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I have tasks T1, T2,...TN. Each task has subtasks S11,S12,...,SNM. Each subtask takes some amount of time.

For version V1 I have t1 months, for version V2 I have t2 months,... For simplicity I assume that all subtasks can be done simultaneusly.

How can I represent these task in a way similar to the picture below? This would enable to see which subtasks need to be in V1 (here it would be S11, S21, S41 and S42. S12 and S31 might make it into V1 but probably only into V2).

Of course, the tasks and subtasks have real names and a change in the duration of a subtask should be easy (at best, just editing a number).

Can this be done with Ms Project? Is there a better way than Excel as done for the picture?

enter image description here

  • Given you have said that Doub B's answer is not applicable it is difficult to understand what you are actually asking for. Furthermore it is not easy to follow the hierarchy from the textual and table descriptions above (which may actually be your problem!). Can you clarify what you actually need the answer to provide please, using specific words (i.e. 'representation' is not a good word- you have already been provided a representation and it was not what you wanted)? – Marv Mills Jan 26 '16 at 15:40
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You can do this in Project using nested sub-tasks. IMO this gives a more clear and intuitive view of what needs to be completed in order to finish any given version of your product. This is important because in my experience you have to dumb-down how you depict schedules in order to ensure clear understanding. Beyond that, it is more straightforward to include info about inter-relationships between tasks, factor in delay days, account for staffing limitations, etc etc in Project rather than Excel.

enter image description here

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I agreed with Doug B. In addition I would recommend you use a mnemonic or short phrase instead of T1, T2, etc. (Apologies in advance for the obviousness of this point, but I have learned to avoid making assumptions.) This will reduce the confusion that would arise when you re-sequence your tasks, e.g. having T2 start after T5. Use terms that are familiar to your task owners and team members. A WBS dictionary is helpful for this.

Furthermore the S subtasks should be named with the same mnemonic or phrase so that reader know exactly what task the subtask is associated with. Always seek to reduce the cognitive burden, particularly as the project's inherent complexity increases. Wikipedia has an example of such a coding scheme this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_breakdown_structure.

Even the Excel table has limitations as a practical communications tool. Most WBS are shelfware because of their complexity and inflexibility as a tool for the team to use. How about using a kanban or scrum board instead? See How do you keep track of software engineers daily activity? for an example.

enter image description here

  • Actually, that is what I meant with "the tasks and subtasks have real names". I just replaced them to make the question less confusing. – Burkhard Jan 21 '16 at 6:27
  • +1 for reducing the cognitive burden. Beyond the nomenclature, the proposed Excel table is not going to be readily understandable by anyone other than an engineer. Hopefully this isn't a customer-facing document. – Doug B Jan 21 '16 at 12:51
  • Hence the popularity of the kanban board. – WaltHouser Feb 1 '16 at 18:38

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