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Project management basics

Learn more about the fundamental terms and components used in iTaskX.

Tasks

In project management, a task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time.

To define your tasks most effectively, take into account the following guidelines:

  • Break down tasks to the level of detail that you want to track. You should break them down in greater detail for riskier areas.
  • Make sure that tasks have clear completion criteria.
  • Define tasks that are short compared with the overall project duration. Shorter tasks allow you to more easily estimate time and resources.
  • Avoid defining such things as vacation or training as tasks.

Note
iTaskX also calculates automatically outline numbers for each task based on the outline structure of the task list. Outline numbers consist of numbers only, and you cannot edit them. They do, however, change automatically when you move a task up or down in the task list.

Resources

Resources are typically people included in your project plan, whether or not they are assigned to tasks. However, a resource could also include anything that is used to complete a project, including, materials and costs.

iTaskX offers 3 types of resources:

  • Work resources are the people who complete the tasks in your project.
  • Material resources are the tools you need to get your project done. These may include things like concrete, steel, pipe, wood, computers...
  • Cost resources are fees associated with your project. These may be things like travel costs.
Assignments

Assignments are the associations between specific tasks and the resources needed to complete them. More than one resource can be assigned to a task. All types of resources (Work, Material, Cost) resources can be assigned to tasks.

Note
You can make adjustments to the assignments you made, check for over allocations, and perhaps resolve over allocations.

Calendars

iTaskX uses the following types of calendars to determine resource availability and the way tasks are scheduled:

Base calendar
A Base-Calendar is used for the Project-Calendar, Task-Calendars and as template for Resource-Calendars. 3 base calendars are provided with iTaskX:

  • Standard (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays, with an hour off for lunch)
  • 24-Hours (Reflects a schedule with continuous work, such as a mechanical process)
  • Night Shift (Reflects a graveyard shift schedule of Monday night through Saturday morning, 11:00 PM to 8:00 AM, with an hour off for break)

Project-Calendar
The calendar used to designate the default work schedule for all tasks in a project. Use this calendar to change standard work days and organization-wide holidays or days off.

Resource-Calendar
For each resource you enter, iTaskX creates a individual Resource-Calendar based on the settings in the selected Project-Calendar. You can also create and assign other Base-Calendars for individual resources or resource groups to indicate specific working hours; for example, you can assign a resource to the swing shift or night shift. You can adjust Resource-Calendars to indicate nonworking time, such as vacations and leaves of absence.

Task-Calendar
Tasks are scheduled based on the working times in the Project-Calendar; however, you can customize the working times from the Project-Calendar in a Task-Calendar if you have tasks to be completed at different times, especially tasks that are independent of resources. A Task-Calendar is especially useful for equipment that runs and completes tasks throughout nights or weekends, which is designated as nonworking time in the Project-Calendar.

iTaskX calculates when a resource and task are scheduled to work by using the calendars in the following order: Project-Calendar, Resource-Calendar, and Task-Calendar.

Scheduling

iTaskX schedules a project from the information you enter about the following:

  • The overall project
  • The individual tasks required to complete the project
  • If necessary, the resources needed to complete those tasks

If anything about your project changes after you create your schedule, you can update the tasks or resources and iTaskX adjusts the schedule for you.

For each task, you might enter one or all of the following:

  • Durations
  • Task dependencies
  • Constraints

Using this information, iTaskX calculates the start date and finish date for each task.

You can enter resources in your project and then assign them to tasks to indicate which resource is responsible for completing each assignment. This doesn't only help you planning project staffing, it can also help you calculate the number of machines needed or the quantity of material to be consumed.

If you enter resources, task schedules are further refined according to the following resource information:

  • Work
  • Units
  • Working times entered in calendars

Other elements, such as lead time and lag time, task types, resource availability and the driving resource can affect scheduling, so understanding the effects of these elements can help you maintain and adjust your schedule as needed.