Dear PM Advisor January 28, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, Is it necessary for me to name all my tasks uniquely? I have a lot of similar deliverables in my project that require the same tasks. Can't I just copy and paste the tasks within my Gantt chart? You can still look up at the name of the deliverable to see what the task is referring to.

Ditto in Kalamazoo, MI. 

Dear Ditto,

The greatest thing about a computer is the ability to copy and paste. For a lousy typist like me, any chance I get to copy and past, I'll take it. And I love copying and pasting tasks along with their resources, dependencies and durations.

But when I'm done with that, I'll copy the deliverable and paste its name at the end of each task name to make each one unique. Why?

As a project manager, I use some of the higher functions of MS-Project. Filtering, setting up custom views, sending out MS-Project e-mails. Some of these functions strip the task from its deliverable so when you performs these functions it becomes difficult to see which task you are actually talking about.

I was recently shown a function where you add a text column that you use to identify certain tasks as milestones. Then you filter on these and all of your milestones of similar type end up lined up together. The next logical step for me would have been to export this to Excel to allow me to determine what percentage of each milestone was complete. I could have done that but I couldn't go the next step and figure out which were complete and which weren't because all the tasks were called the same due to cutting and pasting.

So do yourself a favor and get in the habit of naming each task uniquely. It's a good habit and lets others use your Gantt chart for cool things.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send me your questions at Bruce@RoundTablePM.com