Goal: Put tasks, phases, or the project back on schedule

Applies to
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Microsoft Office Project Server 2003
Microsoft Project 2000 and 2002

After you have identified problems in your schedule, you can use a variety of strategies to manage your project dates. For example, you can simply change a task's duration, or you can adjust other factors affecting the schedule, such as dependencies (task dependencies: A relationship between two linked tasks; linked by a dependency between their finish and start dates. There are four kinds of task dependencies: Finish-to-start [FS], Start-to-start [SS], Finish-to-finish [FF], and Start-to-finish [SF].), constraints (constraint: A restriction set on the start or finish date of a task. You can specify that a task must start on or finish no later than a particular date. Constraints can be flexible [not tied to a specific date] or inflexible [tied to a specific date].), and resources (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.). After you've made the necessary adjustments, you should evaluate any effects your changes may have had on other projects and communicate changes to team members and stakeholders.

 Tip   This article is part of a series of articles that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project. The project life cycle is outlined in The Project Map, where you can find a link to an article about each project management goal. Most of the articles include links to supporting information or procedures that you perform in Project or Project Server. These "goal" articles were designed to help you not only use Project but also better understand project management.

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See all goals on the Project Map

Railroad cars on track

number 1  Get tasks back on schedule     One way to get the schedule back on track is by changing specific settings on tasks that affect their length and their relationships to other tasks. For example, changing a task that starts after another task to starting at the same time can help bring in the finish date. Also, changing how resources are assigned to critical tasks (critical task: A task that must be completed on schedule for the project to finish on time. If a critical task is delayed, the project completion date might also be delayed. A series of critical tasks makes up a project's critical path.) can have a similar effect.

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An often overlooked means of keeping your schedule (schedule: The timing and sequence of tasks within a project. A schedule consists mainly of tasks, task dependencies, durations, constraints, and time-oriented project information.) on track is to improve resource (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.) performance. Working with resources to improve performance is a complex topic, but you may be able to improve resource performance as part of project management by using the following suggestions:

  • Save an interim plan so you can compare it with your schedule as the project progresses. Specifically, you can save up to 10 interim plans so that you can view a set of start and finish dates saved at various stages of your project.

Number 2  Evaluate impact on other projects    After you make changes to your plan, make sure you haven't affected the scheduling of other projects with dependencies in your project.

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Number 3  Communicate assignment changes to resources    After you make changes to your project, you may need to communicate these changes to others, such as stakeholders and team members.