Learn how to link tasks so they represent your project. It's obvious that tasks represent the work you do. But how does linking them together represent an actual project?

Linking is simply making one task start when another is finished. That is normally how we work. For instance, the roofing of a house cannot be put on until many other things are done, including the foundation, basement, and framing. In this case, the foundation and framing tasks must complete before roofing can start. Those are the essense of task links.

In this video we'll demonstrate simple linking techniques, and discuss basic link teminology. You'll see how successor tasks are automatically updated any time a predecessor task changes. This video describes "Finish-To-Start" linking. When the finish date of a task changes, it is used as the starting date for the next task. In fact, the finish dates of multiple predecessors can all become inputs to one successor. That means, any one of those predecessors might set the starting date of the successor, using that "Finish-To-Start" linking technique.

Lag times can also be applied to any link. So, the finish date plus a lag time is used to compute the start date of the successors. Negative lag times mean that the next task starts before the previous one finishes.

Scroll down below the video for more information.



This video covers task linking topics useful for managing projects.

Linking Finish to Start

The links you'll see in the video are always linking from the finish date of one task to the starting date of another.  So when one task finishes, the next can begin. That is the default link type. The dialog below illustrates this. You see the "Finish to Start (FS)" link type displayed.


Project Task Link Type



Calculating Finish Date

Click on the Finish date field in the "Edit Project Task" dialog and you will find various ways to compute the Finish dates of tasks. Each task can be computed a different way, including entering your own Finish date rather than calculating. Consider these options below.


Calculate Task Finish Dates


Link Lag

An additional number of days can be added to the link above. When such a lag is added to tasks, they won't start until after this lag. An example might be to start a task 20 days after another has finished. Or, to start a task 7 days before another finishes. Those lags represent how we natually perform our work. The dialog above also shows this "link lag" in effect. The lag value can be positive or negative. In other words, a successor task can lag a positive number of days or a negative number of days.

A negative lag means the successor start slightly before the predecessor ends.

A positive lag means the successor starts slightly after the predecessor ends. (There is a gap between ending and starting.)



A predecessor is a task that affects downstream tasks. When refering to any task, if an upstream predecessor of that task changes, then the task we're referring to will also change.

Predecessors are sometimes refered to as inbound tasks.



Successors are tasks that are affected by others. If a task we're working on changes, then all the downstream successors change.

Successors are sometimes referred to as outbound tasks.

The dialog below demonstrates predecessors and successors. Note that you may have multiple predecessors and multple successors. That means multiple inbound tasks could affect a single successor. It also means that a single task could affect multiple outbound successors. Those are two entire different scenarios that have connection between them.


Project Task Links



Clear All Links

Clearing all links means removing all the inbound presecessors and outbound successors. The video below illustrates the alert that appears when you choose to clear all links. This operation will isolate the task from all others, and break every link.


Clear All Project Task Links



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Also see: Ten Tools for the PMO


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