How to Identify Task Types in Project 2013

By Cynthia Snyder Stackpole

Before you begin to enter task durations, be aware of task types in Project 2013; they have an effect on how Project schedules the work of a task using the automatic scheduling mode after you begin assigning resources.

Essentially, your choice of task type determines which element of the task remains constant (doesn’t vary) when you make changes to the task:

  • Fixed Units: When you assign resources (Project 2013 considers them fixed units) to a task, they continue to work on that task even if the duration changes. (This type is the default.)

    For example, if you assign someone full time to build a presentation for senior management and you set the duration for three days, and then you realize that five days is more realistic, the number of units stays the same. In other words, the same person is still working on the task full time, but for five days rather than three days.

  • Fixed Duration: The task takes a set amount of time to complete, no matter how many resources you add to the mix. For example, a test on a substance that requires leaving the test running for 24 hours has a fixed duration, even if you add 20 scientists to oversee the test.

  • Fixed Work: The number of resource hours assigned to the task determines its length. If you set the duration of a Fixed Work task at 40 hours, for example, and you assign two resources to work 20 hours each (simultaneously) at units of 100 percent, the task will be completed in 20 hours.

    If you remove one resource, the single resource must spend 40 hours at units of 100 percent to complete the task.

You can see how understanding the various task types (along with how each one causes the task timing or resource assignments to fluctuate) is an important part of creating an efficient project.

Follow these steps to set the task type:

  1. Double-click a task.

    The Task Information dialog box appears.

  2. Click the Advanced tab.

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  3. Choose one of the three options from the Task Type list.

  4. Click the OK button.

You can also display the Type column on a Gantt Chart sheet and set the task type there in Project 2013.