Friday, September 04, 2020

Seven Practical Nuggets–Dependencies, Leads and Lags with MS Project

Recently, I spoke in a global webinar on a very important area of Dependencies, leads and Lags and showed how it’s addressed by Microsoft Project Software tool. You can check the recorded webinar in the below link.

Understanding Dependencies, Leads and Lags with MS Project

Irrespective management domain you are in – project, program, portfolio, delivery, agile, risk or any other, you have to know about dependencies, though task  or activity dependencies are predominantly used in projects and programs. In this post, I’ll outline some of the practical tips associated with leads, lags and dependencies. 

These nuggets are primarily from MS Project Live Lessons. The theory part of depdencies, leads and lags are from PMP Live Lessons, with the formal definitions coming from the PMBOK Guide.

Practical Nugget1: Changing the Dependencies with Task Information Dialog Box
This is widely used in the software tool of MS Project. In the task information dialog box, you can quickly change the dependencies as well as the lead and lag. This is shown below. 

The task information dialog box pops-up when you double click on a task or activity in MS Project. 

Practical Nugget2: Change the Dependencies On-The-Fly
You can change the dependencies on the fly with MS Project. To do that:
  • Put your cursor over the link, and
  • Double click. 
This will pop-up the dialog box shown below, where you can change the dependencies. 

Practical Nugget3: Change the Leads and Lags On-The-Fly
In the above pop-up dialog box shown, you can also change the leads and lags on the fly. As the dialog box pops-up, you can change the field value of “Lag:” as shown in the above figure.

For lag, you have to enter a positive value and for lead, you have to enter a negative value. 

Practical Nugget4: Create the Dependencies On-The-Fly
You can create dependencies on-the-fly between tasks of MS Project. Do note that it’s NOT about changing the link, but creating a fresh link between tasks.  To do that:
  • Select the “from task” where you want to create the link.
  • Then drag to the “to task”, where you want to have the link. 
  • As you drag, the cursor will show a link icon. 
  • Drop the cursor at the “to task” and a link will be created. 

As shown above, I’m drawing a link from Task 3 (Task B) to Task 5 (Task C). When you finally drop the cursor at Task 5 (Task C), a FS dependency will be created on the fly.

Practical Nugget5: Auto Insert Dependencies 
You can auto insert dependencies between newly added or moved tasks. When you add a new task, among a set of contiguous tasks, the link is not created by default. To have such a link, you have to enable it from Global Options. To do that:
  • Go to Backstage view – Options.
  • From there Schedule tab – Scheduling options for this project.
  • There you have to enable “Autolink inserted or moved tasks”. 

Practical Nugget6: Entering Percentage Values to Have Leads and Lags 
By default, you can enter days for Leads and Lags for an activity or task. You can also enter percentage values to generate leads and lags, which is shown below.

When you enter 50% in the Lag field, it will take 50% value of the predecessor. 

Practical Nugget7: For Start-to-Finish Dependency, Have the Successor Task First, followed by Predecessor! 
Many get this dependency wrong. In a Start-to-Finish dependency, the start of successor task drives the finish of the predecessor task, which many put in varieties of wrong ways. 

As the successor task drives the professor task’s finish or end, you have put the successor task first, followed with the predecessor task. This is counterintuitive, but it works that way! This is shown in the below figure.

For videos and explanations with a number of tips, you can refer:

MS Project Live Lessons (comes with full moneyback gurantee) 

In fact, a dedicated set of tips, unknown to many, are part of this live lesson. In together, you will find hundreds of such tips as you proceed through the lessons.

Articles on MS Project:

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