Creating tasks that automatically schedule acccording to relative task start dates RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    Problem: I administer a program that reoccurs every 3 months. The tasks necessary to prepare for, and successfully run the program do not change. The timelines for each task relative to the end of the project completion date do not change either. What does change frequently is when the program ends. What I need is a document that will help us manage all tasks and schedule these tasks relative to the end of the program. Instead of having to create a brand new Project document for each program and reentering all new start and end dates for each task, I would like project to automatically select those dates based on my project end date.

    For example: I have a project completion date of June 1st representing the end of the 1st quarter program. My first tasks are to send introduction emails to managers by April 1st and send welcome packets by April 8th. If I push the project completion date out 2 weeks, the project tasks would reschedule accordingly to April 15th and April 22nd.

    This way we can create one template that we can use for each of the 3 programs, and only have to change the project completion date to schedule all associated project tasks.  

    I am using Microsoft Project 2013. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Friday, May 6, 2016 5:54 PM

All replies

  • justinman25,

    Take a look at a couple built-in functions that may just fit your needs.

    The first is "Move Project" which you can find under Project/Schedule group. This function moves the whole project.

    The second is "Move" which you can find under Task/Tasks group. This function moves individual tasks or selected tasks.

    Hope this helps.


    Friday, May 6, 2016 7:37 PM
  • I can guess that the April 8th date is always 7 edays after the April 1st date.
    On the other hand, is the April 8t date derived from the project finish date, or from the April 1st date?

    How, exactly, is the April 1st date arrived at, how is it related to the June 1st date?
    Is the April 1st date because that is the first of the second month before June 1st?
    Or is it because it is a certain number of working days or calendar days before the project finish?

    Is your project finish always going to be the 1st of a month?
    Since months have different numbers of days, makes it a bit tricky.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016 12:59 AM
  • "reentering all new start and end dates for each task"

    This suggests you've typed dates and not linked tasks. If you link all tasks in your template and haven't used dates (so all tasks have As Soon As Possible as their date constraint, then changing just the start date of the Project automatically moves all tasks.

    Rod Gill
    Author of the one and only Project VBA Book

    Monday, May 9, 2016 10:08 PM
  • Have you linked all the tasks up?

    If so you should have a "start" milestone which drives all the other tasks out so you can manually move the entire plan by moving that start date.  If you always know from experience how long things take this is easy however sometimes you may need to take account of more or less holidays so it can be useful to have project do the hard work for you.  To do this you've got three options

    1) move things around manually until the finish date is right

    2) have project calculate the start date for you - do to this have a milestone called "need to start by" and back schedule this from the desired finish date (SF-3 months) to display when you set the start date to (either by moving the Start milestone mention or by moving the project start date to this date as mentioned by other posters

    3) Back schedule from the desired finish date - you'll need to schedule the end of everything from the start of the next task in the chain (using the SF type link).  Whilst possible and sometimes useful this can become a bit of a bind and also reduces your ability to modify the plan in response to changes you experience.

    Out of these options I would recommend 2) as it gives you the greatest flexibility during the actual work and makes the plan easier to read that entirely back scheduling things from the finish date.



    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 11:06 AM
  • To me this is fairly simple.

    1.  Open a new project plan, and set the project to schedule from the finish date.  Enter the finish date in Project Information.

    2.  Enter the tasks, durations and dependencies (not any dates).

    3.  Each task will be scheduled ALAP, and this will give you the latest start date for each task.

    4.  Save the plan as a template.

    5.  For each project, create it from the template, and change the Project Finish date.

    6.  Of course you should be using Autoscheduled tasks for this to work...

    Ben Howard [MVP] | web | blog | book | P2O

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016 12:03 PM