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How best to enter tasks for a living document (e.g., documentation list, traceability matrix, etc.) in MS Project 2010?
Could you please advise me on how best to enter tasks (e.g., create, review and approve document) for "living documents" (e.g., project plan, documentation list, traceability matrix, etc.) in MS Project 2010? How do you represent the time & effort (duration, percentage, etc.) of working on such documents?
Thank you very much for your time and consideration on this
The "best" answer will depend on your organization's approach to planning and estimating. Bear in mind that Project is a planning and scheduling tool; with the information contained within the work and duration fields being your "estimate" of how much effort or how long something will take. Most organizations that have a higher project management maturity will:
- include the project management activities in the WBS and schedule to account for the time, effort and costs associated with those activities,
- track the actual amount of time and effort to conduct such activities, and
- use the information from previous projects to estimate the time and effort needed on future projects.
If you do not have information from prior projects, then now is the time to start estimating and tracking actuals against those estimates. As I am sure you are aware, no two projects are the same, therefore you will never get durations or work amounts that are exact, but you can get close, given prior experience. My best advice on this is to estimate how much effort is needed to complete work on these documents and enter it as a work figure. You could set the tasks up as a fixed work task type so the work value remains the same when you add or delete resources, or when you change the values of units or duration. (Just a suggestion.)
For example, you estimate that during the life of the project, you will spend 20 hours updating the schedule, 1 hour of effort each time after 20 progress (status) meetings. (The schedule is a living, ever-changing document.) Create the task "Update Schedule" as a recurring task, 1 hour in duration, with one individual assigned (let's assume you). As you execute the project, you track how much effort you actually spent, and enter that figure in the Actual Work field. On the first update, you only spend 30 minutes, so you enter .5h in the Actual Work field and 0 h in the Remaining Work field. The task is now complete and you have your actual values. Five updates later, you spend 90 minutes updating the schedule. Entering 1.5 h in the Actual Work field will automatically set the task as complete and record the amount of actual time required to do that update.
You could use custom text fields to create a field that designates these activities as project management. When the project is complete you can create and print a filtered report of the actual work time spent on such activities. This information would then be used as I described above - for estimating future project activities of similar type/size/duration/complexity, etc.
A final word of caution. You should ask yourself if the effort spent on tracking these activities is beneficial. There is a difference between project management and micro-project management. Some organizations view this type of tracking as wasteful - which goes back to my opening statement of, "The best answer depends..."
Hope this has shed some light on the issue for you.
Gregg D. Richie, PMP, MCTS; Author, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Official Academic Course Series