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I'm trying to manage a project in an environment where management doesn't care about duration or effort, only about end dates. So our guys go negociate dates based on when they think they can get done. (Yes, I know that is bad).

I'm having problems with my project plan because what I want to do is set an end date for each task and then either set a start date or a duration and have the tool figure out the rest.

Sometimes I try changing the end date of something and the tool just sets it back where it was (probably on tasks where "As Early As Possible" is still selected). Other times I'll remember to set the schedule to "On Scheduled date" but it seems to be more focused on the start date than the end date. So I spend forever changing the start date and duration to get the thing to end when I want it to.

I think my confusion comes from the various locks you can set (duration, start date, end date) as well as the schedule selection I make. What is the easiest way to accomplish what I want?

Basically what I need to do is:
create a new task
set the end date for the task
set the duration for the task
begin date auto-calculated based on the above

Can someone help me understand the sequence of things I need to do and how to use the locks properly? Thanks.