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