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Constraint "Finish no later than" resets task start and finish date to project start date RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am working with Project 2007.  When I try to set a task constraint to "Finish no later than" and set the constraint date, Project resets the task start and finish date to the project start date (task duration of 1 day).  When I reset the task start and finish date to the correct dates, Project resets the constraint to "Start no earlier than".

    It is a sub-task but I have deleted the task and recreated to make sure there are no links.

    What am I missing?

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:13 PM

Answers

  • Um a Finish No Later Than constraint only comes in to effect when the finish date tries to be later than the constraint. So if your task has no predecessor then Project has done exactly what you told it to do!

    Finish no later than constraints are usually way more trouble than they are worth. Much better to link all tasks together and add a deadline date against teh finsl task of teh date. Then project flags when the task can't finish in time and changes the critical path accordingly (great feature).


    Rod Gill
    Author of the one and only Project VBA Book
    www.project-systems.co.nz

    Friday, September 26, 2014 4:00 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • TuskBIlly,

    I can't simulate what you are seeing so let's get a little more information. Are all tasks forward scheduled (i.e. from the Project Start Date)? What is the task type (i.e. fixed duration, fixed work, or fixed units)? Is there any progress on the task (i.e. is there a date in the Actual Start field)? Can you set a finish-no-later-than constraint on other tasks in the schedule and not see this issue? What is the task duration before you set the constraint? Do you have any links on summary lines?

    Also, do you have SP3 installed?

    John

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 6:54 PM
  • John,

    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    • I do have SP3. 
    • All Tasks are forward scheduled.
    • It is a Fixed Units task.  The effort driven box is checked
    • It is showing 0% complete
    • Same issue on any other task in the schedule
    • Duration is 1 day.

    I have tried several different start and finish dates as well as different durations.  I have also tried several other constraint types.  The only one that doesn't reste the start date back to the project start date is "Start no earlier than".

    Thanks for your help,

     Billy

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 7:20 PM
  • Billy,

    Everything sounds like it is a normal straightforward project file. Try one more thing. Create a new file with just a few tasks with the same parameters as the file you are having trouble with. Can you set a finish-no-later-than constraint on that file? If so, then your main file may be corrupt. Try saving it as XML and re-open in Project. Note, you will lose any custom formatting using this process.

    If a new file also exhibits the same behavior, would it be possible to send me the file? It might be quicker and easier to figure out what's going on if I can play with it directly. If the file is no larger than 1M when zipped you can send it to me at the address below. If it's larger than that, do NOT send it, we'll figure something else out.

    John

    jensenljatatfastmaildotdotfm

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

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 8:31 PM
  • John,

    I have started a new file, same thing.  I have tried another existing file, same thing.  I asked the individual who created it to try it as well, same thing.

    Billy

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 8:41 PM
  • Billy,

    Okay, is your file of a size (i.e. 1M or less when zipped) that you can send it to me? Or even send me one of your new small files so I can take a look at your structure.

    John

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 10:10 PM
  • Um a Finish No Later Than constraint only comes in to effect when the finish date tries to be later than the constraint. So if your task has no predecessor then Project has done exactly what you told it to do!

    Finish no later than constraints are usually way more trouble than they are worth. Much better to link all tasks together and add a deadline date against teh finsl task of teh date. Then project flags when the task can't finish in time and changes the critical path accordingly (great feature).


    Rod Gill
    Author of the one and only Project VBA Book
    www.project-systems.co.nz

    Friday, September 26, 2014 4:00 AM
    Moderator
  • Indeed I follow Rod's reply. Setting a "finish no later than" constraint make that the task cannot move in the future forward the specified date of the contraint. Meaning that there is no constraint on the start date in the past. In this case and assuming there is no predecessor, the constraint will be the project start date. In conclusion this is a normal behavior.

    Then when you set a start date, it will prompt you if you want to keep the existing constraint or create a "start no earlier than" constraint which is totally normal when you set a start date.

    Note that you might note be prompted since there is a checkbox that allows preventing MS Project from prompting such dialog box:


    Hope this helps,


    Guillaume Rouyre, MBA, MCP, MCTS |

    Friday, September 26, 2014 12:18 PM
    Moderator
  • OK...  this makes sense, and helps.  I'm still learning MS Project.  Is there a constraint I can use to say "this must be done no later than this day but can't be done before this day"?

    Thanks,

         Billy

    Friday, September 26, 2014 12:38 PM
  • Hi Billy,

    By default the 7 constraints (I'm excluding the "as soon as possible" constraint which is a "no constraint") constrain either the start or the finish date, not both of them. You can combine a constraint with a predecessor.

    That being said, I'd advice not to use constraints unless it corresponds to a business need and use predecessors. Note also that the deadline column can be used to vizualize without constraint a deadline date on a task.


    Hope this helps,


    Guillaume Rouyre, MBA, MCP, MCTS |

    Friday, September 26, 2014 12:47 PM
    Moderator
  • Rod,

    At first I had a problem with your response because I thought the user indicated that not only did Project move the task back but it also reset the duration to 1 day, which of course shouldn't happen. Now that I re-read the original post I see I was mistaken about resetting the duration - he never said that - he simply stated that the task duration was 1 day.

    My incorrect interpretation caused me to go off on a "red herring" hunt. Thanks for jogging me back to reality.

    John

    Friday, September 26, 2014 3:15 PM
  • Guillaume,

    When I first looked at this issue I didn't see any schedule alert messages when I tried to simulate the issue because I had forgotten that I have that option turned off. Good catch on the alert message.

    John

    Friday, September 26, 2014 3:17 PM
  • This definitely does help.  As I'm digging deeper into a project plan created by another member of the team from a "template" created by an individual no longer with the team and beginning to try to use Project better as I begin to learn its capabilities, this "project plan" is not a project plan but a task list.  There are no defined predecessors or links between tasks.  Even the "As soon as possible" and "As late as possible" constraints want to change the start date or end date to the beginning or end of the project under these circumstances.  This has been a helpful exercise for this old dog trying to learn a new trick (experienced project leader trying to learn to utilize project management software...)

    Thanks for all of your help and suggestions!

    Billy

    Monday, September 29, 2014 7:28 PM