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Fine-Tuning Task Details in Microsoft Project 2010

Entering Deadline Dates

One common mistake made by new Project users is to place semi-flexible or inflexible constraints on too many tasks in their projects. Such constraints severely limit your scheduling flexibility.

Yet, if you know that a specific task must be completed by a certain date, why not enter a Must Finish On constraint? This is the reason: Assume that you have a five-day task that you want to see completed by April 13, and today is April 2. If you enter a Must Finish On constraint on the task and set it to April 13, Project will move it out so that it will indeed end on April 13.

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Even if the task could be completed earlier, Project will not reschedule it to start earlier. In fact, by applying that constraint, you have increased the risk for this task. If the task is delayed for even one day for any reason (a required resource is sick, for example), the task will miss its planned finish date.

A better approach to scheduling this task is to use the default As Soon As Possible constraint and enter a deadline of April 13. A deadline is a date value you enter for a task that indicates the latest date by which you want the task to be completed, but the deadline date itself does not constrain the task.

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Now the task has the greatest scheduling flexibility. It might be completed well before its deadline, depending on resource availability, predecessor tasks, and whatever other scheduling issues apply.

Entering a deadline date causes Project to display a deadline indicator on the chart portion of the Gantt Chart view. If the task’s finish date moves past its deadline, Project displays a missed deadline indicator in the Indicator field for that task.

In this exercise, you enter a deadline date for a task.

Open Advanced Tasks B_Start from the Chapter07 practice file folder

  1. On the File tab, click Save As.

    The Save As dialog box appears.

  2. In the File name box, type Advanced Tasks B, and then click Save.

  3. In the Task Name column, select the name of task 5, Handoff to Editorial.

  4. On the Task tab, in the Editing group, click Scroll to Task.

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    This task is a milestone marking the scheduled finish date of the acquisition phase of the new book project. You want to make sure that the acquisition task concludes by Friday, May 11, 2012, so you will enter a deadline date for this milestone.

  5. On the Task tab, in the Properties group, click Information.

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    The Task Information dialog box appears.

  6. Click the Advanced tab.

  7. In the Deadline box, type or select 5/11/12, and then click OK.

    Project displays a deadline indicator in the chart portion of the Gantt Chart view.

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    You can now see at a glance how close the end of the acquisition phase, as currently scheduled, will come to meeting or missing its deadline. If the scheduled completion of the Acquisition phase moves past May 11, Project will display a missed deadline indicator in the Indicators column.

Entering a deadline date has no effect on the scheduling of a summary or subtask. However, a deadline date will cause Project to alert you if the scheduled completion of a task exceeds its deadline date.