Setting and Keeping Proper Date Formats in MS Project

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft projectDate Format Dangers in Microsoft Project

There is often confusion on international projects between the numerical US date style (mmddyy) and the numerical European date style (ddmmyy). For example, in the United States 020710 is read as 07 Feb ‘10, and in many other countries as 02 Jul ‘10. Consider adopting the ddmmmyy style, 06 Jan ’07 or mmmddyy style, Jan 06 ’07.

Select Tools, Options… to display the Options form and select the View tab Date format:

setting date formats in ms project

This option selects the display style of the dates for all projects.  The date format options available will be dependent on your system default settings. You may adjust your system date format under the Desktop Start, Control Panel, Regional and Language Options.

Preventing the Date Format from Changing on Other Computers

The date format selected in the Tools, Options…, View tab applies to all projects opened on one computer. Some projects may be required to display the day and time format and others day and month, so you have to keep changing the format each time you open a different project.

If you are in this situation, you may override the date format selected in the Tools, Options…, View tab by a date format selected in a View, Table:, More Tables… form:

stop dates changing on other computers in ms project

Each project could have its own set of tables all with their own project-specific date format.

When you send this project to someone else, they will have a better chance of seeing the same date format as you especially if their Start, Control Panel, Regional and Language Options are the same as yours.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.

What Are Elapsed Durations, Leads and Lags in Microsoft Project?

99 Tricks and Traps for Microsoft project

Elapsed Durations, Leads and Lags in MS Project

Elapsed Durations

If you assign a task an Elapsed duration, the task will ignore all calendars and will be scheduled 24 hours a day and 7 days per week. To enter an elapsed duration, type an “e” between the duration and units.

  • This is useful for tasks such as curing concrete or computer processes running 24 hours per day.
  • The Total Float will calculate approximately three times longer than a task on an 8-hour per day calendar (depending on the length of the lunch break) and this may be misleading.

The example below shows the difference between a 7-Elapsed Day task and a 7-day task on a Standard (5-day per week) calendar.

leads and lags in ms project

Float on Tasks with Elapsed Durations

The Float on Elapsed Duration tasks is calculated on a 24-hour per day calendar and will be different than a task on an 8-hour per day calendar:

float on tasks with duration in ms project

Elapsed Leads and Lags

An elapsed lead or lag may also be assigned to relationships and these also ignore all calendars:

elapsed leads and lags in ms project

% Lags

A Percentage Lag, or Negative Lag, increases the Lag duration as the predecessor duration increases:

task dependancy in ms project

duration slack in ms project

The lag duration is calculated on the successor calendar. When the successor task is changed from an 8-hour per day calendar to a 24-hour per day calendar, the elapsed duration of the successor is reduced, as well as the elapsed duration of the lag.  Now the Float is calculated on a 24-hour per day basis.

Things get a bit tricky here!

duration slack 2 in ms project

Note: Microsoft Project 2000 calculates the lag on the Project Calendar.

Eastwood Harris Supplies Project Management Training Manuals, Project Management Training Presentations and Consulting on Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project 2010 across Australia.