Within my projects I would like to have two different notions of time for a task:

  1. How many hours of actual work the task is expected to take
  2. A time frame for the task that the above hours should be done in

My reasoning behind this is that the people working on these tasks should be very loosely managed and have a lot of independence.

The general time frame will allow me to use the start date as a way to remind them of the tasks, and check in with them to make sure that they can meet the end date. I also figure the general time frame will allow me to leverage the convenience of auto scheduling. The actual work hours will make sure that I am not asking to much from any one person at a time (across multiple projects).

  1. Is there a more proper vocabulary for what I am describing here?
  2. How can I do this with MS Project 2010?
  3. Accepting the idea of loose management as a correct premise, is there anything beyond that from what I am describing that could be a major pitfall with this methodology.

1 Answer 1


You are describing the difference between "work" and "duration". Work is in hours, and is typically the target number of hours that will be burned doing direct work for that task. Duration is a period of time, typically in days, in which that task is to be done. Therefore, you can have a task in which you estimate 40 hours of work, but you are estimating a duration of three weeks. That could be because you only have part time resources, or you have dependencies where you have downtime, or you are simply choosing to schedule in such a manner for whatever other business reason you may have.

When it comes to Microsoft Project 2010:
In the task view, duration is already there and is described as: "The total span of Working Time". The "Work" column can be added by right clicking the column and choosing "Work" which is described as "The Work field shows the total amount of time scheduled on a task for all assigned resources, the total amount of time to which a resource is scheduled on all assigned tasks, or the total amount of time scheduled for a resource on a task."

  • 1
    You can make the duration calculate out to 3 weeks by setting 5 days of work, but allocating your resource at 33%. This will increase the duration to 3 weeks (assuming your calendar is set for a 5 day work week). May 12, 2012 at 19:36

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