I am currently working on a very interesting and a non-IT project. While this work meets all the criteria of a project; it is temporary, as it had a beginning and will have an end, and it is creating a unique result; the current portion of the project is very operational. I use the word portion versus phase as to not confuse this with the PMI phases of a project. The nature of the work being performed has made it quite difficult to wrap a plan around the activity.
The current work being performed is highly repetitive in nature. The first piece is recruiting outside consultants and the second piece is collecting multiple sets of inputs from each of those consultants. The number of consultants is in the 100s and the data to be collected is in the 1000s. Obviously I do not want to create a set of tasks for each consultant being recruited nor another set of tasks for each piece of data being collected and processed. That approach would be ridiculously time consuming.
Instead of trying to create a task for every piece of work, consider managing this by data. See my blog from last week about using metrics. You can still have your task list but keep that at a very high level. Use the output of your metrics to measure the progress of your tasks. As for the details, create a procedure for executing the repetitive steps.
This approach will simplify your life as a project manager while ensuring that you have a good handle on the status of the project. In fact, as noted in my previous blog, you will also have metrics that will help you predict the future.
Too many times I believe project managers are trying to complicate things that are quite simple. The role of the project manager is not to complicate things nor to daze and amaze others with expert skills. The role of the project manager is to keep it simple and provide a service that produces project results with the highest efficiency. More often than not there is elegance in simplicity.