Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding manual and auto scheduling, part of Microsoft Project 2016 Essential Training.
- Project has two task modes for scheduling tasks. When you set the task mode to auto scheduled, the program automatically calculates when the task should occur and how long it should take. With manually scheduled mode you can fill in whatever task information you have, set the task start and finish dates and a few other nifty tricks. In this schedule, Identify requirements and Draft budget are both auto scheduled tasks. I can see that by the icon in the task mode cell.
Well, with the auto scheduled tasks, Projects uses the task durations and the length between the tasks to figure out the start and finish dates. So for example, the 25 days determines the finish date based on the start date for Identify requirements and then because of the link Draft budget has a start date right after the finish of Identify requirements and it's duration determines it's finish date. In addition, if I change the duration of Identify requirements, let's say to 20 days, you can see that Project recalculates the finish date for that task because of the new duration and it also recalculates the dates for the next task, Draft budget because of the link.
With auto scheduled tasks, Project uses task values, the links and resource assignments to figure out those start and finish dates. We'll explore how each of these components affects scheduling throughout this course. Now manually scheduled tasks are kind of like do-it-yourself scheduling, but they actually come in handy for several reasons. The first one is, if you don't have all the information you need about a task. So let's say you have a new task, Review requirements with management, and literally that's all you know, well in that case we can insert a manually scheduled task.
So I'm going to click ID5 because I want the new task to come in above that and then I go and I insert a new task. I can just type the name of the task, and when I press the down arrow you can see a couple of things. First of all, the task mode cell has a pushpin with a question mark. Well, the pushpin says it's manually scheduled and the question mark says that there's more information you're going to have to fill in before this task is done.
You can see that the duration, start and finish are all empty. Well, let's say you have to talk to your manager about when this meeting is going to happen. So you can type yourself a note. Just put it in the start field. So now the note is there and you can remind yourself what you have to do. Let's say some time has passed and your manager gets back to you and says that the meeting is going to be September 5th. Well, you can go back to the start cell type in September 5th and you can see that a cap appears in the time scale to say that, "Well, at least you have "a start date, but that's still all you have." With manually scheduled tasks you can actually pin both dates to the calendar.
So, for example, you know if you have things like scheduled meetings, or maybe training classes that have specific dates, you can type both dates in the start and finish field. So let's say this meeting is going to be a two day meeting. So we'll type September 6th into the finish cell. Well now a couple things happen. First of all, because there's a start and finish date, Project knows how long the task is, so it fills in the duration of two days. You can also see that the task bar has two end caps because you've got both dates and the question mark is gone from the pushpin because now you've provided all the information you have to.
There's a third reason you might want to use manually scheduled tasks. That's if you're fairly new to scheduling and you just don't have time to master all of Projects other scheduling features, you can just come in, create a quick task list, fill in a few estimated dates and you've got a schedule you can work with. Auto scheduled tasks simplify your work as a Project Manager because Project handles calculating when tasks should occur, but manually scheduled tasks are great. When you don't have complete task information yet, you want to set specific task dates or you just want to blast out a quick and dirty schedule.
NOTE: This course updates our Microsoft Project 2013 Essential Training course for Project 2016, and most videos will work with both versions of the software. For Microsoft Project 2010 compatibility, see Project 2010 Essential Training.
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- Choosing the right Project edition
- Creating and saving projects
- Setting up calendars
- Creating individual and recurring tasks
- Linking and timing tasks
- Assigning tasks to resources
- Viewing your data differently with sorting, grouping, and filtering
- Fine-tuning the project schedule
- Understanding baseline, schedule, and actual values
- Reporting on the project status
- Sharing projects