If you’ve ever followed a “pick a date” approach to building a schedule, then you’ve likely built a constraint based schedule that results in errors when updating the project schedule. The dates adjust based on the data entered into the plan without violating any constraints.
Ofcourse, it’d be great if management would accept a shifting schedule but most organizations expect a project to meet its projected delivery date on time, within scope and within budget.
Regardless if they are scheduled or not, projects have an inherent “Must Finish Date” constraint as project teams make commitments to deliver. Ok.not a scheduling constraint per se but it is generated by management expectations) In order to meet a delivery date, there are specific tasks or milestones that must be completed on a specific date.
One of the key lessons learned with Microsoft Project is to build a dynamic project schedule.
A dynamic schedule is properly sequenced and is free of any task constraints.
As the project executes, the Start and Finish dates will adjust based on the actual start/finish and actual work/duration recorded in the schedule.
The benefit is project manager can assess changes to the project end date (via the critical path) without experiencing constraint errors.
In this example, the Analysis Complete task was forecasted to complete by 3/13/14 but had a deadline of 3/31/14.
If the task exceeded the deadline, a warning indicator will appear in the Gantt Chart view under the Indicator column.
Deadlines can be added to any task in the project schedule.
However, a better approach is to ensure all tasks are set to “Finish As Soon As Possible” and use deadlines to trigger alerts to the project manager. However, you need need a quality schedule that is ready to be baselined so you add the project deadlines.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use the Deadlines feature in Microsoft Project 2013. If the schedule is missing effort estimates, lacks proper resource leveling and doesn’t reflect a realistic model of future events, then assigning deadlines will only complicates matters.
In this example, I’ve assigned a deadline to the Analysis Complete task (task id 16) and a green downward pointing arrow appears in the Gantt chart.
As the project progresses, the project manager will track the actual starts and finishes.