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MS Project 2010 Critical Path RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'm trying to schedule a program in MS Project 2010 with multiple projects.  The program has multiple outcomes that are achieved by various combinations of the projects.  The program completion is when all the outcomes are achieved.

    I'm showing the outcomes at the top of the schedule, and then each project defined by a summary task.  I'm linking the relevant/finals tasks in each project with the relevant outcome.

    I have selected show critical path option.  But it is only showing the final task for the last outcome as critical.  But there are critical tasks for each outcome that arent being shown.

    How can I show these?


    Saturday, February 20, 2016 12:31 PM

Answers

  • Hi Geoff,

    I’ll take a shot without seeing the file, as I think your description is pretty clear:

    You are using a single “Project” (i.e. a single *.mpp file) to model your program.  You would like to see a “critical path” for each “outcome” in the program, but MS Project is showing only the “critical path” for the overall program.  I’m going to assume that you are following all the standard best practices for scheduling; e.g. no manual tasks, no logic on summary tasks, etc.  I also will refer to each “outcome” as a “Key Completion Milestone.”

    The simplest way to get what you seem to want – i.e. mark the driving path to each key completion milestone as “critical” – is to assign a deadline to each key completion milestone, and set the deadline date equal to the current scheduled finish date of the milestone.  This will force Total Slack of the milestone and its driving path to zero, and they will show red on the Gantt chart.  You can assign a deadline in the advanced tab of the properties window for the task.

    A few caveats: 1) If your schedule uses variable calendars, then total slack can change along a single logical path, and your “critical path” might get truncated. 2)  Ordinarily a Deadline should be imposed only to represent a formal external completion commitment, like a contract milestone or a directive from the project sponsor.  Imposing Deadlines to manipulate Total Slack as suggested here dilutes the meaning of Total Slack and may actually hide the “critical path” for the overall program. 3) Many projects do have legitimate deadlines on multiple key completion milestones, and not all of them are “Critical.”  Then Total Slack is not useful for indicating the “driving path” for a particular key completion milestone, and a macro (vba) or add-in for logical analysis of the schedule is needed.

    Good luck, tom

    • Marked as answer by geoffo16 Sunday, February 21, 2016 1:30 AM
    Saturday, February 20, 2016 5:29 PM

All replies

  • Display the schedule table.

    It has the columns for free slack and total slack.

    Somewhere near the last task one of them has some total slack.
    This could be caused by a date constraint, or possibly because you have duration in edays.

    Are they all auto not manually scheduled?

    Other than that, not enough information without being able to see it.

    Saturday, February 20, 2016 12:49 PM
  • Hi Trevor

    All tasks have some total slack, except the one showing as critical which has 0

    They are all automatically scheduled.

    Is there a way I can send you file?

    Saturday, February 20, 2016 1:11 PM
  • trevorATperfectproject.com.au
    Saturday, February 20, 2016 2:51 PM
  • Hi Geoff,

    I’ll take a shot without seeing the file, as I think your description is pretty clear:

    You are using a single “Project” (i.e. a single *.mpp file) to model your program.  You would like to see a “critical path” for each “outcome” in the program, but MS Project is showing only the “critical path” for the overall program.  I’m going to assume that you are following all the standard best practices for scheduling; e.g. no manual tasks, no logic on summary tasks, etc.  I also will refer to each “outcome” as a “Key Completion Milestone.”

    The simplest way to get what you seem to want – i.e. mark the driving path to each key completion milestone as “critical” – is to assign a deadline to each key completion milestone, and set the deadline date equal to the current scheduled finish date of the milestone.  This will force Total Slack of the milestone and its driving path to zero, and they will show red on the Gantt chart.  You can assign a deadline in the advanced tab of the properties window for the task.

    A few caveats: 1) If your schedule uses variable calendars, then total slack can change along a single logical path, and your “critical path” might get truncated. 2)  Ordinarily a Deadline should be imposed only to represent a formal external completion commitment, like a contract milestone or a directive from the project sponsor.  Imposing Deadlines to manipulate Total Slack as suggested here dilutes the meaning of Total Slack and may actually hide the “critical path” for the overall program. 3) Many projects do have legitimate deadlines on multiple key completion milestones, and not all of them are “Critical.”  Then Total Slack is not useful for indicating the “driving path” for a particular key completion milestone, and a macro (vba) or add-in for logical analysis of the schedule is needed.

    Good luck, tom

    • Marked as answer by geoffo16 Sunday, February 21, 2016 1:30 AM
    Saturday, February 20, 2016 5:29 PM
  • Thanks Tom.  That worked.  Much appreciated.
    Sunday, February 21, 2016 1:32 AM
  • Applying a deadline changes the way that total slack is calculated, and as Tom warns it will "dilute" the meaning of total slack and hide the critical path.

    Artificially contriving to force tasks to have zero total slack in this way may force the tasks to light up with red bars but it does not help you to answer your original question, which is why the last task is critical and why the others which are its predecessors have some total slack even though you expect them not to.
    This question should still get an answer.

    Do any of the tasks have special task calendars?

    Display the time in the start and finish dates.

    Sunday, February 21, 2016 2:46 AM