Summary Task Overview
Summary tasks are a great way to group, manage and navigate all tasks. Summary tasks are also used for billing purposes, phase management, milestone management, sprints and more.
If the project schedule doesn't have a lot of tasks, summary tasks may not be required, a simple list of all the tasks at the same top hierarchical level may suffice. However, a majority of projects that are larger will summary tasks with child tasks below that.
A summary task, is added the same way as another task, except that it is identified as a summary task and less information is required. Once the summary task is created, the child or detailed tasks are created below it. This creates a hierarchical structure of the tasks. All the data in the child tasks will roll up to values at the summary task level. That's the reason why less information is required for a summary task. The duration, work, start and end dates etc. for a summary task are calculated automatically based on the data in all the child tasks associated with it.
Multiple nested deep summary and child tasks can be created.
Adding a Summary Task
... from the Task List or Gantt Chart
To add a task directly on the Task List or on the Gantt Chart and set it as a summary task:
- Start the Quick Task Add/Edit
- Click Advanced Options while on that task's line and while in the add mode (Note* This icon appears under the Action Options column. This is a default column that displays. If it doesn't appear, see Page Display Options for more details on turning it on).
- The Advanced Options form appears. Click on Is Summary to check it.
- The form will change to display only those options that are applicable to summary tasks. Check the other options as required. (See Advanced Task Settings for more details about this form).
- Click to save the Advanced Options settings and return to editing the task (to continue to enter data like the task name etc.) OR click to save all changes made to the Task and exit out add mode.
... from the Task Add form
To add a task and set it as a Summary task using the Task - Add form
- While on the task list, click the Add Task menu option OR right click anywhere on the white space outside the task columns or in the task list menu bar and select Add Task from the context sensitive menu options.
- The Task - Add form appears. Click on Is Summary to check it.
- The form will change to display only those options that are applicable to summary tasks. Enter the other data as required. (See Add Task - General for more details).
- Click .
Changing an Existing Task to a Summary Task
To change an already created task (a non-summary task) to a summary task:
- Edit the task. See the Quick Task Add/Edit or right click on the task, hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Advanced Options.
- Click on Is Summary to check it.
- The form will change to display only those options that are applicable to summary tasks.
- Click .
Note* If a Summary task is changed to a regular task, some of the data entered for the task will be removed because once it is a Summary, that data is automatically calculated from it's child tasks. This includes the Duration, Work Hours, Start Date, End Date, Constraint Date, Constraint Settings, expenses and billable expenses. Predecessors are also removed. The Resources and options for entering time and expense entries against the task are kept so review them and manually remove them if required.
Changing a Summary Task back to a regular task
To change a summary task back to a regular task, follow the steps in Changing an Existing Task to a Summary task but un-check the Is Summary option instead.
If there are child tasks for the Summary task, they will be kept and set as child tasks to the same summary task as this task was set. A prompt will appear confirming the action.
Best Practices for Creating Summary Tasks
Time Entry at a Summary Task Level
Work hours can't be entered for a summary task. Work hours are entered for the child tasks that in turn roll up and are calculated automatically for the summary task. Therefore, it is recommended to not allow time entry at the summary task level unless there is some over-riding reason. Un-check that option on the Advanced Options form when the summary task is created.
Setting a Summary Task as a Milestone Task
Summary tasks can have longer durations as their durations are calculated automatically from the child tasks. It is recommended that milestone tasks have 0 duration or a duration of one day or less to represent a discrete time period of time that can be used for easy reporting and management purposes. Therefore it is recommended to not set as summary task as milestone task but instead create a child task within that summary section and make that task the milestone task.
Assigning Resources to a Summary Task
Resources can be assigned to summary tasks. However, work hours can't be allocated to a Summary task and Summary tasks don't appear on users work lists or task lists by default. Therefore, it is recommended to assign resources to the child tasks within the summary task.