Create a Hammock Task

//Create a Hammock Task

Create a Hammock Task

Background

A common need for many project managers who use Microsoft Project is to create a task that spans the entire timeframe of the project, from the Start date of the project to the Finish date of the project. An additional need is to have the Duration of the task calculated automatically, so that if the project schedule slips, for example, the task will continue to span the entire timeframe of the project. For example, suppose that you want to track the time spent by the project manager actually managing the project. You might name this task Project Management. This task would need to span the entire life of the project because project management takes place from the beginning of the project to the end of the project.

If you create a regular task to track the project management work, and manually enter the Duration of the task, the task Duration value will not change if the project schedule slips. To create a task for which the Duration will change automatically if the project schedule changes, you must create what is known as a hammock task.

Creating a Hammock Task

There are three pre-requisites that you must have before you can create a hammock task are:

  • Your project must include milestone task that represents the Start date of the hammock task. For example, you might create a milestone at the start of the project and name it something like Project Start.
  • Your project must include a task that you will convert to a hammock task. Leave the Duration of this task set to the default value of 1 day.
  • Your project must include milestone task that represents the Finish date of the hammock task. For example, you might create a milestone at the end of the project and name it something like Project Complete.

Figure 1 shows a project in which I am ready to create a hammock task named Project Management. For ease of viewing, I collapsed the Outline Level 1 summary tasks and I set the level of zoom to display the entire time span of the project in the Gantt Chart pane. Notice that I created a Project Start milestone at the beginning of the project, a Project Complete milestone at the end of the project, and a task near the beginning of the project named Project Management.

Figure 1: Ready to create a hammock task

Figure 1: Ready to create a hammock task

To create a hammock task, complete the following steps:

  1. Drag the split bar to the right edge of the Finish column.
  2. Select the Finish cell for the Project Start milestone task.
  3. In the Clipboard section of the Task ribbon, click the Copy button to copy the date to your computer Clipboard.
  4. Select the Start date of the task you want to make a hammock task. In my case, I will select the Start date of the Project Management task.
  5. In the Clipboard section of the Task ribbon, click the Paste pick list button and select the Paste Special… item on the pick list, such as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Select the Paste Special item

Figure 2: Select the Paste Special item

  1. In the Paste Special dialog, select the Paste Link option and select the Text Data item, such as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 3: Paste Special dialog

Figure 3: Paste Special dialog

  1. In the Paste Special dialog, click the OK button.
  2. Select the Start cell for the Project Complete milestone task.
  3. In the Clipboard section of the Task ribbon, click the Copy button to copy the date to your computer Clipboard.
  4. Select the Finish date of the task you want to make a hammock task. In my case, I will select the Finish date of the Project Management task.
  5. In the Clipboard section of the Task ribbon, click the Paste pick list button and select the Paste Special… item on the pick list.
  6. In the Paste Special dialog, select the Paste Link option and select the Text Data item, and then click the OK button.

Microsoft Project automatically calculates the Duration and the Finish date of the hammock task, such as shown in Figure 3. The hammock task now spans the entire life of the project and its schedule will change automatically if the project schedule changes.

Figure 4: Finish No Later Than constraint on the task

Figure 4: Finish No Later Than constraint on the task

If the project Finish date changes so that it is earlier than currently planned, Microsoft Project will reduce the Duration of the hammock task, such as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 5: Duration reduced for the hammock task

Figure 5: Duration reduced for the hammock task

If the project Finish date changes so that it is later than currently planned, the software will increase the Duration of the hammock task, such as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 6:  Duration increased for the hammock task

Figure 6: Duration increased for the hammock task

In either situation, the hammock task will always span the time frame of the project, from the beginning of the project to the end of the project.

By |2021-05-05T13:41:39+00:00May 5th, 2021|Microsoft Project Tips|
Dale Howard, Microsoft Project MVP
Dale Howard is the Director of Education for PROJILITY. He has used Microsoft Project since version 4.0 for Windows 95 and he has used the Microsoft PPM tool since the first version of released as Project Central in the year 2000. He is the co-author of 23 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He is currently one of only 26 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world and one of only 4 in the United States.

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