3: Activity Types

Adding activities is the next step after WBS creation. Activities themselves are relatively easy to add. It’s the attributes (properties) that you should pay greater attention to.
The first attribute is ACTIVITY TYPE. This property affects the duration of the activity and its start and finish dates. There are the following 6 Activity Types;

Start Milestone & Finish Milestone
A Milestone represents a point in time (event) when a pre-determined task or goal is started or achieved, i.e. a task which has some significance is either started or is completed. For example, Start/Finish of a Project, Commencing execution works, Completion of a Phase, etc.

A Milestone will show only one date in the Start/Finish Date columns. A Start Milestone will have only a start date and no finish date. Similarly, a Finish Milestone will have only a finish date. This is because by definition, a Milestone is just the representation of a point in time, it has no duration of its own. That is why Milestones have ‘zero’ days as duration. Also, Milestones do not consume any resources.

Resource Dependent
When the number of resources assigned to a task determine the task’s duration, it is called a Resource Dependent activity. For example, if one particular resource can complete a task in 4 days, then two such resources can complete the same task in 2 days.

In P6 terms, Duration = (Budgeted Units) / (Budgeted Units / Time) where Budgeted Units denotes the numerical value of the resource allocation.

Resources assigned to this type of activity are scheduled to work according to the resources’ calendars rather than the activity’s calendar. The activity’s duration is determined by the availability of resources to work on the activity. If no resource is assigned to such an activity, the activity duration is calculated using the calendar assigned to the activity.

Task Dependent
This Activity Type is used in cases where the allocated number of resources has no impact on the determination of duration. In other words, the activity is supposed to take a certain amount of time to be performed irrespective of the resources it has.
In these cases, assigned resources perform according to the activity’s calendar rather than according to their own designated calendars (resource calendars).

As an example, if you assemble a laptop (hardware) it will take you , let’s say, 2 hours to assemble it. If another person helps, the two workers can finish it in less than two hours. This is a resource dependent activity.

After assembling, you install windows on it. It will take around 1 hour. If another software professional sits with you during this process, it will still take 1 hour. This process is not affected by the number of people working on it. It will take the time it is supposed to take. This is a task dependent activity.

In construction terms, rebar fixing, formwork, plastering, etc. are resource dependent. Concrete curing is task dependent.

Level of Effort

The duration of a level of effort activity is dependent on the assigned predecessor and successor activities. The duration is calculated from the defined relationship at the predecessor to the defined relationship at the successor. These jobs span or exist as long as some other works are being performed.

WBS Summary

A WBS Summary spans all the activities within a WBS, starting from the start of the earliest activity to the finish of the activity finishing last in that WBS, however, no actual relationships/links need to be specified.

To add activities:

Go to Project >> Activities

In this view, click on the + button on the top right hand side as shown:11

The new activity wizard will pop up by default. This option can be turned off for faster activity adding.

Choose an activity ID and activity name > Next

Choose an appropriate WBS where you want to insert this activity > Next

Choose the activity type from the drop down menu > Next

You will be asked to assign resources. This can be done later when all activities have been added and linked properly and when resources have been properly added to the resource pool. For now, leave this part as is > Next

You will be asked to specify Duration Type. Fixed Duration & Units is the default setting but you may change the type now or later > Next

You can specify the effort needed to complete the activity, e.g. compaction may have a duration of 5 days in the schedule and may need 80 labor units and 40 non labor units > Next

The next step is to configure relationships between activities. This may also be done later. For now, choose the ‘No, continue’ option > Next

The next step enables addition of even more information which will be easier to specify for all/most activities in one step. Choose ‘No, thanks’ option > Next