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July 22, 2008 2486 comments so far

Onepoint Project: Planned Activities vs. Ad Hoc Tasks

When talking to potential as well as to existing clients lately, I came across one more common misunderstanding when starting with Onepoint Project: You cannot create new planned activities in "My Tasks"; instead,... have to use one of the project planing views that are part of the "Planning" tool inside the "Projects" tool-group. The "New Task" button creates an "ad hoc task" that is meant for tasks you do not want to plan, but still need to document and/or want to track time or actual costs for.

Let's take a closer look at these two slightly different kinds of activities/tasks:

  1. Planned activities. All planned activities are part of the project plan. The project plan can be created and updated using the "Planning" tool of the "Projects" tool-group. As soon as the newly created or updated plan is checked in, the changes are visible to the project contributors. Now, also your own, newly planned tasks are visible in your task list and are used in the monitoring and controlling tools (plan/actual comparisons, milestone trend analysis and resource utilization chart).
  2. Ad hoc tasks. In contrast to planned activities, it is sometimes practical to have additional ad hoc tasks that can be created "on the fly", i.e., without having to change the project plan. These tasks can be created in the "Tasks" tool of the "My Work" tool-group. Note that these tasks never show up in the project plan as they are not "planned". However, they are visualized in the plan/actuals and the user who is linked to the assigned resource can track actual time and costs for the task.

Maybe let's consider some example use cases for ad hoc tasks in order to make the difference more clear:

  1. Document a small change request (e.g., you have created a Website for a client and they now call you asking to update the company logo)
  2. Track time for a support call
  3. Assign a small task to a project contributor that you want to track without changing the project plan

At the end of the day, it is always up to you to make the choice whether it is a planned activity or an ad hoc task. Now, that you know the difference (hopefully ;-) will you use ad hoc tasks in the future? Is this a concept that you think provides additional value?