Understanding Task Types in Microsoft Project

Overview

In Microsoft Project, understanding Task Types – Fixed Units, Fixed Work, and Fixed Duration – can be crucial for managing your project effectively. These Task Types determine how project scheduling behaves when you make changes to the Duration, Work, or Units values tasks. Let’s break down each Task Type and when to use them.

 

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Description automatically generated

What is the Task Types Feature?

The Task Types feature in Microsoft Project allows you to fix or “lock” one of three variables in the Duration Equation: Units, Work, or Duration. This locking ensures that when you change one variable, Microsoft Project recalculates another value accordingly, maintaining consistency in your project plan.

When to Use Each Task Type

  • Fixed Units: Use this when the availability of a resource is limited, such as part-time resources. When you set Fixed Units, Microsoft Project locks the Units value, but you can freely adjust Work or Duration.
  • Fixed Work: Use this for tasks where the amount of Work is fixed, often due to contractual obligations. When you fix Work, Microsoft Project locks the Work value, allowing you to adjust Units or Duration as needed.
  • Fixed Duration: Use this when a task must be completed within a specific time window. Fixed Duration locks the task’s Duration, enabling you to adjust Units or Work without changing the Duration.

How Task Types Work in Practice

Here is how these Task Types always behave in Microsoft Project.

 

On a Fixed Units task:

  • The Units value is locked. When you change the Work, Microsoft Project recalculates Duration.
  • When you change the Duration, Microsoft Project recalculates Work.
  • When you change the Units value, Microsoft Project will always calculate the Duration.

 

On a Fixed Work task:

  • The Work value is locked. When you change Units, Microsoft Project recalculates Duration.
  • When you change the Duration, Microsoft Project recalculates Units. By the way, the new Units value is stored in the “Peak” field, visible only in the Resource Usage and Task Usage views.
  • When you change the Work value, Microsoft Project will always calculate the Duration.

 

On a Fixed Duration task:

  • The Duration value is locked. When you change Units, Microsoft Project recalculates Work.
  • When you change Work, Microsoft Project recalculates Units. By the way, the new Units value is stored in the “Peak” field, visible only in the Resource Usage and Task Usage views.
  • When you change the Duration, Microsoft Project will always calculate the Work.

Conclusion

Understanding Task Types in Microsoft Project empowers you to make informed decisions about scheduling and resource management in your projects. Whether you’re dealing with part-time resources, fixed contracts, or strict deadlines, choosing the right Task Type ensures your project stays on track.

 

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