Project Plan start date and finish date fields RRS feed

  • Question

  • I would like my Project Plan to reflect the dates we plan to start and finish a given task and then I would like to also enter the dates we actually end up starting and finishing a given task.  Initially, I'm thinking the duration should calculate based on the dates we plan to start/finish and then once I enter the dates we actually start/finish, the duration should then calculate based on that.  If this is possible, what fields do I put into my plan to make this possible?  Or is this some better/standard way I should be doing this?

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 7:42 PM

All replies

  • Hi Mgohanna,

    You could use the actual start and actual finish dates.

    You can refer to the MPUG article for more information.

    Hope this helps.

    Guillaume Rouyre - MBA, MCP, MCTS

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:02 PM
  • Thanks...I do have those fields; however, I'm not clear as to whether I start out with just start/finish, planned start/finish, baseline start/finish?

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:07 PM
  • I would advice to start planning your project creating tasks with dependencies and resources, using start/finish dates.

    Then you might save a baseline, that will take a snapshot of your project plan in the baseline start/finish, that should correspond to an approved project plan by the organization management in terms of budget and scope.

    Afterwards you'll update your project plan (update start date for example) or enter some actual work that will automatically copy the start in the actual start. Similarly when the task will be marked as completed, the finish date will be copied in the actual finish date.

    In other words, you can update your project plan either using the actual start/finish dates or using % complete and actual work for assignments.

    Hope this helps.

    Guillaume Rouyre - MBA, MCP, MCTS

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:24 PM
  • Ok so I have start date and finish date and then actual start date and finish date.  When I put in the actual finish date it changes  the start date to be the same.  I want the start date to stay as originally entered so that I can compare the two.

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:25 PM
  • As far as i know, if you enter an actual finish date, it should not change the start date. It will only copy the start in the actual start and the newly entered actual finish in the finish. Can you please detail a little bit more the steps you've done?

    Then what you need (ie keeping the original value of start/finish) is covered by the BASELINE functionality (in the "project" tab in MS Project 2010 and 2013). This functionality will take a snapshot of the start/finish dates as of when you save the baseline. You have 11 baselines available. Once the baseline is saved, you can update your project plan since the saved baseline will keep all dates/costs/works in the baseline fields.

    Using formatting functionality in the "format" tab, you'll easily be able to compare the current plan (start/finish) versus any baselines (baseline n start/finish).

    Here is the link for Project 2013 (knowing that the functionality hasn't changed since many versions).

    Hope this helps.

    Guillaume Rouyre - MBA, MCP, MCTS

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:37 PM
  • Mgohanna,

    It may help you to understand that Project maintains 3 schedules for your project (i.e. Current, Actual, and Baseline).  So--in all three cases, there is a Start Date and a Finish Date for each of your tasks--and for the Project in-total. (Note: The Current Start and Finish dates are labeled simply as Start and Finish.)

    The Current and Actual schedules are quite dynamic as you report progress on the various tasks.  However, the Baseline Schedule is "the rock"--it is your point-of-reference--stored at the beginning of the project--it contains the original plan (i.e. what we plan to do).

    So--at the beginning of your project (i.e. before any progress has been reported), go to the Project tab in the ribbon and use the Set Baseline icon to store your Baseline Schedule.  Thereafter, you can compare your Actual schedule (i.e. Actual Start; Actual Finish) or your Current schedule (Start; Finish) with your Baseline schedule and get a good understanding of how you are complying with your original schedule.  (Start Variance, Finish Variance, Duration Variance fields are useful; Tracking Gantt view is also useful in making these comparisons).

    There is lots more to know about schedule management but this should head you in the right direction.

    • Edited by Edward Hanna Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:07 PM Add more
    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:04 PM