Intro to Automatic Date Calculations
Automatic Date Calculations help creative teams get started on projects faster by automatically calculating start or due dates for a project based on your specifications. Automatic Date Calculations are both robust and flexible, letting you customize your workflow based on your team's project management model.
Adding Automatic Date Calculations
Automatic Date Calculations are built in at the project template level, then automatically adjust either the start or due dates in tasks and proofs in any new projects created from that template.
To get started, from the project template editor select "Plan Project" and the "Don't calculate dates" drowndown menu to select how you'd like to calculate dates in this template.
Here are the different date calculation options:
For the remainder of this article, we'll be using "Calculate Due Dates from Project Due Date" to build out our date calculations, but the process will be similar for any other option. We'll also come back to the "Calculate Dates Sequentially" option later; for now, we'll keep it toggled off.
For each work item in the project, we'll have these options:
- LEVEL OF EFFORT: The expected level of effort needed for each task, which helps you manage your team's workload with Scheduling. This does not factor into the automatic date calculations, but is a helpful reference when setting work durations.
- START DATE OFFSET (DAYS): The difference in days that your task should start. An offset of 1 when calculating start dates from the project start date would mean your task starts one day after the project start date.
- DURATION (DAYS): The number of days each task should take. Duration is only required when calculating dates sequentially.
- DUE DATE OFFSET (DAYS): The difference in days that your task should be due. An offset of -1 when calculating due dates from the project due date would mean your task is due one day before the project due date.
Looking over the Plan Project view, we can edit the "DURATION (DAYS)" and "DUE DATE OFFSET (DAYS)" fields, but not "START DATE OFFSET (DAYS)". This is because we've opted to calculate our due dates; if we'd chosen either of the two options to calculate start dates, that field would be editable and "DUE DATE OFFSET (DAYS)" would be grayed out.
Since we're calculating our due dates based off the project due date, we're going to work backwards, starting from the final task.
For our team, we want our "Create and Finalize Ad" task to be due on the project due date, so we'll set the offset as 0 days.
The second task, "Copy for Ad," is one that we want completed 5 days prior to the project due date, so the offset will be -5 days.
Finally, the first task, "Concept for Ad Design," should be completed 8 days prior to the project due date, so the offset will be -8 days.
This is how our automatic date calculations will look in action once we've published the project template and created a new project from it:
Sequential Tasks for Waterfall Teams
If your team uses the waterfall model to manage your projects, you can incorporate it into your project template by toggling on "Calculate Dates Sequentially".
We're still going to work backwards on our project template, but in this case we only need to add the offset for the final task. We still want the "Create and Finalize Ad" task to be due on the project due date, so we'll enter 0 days as the offset. Now we need to enter the duration of each task, which will automatically calculate the remaining offsets for us.
This is how our sequential automatic date calculations will look in action once we've published the project template and created a new project from it: