We recently had a question from a customer who asked how to use the Split Task feature in Microsoft Project 2013 to suspend work on a task. So let’s take a look at a scenario and explain how this really useful feature works.
A team of excavators is using a backhoe to excavate a trench for a pipe installation when several boulders are discovered on Friday. The excavators will have to acquire, install, and utilize a hydraulic breaker attachment for the backhoe to break up the boulders for removal.
Sounds like a good plan. The only issue is that the backhoe supplier can only guarantee the delivery of the breaker drill after 4-business days. You will have to suspend excavation of the trench until next Friday. How do you account for this 4-day interruption of work? Well, Microsoft Project 2013 has the ability to interrupt work on an activity to describe this period of non-activity.
This article describes how to use Microsoft Project 2013’s Split Task feature to suspend work on a task until a later date.
In this simple example, the schedule consists of 4 tasks, which all have the classic Finish-to-Start relationship. Initially work progresses without issue. Task A is complete and task B – Dig Trench commences on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, on Friday the large boulders are discovered and require the hydraulic breaker to break them up before removal. Near the close of business on Friday the hydraulic breaker attachment is ordered, which will take 4 business days to arrive. On Monday you update the project status, Figure 1, and then look to schedule in the 4 day hydraulic breaker delivery delay. Note that Task A is complete.
Scheduling an Interruption
To schedule the delivery delay for Task B – Dig Trench, first select the Split Task icon from the upper ribbon, Figure 2.
Second, click on the day the interruption will begin, Figure 3.
While holding the mouse key down move the cursor to the end of the suspension and release the mouse key, Figure 4.
Your interruption is now scheduled into the project, and its effect on the schedule baseline (yellow bar) can be clearly seen, Figure 5.
Tasks B – Dig Trench, C – Lay Pipe, and D now have a 4-day delay, and the project duration is now 26-days up from 22-days. Note, however, that the duration of task B – Dig Trench is still 10-days despite the scheduled 4-business day delay for this task.
Removing an Interruption
If you find another solution to break up the boulders that does not require a delay interruption, you can remove the suspension from your schedule. To remove the interruption follow these steps. First, move the cursor over the right hand side of the split bar and hover until the cursor changes into a four-way arrow, Figure 6.
Second, holding the mouse key down, move the cursor back in time until the two halves of the split bar touch, and release, Figure 7.
The schedule will now be the same as on Monday before the schedule delay, Figure 8.
Microsoft Project 2013 provides the ability to interrupt work when an issue arises that causes a non-work period delay in the schedule. This allows for the individual task duration to remain the same, while potentially extending the duration of the project. The suspension also provides, possibly, the flexibility to reassign resources to other ongoing tasks during the period of non-activity on the originally assigned task.