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Manual mode provides the flexibility to enter text-based values and document timing assumptions in the Start and Finish columns.
You have the option to switch between manually scheduled and automatically scheduled tasks.
In the automatically scheduled tasks mode, the project engine kicks in and appropriately schedules the tasks based on the dependencies, calendars, and resources assigned to the project.
Fans of previous versions of Microsoft Project will recognize the automatic scheduling mode as the familiar way of scheduling tasks in a project schedule.
One of the strengths of automated project management tools is their ability to apply some basic project management concepts.
For example, if a predecessor task finishes late, Project moves the successor (linked) task to a later date for you.
In the manual scheduling mode, tasks can be entered with or without durations, start dates, or end dates.
Rolling wave planning would be applicable for future project phases that are not well-defined.
If you are an occasional project manager who needs to track high-level dates and manage at the summary level, you'll appreciate the new flexibility in scheduling.
If you're a new project manager learning Microsoft Project, the user scheduling feature may be confusing unless the appropriate amount of training is provided.
However, in order to use the automatic mode, you need to understand the implications of adding resources and dependencies to develop a dynamic schedule.
If your goal is to use Microsoft Project as a task list without any date forecasting features, then manual scheduling will be a welcome addition.