Invalid expected finish dates in Primavera P6

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The cut-off date of your project is a couple of days ahead, knocking at your door, calling for another progress update in Primavera P6. One of the many existing methodologies to give an update on your project schedule is using expected finish dates. It is a powerful option, but with great power comes great responsibility. In this blogpost we will learn briefly about expected finish dates and what can happen if we use expected finish dates incorrectly.

Where to find expected finish dates?

The expected finish field can be found on the activity details window of the activities tab of Primavera P6 under the status subtab as can be seen in the screenshot below.

What do expected finish dates do?

An expected finish date comes into effect while scheduling your project. It updates the remaining duration of the activity to meet the expected finish date you set. It cannot create a negative remaining duration in an activity. Let us elaborate on it shortly with an example project. The graphic below can be considered as the high-level schedule of an example installation project. We will give monthly updates to this project which has a cut-off date at the end of December (red bar | ). By the way, if you do not know how to update your project planning, you should definitely check the blogpost of Marion Goeteyn on how to update your project planning in P6 with 7 easy steps.

Invalid expected finish date examples

A project schedule is only considered complete when it reaches a high quality. The end user of the project schedule should;

  • have easy access to correct insights
  • find non-conflicting information
  • be able to run scenarios with the existing information and logic

This end user can be another stakeholder or the planner himself. Submitting high quality schedules serves all parties! Let us look at a couple of examples where the expected finish date was used improperly or leads to confusion.

Invalid expected finish date examples

A project schedule is only considered complete when it reaches a high quality. The end user of the project schedule should;

  • have easy access to correct insights
  • find non-conflicting information
  • be able to run scenarios with the existing information and logic

This end user can be another stakeholder or the planner himself. Submitting high quality schedules serves all parties! Let us look at a couple of examples where the expected finish date was used improperly or leads to confusion.

1 Expected finish dates used in “Not Started” activities

        Using hard and soft constraints leaves an asterisk (*) on the date column as an indicator that the activity has constraints assigned. Expected finish dates on the other hand don’t work like this. They can only be seen by

        • the planner when he opens the activity detail tab
        • the reader, in case the expected finish column is shown in the activity table

        Therefore, usage of expected finish dates should be limited to activities with “In Progress” status. Expected finish dates that have been assigned to not started activities in the past and that were neglected to be removed, can jeopardize future progress updates and scenario analyses. The animation below explains how we are losing our original duration due to usage of forgotten expected finish dates on not started activities.

        For instance, in above example it can be noticed that activity has an expected finish date assigned on a Saturday. On the other hand this activity has a 5-days-workweek calendar assigned. Therefore Primavera automatically takes earliest possible date before the set expected finish date, which is a Friday.

        Conclusion

        The expected finish date is a helpful tool to speed up and organize our project planning updates. Knowledge of what can happen if the expected finish date is being used incorrectly will give us power to avoid providing conflicted information and help us to finalize comprehensive project schedules.

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