Projects come with deadlines. They may be Contract Completion Dates (CCD) or deadlines imposed by your project sponsor. There is more than one way to monitor a CCD in Microsoft Project.
Microsoft Project has a deadlines feature that may impose a deadline date on a respective milestone. This deadline appears as a static marker alongside the respective milestone on the Gantt chart. If this is your intention then refer to the following blog Microsoft Project and Deadlines describing this feature.
Some scheduling guidelines, including the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) checklist, call for separate labeled milestones for the projected completion date and CCD. In this way, the CCD is listed in the schedule as a separate line item. And it is another way to monitor the CCD in relation to the plan, and receive warning when the forecasted completion date misses the CCD.
This article demonstrates one milestone line item way in Microsoft Project to track a project’s CCD in relation to the forecasted project completion date.
Our demonstration project is displayed in Figure 1.
This is a small piping repair project. The forecasted project completion date is June 14th, 2019. Our project comes with a CCD. We want to model the CCD as its own line item milestone. In Figure 2 we insert a new task below the project completion date task.
Figure 3 displays our inserted milestone before defining a constraint date.
Select the properties ribbon and information icon to bring up the task information dialog, Figure 4, where we can assign a must finish on constraint on our CCD milestone.
In Figure 5 we have our CCD milestone constrained by a must finish on task constraint.
The issue with our constrained CCD milestone is that we lost the critical path, which is a problem. Most scheduling guidelines require one continuous uninterrupted longest path through the schedule.
The situation in our schedule is that the CCD constraint generates total float in upstream tasks, so we lose our critical path. A suitable remedy is to insert a Finish to Start (FS) relationship and appropriate lag between the project completion date and the CCD. In Figure 6 we choose the predecessor tab in the task information dialog and insert the FS relationship and a three day lag.
This removes the total float along our critical path. So the final schedule, including the constrained CCD and critical path, appears similar to Figure 7.
Let’s investigate how our CCD milestone behaves when we progress the schedule. In Figure 8 we status the schedule two days.
The project commences, but no progress is achieved on the drain piping system task. This generates two days negative total slack, which is tabulated in the task table, Figure 9.
The negative total slack in the task table is the warning that our schedule is in danger of missing the CCD. Microsoft Project also provides a caution message on the CCD task, Figure 10.
So, again, there is more than one way to model a schedule deadline in Microsoft Project. The deadline feature in Microsoft Project provides a compelling approach. Your stakeholder, however, may require a separate line item milestone for the CCD.
If this is your situation then insert a constrained milestone and include a FS relationship and lag to eliminate total slack and retain the continuous critical path. This approach requires manually adjusting lag with each schedule update, but it does provide a definitive warning when the schedule is in jeopardy of missing the CCD. And it may be more compatible with your stakeholders prescribed scheduling guidelines.