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Task Splits in the Future – A Scheduling Mystery

Some time ago, one of our clients experienced an unusual situation with an enterprise project in Project Online. The client is using the Timesheet feature in Project Online to capture task progress entered on a daily basis by team members. The project contained task splits in the future, and the client could not determine why.

After studying the project in depth, I was able to determine the source of the task splits in the future. Allow me to share the results of my research with you.

Figure 1 shows a sample project that I set up to mimic the behavior the client was seeing. This figure shows the project after one week of updates were applied by the project manager. Notice the following about this project:

  • The project contains two tasks with a Duration of 20 days each. (The client was using task Durations that were much longer than 20 days).
  • These two tasks are linked with a Finish-to-Start dependency.
  • The Build task is scheduled to start on Monday, August 7.
  • The Design task has progress applied for the week of July 9. The progress was submitted by Mickey Cobb on her Timesheet in Project Web App, and this update was approved by her project manager.
  • The red dashed line is the Status date for the project, which is set to Friday of the week of July 9.
  • The green line is the Current date for the project, which is today.
  • Everything to the right of the Current date line is in the future.
  • There is nothing unusual about this project…yet.

Figure 1: Gantt Chart view before updates

 

Figure 2 shows the project after the project manager approved task updates from the team members for the week of July 16. Notice the following about this project:

  • The Design task has progress applied for the week of July 16. The progress was submitted by Mickey Cobb on her Timesheet in Project Web App, and this update was approved by her project manager.
  • The Build task has early progress applied to the task on Friday of the week of July 16. The team member assigned to this task reported 1 hour of Actual Work on Friday of that week. The team member submitted this progress on his Timesheet in Project Web App, and this update was approved by his project manager.
  • The early progress on the Build task created a task split that spans from last week (to the left of the Current date line) to two weeks into the future (to the right of the Current date line).
  • Microsoft Project created the task split to honor the Finish-to-Start dependency between the Design and Build tasks. Because of this, the Actual Work on the Build task is shown on Friday of the week of July 16, but the Remaining Work on this task is still scheduled to start on Monday, August 7.
  • The Duration of the Build task is now 20.88 days. This change in Duration is caused by the task split.
  • The task split in the future is normal and not a bug. Microsoft Project is working as designed.

Figure 2: Task split in the future on the Build task

 

If your organization uses the Timesheet feature in either Project Online or Project Server, you should be aware of the behavior documented in this blog post. There is a good possibility that you will see task splits in the future whenever you use tasks with long Durations and team members enter early progress on a task using the Timesheet in Project Web App.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Sensei Project Solutions

Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2017 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.

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