MS Project Recurring Tasks

MS Project Recurring Tasks Tutorial: Should you use recurring tasks in MS Project?

I recently received an email regarding the use of recurring tasks in Microsoft Project.
The question was “What are the pros and cons of using a recurring task in Microsoft Project versus scheduling individual tasks for a weekly status meeting?”

My response was I don’t use them.  Here’s why:

My preference is to avoid recurring tasks for a weekly status meeting in a project schedule. The main reason is these are support tasks that don’t fall on a project’s critical path. I’ve never missed a launch date or postponed a launch because I skipped a team status meeting during a project launch. Depending on the complexity of the launch, you likely have status meetings every day if not multiple times during a given day.

I prefer to setup my project management governance routines to include a weekly status meeting using Microsoft Outlook or corporate calendar system. Adding recurring activities for a status meeting only adds to the administrative burden and requires the project manager to track additional tasks that don’t impact the project’s critical path.  If your organization has such a requirement then a recurring task will be helpful in your resource pool utilization.

If you still want to track these meetings, then I would create a separate section of the project plan that doesn’t have any dependencies on the actual tasks required to complete the work. In this case, a reoccuring task which occurs weekly on a given date is fine. Some organizations try to tie every hour of every day to their project schedule.

From an administrative perspective, I prefer to estimate the available resource utlizations for each resource (i.e. 80%) and I apply that utilization to my schedule. Remember the project schedule is just a model of predicted tasks so I try to estimate time as best as possible. However, I don’t want to track every administrative meeting in my schedule.

I do add the key meetings that are required to pass a milestone or tollgate to to the schedule as these do represent sign-off and approval.  Obtaining customer sign-off prior to launch is a worthwhile meeting that should be on your critical path!

How to Add Recurring Tasks in MS Project

If you feel compelled to still use recurring tasks in MS Project, you can do so using the following procedure:

You can add a recurring task in Microsoft Project by following these steps:

1.     Select Insert – Recurring Task
2.    The Recurring Task Information dialogue box appears

Recurring Task MS Project Task Information

3.    Insert the Task Name, Duration, Recurrence Pattern, Start Date and assign any relevant calendar for the task.
4.    Press Ok

My 12 week recurring team status meeting on Mondays is configured as follows:

Recurring Task Ms Project Team Status Meeting

The result is displayed below:

Recurring Tasks MS Project - Complete Schedule

 

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About Andrew Makar

Dr. Andrew Makar, PMP is a IT manager who actively promotes useful project management techniques that work in the real world. He is also an author, adjunct professor and lecturer on a range of project management topics.

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