Durations and milestones

Most tasks in a project take a specific amount of time to accomplish. Tasks can take anywhere from five minutes to five months. The length of time needed to complete a task is called the task's duration. You should always try to break the long tasks in a project into smaller tasks of shorter duration so that you can track their progress more accurately. For example, break a five-month-long task into five one-month tasks. Checking off the completion of the smaller tasks each month reduces the odds of a serious surprise five months down the road — and makes you feel like you're getting something done.

Figure 1-2: When you apply the appropriate filter, only the tasks that can't afford delay appear in your schedule.

Some tasks, called milestones, have no (0) duration. Milestones are merely points in time that mark the start or completion of some phase of a project. For example, if your project involves designing a new brochure, the approval of the initial design may be considered a milestone. You can assign a duration to the process of routing the design to various people for review, but assigning a length of time to the moment when you have everyone's final approval is probably impossible. Therefore, this task has a duration of 0—that is, approval of the design is a milestone that simply marks a key moment in the project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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