Goal: Show the project's organization

Whether your project has thousands of tasks that span years and use standard project management methodologies, or a few tasks that span a month and use agile project management methodologies, you probably want a way to divide those tasks into manageable chunks. Organizing your tasks into an outline helps you and others to quickly decipher the picture of your project. The outline also helps you think of your tasks in their related areas, whether they are related by time, phase, milestone, deliverable, or category. You can have as many outline levels as you need.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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Show project organization goal

number 1  Develop strategies for organizing your tasks     There is no one "right way" to organize your tasks. Depending on your working style and that of your team, you can create your task outline by using a few different methods.


  • The top-down approach     Think high-level first. Consider the broad phases of the project as a whole, and enter those as summary tasks. Then enter subphases as subtasks beneath the summary tasks. Finally, enter the individual tasks at the bottom level. Have your team members fill in the tasks as details for your phases. Not only does this flesh out your task organization, it also fosters team member buy-in to the tasks to which they will be assigned.

    At this point, you might consider creating a budget for your project as part of a top-down approach to managing a project.

  • The bottom-up approach     If all your tasks are entered and already in a logical order, you can just insert a new task above the first task in a logical grouping of tasks and make that new task the summary task.

  • The brainstorming method     Work with your team at first to come up with all the possible tasks that are needed for the project. Don't worry about sequence or organization just yet.

    When you finish, turn the higher-level tasks into summary tasks, and then move the related tasks together and sequence them by using a cut-and-paste operation. Delete any duplicate tasks, and add any new tasks as necessary.

Number 2  Enter tasks into your project     To get your project underway, you need to add tasks.

Number 3  Enter budgeting information into your project     Early in your project design, you may want to enter cost limits in order to specify the maximum amount of money, work, or materials for the project.

Number 4  Structure the task list      You can use outlining to organize the tasks into a hierarchy of summary tasks and subtasks that reflects the structure of phases, subphases, and individual tasks in your project.

Number 5  Change the view of phases and subtasks     Microsoft Office Project 2007 provides several ways to display your project's existing structure.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Show or hide subtasks to collapse or expand your outline to the level that you want to view. You can also specify the number of outline levels to show.

  • Show or hide summary tasks to display summary information about the entire project on a single row.

  • Display outline numbers to view the tasks organized into a numbered outline that is based on their places in the hierarchy.

Number 6  Use work breakdown structure codes     If you want to show work breakdown structure (WBS) codes, you can use the existing structure in your project or create a custom WBS code mask to specify the structure of WBS codes when you create tasks.

Click all of the following that apply:

Number 7  Add supporting information about a task     You can add a note, attach a document, or create a hyperlink to clarify the organization of your project.

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