If you’re like me, when you are putting a project plan together you want to budget some room overhead for PM oversight of a project. This is a variable figure, depending mostly on how long the project runs.  It is straightforward to designate a PM line item with a resource at a percentage: 5%, 10%, or whatever figure is appropriate for your environment.  The problem is as you’re filling out the details of this project, you need to remember to periodically update the start and end dates for the PM task.  This is required for Project to correctly calculate the total hours for that task based on project length.  I personally find this annoying, which drove me to find a solution.

The trick is the “Paste Special” option in the right-click menu.  This will allow you to “link” the text from one field to the contents of another field.  When the other field changes the linked field is automatically updated with the new contents.  This can be used to link the PM task to the beginning and end of the project duration in a manner that will automatically update itself when the project details change.  Steps to get this done:

  • Right click on the Start Date for the beginning of the project, then choose “Copy”
  • Right click on the Start Date for the beginning of the PM task line, then choose “Paste Special”
  • From the window, choose “Paste Link” from the left and use the item “Text Data”
  • Repeat this process between the end of the project task and the Finish Date for the PM task line

The resulting content of the PM task line’s Start and Finish dates will now be linked to the dates in the individual tasks.  As the project duration grows, the duration of this PM task line will grow as well.  Assign it to a PM resource at a percentage, and you’re done!  A single PM task line that defines x% of the total project duration, and adjusts itself accordingly as the project’s tasks change.