Track Project Management in Microsoft Project without Screwing Up Your Critical Path


One of the many discussions I have with customers is how to factor in time that is spent on project management in their schedule.

Most of those discussions land on the following:

* Project management is a significant effort on a project and should be tracked.
* Project managers are not working full-time on one project and their work effort should be adjusted.
* One long task that represents project management screws up the critical path because it may assume that it is the true critical path when instead the rest of the project contains the information you need to see for the critical path.

After exploring numerous techniques to address this and working with solutions I have created myself or received from others, I have discovered an approach that can work.

Solution: Describe Project Management as a Summary Task

In general the concept is to create a summary task for project management and within that summary create two milestone tasks that link to the start and end of the project. Assign the project manager to the summary task at the desired percent allocation for the project.

Details in the Solution

Review the highlighted sections in the schedule below.

Project Management as Summary Task

Track Project Mangement as a Summary Task in order to reflect its persistent nature throughout the project.

Notice my use of **Start to Start** link, **Finish to Finish** link, and **milestones**.

Notice the **Start** and **End** dates of the project and the Project Management summary task.

### Benefits

* The total project management phase _auto adjusts_ as the project adjusts.
* The project management hours for the PM assigned to the task _auto adjusts_.
* The _critical path_ is still properly displayed in the schedule.

The clients I have shown this solution to find it very useful and many have adapted it based on variations in how they run projects.

I would love feedback from the project management community on this approach and how you have modified it to fit your needs.

Showing 11 comments
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    Thanks for sharing this great info Cindy! It’s always great to share solutions to issues that so many people struggle with and can benefit from.

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    Srđan Điđo Drljača

    I tried it and use it, but there is a problem. Summary task sometimes has decimals and then actuals are not correct.

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    Cindy Lewis

    I tested my schedule with decimals in the project that rolled up to the summary and also decimals in the actual fields and all of my calculations are correct. I tried Project 2010 with Service Pack 1 and Project 2013. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you want to review a specific file.

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    Gord Schmidt

    As assigning resources to a summary task causes problems with Project Server’s Timesheets, considering using a hammock task instead. This would have all of the benefits of your approach, plus the added benefit of working with Timesheets (and avoiding assigning a resource to a summary task).

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    Cindy Lewis

    Very good point. In my example file I was illustrating Project Professional NOT connected to Project Server.

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    Dave Ply

    I have to agree with Gord; assigning resources to summary tasks does not play well with Project Server. I believe it can also lead to circular references.

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    Jim M

    How appropriate that the PM task is showing as over allocated! Isn’t that always the case!? I do like the process identified, but still prefer to maintain an activity list for the PM. Without assigning myself to specific activities as the PM, it is challenging to determine if I planned my own time correctly and to gain lessons learned.

    As an example, I may estimate how much time I will spend on creating a budget. If I don;t track my time against that activity, I never get a good idea of how long it rreally takes.

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