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Project Options Setting – Forgotten Knowledge

By Dale Howard, MVP, Sensei Project Solutions

Every once in a while, a situation will arise which reminds me of knowledge I once possessed about Microsoft Project, and have forgotten. This situation happened recently in the Microsoft Answers user forum for Microsoft Project questions. In this forum, a user asked a puzzling question, “Why is MS Project adding constraints to newly added tasks automatically?” When I read this question, I was certainly puzzled.

The next day, one of my friends and fellow MVPs (Rod Gill from New Zealand) replied to this user’s question. The moment that I read Rod’s reply, it jogged my memory. Let me show you the source of this user’s problem.

Launch Microsoft Project 2010, 2013, or 2013, then click File > Options. In the Project Options dialog, click the Schedule tab and then scroll down to the Scheduling options for this project section of the dialog. In this section, there is an important option that determines the Start date of any new tasks you manually add to the project: the Auto scheduled tasks scheduled on option shown in Figure 1. Notice that this option offers two values from which to select: Project Start Date (the default value) and Current Date.

Figure 1: Auto scheduled tasks scheduled on option

When you leave this option set to the default Project Start Date value, Microsoft Project will always set the Start date of every new task to the Start date of the project. Remember that you set the Start date of the project in the Project Information dialog. Figure 2 shows two new tasks added to the project when the Auto scheduled tasks scheduled on option is set to the Project Start Date value. Notice that these two new tasks are scheduled to start on the project Start date, which is May 31.

Figure 2: New tasks scheduled on the project Start Date

If you select the Current Date value for the Auto scheduled tasks scheduled on option, the behavior of Microsoft Project changes dramatically whenever you manually add a new task. For each new task you add, the software will schedule the task to start on the current date. Microsoft Project will apply a Start No Earlier Than (SNET) constraint on the task, setting the Constraint Date value to match the Current Date value derived from your computer’s system clock. Figure 3 shows the project when I added two new tasks after setting the option to the Current Date value. Notice that the software applied a constraint to each task to force them to start on the current date, which is June 8.

Figure 3: New tasks start on the current date

I think you can now see that Rod Gill’s reply to the user’s question does explain the behavior the user was seeing and would qualify as the answer to the user’s question. And I do thank Rod for jogging my memory of knowledge that I once knew, but had long ago forgotten!

About Dale Howard, Director of Education, Sensei Project Solutions

Dale Howard is a seasoned training professional who is approaching 30 years of technical training experience. He has taught students how to effectively use every version of Microsoft Project beginning with version 4.0 for Windows 95, and every version of the Microsoft EPM tool beginning with Project Central in the year 2000. Dale possesses the coveted Project MVP title and is one of only 64 Project MVPs in the entire world. He is the co-author of 20 books on Microsoft Project and Project Server. Dale is known for high-energy, highly interactive style of presenting and teaching. He was voted the “Best Presenter” by conference participants at the Project Conference in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Sensei Project Solutions

Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2017 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, focuses on bringing Instant Productivity to your team. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations be more productive so that they can achieve their greatest potential. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner and Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) with the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Sensei offers a complete set of services and products for a successful Microsoft PPM deployment. Our guiding principles for Proactive PPM follow best practices and industry standards aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Gartner, enabling organizations to manage resource demand, obtain business intelligence that facilitates better decision making, increase business effectiveness by easily connecting people, and become self-sufficient with PPM processes and solutions. In short, Sensei helps organizations achieve Instant Productivity.

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