An Overview of Scheduling

 <  Day Day Up  >  

After you enter project tasks and estimate durations, you must focus on developing the schedule of start and finish dates. Up to this point in the book, you've used Microsoft Project as a basic word processor or spreadsheet program ”entering tasks and durations in a task view. This chapter explores how to link these tasks to define the logical sequence of activity, thus giving Project specific information for calculating a schedule. It also examines how to record constraints and deadlines, assign task calendars, and split tasks .

The project schedule depends on a number of factors, including the following:

  • The project schedule either begins on a fixed start date or is calculated to end on a fixed finish date. You control this factor in the Project Information dialog box.

    For more information on defining the start or finish of a project, see "Using the Project Information Dialog Box," p. 57 .


  • Project normally schedules tasks only during the working times defined by the base calendar that you select for the project. Exceptions can occur when you assign resources or attach task calendars to tasks. Both exceptions are described in this list.

    For guidelines on defining the project base calendar, see "Defining a Calendar of Working Time," p. 76 .


  • The schedule depends heavily on the duration estimates for the individual tasks. The duration of the tasks is one of the driving forces of the schedule. The longer the task duration for any given start date, the later the scheduled finish date for that task. Chapter 5, "Creating a Task List," covers estimating durations.

  • The schedule also depends on the logical order, or scheduling sequence, for the tasks. Typically, most tasks have start or finish dates that depend on the start or finish date of some other task. This chapter is largely devoted to defining these dependency links .

  • The schedule accommodates any arbitrary limits, or constraints, that you might impose on the start or finish dates for individual tasks. Imposing date constraints is covered later in this chapter.

  • You can modify the schedule for an individual task by assigning a task calendar. Assigning calendars to tasks is covered in the section "Creating and Using Task Calendars," later in this chapter.

  • By default, a task is scheduled without interruption for the duration of the task. You can insert one or more interruptions in the work on a task by splitting the task schedule. See the section "Splitting Tasks," later in this chapter.

  • The task schedule also depends on the availability of resources that are assigned to work on the tasks. Chapter 9, "Understanding Resource Scheduling," explains the effects on the schedule of resource availability.

  • The schedule is affected if you delay a resource assignment to start after other resources have started or if you contour the daily work assignment for a resource. Chapter 9 discusses both contouring and delaying resource assignments and the effects they have on the task schedule.

In practice, after you learn to use Microsoft Project, you will probably outline, link, and impose constraints on the task list as you enter the tasks. The process is divided into separate chapters in this book to focus on all the options and techniques possible for each activity.

By far the most important topic in this chapter for you to understand is linking tasks. The sequencing or linking of tasks makes it possible for Project to calculate a schedule ”and that's one of the main reasons for using Microsoft Project. It is also what makes it possible for Project to identify for you the critical tasks ”those that must finish on time or may be worthwhile attempting to finish faster when you need to compress the overall duration of the project.

For a quick review of the terms critical task and critical path , see the overview topic "How Project Calculates the Schedule," p. 25 .


 <  Day Day Up  >  


Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

Similar book on Amazon

flylib.com © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: flylib@qtcs.net