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Microsoft Project Quick Tip: Intentionally Splitting Tasks

By Dale Howard, MVP, Sensei Project Solutions

Have you ever run into a situation with a task in one of your projects where the work needs to start, then stop somewhere in the middle of the task, and then resume at a later date? If so, you can use the Split Task button to create a split in the middle of the task’s Gantt bar.

To create a task split in Microsoft Project 2010 or 2013, complete the following steps:

1. Click the Task tab to display the Task ribbon.
2. In the Schedule section of the Task ribbon, click the Split Task button.

You can see the Split Task button in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Split Task button
Figure 1: Split Task button

3. Float the mouse pointer over the point in the Gantt bar at which you want the work to stop on the task, as shown in Figure 2. Notice how Microsoft Project changes the appearance of the mouse pointer and displays a floating Split Task tooltip to help you select the correct date at which to begin the task split.

Figure 2: Float the mouse pointer over the Gantt bar
Figure 2: Float the mouse pointer over the Gantt bar

4. Click and hold the mouse button, drag the mouse pointer to the right, and then release the mouse button on the date you want work to resume on the task. As you drag the mouse pointer, you can see the dates changing in the Task Start field shown in the floating Split Task tooltip.

Figure 3 shows that I created a task split of 5 days in the Design 1 task. On this task, I want the work to stop on Friday, July 10, and then resume on Monday, June 20. You can see that Microsoft Project uses the ellipsis symbol (…) in the Gantt bar to indicate the task split. Notice that Microsoft Project maintains the original Duration value of 10 days for the split task. This is because Duration is always calculated from the Start date to the Finish date of the last, minus any non-working time during the life of the task.

Figure 3: Task Split in the Design 1 task
Figure 3: Task Split in the Design 1 task

If you are intentionally splitting tasks in your projects, keep in mind that Microsoft Project calculates the Duration differently for task splits on Fixed Duration tasks.

For example, notice in Figure 4 that the task split for the Design 2 task is identical to the task split for the Design 1 task. However, because the Design 2 task is a Fixed Duration task, notice that Microsoft Project calculates a Duration value of 15 days, not the expected 10 days. This is one of those Microsoft Project “oddities” with which you must live, as there no way to change how Microsoft Project calculates the Duration for Fixed Duration tasks that contain a task split.

Figure 4: Task Split in a Fixed Duration task
Figure 4: Task Split in a Fixed Duration task

About Sensei Project Solutions
Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2015 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, focuses on bringing Instant Productivity to your team. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations be more productive so that they can achieve their greatest potential. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner and Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) with the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Sensei offers a complete set of services and products for a successful Microsoft PPM deployment. Our guiding principles for Proactive PPM follow best practices and industry standards aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Gartner, enabling organizations to manage resource demand, obtain business intelligence that facilitates better decision making, increase business effectiveness by easily connecting people, and become self-sufficient with PPM processes and solutions. In short, Sensei helps organizations achieve Instant Productivity.

About Dale Howard, Director of Education, Sensei Project Solutions
Dale Howard is a seasoned training professional who is approaching 30 years of technical training experience. He has taught students how to effectively use every version of Microsoft Project beginning with version 4.0 for Windows 95, and every version of the Microsoft EPM tool beginning with Project Central in the year 2000. Dale possesses the coveted Project MVP title and is one of only 64 Project MVPs in the entire world. He is the co-author of 20 books on Microsoft Project and Project Server. Dale is known for high-energy, highly interactive style of presenting and teaching. He was voted the “Best Presenter” by conference participants at the Project Conference in 2012.

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