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The scheduling engine - trade-offs RRS feed

  • Question

  • Ok, folks.   We are struggling right now with the scheduling engine in conjunction with time reporting.  By default, each task is "Fixed Units" and we are encouraging folks to estimate by hours then have MS Project calculate the duration based on availability.   So far so good.   First, folks are still finding themselves putting in duration.  It appears to me that in order for MS Project to accurately calculate the work hours from duration, you have to use "Fixed Duration", especially if you are assigning more than one resource and using different Unit %.  But...Fixed Duration seems to have a mind all its own when tasks aren't started on time as planned.   Throw in multiple resource assignments and you can't truly predict what might  happen to your schedule.  I'm not sure if we're having issues because of lack of discipline, a completely incorrect approach to task type, or multiple resources.  Users continue to be frustrated because they want to "zip in" and "zip out" and don't wish to spend much time at all mastering this tool.   Even as the PMO, I'm confused at times about the behavior of the scheduler, but it seems that "Fixed Units" and estimating by hours is the lesser of the evils.  If someone has sure-fire method of scheduling, updating (manually or via time reporting) and/or could point me to a good book covering this subject matter, I'd appreciate it.   I've often thought about going to a manual update model coupled with time reporting at the TOP-LEVEL just to make things simpler and also to ensure the PMs are often in their project plans.   Many thanks for any and all comments!

    Andy Novak, PMP, MBA
    University of North Texas

    Friday, April 1, 2011 4:42 PM

Answers

  • In IT, I typically follow this process:
     
    1) Set the task type to Fixed Work.
    2) Enter the resources and add the work value.
    3) Tweak the units to match resource allocation.  This recalculates duration.
    4) Baseline the schedule.
    5) Flip all tasks to Fixed Units, and begin updating the schedule.  This
    allows work and duration to both change.
     
    I just do that because IT almost always knows work and units, but only rarely
    duration.
     
    Don't know if that helps but my $0.02.
     
     

    Andrew Lavinsky [MVP] Blog: http://azlav.umtblog.com Twitter: @alavinsky
    Friday, April 1, 2011 5:02 PM

All replies

  • In IT, I typically follow this process:
     
    1) Set the task type to Fixed Work.
    2) Enter the resources and add the work value.
    3) Tweak the units to match resource allocation.  This recalculates duration.
    4) Baseline the schedule.
    5) Flip all tasks to Fixed Units, and begin updating the schedule.  This
    allows work and duration to both change.
     
    I just do that because IT almost always knows work and units, but only rarely
    duration.
     
    Don't know if that helps but my $0.02.
     
     

    Andrew Lavinsky [MVP] Blog: http://azlav.umtblog.com Twitter: @alavinsky
    Friday, April 1, 2011 5:02 PM
  • I Believe you should get your PM's trained on conceptual part of MS Project, because all the dimesnions(Task Type / Assignment Units / Effort Driven etc...) of task are interrelated, and changing one impacts other, hence unless you understand the concept of what impacts when and how, users will keep struggling / frustrating irrespective of tool,

    Would suggest  get your PM's trained with expert trainers ( You might wanna approach MS to reccomend one of their partners) in the mean time would reccomend you to go through this book (Link below) would help you understand pretty much in details

    http://projectserverbooks.com/books/ultimatelearningproject2010foundations.aspx

    Hope this helps  

     


    Thanks | Sunil Kr Singh | http://epmxperts.wordpress.com
    Friday, April 1, 2011 5:05 PM
  • Just in case you still think there as only one right answer: I keep Fixed units (I find them more flexible and create far fewer error messages). I have Effort driven OFF for all tasks, so second an subsequent resource have their own work. I display Assign Resources dialog (Alt+F10). To assign a resource I enter in the Units column hours of work, EG 20h. Must include the h or Project treats as 20%. Proejct then calulates units based on teh current duration (maybe default 1d?). Over-write calculated units with available units. So: Task Duration 1d? Enter 20h of work in Units column for required resource Project calulates 50% Units If you have 10h/week availability, that's 10/40=0.25=25% Overwrite calculated 50% with 25% and Project re-calculates Duration to 2d. This wirks great for resource constrained assignments. For time constrained assignments: Enter duration needed to meet time goals Enter work in Units column against required resource Project calculates units needed to meet time target. So: Duration 2w Enter Work of 60h in Units column Project calulates you need 75% of that resource's time each day/week to get 60h work done in 2w.

    Rod Gill

    The one and only Project VBA Book Rod Gill Project Management
    Monday, April 4, 2011 3:15 AM