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 Should you use Recurring Tasks in Microsoft Project? | PM Tools - PM Tools

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Should you use Recurring Tasks in Microsoft Project?

I recently received an email regarding the use of reccurring 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!

What’s your opinion?  How do you handle status meetings in a project schedule?
Feel free to email me with your suggestions.

Here is a tutorial for those of you who want to add a recurring task in Microsoft Project.

Andrew Makar is an IT program manager who successfully translates project management theory into actual practice. Additional techniques on tactical project management including Microsoft Project Schedule Development and Management can be found at http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com. He can also be reached at andy@tacticalprojectmanagement.com

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