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The scheduling engine calculates dates for you based on constraints you place on tasks and resources.
Download this lesson’s related exercise files.Constraint Based Scheduling.mpp
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Constraint Based Scheduling
Microsoft Project has a scheduling engine. The scheduling engine calculates dates for you based on constraints you place on tasks and resources. It is this scheduling engine capability that makes Microsoft Project so much better than just using task lists in Excel because you do not have to re-calculate your entire project’s completion date when just a few other tasks change.
Here are the types of primary types of constraints you will use on your project:
- Predecessor/successor: You link tasks together, and Microsoft Project will calculate the start and finish dates for you.
- Calendars: You define working time and non-working time, and Microsoft Project will extend or contract the dates based on the calendar definition.
- Resources: You define how much time each resource can work on a project and Microsoft Project will extend, contract dates based on your entry. Alternatively, Microsoft can just warn you of resource over allocations and you can adjust those issues manually.
There is one more type of constraint and that is the feature that Microsoft Project calls constraint type.
- You use constraint types when you want to force tasks to start or finish at a particular time.
I do not cover constraint types in this lesson as I cover it in another lesson and --more importantly -- I do not recommend you use them. When you use constraint types, you are forcing tasks into working with certain dates and Microsoft Project should really be calculating that for you.
To work with constraints, try performing some of these steps:
- Start a blank project and create a few tasks.
- Link the tasks together with predecessor relationships (you can use the successor column as well).
- Add a duration to each task.
- Add resources to each task.
There is no need to manually constrain tasks to certain dates because the scheduling engine will do that work for you.
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