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I have a process that is defined by the number of business days required to complete.

I'd like to put this into MS Project, but there is no specific start date, as this is a repetitive process. How can I go about doing this?

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Why do you want to use a scheduling/estimation tool to track a routine process? –  CodeGnome Nov 27 '12 at 3:19
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I used to do this in a prior job. The fact that it is a routine process doesn't mean that management doesn't want to (a) overschedule it, (b) arbitrarily change schedule precursors and (c) hold the PM responsible for the resulting delay. –  Mark C. Wallace Nov 27 '12 at 11:46
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For what it's worth I've also seen MS Project used to track routine processes as well as project work so that managers could better document resource (over)allocation. –  Doug B Nov 27 '12 at 14:14
    
What goal are you trying to achieve by putting it in Project? –  Linda Schmandt Dec 4 '12 at 22:25
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  1. Enter the tasks for your process into MS Project, including durations, predecessors, successors in addition to other key items (e.g. assigned resources) you may want to track.
  2. Create a task called "START". Give it zero days duration with no assigned resources. Set this task as the sole predecessor for the first task in your process.
  3. When you want to run the process update the start date for the "START" task. You should automatically have the rest of the tasks update.
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As long as you do not use hard constraints (MSO, MFO) a schedule can be relatively easy to be shifted in time.

If all the tasks have ASAP constraint and the schedule is established only through dependencies and working calendars then this type of schedule has the greatest flexibility and you can shift it is time very easy.

Now all you have to do is to create a template project for your process. All tasks will schedule according to the project start date. For each repeating cycle you can create a new project starting from the template and just adjust the start date of the project.

If you want to have all the repeating cycles in one single file then the only solution is the one given by Doug B but with a slight change: copy and paste the entire initial structure for each cycle.

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I do not think scheduling this activity is the right thing to do. It's not a project, it's a process. Since you do not have a firm "start date", scheduling it in project serves no purpose.

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If it is a repetitive process, it may not be a project; it may be a process. (and if it has no start date, then I'm not sure what meaning "schedule" has.)

Nonetheless you can do this - create a task for each step, and manually set the duration of each task. Then manually update the dependencies (predecessors).

Does that answer the question?

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I'm not sure if this is in earlier versions of MS Project, I do know however, how to do this in Project 2010.

If you go into Project Information from the Project Tab on the Ribbon, it has a drop down menu to "Schedule From". Set it to "Project End Date" - This will allow you to set the time it should be completed in.

I'm going to disagree with some of the other comments regarding not scheduling a project based on an End Date - It specifically depends on what you're doing. If you're unsure of how long your project should take, then you'd schedule your project from "Project Start Date" so that you don't mess up your deadline alerts within MS Project if autoscheduling. If you do know exactly how long it should take then "Project End Date" setting is the best way to go.

Once a task has been completed, if completed early, MS Project will automatically recalculate and schedule the next task as soon as possible with "Project End Date" set. It will not do this with "Project Start Date" set.

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