Did you know you can quickly display Slack values for tasks within a Microsoft Project Gantt Chart view?
A task’s Slack value is the amount of time a task can slip before it has an effect on other tasks or the overall project finish date. There are two basic types of slack: Free Slack and Total Slack.
- Free Slack (or free float) is the amount of time a task can slip before it delays any other task.
- Total Slack (or total float) is the amount of time a task can slip before it delays the overall project finish date.
Formatting the style of Gantt bars
The main function of the Gantt Chart Wizard is to format the style of the chart’s task bars. These bars can be formatted manually, for example to display the slack that tasks possess, as well as a highlight to their criticality.
If you are using Microsoft Project 2003/2007, to display the Free and Total Slack values you can utilise the function ‘Bar Styles’.
To add these additional styles:
1. Double-Click on the white background of the Gantt Chart or select Bar Styles from the Format menu. Scroll to a blank line below the existing line entries.
2. Enter details for the new rows as below, then confirm with OK.
How Gantt bars show criticality and slack values
Clear reports on screen can assist as part of the planning process.
The settings made previously above are displayed as below:
Hint & Tip: Aim for standardisation of how criticality is displayed within views.
Hint & Tip: Running the Gantt Chart Wizard will clear any previously applied bar style formatting.
If you are using Microsoft Project 2010, to display the Free and Total Slack values you can also utilise the function ‘Bar Styles’.
Each variant of the Gantt Chart view contains its own set of bar styles. These bar styles conditionally format the chart.
To review the bar style formatting of the Detail Gantt view and edit styles for Slack bars:
1. On the Format tab, in the Bar Styles group, click Bar Styles from the Format drop down.
2. Select the Slack style, then click Cut Row.
3. Without clicking on a different row, click the Paste Row button twice.
4. Rename the first slack style as ‘Total Slack’ and the second style as ‘Free Slack’.
5. Edit the shape, pattern, colour and To date for the two slack styles as below:
6. Click on the Text tab and delete the Free Slack text entry for both the Free and Total Slack bar styles, then close the dialog with OK.
Reviewing slack values against task bars
Although text entries can add detail to a view, they can also add clutter to the view if too many entries are displayed. A great deal of information is available within a Gantt Chart view:
- By rolling over a bar style:
- By clicking on a bar style:
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