So you have been asked by your Line Manager / Director to start planning a Project in Microsoft Project. You get all the information you need, write it all down and then you are ready to sit down and start adding your Tasks and Resources into your new project. One of the first problems you will find when making a Project is to either select Auto Schedule or Manual Schedule.
So what is the difference between these 2 settings?
Manual Schedule is the default setting for all New Tasks when you create a brand new project. And you can see from the image on the right what the tool tip is for this setting.
It updates the selected tasks to be manually scheduled so that the values you enter for Start, Finish and Durations are not automatically updated.
As you can see above it doesn’t update the Start, Finish and Durations of each task that has this option.
Auto Schedule is a little bit different then Manual Schedule and you can see the main difference in the screenshot on the left.
It automatically calculates the Start, Finish and Duration values for this task based on dependencies, constraints, calendar and other factors.
So you can see the difference straight away. If you want Microsoft Project to put in Start dates, Finish Dates (depending on the Task duration) and if you want it to change depending on other tasks moving, extending, different constraints etc, auto scheduled will do it for you. Around 90% of your tasks would be best to be set as Auto Scheduled as it takes a lot of the problems when you need to change Tasks around/insert new tasks etc.
There is a couple of ways you can do this:
- You can write your tasks on your project, highlight them all and then on the Ribbon navigate to the Task Tab > Tasks Group and click on Auto Scheduled (or Manual Scheduled).
- You could also do it by making sure you are in the Gantt Chart View > Navigate to the Task Mode Column and change the option in there as shown in the screenshot below.