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Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 1) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Comparing Finish Dates to Deadlines

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1/13/2015 2:51:15 AM

Evaluating the Project Schedule

The fat lady won’t sing until the finish dates in Project meet the project’s deadlines and the project price is right. Keep fine-tuning the Project schedule until both the schedule and price are in line. This second round of work is also a good time to correct any errors lurking in your schedule, as the box on Double-Checking the Schedule describes. In this section, you’ll learn how to review dates and costs in your Project file. You’ll also learn how to find the best tasks to change.

Comparing Finish Dates to Deadlines

Finish dates are conspicuous in the Gantt Chart timescale, because that’s where task bars end. The Finish field also appears in the Entry, Schedule, Summary, Usage, and Variance tables, to name a few. But what you really want is to see whether the finish dates come on or before the project’s deadlines.

During planning, you can compare the finish date for the project and key milestones to the deadlines requested by stakeholders. However, as you learned on Preventing Unwanted Date Constraints, the Deadline field helps track important dates during planning and project execution. You can filter the task list to focus on tasks with deadlines, and look for missed deadline indicators to identify problem areas.

Tip

Tasks that finish on time during planning may not stay that way when the work begins. Missed deadline indicators appear as soon as estimated finish dates are later than their corresponding deadline dates, so it’s a good idea to check for missed deadline indicators regularly.

When you assign a date in a task’s Deadline field, a deadline arrow appears at that date in the Gantt Chart timescale (the arrow may be solid green or outlined in black, depending on the view). The task’s finish date is late if the task bar ends to the right of the arrow. However, these deadline arrows aren’t especially eye-catching. Filtering the task list to show missed deadlines makes them easier to see. The missed deadline indicator is another hint that the finish date isn’t working. Here’s how to compare finish dates with deadlines:

  1. To show only tasks with deadlines, choose View→Data, click the down arrow next to the filter box, and then choose More Filters. In the More Filters dialog box, double-click Tasks With Deadlines.

    Project shows tasks with deadlines but also shows the summary tasks to which they belong, as you can see in Figure 1.

  2. To find tasks that miss their deadlines, look in the Indicators column in the Entry table for red diamonds with exclamation points inside.

    If tasks miss their deadlines by a mile, the deadline arrows in the timescale may be a long way from the end of the task bar, so the two may not be visible in the timescale at the same time, depending on the timescale units. Remember, you can drag the Zoom slider in the status bar to change the time periods that appear in the timescale.

    By scanning the Indicators column for missed deadline indicators, you can identify the tasks to focus on. Of course, if you don’t see any missed deadline indicators, you can move on to checking whether the project’s cost works.

To hide summary tasks, in a task-oriented view like the Gantt Chart, choose Format→Show/Hide, and then turn off the Summary Tasks checkbox. Turn the checkbox back on when you want to see the summary tasks again (as shown here). To change the time periods in the timescale, you can drag the Zoom Slider in the status bar, right-click the timescale heading and choose Timescale on the shortcut menu, or, if the Timeline view is visible, drag the blue bar in the Timeline view (page 600)

Figure 1. To hide summary tasks, in a task-oriented view like the Gantt Chart, choose Format→Show/Hide, and then turn off the Summary Tasks checkbox. Turn the checkbox back on when you want to see the summary tasks again (as shown here). To change the time periods in the timescale, you can drag the Zoom Slider in the status bar, right-click the timescale heading and choose Timescale on the shortcut menu, or, if the Timeline view is visible, drag the blue bar in the Timeline view (page 600)

 
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