Child Task Management: Guide and Benefits

Child item due dates

As most project managers reading this will know, a task – or item, as we also call it – is the name given to a single unit of work. It’s easiest to think of it as one step in a multi-step project. It is a specific step that you must accomplish by a set deadline and which takes you further toward delivering a larger project. Each project task can be further divided into child tasks, giving more specific steps on how it should be executed. Let’s look at what child task management entails and which benefits you can get with the right methods.

What is a Child Task in project management?

So what’s a child task? Very simply, a child task may also be called a subtask or subitem. It describes the situation where you take a single task and break it down into smaller steps, each of which may have a start and end date and a strict deadline for completion.  

Child task management is a collection of efforts required to ensure that child tasks are completed on time, are effective, and bring value to the end product.

Child task benefits

Using child tasks on a project comes with several potential benefits. They allow project managers to assign resources to each task accurately. They’re useful for prediction because they show where potential disputes can arise within the project.

When a project goes past its due date, it is often due to poor estimation. Subtasks can be extremely useful in this case because they help you focus on the important details of a task. They can help teams and project managers to predict cost and time more accurately. They can help to identify project bottlenecks. And they can help to provide transparency. 

If you find that any of your items are too large, you simply divide them into smaller child items. Each of the child items functions as an individual item that can have a separate assignee, due date, description, tags, etc., which we will explain below. Once all child items are completed, the parent item is also completed.

Creating a subtask/child task in Teamhood

Here are the steps you need to create and manage a child task in Teamhood:

Add Child Items

To create a child item for your task, open the task details and choose to add a child item. You can add just one or as many as needed for your project clarity. You can later, add more, edit, or delete child items as needed.

child task

Assign relevant team members

You can add an assignee to all child tasks or sub-items in Teamhood. This allows you to divide the work amongst your team members and define clear responsibilities for everyone.

child task assignee

Add child item watchers

For many child items, the project manager will need to be informed about progress without doing the work. When this is true, you can add yourself – and any other people who need to stay informed – as an item watcher. This way, you will get all the notifications about that child item.

child task watcher

Child item schedule

Adding a schedule to your child items will help you to plan your project and leverage the benefits of using Gantt and Workload views.

In Teamhood, you can also enable a feature that determines the schedule of the parent item according to the shedule of the child items. This way, your parent schedule will match the schedule of all child items.

child tasks schedule

Auto-scheduling dependencies

If you are using child item dependencies, it often works better to auto-schedule dependent items. That way, any dependent child items or parent items will automatically update their schedule in response to you changing the schedule of your child item. In other words, if there are delays to a child item with dependencies, those dependent items will adjust automatically, updating your overall project plan and duration. 

You can find the auto-scheduling feature works in Gantt view.

task dependencies

Recurring items

When working with multiple recurring tasks, it is usefull to set up for recurrencies to appear automatically. You can choose when recurrencies happen and set up rules so that they are only repeated when completed.

recurring child tasks

Estimations

In most project management tools you can estimate items and child items in hours, points or value. Depending on the chosen method you can track how busy your team members are or how much value has already been created. This is what such estimation look like.

child task estimation

Assign Tags

Tags are useful for sorting and categorizing your items and child items. You can add as many tags as you need. You can also assign multiple tags to an item. 

Once you have assigned your tags, you can group views such as the Kanban board by those tags instead of rows, or you can filter views so that you only see child items by specific tags:

child task tags

Define Child item dependencies

If your child items have to be executed in a certain order, you can define child task dependencies. This way, no child item can be marked as complete before their predecesor has been done. These relationships will be visualized in GanttWorkload, and Timeline views.

child task dependencies

Experiencing the benefits of child tasks for yourself

Child tasks or items are an effective way to split down work into smaller chunks, clarify who’s working on what, and get things done more efficiently. 

Now that you have a good understanding of what a child task is, the potential benefits of using one, and how to set up and manage them in Teamhood, why not try it out for yourself.

Follow the link for a free Teamhood account.

Teamhood for Task Management

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2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.

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