Goal: Identify schedule problems

After your project begins and you are tracking the actual progress of tasks, you can review your schedule to identify problems or potential problems with task schedules. Identifying or anticipating problems enables you to take care of any issues that may affect the project's finish date.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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Identify schedule problems goal

number 1  Analyze your schedule    After you create a basic schedule, you should check it to discover problems or oversights that require adjustments.

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Number 2  Compare two versions of a project    You can compare two project files from the same project and produce a customized, detailed report to help you identify schedule problems.

Number 3  Determine if your project's finish date has changed    You can view an overall summary of the project's dates and the critical tasks that directly affect the finish date.

Number 4  Assess why the project finish date is delayed    Review the factors in the schedule that could extend the finish date of your project.

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  • Show the critical path to quickly find problem tasks. Tasks that fall on the critical path have a powerful effect on your schedule, because a delay of a critical task extends the finish date. Because the critical path may change as you modify your schedule, showing the critical path for your schedule helps you make decisions about what changes to make and how those changes affect the critical path.

  • Check task dependencies (links) within your project to review the dependencies for tasks on the critical path to make sure that they are accurate and necessary. Unnecessary or inaccurate task dependencies can cause your project to finish later.

  • Manage dependencies and deliverables across projects to determine if any deliverables from other teams or their projects might affect the finish date of your project.

  • Examine task constraints to see if they are necessary. Unnecessary task constraints can limit the flexibility of your schedule by forcing tasks to start on certain dates or to use all available slack. If you eliminate unnecessary constraints, Microsoft Office Project 2007 schedules tasks based on their durations and relationships to one another.

  • Examine a visual report to view your project's data in PivotTable reports in Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and PivotDiagram views in Microsoft Office Visio 2007.

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