Plan for the Finish — Manage from the Start

Oftentimes people want to plan a project from the finish date and manage it from the start date. The benefit of doing so is that the project manager can flag the tasks with critical goal dates using deadlines and will be able to manage the project to achieve the goal dates. Here’s how.

To plan the project from the ending date, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Project | Project Information.
  2. Set the plan to Schedule from Project Finish Date.
  3. Enter the finish date for the project. (I’d add a few days for cushion if possible.)
  4. Enter tasks, relationships, etc. to build the project schedule.
  5. Mark milestones (or key tasks) with a deadline.

To manage the project from the start date:

  1. Go to Project | Project Information.
  2. Set the plan to Schedule from Project Start Date.
  3. Enter the start date.
  4. The last step is to remove the “As Late as Possible” task constraint for all tasks. Select all tasks by clicking in the box above the task numbers on the left side of the view.
  5. Click on Task | Information | Advance tab.
  6. Change all constraints to “As Soon as Possible” and click OK.


Image courtesy of Andrew HurleyCC 2.0


Share This Post
Avatar photo
Written by Ellen Lehnert
Ellen Lehnert, PMP, Microsoft Project MVP, MCP, is a independent consultant and trainer on Microsoft Project and Project Server. She has taught Microsoft Project over 400 times and is the author of  MS Project 2010 and 2013 published courseware. Ellen is also a contributor and tech editor for many reference books, a developer for the Microsoft Project certification tests and is a frequent meeting speaker for Microsoft, MPUG and PMI. Contact Ellen at
  1. Hi Ellen,
    This method is consistent with the axiom “Begin with the end in mind”, popularized by Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. You’ve offered a concise way to implement the axiom in a Microsoft Project schedule. Thanks!

  2. Tim – thank you for your kind words. Glad I was able to help. Planning a project from the finish date and then managing it from the start date can be a bit tricky in MSP but it works quite well.

    Take care. Ellen

Leave a Reply