Class Discussion Q&A

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MS Project permits scheduling of a project by current, start or end date. What factors can effect the overall timeline (start, finish) for a project? When would you use each of these options? Give some examples.

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May 24th, 2015

When you add a new task to a schedule, it automatically is scheduled to start on the project’s start date. As tasks are added to the schedule and connected to other tasks, the start times of tasks will change, and the last task to finish determines the project’s finish date.

Of course, there are going to be exceptions. For example, tasks don’t move around as other tasks move. Read below in this article to learn more about manually versus automatically scheduled task scheduling.

When you create a new project, you first enter the project's start date. When you schedule a project from the start time, all tasks start at the project start date unless you specify otherwise.

For both manually scheduled tasks and automatically scheduled tasks, with no task dependencies or constraints applied, the project's duration is the same as the duration of the longest task. In other words, the project finish date is the same as the longest task's finish date.

Task dependencies, such as the finish-to-start dependency between the first and second tasks (as shown here), can change the project's finish date.

Nearly all projects should be scheduled from a known start time. Even if you know the date that a project must be completed, scheduling from a start date gives you maximum flexibility.

However, you might want to schedule from a finish date when:

  • You need to determine when a project must start so that it finishes on a specific required date.

  • You are not sure when your project will begin (for example, you are receiving work from another source that could be delayed).

  • Your project management methodology requires you to schedule from a finish date.

As you work with your project that is scheduled from a finish date, be aware of differences in the way that Project handles some actions:

  • When you enter an automatically scheduled task, Project automatically assigns the As Late As Possible (ALAP) constraint to the finish date of the task. You should set other constraints only when necessary (Right-click a task, then click Task Information).

  • If you drag a Gantt bar to change the finish date of a task, Project automatically assigns a Finish No Later Than (FNLT) constraint for an automatically scheduled task.

  • If you change your project to schedule from a finish date and it was previously scheduled from a start date, you will remove all leveling delays and leveling splits from tasks and assignments that have been automatically scheduled. Tasks that are manually scheduled are not affected.

May 24th, 2015

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