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Ways to use Intervals

Redefining TASKS

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    Having used the product for a year or more with my 10-person organization, I have started using Intervals in a new way - one that may help others who are used to traditional project management software.

    In MS Project, a "task" is a line item. Depending on the detail of your work breakdown structure, it might be something like:

    * Write use case
    * Customer reviews use case
    * Use case approved (milestone)

    We used to replicate this WBS in Intervals, having two tasks (draft, review) and one milestone. We would then assign time to the two tasks as we engaged in them.

    We have started to work in a new way, translating the word "task" into the word "activity." By way of example, the "task" draft the use case (in our world anyway) actually encompasses many activities over a series of days. A typical scenario might look like this:

    * I start to draft the use case
    * I need to talk with Val - but she's not available.
    * I schedule a tie to talk with Val, and hold this converation later that afternoon
    * I think work on the use case some more
    * I post it for a couple others to see - Tom posts a couple suggestions back.
    * I'm not sure I agree. Schedule a time to talk with Tom...

    What we did in the past was to pre-populate a project template with "tasks" and milestones - just as we would for MS Project. Now we don't. We pre-populate the milestones (and the phases if appropriate) and leave it at that. Or possibly if we are sure we know the first activity, we might pre-populate that as the first task. But oten we don't because in the scenario above, it's also likely that before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I might chat with Val and Tom first.

    So, knowing the milestone - Use Case Approved - I simply put in my first action as a "task".

    This sounds simple, but it was a conceptual breakthrough for us. In the past we would have one task that had multiple time entries against it - but you couldn't really see what the next *action* was. (Draft? Call Val? Post for comment?).

    Now, since we are seeing tasks as activities, if I need to talk to Val I put her name on that activity as well as mine, so it's easy for her to account the 30 minutes on your timesheet as well. We don't have a pile of theoretical tasks built up in our task list, and we can see what our "next action" is for a project - which is really a next *activity*, not a next "task" (in MS Project terms).

    Again, this may sound simple or "why did he even post this?" but this conceptual shift has enabled a bunch of MS Project types to make much better use of Intervals. It also removes one of our biggest gripes about Intervals - the lack of dependencies between tasks. Of course there are still dependencies between activities (I must post the draft for comments before I react to them), but at this micro level the dependencies are obvious, AND the activities themselves are more indeterminate. In other words, if everyone agrees with my draft I don't have to have my call with Tom. So I can simply post my next activity towards a milestone as I finish the last one.

    Make sense?

    Do others use Intervals this same way?

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    I don't use it this way, but it's a good point.
    Other products such as ActiveCollab have checklists within tasks to accommodate the mini tasks within most any task. Your idea is valid way to work in the same fashion it seems.

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