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Microsoft Project 2010 : Linking Tasks (part 8) - Auditing Task Links,Using the Task Inspector

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Modifying, Reviewing, and Removing Dependency Links

As you develop a project plan, you will inevitably make changes in the task list, and when you do, you will have to adjust the sequence of links you have established. You might want to modify the type of links between tasks, insert lag or lead time, or remove a link entirely. You can modify existing links in the following locations

  • Select the successor task and modify its predecessor links in the Predecessors tab of the Task Information dialog box.

  • Split the window and display the Task Form view in the bottom pane, beneath a task view. With the predecessor and successor details displayed in the Task Form view, select a linked task and modify its links in either the Predecessors or Successors table.

  • Double-click a linking line in the Gantt Chart view or Network Diagram view to display the Task Dependency dialog box, where you can modify the link.

If you find that a link between tasks is no longer necessary, or if you prefer to change a link to another task, you have to remove the existing link. Just as you have several ways to create links, you can use many different methods to remove links. You can use the following techniques to remove links:

  • You can easily unlink tasks in any of the task views by using the unlink button on the Task tab. Either select the tasks you want to unlink and click the Unlink Tasks button or press Shift+Ctrl+F2. The result depends on the task(s) selected:

    • If you select a single task and then choose Unlink Tasks, Project removes all predecessors and successors for that task.

    • If you select multiple tasks, Project removes all links between any pair of the selected tasks.

    • To remove all links from the project, display any view with a task table and select all tasks by clicking a field name, such as a Task Name, before using Unlink Tasks.

  • You can select a successor task and remove its predecessor links by using the Task Information dialog box. For each predecessor listed on the Predecessors tab that you want to remove, click the row for the predecessor and press the Delete key. Clicking OK closes the dialog box and removes those links.

  • With a task view in the top pane and the Task Form in the bottom pane, you can display the resource and predecessor—or predecessor and successor—details in the bottom pane. Select the task in the top pane. For each predecessor link you want to remove, click its row in the details area and press the Delete key. Click OK to finish the deletion. If you display one of the detail’s choices that includes successors, you can select the predecessor task in the top pane and delete the link in the Successors table in the bottom pane.

  • In a view that includes a task table, such as the Gantt Chart view, click on the row for the successor task and clear the entry in its Predecessors field by pressing Ctrl+Delete. Remember not to press the Delete key alone because that deletes the entire task!

  • You can double-click a linking line in the Gantt Chart or Network Diagram view to display the Task Dependency dialog box and choose Delete to remove the link.

Auditing Task Links

The project schedule is heavily influenced by the linking relationships you establish among tasks. It is very easy to accidentally link tasks or break task links, and if you work with Autolink enabled, some changes you have not noticed might have been made. Therefore, you should always review the link relationships carefully before committing to the project schedule. Accidental links can easily distort the finish date of the project.

The Network Diagram view concentrates on the linking relationships by representing each task as a box or node with arrows from predecessor to successor tasks. It is helpful to print the views when using them to review all task links because you see so few tasks on the screen.

The Gantt Chart view shows the task links as arrows connecting the taskbars, with the arrow always pointing from the predecessor to the successor task.With the predecessor and successor details in the Task Form view in the bottom pane, provides a good review of the task links. For the task you have active, the predecessor and successor tasks are listed in the bottom pane, along with any lag or lead associated with the link. Use the Previous and Next buttons in the bottom pane to review the links.

The Relationship Diagram view is perhaps the most useful view for auditing task links (see Figure 12). It shows the predecessors and the successors for just the selected task as task nodes, like the Network Diagram view, and is useful for confirming that you have defined the task relationships as you intended. You can display the Relationship Diagram view by itself, but it is most useful when displayed in the bottom pane, beneath another task view in the top pane, such as the Gantt Chart or Network Diagram view. To do this, select the View tab. In the split view group, select the Details checkbox. In the drop-down next to it, select More Views, Relationship Diagram.

Figure 12. The Relationship Diagram view displays the dependency relationships for the task selected. In this case, the window is split, and the task selected in the top pane is displayed in the Relationship Diagram view in the bottom pane.

The task you have selected in the top pane is represented by a box or node in the center of the relationship diagram in the bottom pane, with links to nodes for its predecessors on the left and successors on right. The type of relationship and any lag or lead is shown next to the linked task nodes. In Figure 12, the relationship diagram in the bottom pane makes it clear that Pack Travel Bags and Confirm Travel has multiple successors and one predecessor, and it defines those dependency relationship types.

Note

The Relationship Diagram view is a display-only view. You cannot make changes in this view, nor can you print it. You can, however, display the Task Information dialog box for the selected task and make changes there.


To display the Relationship Diagram view below the Gantt Chart view, split the window (View tab, Split View, Details) and activate the bottom pane by clicking in it. Choose More Views, and select Relationship Diagram in the More Views box. Then click the Apply button to display the view.

You can select tasks in the top pane to see their predecessors and successors displayed in the bottom pane.

Tip

If you select multiple tasks in the top pane, you see only one of the selected tasks in the center of the bottom pane at a time. You can use the horizontal scroll bar in the Relationship Diagram pane to scroll through all the selected tasks. Pressing the Home key displays the view for the first of the selected tasks, and pressing the End key displays the view for the last of the selected tasks. You can use these same techniques to scroll through the tasks if you display the Relationship Diagram view as a full-screen view.


Using the Task Inspector

The Task Inspector is an enhanced version of the Task Drivers feature added in Microsoft Office Project. It provides detail about why a task is scheduled to start where it is, including any specific predecessor tasks. To open the Task Inspector pane, select the Task tab and click Inspect, Inspect Task. This displays the Task Drivers options in a new pane on the left. The Task Inspector feature displays tasks that are linked to the selected task, as well as their relationship (additionally, it provides information about how the scheduling engine might reschedule a manually scheduled task, and options for repairing scheduling issues, if there are any). After the Task Inspector is displayed, you can select any task, and its attributes will be displayed in the Task Inspector pane (see Figure 13).

Figure 13. Task Inspector enables you to easily trace relationships and dependencies between tasks in your project schedule.

Tip

The Task Inspector feature is useful when working on projects with complex calendars or a large number of tasks. It is a quick and effective method of reviewing a task’s links and progress. In addition, the Task Inspector helps you determine what tasks will be affected if you make any changes to the selected task.

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