Don’t let project constraint your planning

Did you ever saw a message like this within Microsoft Project Professional/Standard?! 

Constraint types_pop-upIf so, intentionally or unintentionally you have some tasks with a special constraint type in your automatically scheduled project plan. Per default, every task starts ‘as soon as possible’ (if you schedule forward) and shifts through the duration and linkage of the predecessor.

constraint_types_description 2If you manually interrupt the scheduling automatisms, e.g. by changing the start date of a linked task, you provoke a constraint type like ‘must start on’ or ‘start not earlier than’.  This doesn’t bother as long as there are no changes which are in conflict with those limitations. However, in practice this won’t be the case, so Microsoft Project will present a window like the one above, in order to ‘help’ us to resolve the scheduling conflict. What is your experience with this? During many training courses, I’ve made the experience, that users (including myself) have their problems with those advisory messages.

So how can we avoid constraint types?

  • Don’t change start or finish dates of tasks manually
  • Let Microsoft Project do the work for you: Solely change the duration and task linkage, so that dates are calculated by the software
  • If you want to fix a date, so that it is not moved by the automatic scheduling mode, use deadlines
  • If you want to fix a task (e.g. for equipment availability), use a manual scheduled task
  • Check the indicator column to identify tasks, which do not ‘start as soon as possible’

How do we clean up our project plan from constraints that we don’t want?

  • Insert the two columns ‘constraint type’ and ‘constraint date’ and make the desired changes
  • Double click on a task to get the ‘task information’ to check the ‘advanced’ tab

Constraint types_task information

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