Tasks Showing Up as Milestones?!

When is a task not a task? If you’ve ever noticed that some of your tasks in OnePager are automatically being converted to milestones, you may have asked this question. This is due to the Task/Milestone Threshold, an advanced setting in OnePager that turns short-duration tasks into milestones, with the intent of making the Gantt chart easier to read and easier to edit.

Some people love the task/milestone threshold and others hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. In this article, we’ll explore the task/milestone threshold and help you figure out where it should be set for your project plan.We are going to use a simple project plan as an example. It has one zero-day milestone, and then five tasks with durations of 1-5 days, respectively:

Default: Two Days

If you are using a default OnePager template, the task/milestone threshold is set to 2.0 days. With this default setting, any task that is scheduled for 48 calendar hours or less will be turned into a milestone.

In the example below, the first three items are less than 48 hours long, so they turn into milestones:

To adjust the setting, go to Home > Project View Properties > Advanced, and locate the Task/Milestone Threshold. You can specify whole days or fractions of a day:

Zero Days

Once people discover this setting, the most common thing they change it to is 0.0 days. When set to zero, OnePager’s conversion of tasks into milestones is turned off completely, and all items that you import into OnePager will be shown on the timeline based on their actual durations:

This works well for the things that are actually tasks. But the one true milestone in the project plan is now a problem, because OnePager is showing it as zero days as well, which means it appears as a very skinny line. While this is technically correct, it may not be what you’re going for.

One Full Day

For the sake of argument, let’s bump the setting up by one full day to 1.0 days (24 hours):

This turns the milestone back into a milestone as you might expect, but the first task is still showing as a milestone. Let’s examine “1-Day Task” in a little more detail. In Microsoft Project, when you schedule something with one day of duration, you are scheduling it based on working hours (8:00-5:00 in this case). This equates to nine hours, or 0.375 days to be precise.

It’s important to note that while Microsoft Project equates nine hours to one day, OnePager does not. OnePager treats a day as 24 hours. We’ll hold short of saying that OnePager is more accurate than Microsoft Project, but OnePager is more precise!

In other words, when you set your task/milestone threshold to 1.0 days, you are telling OnePager to use 24 hours as the cutoff.

Fractions of a Day

If working hours are 0.375 days, we need to set the task/milestone threshold to something slightly below that. If we go with 0.3 days, we get the following:

Here, the one-day (nine hour) task is safely above the threshold, so it remains a task. The first milestone, which is truly zero in duration, is safely below the threshold so remains a milestone.

With things¬†now looking the way you want, take a look at the time axis along the top of the Gantt chart, where we’ve divided each day into four-hour blocks (click to zoom if you need to). Notice that the one-day task shows up for the working hours that you’ve specified back in Project. It doesn’t span the full 24 hours; it actually shows the hours where work is scheduled. This is good to remember if you ever need to build an Hourly Gantt Chart.

Getting your task/milestone threshold set the way you want it is a little like Goldilocks. But hopefully with the examples above, you’ll see how OnePager interprets dates and times from Microsoft Project so that you can get to the optimal answer more quickly.

This entry was posted in Gantt Chart, OnePager Express Tips, OnePager Pro Tips by Safford. Bookmark the permalink.

About Safford

Safford is a versatile technology professional with a solid history of empowering emerging growth companies in a broad array of industries. His employment history includes energy industry consulting at Quorum Software, Senior Manager of Client Services and Technical Sales at telecom service aggregator GetConnected, and Vice President of Strategic Partner Management at electronic payment processor IP Commerce. Prior to his tenure as OnePager's COO, Safford was the company's Vice President of Marketing and Alliances. Safford holds a BA in Psychology and management from Rice University.

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