When you’re creating an activity you have a choice to choose its parent task.
Parent task selection dialog

Lots of Activities

This option can be particularly useful when your project is quite complex with lots of tasks. In this case it’s advisable to use the hierarchy of sub-tasks and parent tasks to better organize your schedule.

Example:

Let’s say you’re producing a newsletter that has to be printed and sent to your clients. You have dozens of tasks on your plate. Some of them have to do with the content: writing the articles, reviewing the copy, etc. Some of them deal with the design and visual aspects; some are related to the printing process.

So to offer a better organization you can define your main categories and create them as parent activities, e.g. Articles, Photo and Illustrations, Assembly and Printing.

Then you make all other activities as sub-tasks for the appropriate parents:

Splitting large tasks into smaller ones

Large / Long Activities

Another reason to use parent and child tasks if you originally defined only a few tasks, but each one of them can take many days, weeks or months to complete. Keep tracking of the progress can be a challenge in this scenario. So, by chopping your large tasks into smaller sub-tasks you’ll make it easier to keep track of deadlines and take corrective measures before it’s too late.

Multiple Assignees

Having multiple people responsible for a single task is another situation when it’s a good idea to use the hierarchy. The best practice is to define the parent task as a place holder and have each sub-task assigned to a single person for better tracking and accountability.
Having one assignee per task

Questions? Ask away using the comments section below.

This post is a part of our on-going Project Management 101 series.