Set the start date or finish date for your project

By default, the start date for all new projects is the current date. Of course, you can change this to a different start time. You can also set the project to be scheduled from a finish date.

  1. Click Project > Project Information.
  2. In the Schedule from list, pick Project Start Date or Project Finish Date.
  3. In the Start date or Finish date box, enter the date that you want to schedule from.

Project management tip    Schedule your project from a start time if you can. Even if you know the date by which a project must be complete, scheduling from a start date gives you the maximum amount of flexibility.

Tips and gotchas about the project start date

Tip Explanation

Choose only one scheduling method

A project can only be scheduled from the start date or from the finish date at any one time. It cannot be scheduled from both dates simultaneously.

Move the start time of a project

You can change the project start date or finish date whenever you want to, even after you build the project plan. Click the Project > Move Project.

When you move a project, you can decide whether you want Project to also move dates on actual work performed. To have more control over how actual and uncompleted parts of tasks move, use the Project Update feature first before moving. Click Project > Update Project, then select the Reschedule uncompleted work to start after option. Now, set a time in the future after which uncompleted work can be scheduled; actual dates on tasks will not move. Once you’ve done that, you can use the Move Project feature.

Advantages of scheduling from a finish date

You want to identify the date when a project must start in order to finish on a specific required date. It is often still a good idea to switch back to scheduling from the start date when work on the project begins.

You are not sure when your project will begin.

Your project management methodology requires you to schedule from a finish date.

What happens when Project schedules from a finish date?

When you enter new tasks, Project automatically assigns the As Late As Possible (ALAP) constraint (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].) to those tasks. You should set other constraints only if they are necessary.

If you drag a Gantt bar to change the finish date of a task, Project automatically assigns a Finish No Later Than (FNLT) constraint.

If you use automatic leveling to reduce resource overallocations (overallocation: The result of assigning more tasks to a resource than the resource can accomplish in the working time available.) in your project, Project automatically adds a negative number for the leveling delay for the sake of balancing resource availability. Because the project is scheduled from the finish date, negative leveling delays add time after a task, rather than before a task.

If you change a project that was previously scheduled from a start date so that it is now scheduled from a finish date, Project automatically removes all leveling delays (leveling delay: The amount of time that an assignment or task is to be delayed from the original scheduled start date as a result of resource leveling or of manually entering a leveling delay.) and leveling splits (split task: A task whose schedule is interrupted. For example, a two-day task that does not require contiguous work might be split so that the first day of work is scheduled for Monday, and the second day is scheduled for Thursday.) from tasks and assignments.

Look out for date constraints

If the finish date doesn't change after you change the start date, then one or more tasks may have a date constraint (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].) applied. Review the constraints in your plan to make sure that they are all necessary and appropriate. To view a task's constraints, right-click on the task, click Information, and then click the Advanced tab.

Look out for actual progress reported on tasks

If the start date doesn't change after you change the finish date, one or more tasks may either have actual (actual: Information that shows what has actually occurred. For example, the actual start date for a task is the day that the task actually started.) progress reported or have a date constraint applied. Review the constraints in your plan to make sure that they are all necessary and appropriate. To view a task's constraints, right-click on the task, click Information, and then click the Advanced tab.

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More information about project start dates and finish dates

 
 
Applies to:
Project Professional 2013, Project Standard 2013