An activity code is a unique way to identify each activity in a project. This could be a number, letters or a mix of both. The important thing is that the project team understand the codes and that each activity has it's own unique code. As well as identifying an activity the code can be used to group, sort and order activities.
For example, 001-Feas-M2 could refer to activity 1, feasibility phase, payment milestone 2.
As you can probably tell activity codes are individual to each project/company/team. They are simply a tool to help you develop your project schedule, and report on, and track progress.
How to use activity codes
Think about how you will need to organise, track and report progress on your project. For example you may need to:
- Send tasks lists to the teams involved
- Group tasks by activity type e.g. welding, site clearance, surveying
- Send daily to do lists to each team member
- Group tasks by project phase e.g. design, build, test
- Report on progress of the activities required for a particular deliverable
- Report on progress towards a payment milestone
- and so on...
Check your organisations project management method for any standard activity codes that you should use. Often activities will need to be sorted by a cost centre for financial reporting.
Most project scheduling software will allow you to add custom columns where you can enter your activity codes.
For example, Primavera P6 enables you to add your codes in a drop down list
and Microsoft Project provides a similar feature called 'outline codes'
Are WBS codes the same as activity codes?
For some projects WBS codes may be all that is needed to sort and group activities, but often these won't support reporting requirements.
Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) typically breakdown the work required by deliverable. For example, in a landscaping project building a brick wall might be broken down into:
order materials, book bricklayer, rent digger, book digger driver, dig foundation, lay foundation, mix cement, and lay bricks.
But the project manager might need to report on progress by activity type - purchasing, earth works, admin - cost center, deliverable, resources/people required etc.