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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.
We do bias towards setting start dates and letting end dates figure themselves out. Eventually we want to implement "as late as possible" scheduling, where you can set the end date of the project and work backwards.

However, in the meantime, here's what I think you want to do:
1) Drag the right end of the gantt bar to your desired end date. This will change the duration instead of start date, but we'll fix that in a minute. (Don't mess with the schedule pop-up list: leave it on "As Early As Possible".)
2) Lock the end date (cmd-click on the end in gantt view, or click the lock in the inspector).
3) Adjust either your start date or duration and the other should be calculated for you.
Another approach would be to create milestones for all the end dates you've negotiated, and lock their start dates. (Since they're zero-duration, this effectively locks their end dates too.) Then create Finish->Start dependencies from all the tasks needed by a given date to the corresponding milestone. That way, if something else in the schedule forces a task to finish later than the milestone it's linked to, OmniPlan will display a red violation badge and walk you through correcting the problem.

This is probably the better approach, and will cooperate better with the leveling algorithm.
The more I ponder it, the less I like my first batch of advice.
Either do the milestone thing, or........
The other approach would be to set end constraints on your tasks. That field is also in the inspector. Leave start dates and scheduling alone. Set your durations and your end constraints. Tasks will have early start and end dates until you set up all your dependencies, set up resource assignments, and apply leveling. But then, unless your schedule is well-padded (which one could argue it should be.......) your tasks will slide over toward their constraints.
Wow, good ideas, thank you!
On a similar note, I am trying to reschedule the start of a project to August, as we were not using Omniplan at the time. I want to see the correct end date. However, when I change the start date of the project, the first task does not change to this new start date, even though all tasks are set to start "As Early As Possible" - so even though I've pulled back the start date by a month, the end date doesn't come back by a month. Is this a bug or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks for any advice
Just to make things a little clearer...we started using Omniplan in September and put in ten major task groupings etc. All looks good, however, the end date shows February when we know it should be January. The project actually started in August, so what I want to do change the start date to August. When I do that, the tasks don't change their dates though.

Ultimately, I was hoping that Omniplan could show us an ever-updating End date - in other words, if we're ahead of time on some tasks, the end date would automatically come forward and if we're behind, the end date would show as being pushed back. Maybe this is not the right tool for this sort of planning or maybe we're doing something wrong?
If I understand you properly, OmniPlan should do exactly what you describe.
You've set the project start date to August. You don't have task or group start dates locked.
If you're using leveling, you might try re-leveling to see if that works it lose.

Also, it would probably really help to send us your file and point out specific tasks that aren't behaving as you expect. (If you use "Send Feedback" from the Help menu while your doc is open, you can attach an anonymized version of it.)
Thanks for the reply. There are no locks on any dates but the first task does not pull back to start at the new project start date. I exported the whole thing into MS Project and changed the project start date and the tasks fell into line without a problem so it looks it's a bug. I would send you the file but the tasks are for a specific business project so if I get time over the next day or two I will rename these tasks and send it off to you. Thanks for your help.

The Help > Send Feedback option will rename the tasks for you. Then it will attach the file to an email message, but not send it. Then you can open the file to double-check that all confidential info was properly cleared out, add a message to the email (so we know why you're sending the file) and send it.

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