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MS Project Date Problem RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have this issue where when I change the days in the duration column, the date changes, but the next one after that doesn't. For example, If I entered 5 days and it starts on 3/15/2014, then it would finish on 3/20/15. Then the start date for the next task should be 3/20/15, but it doesn't change at all. It just remains what it was originally. What am I doing wrong or what is up? Help is appreciated, thanks!

    Friday, July 11, 2014 1:39 PM

Answers

  • Nittany56,

    I assume the two tasks are linked in a finish-to-start dependency. I see a few possibilities.

    First, if at some time you directly entered the Start or Finish date of the second task, that will set a constraint. You don't want a constraint if you want your schedule to be dynamic. Add the Constraint Type field as a column in the view. All tasks should say, "as-soon-as-possible".

    The second possibility is that the second task has an entry in the Actual Start field, or a non-zero value in the % Complete field. Either of those will "lock" its start date regardless of any predecessor link.

    The third possibility is that calculation is set for manual. Go to File/Options/Schedule group and make sure calculation mode is set to "on".

    Also, are all tasks set for auto-scheduling mode? Manually scheduled tasks or a mixture of mode types can sometimes cause strange results.

    By the way, do you have the latest service pack installed for whatever version of Project you are using? Service packs in Project are very important.

    You might also want to take a look at FAQ 50 - Successor's start date is different from its predecessor's finish date, found on the MVP website at: http://project.mvps.org/faqs.htm#Contents

    If this answers your question, please mark it as the answer.

    John



    • Edited by John - Project Friday, July 11, 2014 2:30 PM added FAQ reference
    • Marked as answer by Nittany56 Friday, July 11, 2014 2:43 PM
    Friday, July 11, 2014 2:24 PM
  • Nittany56,

    Does the task have a Predecessor? If so, than yes, delete the constraint (i.e. make the task "as-soon-as-possible"). If the task does not have a predecessor, then removing the constraint will most likely push the task start date back to the project start date, unless you set the option to start tasks on the current date. If the task does not have a predecessor but does have a non-zero percent complete, then it doesn't matter if it had a constraint, the task start will track the actual start.

    As you can see, your question does not have a simple yes or no answer.

    John

    • Marked as answer by Nittany56 Monday, July 14, 2014 5:02 PM
    Friday, July 11, 2014 8:31 PM

All replies

  • Nittany56,

    I assume the two tasks are linked in a finish-to-start dependency. I see a few possibilities.

    First, if at some time you directly entered the Start or Finish date of the second task, that will set a constraint. You don't want a constraint if you want your schedule to be dynamic. Add the Constraint Type field as a column in the view. All tasks should say, "as-soon-as-possible".

    The second possibility is that the second task has an entry in the Actual Start field, or a non-zero value in the % Complete field. Either of those will "lock" its start date regardless of any predecessor link.

    The third possibility is that calculation is set for manual. Go to File/Options/Schedule group and make sure calculation mode is set to "on".

    Also, are all tasks set for auto-scheduling mode? Manually scheduled tasks or a mixture of mode types can sometimes cause strange results.

    By the way, do you have the latest service pack installed for whatever version of Project you are using? Service packs in Project are very important.

    You might also want to take a look at FAQ 50 - Successor's start date is different from its predecessor's finish date, found on the MVP website at: http://project.mvps.org/faqs.htm#Contents

    If this answers your question, please mark it as the answer.

    John



    • Edited by John - Project Friday, July 11, 2014 2:30 PM added FAQ reference
    • Marked as answer by Nittany56 Friday, July 11, 2014 2:43 PM
    Friday, July 11, 2014 2:24 PM
  • Thanks! I believe the first possibility is my problem. I am almost certain it is. Now, how do I get rid of the constraint?
    Friday, July 11, 2014 2:43 PM
  • Nittany56,

    You're welcome and thanks for the feedback. If you have added the Constraint Type field as a column in your view, simply click on the field cell and open the selection box. Now select, "As soon as possible". You can also check for constraints by selecting any task and right clicking. Then select "Information" to bring up the Task Information window. Select the Advanced tab and look at the Constraint Type box.

    The advantage of the first method is that you can very quickly check for constraints on all tasks in your plan by looking at the Constraint Type field column.

    Note, for any tasks that do not have a predecessor, (ideally there should be none), you may need a start-no-earlier-than constraint if the task has a delayed start from the project start date for some reason (e.g. critical resource is not available until a particular time or a critical machine may not be available)

    John


    Friday, July 11, 2014 3:20 PM
  • Okay, I checked all of my tasks and they all have a "as soon as possible constraint." So I'm wondering if that's not the problem. When you said "The second possibility is that the second task has an entry in the Actual Start field, or a non-zero value in the % Complete field. Either of those will "lock" its start date regardless of any predecessor link," How do I find that out? I haven't heard the time "Actual Start field" before. Where can I find that?

    Friday, July 11, 2014 3:55 PM
  • Nittany56,

    Any time I reference a field in Project, that means you can add it as a column in the view. Note however that there are three types of views in Project, task, resource and combined (task/assignment or resource/assignment). I'm assuming you are currently in the Gantt Chart view which is a task view. Generally task fields are not available in a resource view (e.g. Resource Sheet), resource fields are not available in a task view (e.g. Gantt Chart). Combined views (i.e. Resource Usage and Task Usage) will generally have their types of fields available.

    Are you having fun yet?

    Okay, so add the Actual Start and % Complete fields as columns in your Gantt Chart view. Then check them to see if they are causing your issue.

    I asked earlier if all your tasks are auto-scheduled but never got an answer. Again, the Task Mode field will show you that.

