Actually, there are multiple answers (or multiple options, rather) for the question: How do you add dates to a Gantt chart in Microsoft project? You can use any of the options depending upon the complexity and the duration of your projects.
For discussing all these options we will use the following Gantt charts (Project-A and Project-B) to help explain the features:
- Specifying the start or finish date and duration: You can select the start or the finish date and duration of a task. When you are selecting the start or finish date, MS project will automatically take no earlier than constraint, if you set the start date then it will take start no earlier than constraint and if you set the finish date then it will take finish no earlier than constraint.
For example, if you need to create the Gantt charts for Project-A by this method, then after creating the MS Project file
- Go to the View>Gantt Chart
- Right click the first row and click task information, you will get a window like below:
- In the General tab here, enter the start or end date and the duration. Now before clicking the ok button, go to the advanced tab and you can see the constraint for no earlier than is applied automatically.
- Using Macro: This method is useful for repetitive and complex projects. In this option you can take the MS project file (.mpp) of a similar but old project and save as with a new name. Then run the macro and all the task dates will be synchronized in line with your new project start date.
For example, you have the MS Project file of Project-A, which has started on 6/1/2010 and in 2011 you got a similar project (Project-B) then all you have to do is Save the MS project file of project-A as Project B and hit the adjust dates macro button, it will ask for the new project start date and adjust all the tasks accordingly.
If you cannot see the adjust dates button then right click anywhere above the tasks window and check the Analysis option like below:
- Deadline Date: By setting the deadline date for a particular task you can see whether your finish date is crossing an important deadline without applying non-flexible constraints. For setting a deadline date you need to
- Right click the task and go to the task information; the task information dialog box will appear.
- Go to the advanced tab and select the deadline date like below:
- You will see a green arrow appear to mark the deadline to your Gantt chart and if you finish the task after the deadline a read mark will appear near the task.
Use Single or Multiple Options
You can use single or multiple options from the various options discussed here if you want to dates to Gantt charts in Microsoft Project depending upon your project requirements. If you are creating a Gantt chart afresh, then you might opt to enter the start/finish dates and duration. If you want to create your Gantt chart by using a similar old Gantt chart then you should use the adjust dates macro. For tracking the finish date without applying non-flexible constraints, go for setting the deadline date.
Screenshots by Suvo.