Deadlines are a fact of life when managing any project, and missing a critical deadline can be costly in more ways than one! MS Project users are often tempted to override the calculated start or finish dates of a task to reflect deadlines, but there’s a much better way.
Instead of manually entering start or finish dates for a task (which automatically sets a constraint on the task and effectively prohibits the software from adjusting the project schedule as necessary when other dependent tasks change), the best practice is to set a deadline using the advanced tab of the task information dialog box.To set a task deadline:
- Simply double-click on a task to open the Task Information Dialog.
- Click the Advanced tab, enter a date in the Deadline box.
- Close the dialog, and you’ll notice a green arrow has appeared on your Gantt chart that marks the deadline date.
- And if the task doesn’t finish by the deadline date, an icon will appear in the Indicators column to warn you of the missed deadline.
This process also allows you to see if the current schedule works well with internally or externally imposed deadlines, so you can be proactive in making adjustments as necessary. Hitting those target dates will make you look and feel like a Project Management pro!