Monday, April 14, 2014

Microsoft Project Auto Schedule option

By Steve Endow

I recently started a new project that looked like it would require a bit of planning between at least two different client teams, the GP partner, and two contractors.  I initially created an Excel file to start recording tasks, dates, and estimated hours, but it quickly became clear that it would be difficult to manage the task list in Excel.  When I added a task or changed an estimated date, I had to manually update other dates and try and figure out dependencies.

I almost never use MS Project, but it has some nice features that make it easier to try and figure out dependencies and timeline.  This project was a good candidate, as it has several dependencies, several scope changes, and a lot of changing dates.

Since I so rarely use Project much, I quickly ran into an annoying behavior when I changed a task date:  Dates for dependent tasks would not update automatically.

A red squiggly line would appear in the date for a dependent task, and the Gantt chart would show dashed lines around the task.

I found the option to "Respect Links", which would fix the task dates and Gantt chart for that item--but it would only update the one item.  The next dependent item would then have the same issue, on down the line.

After seeing this a few times, I searched for the issue and found this nice post of MS Project frequently asked questions.  Seems I'm not the only one with this problem.

The solution is to select the Auto Schedule option instead.

This changes the color and style of the task in the Gantt chart and thankfully has the task dates update automatically on the dependency when an upstream task is modified.

This option is also available in the Task Information window.

Presumably this is obvious to MS Project pros, but it took me a few minutes to track it down.

Happy project planning!

Steve Endow is a Dynamics GP Certified Trainer and Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles.  He is also the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter

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