    Also, did you look at the FAQ I cited? If not, you should read it. It covers the stuff I mentioned here and talks about a few other reasons why a task may not respond to it predecessor task moving.

    John

    Friday, July 11, 2014 4:25 PM
  • I added both of the columns. The actual start date was fine until a certain point and then it just put N/A for the rest of the tasks. I have never done that column before and neither has my boss. Also, the first task is 2% complete, the rest are 0% complete, except for one which is 71% complete.  How come? Also, I guess I can describe the problem differently. When I change the duration of one task, it is supposed to change all the rest of the dates, along with the dates for that task. It only changes the dates for that task and not the rest of the dates for the rest of the tasks. I do not know why this is happening. Also, yes, all of my tasks are auto-scheduled. I will have to take a look at the FAQ you gave. I have not gotten around to taking a look at that yet.
    Friday, July 11, 2014 5:10 PM
  • Also, have you ever given help by phone? My boss would like to know ASAP.
    Friday, July 11, 2014 5:40 PM
  • Nittany56,

    This may sound a little direct but it is apparent that neither you nor your boss have really taken the time to learn the basics of Project. Unfortunately Project is neither intuitive or simple to learn, despite what the literature may suggest. In order to really be able to use Project effectively, most of us who answer on this forum recommend a minimum of 2 days hands on training. You can learn Project by trial and error but the process will likely take some time and be very frustrating. As far as training materials, you could start with: http://www.msprojectexperts.com. I'm sure there are many other good training sources but I don't have a specific list.

    That said, we are more than happy to help, that's why we are here. Just be aware that you will have a much easier time if you get some training.

    By the way, who are "we"? Those of us who respond on this and other forums are strictly volunteers who have years of experience with Project. Many of us (not me) have Project Management consulting businesses, or similar. None of us work for Microsoft and we are not compensated in any way for our service, other than by accumulating points for helping.

    To address your issue. Seeing an entry in the Actual Start field indicates that the task has started. If the user inputs a value into the % Complete field, Project will automatically assume the task started on the scheduled start date and will enter that date into the Actual Start field. However, for various reasons a task may not start on the scheduled date. It may be delayed or it may start early. In that case the user can enter the actual date it did start into the Actual Start field. Project will then automatically adjust the Scheduled Start field to agree with the actual start (i.e. adjust the original schedule to what really is happening). Note, the original plan will be captured by saving a baseline, (multiple baseline fields), before plan execution starts.

    When you ask why tasks do not move when you change the duration of a task, it could be due to any of the reason I previously cited or other factors as detailed in the FAQ. Without actually seeing your schedule, I have no idea why tasks are not shifting as you expect.

    With regard to phone help, no I do not do that, but I will offer to take a look at your plan if you send it to me. My address is below. Note that if your plan is larger than 2Meg in size when zipped, do NOT send it via e-mail as my mail server is limited. Also, if you do send it, please give me a detailed explanation of your end goal (i.e. what are you trying to do?) I will ask some questions.

    John

    jensenljatatfastmaildotdotfm

    (remove obvious redundancies and the 7th character is a letter)

    Friday, July 11, 2014 6:10 PM
  • He has been using it for about a year now and I have only been using it for about a month. I know the basics and he is more knowledgeable than I am on this program. Also, I have no idea either. I tried all of your ideas as to why it is doing this, but they don't seem to be helping. Neither my boss nor I have ever used actual start dates and have never had a reason to.  I am unable to send you my project and I apologize for that.  I suppose my question now is how do I remove the hard start date. When I try to put NA for a detailed task, the summary task becomes NA as well and I don't think I want that.

     
    Friday, July 11, 2014 7:37 PM
  • Nittany56,

    Okay, I understand your file may have sensitive data that cannot be shared. We can try one other thing. Can you post a screenshot showing that part of your file that is in question. If you do post a screenshot make sure you include the following fields in the Gantt Chart view: Task Name (you can change those if you need to, the name is only for reference), Start, Duration, Finish, Constraint Type, Predecessors, % Complete, Baseline Start, Actual Start, and Task Type. Let's start with those fields and go from there. Make sure the screenshot you post is large enough to read, I've seen too many screenshots that are so small and blurry that I can't tell what it is showing.

    Other information that I need is, Status Date, Project Start Date, Project and Task Calendar (if applicable). Are there any resources assigned? Do those resources have custom resource calendars?

    John

    Friday, July 11, 2014 7:49 PM
  • Okay, I am going to simplify this by a lot so it's a lot easier. All I need to know as this point is if I can remove a constraint on an auto scheduled task, regardless of the fact that the program puts the constraint on the auto scheduled task already.
    Friday, July 11, 2014 8:00 PM
  • Nittany56,

    Does the task have a Predecessor? If so, than yes, delete the constraint (i.e. make the task "as-soon-as-possible"). If the task does not have a predecessor, then removing the constraint will most likely push the task start date back to the project start date, unless you set the option to start tasks on the current date. If the task does not have a predecessor but does have a non-zero percent complete, then it doesn't matter if it had a constraint, the task start will track the actual start.

    As you can see, your question does not have a simple yes or no answer.

    John

    • Marked as answer by Nittany56 Monday, July 14, 2014 5:02 PM
    Friday, July 11, 2014 8:31 PM
  • Thanks! I appreciate the help. The task had a predecessor so I deleted the constraint and made it "as-soon-as-possible."
    Monday, July 14, 2014 5:03 PM
  • Nittany56,

    You're welcome and thanks for the feedback. I assume your issue is resolved.

    John

    Monday, July 14, 2014 5:09 PM