Enter Project Start Date and Task Dependencies
Great.. If you have gone this far without any hitch, you are almost there. You are, of course, wondering why all the activities are starting on the same date, right? By default, Microsoft Project will assume the Project and all activities start on the current date.
As a Project Manager, let us say you are tied up till the end of August, and hence you would like to devote time to this project only from September 1. For doing this, click on "Project" on the Top menu bar and click on "Project Information" from the choices in the drop-down list. The Project Information window should pop up as shown here. For now, ignore all other fields on this window, and look at only the first field "Start Date". Change this to September 1 and click on "OK". Immediately you will notice this window closes, and all the Gantt bars on your project have moved to a start date of September 1. (I know you are curious to know what the other fields on the Project Information window mean; we will come back to this topic in a later lesson).
Now let's move to the question of how to give instructions to Microsoft Project that our activities need to follow some logical sequence. This is done by using "Task dependencies" or "Precedence relationships". There are several ways in which this dependency instruction can be given. For this lesson let us do it by simply "linking" the tasks graphically.
First off, we know that the second task "Finalize Artist and performance date" can start only after the first task "Call up Artists" finishes. To indicate this:
1) On the Gantt chart. position the mouse on the center of the task bar corresponding to the first task, until the mouse cursor turns into a 4-way arrow.
2) Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse pointer over the second task (Finalize artist..) which is to be linked. and then release the mouse button. You will notice a link line from the finish of the first task to the start of the second task.
3) Repeat the above steps for linking task 2 with task 3, then task 3 with task 4, task 4 with task 5, and task 5 with task 6 since they all follow a similar sequential precedence relationship between them. The precedence relationship between task 5 and task 6 may be debatable, but for this project let us assume we want to be sure about availability of an auditorium before we book slots for advertisements, and therefore that this is a reasonable relationship for now. We will go into other possibilities in later lessons.
4) Task 7 (Print tickets), as you can see, need not wait till completion of task 6, but can start as soon as the auditorium is confirmed. Hence, you will link task 7 with task 5. Task 8 (Sell tickets) will follow task 7.
5) Tasks 9 and 10, which are administrative tasks, can logically be taken up as soon as the date with the artist is confirmed, and hence both of these can be defined as tasks immediately following task 2.
Now you have completed all task dependencies, subject to the assumptions we have made. Your Project should appear as shown above on the left. Again save this file (File->Save as) in the same folder, but with File name as "Concert 1", to indicate your "First" complete version.