Summary Tasks on the Critical Path?

New Contributor

Hi All,


Beginner Project user here. Having an issue with some summary tasks appearing on my critical path, it seems in lieu of the sub-tasks that are actually critical. Has anyone seen this before?


We have tried leveling resources, double checked that the summary tasks are not listed as predecessors anywhere, adjusting start/end dates, and adjusting constraint types.


Greatly appreciate any suggestions.






7 Replies
Barry --

In Microsoft Project, any task that is not 100% complete AND has a Total Slack value of 0 days is considered a Critical task. This means that summary tasks can be Critical tasks. To see this with your own eyes, apply the Gantt Chart view. Right-click on the Duration column header and select Insert Column on the shortcut menu. In the list of available task fields, select the Total Slack field. Right-click on the Duration column again and select Insert Column on the shortcut menu. In the list of available task fields, select the Critical field. Examine the summary tasks in question. If you see a Total Slack value of 0d and a Yes value in the Critical column, this indicates that the summary task is a Critical task. Hope this helps.

@Dale Howard Thank you Dale - that makes sense. So, in theory, manually adjusting the duration of summary tasks to add an extra day of slack time even if it is not needed in any of the sub-tasks should clear this issue? 

blasky -- Changing the Duration of summary tasks is a BAD idea, as Microsoft Project will automatically change the Task Mode setting to Manually Scheduled for the summary tasks. What you are describing is not an issue or a problem. It is how Microsoft Project displays the Critical Path, and I think you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. Hope this helps.
Thank you so much Dale. I have a professor insisting that summary tasks can't be on the critical path. I'll make these adjustments for the sake of class assignments but know not to worry about them in the real world.

1. Dale has expertly explained how summary tasks can be flagged as critical based on their total slack.
2. Your professor is still correct. A logic path, including the critical path, is made up of tasks linked together by predecessor/successor relationships. Summary tasks - properly constructed without predecessors or successors - cannot be a member of any logic path, much less the critical path.
Good luck, tom

@TomBoyle  Thank you for that explanation Tom.

Sales Force schematic you need to encompass there skills in order to gain the point of this summary for the "task-list" not yet informed.