Sometimes you need to calculate when a project should start vs. when it ends. Typical projects where you want to do this are company/customer events, product launches, etc.
Project Insight calculates start dates for these projects a bit differently than Microsoft Project's backwards calculation.
Calculating the Schedule's Start Date
- Create a project just like you normally would
- The exception is with the fixed end date task, for example, an event
- At first, do not hook up the event task with a predecessor dependency to any other task
- Note the total duration for the project at the bottom of your task list
- This duration is used in the start date calculation
- Go to the first non-summary task in your project
- Set the predecessor of this first task as the event task
- Set the predecessor to have "Lead"
- Enter in the duration of the lead
- This is where the duration padding comes in
- Take the total project duration noted in #2 above and add whatever you think is a reasonable padding
- Say your project plan has a total duration of 23 days
- You may want to make the lead 30 days to give yourself some cushion for contingencies
- Leave the predecessor type as "Finish-to-Start"
- [Save] the task
- You will see the starting task of your project "back-up" to accommodate the event task's date
TIP: Do this in templates for various-sized fixed end date projects. Set it up once and use it many times!
When you create a project from your template, go to the event task and set the start date of that task to the event's date. You will see that the start date for your project is reset to show you when you need to start your project in order to hit your event date.
TIP: Once your start date is calculated, it is best practice to update your project's start date so that the start date of your project shows correctly on reports.
What if my calculated start date is in the past?
Well, you started your planning process a tad late then. You now need to use your PM skills to find tasks you can shorten in a variety of ways. That's why they pay you the big bucks.