I am new to MS Project and already asked a question here that revealed my incomplete knowledge of the scheduling process. After reading some articles and watching videos like this one, I think of myself as being a few steps closer to get the grasp of the scheduling in MS Project.

However, I am still not sure how to go about the following example: A supplier sends an email confirming my inquiry and includes a date of delivery.

How do I incorporate the delivery date into the schedule, but make the task automatically planned?

I know this is a little unspecific, but I feel like an example would help me a lot.

Edit: The following works, I am not sure if this is OK though.

  • Setting the task as manually planned (duration stays estimated)
  • Link the start date (duration stays estimated, end date is adjusted)
  • Enter the scheduled end date (duration changes value and from estimated to fixed)
  • Turn the task into automatically planned (duration stays fixed)

1 Answer 1


For an external task that you are not managing and not collecting cost or progress data, you can use a milestone to reflect receipt of the product from the external vendor. A milestone has a zero duration. If it were my schedule, I would capture the milestone description as "Receipt of product A from vendor X" and hard code a date as agreed upon between me and the vendor.

That hard coded date will be baselined so the baseline date will not change unless through the change process.

That milestone would be a predecessor to whatever subsequent work packages I have that is dependent upon that product from that vendor.

As we progress towards that date, I would request status updates from the vendor to validate that the promised delivery date still holds. Since I would not be validating progress in anyway, then I have inherent risk to the delivery date and would have contingency plans ready in the event that date comes and goes and no delivery.

If during a progress update the vendor tells me he is slipping delivery by five days, I would hard code the new delivery date into the schedule (baseline remains the same so the FV (finish variance) will show the slip) and all the successor packages will move to the right accordingly, based on my schedule network, and the schedule will reveal the new start and end dates of all the packages and the final milestone. Then, I would mitigate the finish variances where I can, communicate the slippage to all my stakeholders, and continue executing my project.

This may not be the most glamorous way of handling it but it works.

  • This helps me a lot, thank you! Can you point me in the direction of how to cope with such external tasks more "glamorously"?
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 13:58
  • From a tool perspective, which is what I meant by glamoroulsy, one of the MSProject tool jockeys on this site would need to answer and there are several that participate that know their stuff. I am not that. I rarely have my fingers in the tool, itself. Good luck and keep reading. Scheduling is kind of fun. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:01

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