Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting specific dates, part of Project Management Foundations: Schedules.
Some tasks have restrictions on when they can occur, which are known as schedule or date constraints. These schedule constraints reduce the flexibility of your schedule, so it's important to use them onyl when they're really necessary. Constraints can be flexible or inflexible. Most tasks need to start as soon as possible. That's an example of a Flexible Constraint and it's the one that you will use most often. In this case, the start date is the earliest possible date, based on task dependencies and resource availability.
It's the inflexible constraints that limits your projects schedule. You can't move constrained task around freely, to manage resource workloads, or to shorten a schedule. More importantly, they limit a scheduling programs ability to calculate the schedule for you. Look at the task in your schedule, and decide whether any of them have schedule constraints. For a task with a constraint, start by identifying just how inflexible the constraint is. Decide whether the constraint is totally inflexible.
That is, the task must start or finish on a specific day. For example, a live training class occurs on specific days. So the trainer, and attendees, can plan their time and travel. If the constraint isn't totally inflexible, identify the level of flexibility it does have. Start No Earlier Than, is a partially inflexible schedule constrain. A task with this constrain, can start earlier, up to a point. But it can start earlier than a specific date, even if predecessors are done and resources are available.
Here's an example of a Start No Earlier Than constraint in the sample project. The company is building a special sound-proof room that's going to be open for business on February 1st. This construction isn't part of the employee orientation project. But the orientation videos will be recorded in that room. So the Record videos task has a start no earlier than date constraint of February 1st. Finish No Later Than is another partially inflexible constraint. This one means that a task has to finish on or before a specific date.
For example, the employee handbook has to be finished before December 31st. Because the company is hiring a bunch of new people who will start coming onboard after that date. A Deadline is another name for a Finish No Later Than constraint. If you use a deadline, keep your eye on the task finish date during planning and while the work is underway. If the task starts to get close to its deadline, or flies past it, you have to jump in and do something to get it back on track.
We'll discuss ways to get the project back on track, when we talk about optimizing our schedule. Adding schedule constraints to tasks makes your project schedule more realistic.
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- Identifying the work that needs to be done
- Adding milestones
- Delaying or overlapping tasks with lag and lead time
- Assigning resources
- Balancing workloads
- Adding buffers and baselines to the schedule
- Uncovering and correcting out schedule problems<br><br>
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