All too often when you are working on a project, the schedule can evolve from what you originally thought the schedule would be when you built it, to what the reality is. For example, in the schedule below there are three tasks, it turns out that Task 2 is no longer required.
In Project 2007 there are two options to remove the task…
Leave the task on the plan and set the remaining work to 0
This will have the effect of removing the effort from the task, but letting you see it existed (it also has the nasty side effect of turning the visual indicator into a milestone).
Delete the task from the plan
This will remove the task and effort from the schedule but not the baseline, so you run into an issue where you have a baseline figure that you can’t reconcile the tasks against easily.
Enter Project 2010 and Inactive Tasks. Inactive tasks allow the user to select a task and mark it as inactive, telling the scheduler to ignore the task and any associated effort. For example in the diagram below, task 2 has been made inactive.
Note the inactive task has been greyed out and struck through giving a visual indication that the task is inactive, but still allowing the user to see the original information against the task. As you would also expect, any tasks dependencies have reset to the project start date as Project doesn’t know how to schedule them.
If the task being set as inactive has actuals, Project will give us a warning dialog stating that the selected item has some actual values and do you want to delete it? If you select ‘Yes’, the time associated with the task will be removed from any summaries. It appears the actuals aren’t really deleted but just removed from any summaries and totals above.
Inactivate a task with actuals
Actuals removed from the project summary task:
The changes for inactive tasks don’t just manifest in the Gantt chart view, they are respected in all parts of Project 2010 where tasks are shown, including the Resource Usage view below:
On experimenting it also seems there is no restriction on where you can inactivate a task, the screenshot below shows what happens when you set the project summary task to be inactive, all the children become inactive automatically.
Finally as you would expect, Inactive tasks do not update the baseline, so there will be no impact on the variance calculations and you will still be able to see what made up the baseline.
In conclusion, Inactive tasks are a very simple but useful feature in Project 2010 that users the world over are going to love.