Whilst training users how to use Microsoft Project I am forever explaining to people what constraints will do to their schedule should they be applied in a liberal fashion. Students try to fight me believing that they really need to constrain the finish dates of a tasks to finish on a certain day. I then go ahead and explain the benefits of dynamic scheduling and the Microsoft Scheduling engine. However as a bargaining chip I often recommend that they use a ‘Deadline Date’. It sounds much more formal than a constraint but it has many benefits over using constraints. I set a deadline date on Task 3 in my schedule by double clicking on the task to bring up the ‘Task Information’ dialogue box. I then click in the ‘Advanced’ tab. I can then set a ‘Deadline’ for the task.
Once the ‘Deadline’ is set, it shows up on the Gantt chart as a green arrow marking the ‘Deadline’ Date.
Should something happen to a predecessor task that results in the task missing its deadline, the schedule will remain dynamic and shift to reflect the change however; we get a red indicator in the ‘Indicators’ Column. If you hover over the indicator, it informs you that the task goes past its deadline.
Another benefit of using the deadline over a constraint is that any predecessor task that effects a task with deadline that has 0 days slack (default setting) will appear as ‘Critical’ when the ‘Critical Tasks’ highlighting is turned on in the Gantt Chart.
I hope you find this useful. Please feel free to leave comments if you have any other ideas.