Bringing in the Project Finish Date

A time-constrained project is one in which the project finish date is the most important factor in your project plan. Although you still need to balance budget constraints and satisfy the project scope, the finish date reigns supreme over those other considerations.

If your project plan calculates that your finish date will be beyond your all-important target finish date, focus on the critical path. Shorten the critical path and you bring in the finish date.

Viewing Finish Dates and the Critical Path

Before you analyze the critical path, you just need to see your bottom line: what's the project finish date? Follow these steps:

1 Click Project, Project Information.

2 In the Project Information dialog box, click the Statistics button.

The Project Statistics dialog box appears. The current, or scheduled, finish date appears in the Finish column (see Figure 9-9).

Project Statistics for "090fcMv.mpp"

Start

Finish

Current

Thu 1/./04

Fn 6/25/04

Baseline

NA

NA

Actual

NA

NA

Variance

Od

Od

Duration

Work

Cost

Current

127d

2,192h

$55,720.00

Baseline

Od?

Oh

$0.00

Actual

Od

Oh

$0.00

Remaining

127d

2,192h

$55,720.00

Percent complete; Duration; 0%

Percent complete; Duration; 0%

Figure 9-9. The Project Statistics dialog box shows overall project information: project start date, project finish date, total duration, total work, and total cost.

Another way to keep your eye on the project finish date at all times is to add the project summary task row, as follows:

1 Click Tools, Options and then click the View tab.

2 Select the Show Project Summary Task check box.

The project summary task appears at the top of any task sheet view, including the Gantt Chart (see Figure 9-10). Task information is rolled up for the entire project and its summary total is displayed in the project summary row. Specifically, the Finish field in the project summary row shows the latest finish date in the project.

0 Task Name

Duration

Start

Finish

B Office Move

127 days

Thu 1/1/04

F ri 6/25/04 |

3 Two To Si* Months Before Moving Day

Make list of key needs that must be met by new office space Identify potential office sites

20 days

Thu 1/1Î04 Mon 1/12Î04

Fri 1Î9/04 Fri 2/6/04

Make final decision on office space Finalize lease on office space

10 days 10 days

Mon 2/9)04 Mon 2/23/04

Fri 2/20/04 Fri 3/5/04

^ Identify major tenant improvement needs

Obtain estimates from contractors for major tenant improvements

15 days

Mon 3/8/04 Mon 3/29/04

Fri 3/26/04 Fri 4/2/04

Figure 9-10. The Project Summary row rolls up task information to display the totals for the entire project.

To see the critical path, click View, Tracking Gantt.

For more information about viewing the critical path, see "Viewing the Critical Path," earlier in this chapter.

By viewing the finish date or the critical path, you can easily see whether you're hitting your target finish date. If you need to bring in the finish date, you might want to focus on the critical tasks. You can filter your task sheet to show only critical tasks by clicking Project, Filtered For, Critical. To show all tasks again, click Project, Filtered For, All Tasks.

I Checking Your Schedule Assumptions

If you've determined that you need to bring in the finish date, look first at the schedule itself. Make sure that all the scheduling controls you put into place are accurate and required. The fewer controls you impose, the more flexibility Microsoft Project can have with scheduling, and that added flexibility can give you an earlier finish date. In the Gantt Chart or other task sheet, review and update the following:

• Date constraints

• Task dependencies

• Task calendars

You can look at all tasks in the project, but to affect the finish date you need only make adjustments to critical tasks. If you shorten the sequence of critical path tasks to the point at which a different sequence is now the critical path, check to see if that path finishes before your target finish date. If it does, switch your focus to that new critical path until you achieve the planned project finish date you need.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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