task in a chain of tasks. In the example below, notice how Task 3 is re-scheduled now that Task 2 is inactive.

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If you wish to retain the link between two tasks after inactivating their connecting task, you will need to add the link manually. In the example above, we would add Task 1 to Task 3’s predecessors.

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Capturing changes to the Project

Using the Created field (that existed in Microsoft Office Project 2007) and the grouping feature, you can quickly see which tasks have been added and which have been cut since the start of your project. To do this, click “Add New Column” and type “Created”. Then in the Views tab of the Ribbon, select the Group “Active v. Inactive”.

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Summary Tasks

To cut large sections of a project, try inactivating a summary task, which will automatically inactivate all of its subtasks.

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Later, you can re-activate the entire summary task or selected subtasks. If you activate any of the subtasks, the summary task will also automatically be re-activated.

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Risk Management/What-If Analysis

Projects often have external dependencies that add risk to completing successfully on time. You can use inactive tasks to represent these risks. To see the effects if the risk is realized, you can activate these tasks and see the overall effect on the project. When planning, you should use inactive tasks to schedule both with and without the risks to see the range of time when the project should finish.

Notes

· The Inactive Task feature is available in Microsoft Project Professional only. Inactive tasks will appear read-only in Microsoft Project Standard 2010.

· The Inactive Tasks feature is not available while in 2007 compatibility mode.

· If you save to a previous version, the inactive tasks will be deleted completely from the project plan.

  • Hi Heather,

    What a shame it's not availabe in Project 2010 Standard.  Can it be added to the plot for the next version? Or perhaps, SR1? :)

  • I have just stumbled across this in my new version of Project - and quite sadly I had a bit of a "OMG - How useful is this!" moment. What a wonderful feature. As a project manager I could have done with this years ago. I will definitely be using this in the future much more for "What if" scenario planning.

    However, as Mike Glenn says it is a shame this is not in more versions of project as it doesn't feel like this sort of functionality should be restricted to the Professional Version.

  • Used this today for the first time and it was great!  Sharing it with my colleagues!!!

  • Heather,

    The feature would be more useful to me if it allowed me to "inactivate" tasks with actuals.  I know the dangers if I fail to "reactivate" the tasks before publishing/saving.  Often I have resources assigned to tasks for the purpose of time recording only and I don't want those tasks affecting my critical path.  

    I agree that the feature should be available in PPM2010 Standard as well.

  • I selected the Active Task filter. Why are the tasks 100% complete still being shown? Please define the criteria for and Active Task.

    Mark

  • Mark - The active task filter only filters out tasks that aren't set to active (ie. they're inactive). You can create a new filter or update the active filter to also filter out completed tasks if you want. To do this go to the View tab - Filter Dropdown - More Filters and select to either edit the existing filter or create a new one.

  • Hi Heather,

    I've appreciated all of your blogs and presentations at the Project conference over the years.

    I had a question on how best to remove costs associated with inactive tasks from earned value calculations. My thinking was that the inactive task(s) could be selected and then the baseline could be re-saved just for those tasks and that, if the setting to roll the baseline up to all summary tasks was selected, that the BCWS for the summary tasks would reflect the BCWS minus any BCWS of the inactive tasks. However, I'm seeing some behavior that I'm having trouble understanding.

    If I have three tasks (Tasks 1, 2, 3) linked together in series and all have been baselined and I reduce the cost of Task 2 to zero and rebaseline just that task the new Baseline Cost and BCWS at the summary task level reflect just the cost of Tasks 1 and 2, as expected.

    If I repeat that scenario having instead made Task 2 inactive, again highlighting only that task and choosing to affect all summary tasks upon rebaselining, then the Baseline Cost and BCWS at the summary task level only reflect the cost of Task 1. The cost of Task 3 appears to be left out of the summary task rollup. (Status date is well into the future in both scenarios.) I would have expected the costs for Task 3, and any following tasks, to be included in the Baseline Cost and BCWS fields at the summary task level in this scenario, just as they were when the cost of Task 2 was changed. (as oppossed to making it inactive)

    Thoughts?

    (Thx for reading the long scenario.)

  • Hi David - sorry to be slow in getting back to you. I should have a response soon.

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