Postponing a Microsoft Project Schedule – 2 Techniques

When I observe individuals using Microsoft Project, I sometimes see them using techniques that do not optimize the features available. An example of such a technique is when someone changes the start date of the first task when they really wanted to move the entire project. This typically leads to adding a task constraint and locking in a date instead of letting the software calculate the date. As many of you know, locking in a task limits the ability of flexible adjustments later on in the software.

What I recommend instead is choosing between one of the two built-in options to postpone a project. Before I explain these options, let’s explore a few reasons why you might postpone a project.

Funding delay – If an internal approval is delayed or if a business has not raised enough funds to start the project, a delay may be needed.

Decision delay – If a key sponsor or stakeholder on the project has not made a decision that is critical to the project following a specific path, this may delay the project.

Agency delay – If an organization is involved in any industry with regulation including construction, health care, finance, and film, there are often certifications that must be obtained to authorize work. If the individuals, businesses, equipment or facilities are not able to obtain these certifications, this may delay the project.

Available in the last few versions of Microsoft Project, you have two ways to postpone a schedule. Both of these options are available on the Project tab of the Ribbon.

You may choose to:

  1. Move scheduled start date only
  2. Move scheduled start date and incrementally move deadlines and constraints

Move Scheduled Start Date Only

Project Information button

Project Information Dialog Box

This option shifts the start date of all tasks scheduled to begin the day the project starts. It also dynamically shifts any tasks that are linked together. Deadlines and locked in constraints on the schedule do not adjust.

Move Scheduled Start Date and Incrementally Move Deadlines and Constraints

Move Project button

Move Project Dialog Box

This option shifts the start date of all tasks scheduled to begin the day the project starts. Deadlines and locked in constraints on the schedule move the same distance. If the project start date moves 30 days, all deadlines and constraints on the project also move 30 days.

Tip – The dialog box does not specify constraints are moving, but they definitely do. You may want to test this yourself.

While many of us hope our projects start on time, it is good to know that we have options available if they don’t.

Many of you probably have specific business reasons for choosing one of these options. Please feel free to share those in the comments section.

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