Home > Microsoft Project, Uncategorized > Part 3 – Microsoft Project Tutorial – Linking Tasks

Part 3 – Microsoft Project Tutorial – Linking Tasks

Before I leave you for a while with Project, I’m going to introduce a new concept: linking tasks. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to MS Project, but not for a while. This is not a blog on MS Project and beginners need to test the stuff I’ve covered. But I can’t leave without discussing links.

Most beginners just drag the bars in the Gantt chart. This connects the tasks to specific dates and this is sometimes good, but it does not help you if you need to reschedule a project. Instead, you should try working with links. I’ll get back to specifying dates like deadlines later. But now, we’re talking about links.

Below, you can see unlinked tasks. They are not related.

UnlinkedTasks

If you want to link two tasks you can drag the bar of the task which affects another task to the affected task. You can also select them in the table and click on the butcon Link Tasks. Linked tasks look like this:

LinkedTasks

You can also see on the picture above that the links are stored in two columns on the Gantt chart: Predecessors and Successors. In the former field, you can see which tasks are directly affected by the task and in the Successor field, you can see which tasks the current task directly depend on. The number in the field is the ID of the task. So, another way of linking tasks is printing the ID in the right field. (To insert a column, right click another column and select Insert Field. Select the appropriate column)

If you double click the link between two tasks (in the diagram part of the Gantt chart) you can see that there are a number of options on a link. First you can delete the link by clicking that button. (You can also use a butcon in the toolbar or delete the ID in the table).

Then you can change Lag. Lag is if the link is not on the second. If you don’t add a Lag, a task can start the very second the previous task has been completed. You can add positive or negative values to Lag. For example:

  • +1 d means that a task can start one day after the previous has been completed
  • -1 d means that a task can start one day before the previous task has been completed (overlapping tasks)

Observe that you can also print values in percent: a lag of –50% means that you can start with a task when the other task has been 50% completed.

When you enter Lag you must also specify the type of Link, which you can see on the picture below:

LinkedTasksDifferentLinkTypes

There are four types of links, in the table identified by their initials:

  1. Finish-to-Start (FS)
    The default link type. When one task has been completed, the predecessor can start.
  2. Start-to-Start (SS)
    The second most common link type. When one task has started, the predecessor can also start.
  3. Finish-to Finish (FF)
    When a task has finished, the predecessor can also finish.
  4. Start-to-Finish (SF)
    When a task has started, the predecessor can finish.

Below, you can see some example of tasks which are linked using the different types of links:

LinkedTasksDifferentLinkTypes2

  • We cannot stop testing until we’ve finished developing.
  • We cannot stop using the old system until the new one is operational.
  • When we’ve started planning, we can also start developing.

As you might realize, combining link types with lag can get kind of complixated. For example, 1SS+50% is the same as 1FS-50%.

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