Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A New Way of “What If” Scenario Planning

How many times have you heard your manager ask this question: “What happens to the schedule, resource needs and costs if we don’t do a specific task?”.

In previous versions of Project you could delete the task and try to compare the schedule and costs before and after, but you’d have to re-enter all of the task and resource data again. In Project 2010 Professional, all you have to do is Inactivate the task. The purpose of this feature is to help answer the “What If” question with the least pain possible.

The “Inactivate” button is found in the Schedule group on the Task tab. When a task is inactivated, it is excluded from the schedule and its resource assignments are excluded as well. You can still see the inactive task so that it can be reactivated later if you change your mind.

In the figures below I have a model for a remote training project that includes a little sightseeing. Since the work schedule after the trip dictates whether the sightseeing can occur, the task “Sightseeing Activities” is expendable. It isn’t a requirement for the training. The top figure illustrates that the trip will take 8 days if sightseeing is included.  In the bottom figure, sightseeing has been Inactivated which shortens the trip to 4 days. The cost is also cut, so you can see the effect of inactivation on both schedule and cost!


Active Task 


Inactive Task

In this example, I have used Auto Scheduled activities, modified the Project Calendar, and used sequencing techniques to illustrate the concept. I’ve not answered other questions you may have on this subject like “What happens to the project schedule if the tasks are Manually Scheduled?”. Or “Do Projects’ Options come into play here?

Well, those are deeper and more complex questions – more suitable for a Webinar. Stay tuned!