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.

Tip: Project management    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.

These instructions are specific to Microsoft Project 2016, 2013, and 2010.

Schedule your project start date or 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.

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 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 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 and leveling splits 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 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 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.

More information about project start dates and finish dates

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These instructions are specific to Microsoft Project 2007.

Schedule your project start date or finish date

  1. On the Project menu, click Project Information.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To schedule from the start date, click Project Start Date in the Schedule from list.

    • To schedule from the finish date, click Project Finish Date in the Schedule from list.

  3. In the Start date or Finish date box, enter the date that you want to schedule from.

  • If you choose to schedule from the finish date because you want to identify the latest date that you can start the project and still finish by that finish date, it is often still a good idea to switch back to scheduling from the start date when work on the project begins. This helps you to clearly see the progress of your project, and to keep track of factors and situations that might cause the finish date to change.

  • A project can only be scheduled from the project start date or from the project finish date at any one time. It cannot be scheduled from both dates simultaneously. When scheduling from the project start date, the project finish date is automatically calculated as your project changes. When you schedule from the project finish date, the project start date is automatically calculated. To change the automatically calculated date, you must either change to scheduling the project from the currently-calculated date, or make modifications to the tasks in your project that will adjust the date calculation.

  • If the finish date doesn't change after you change the start date, then one or more tasks may 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, select the task, and then, on the Tools menu, click Task Drivers.)

  • If the start date doesn't change after you change the finish date, one or more tasks may either have actual 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, select the task, and then, on the Tools menu, click Task Drivers.)

  • You can change the project start date or finish date whenever you want to, even after you build the project plan. For example, if you are trying to meet a specific finish date and your schedule currently extends beyond that date, you can manually set the start date earlier to automatically adjust the finish date. To move the project start date or finish date, click Adjust Dates on the Analysis toolbar. This macro changes the task dates in relation to the new start date or finish date for the project.

Learn more about scheduling from a start date or finish date

Nearly every project should be scheduled from a known start date. 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.

There are a few cases, however, in which it might be best to schedule from a finish date. For example, it is usually a good idea to schedule from a finish date when:

  • You want to identify the date when a project must start in order to finish on a specific required date.

  • You are not sure when your project will begin (if your start date depends upon your receipt of work from another source, for example, and the arrival date for that work is not yet known).

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

When you are working with a project that is scheduled from a finish date, keep in mind the differences in the way that Microsoft Office Project handles some processes in such projects. In a project that is scheduled from a finish date:

  • When you enter new tasks, Office Project automatically assigns the As Late As Possible (ALAP) constraint 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, Office Project automatically assigns a Finish No Later Than (FNLT) constraint.

  • If you use automatic leveling to reduce resource overallocations in your project, Office 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, Office Project automatically removes all leveling delays and leveling splits from tasks and assignments.

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