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Robin Nicklas

About: Robin Nicklas

Robin Nicklas is a project management consultant and educator. Since 2001, he has trained project managers in the aerospace, financial, telecommunications, government, and software sectors. Prior to teaching, he spent twenty years in information systems and technology, twelve of which he managed software development at large information service companies. Since 2003, he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in project management at the University of Washington in Seattle, as well as MS Project courses at Bellevue College Continuing Education since 2011. Robin is a former president of the PMI Puget Sound Chapter in Seattle and a certified PMP. He can be contacted through his website,

All Articles and Webinars by Robin Nicklas

How To Reschedule Incomplete Work

Written on June 9, 2020, by

A colleague posed a problem recently. He recorded earned value after tracking work done in the first status period of his project. When recording work done in the second status period, he returned to the first only to find the earned value had changed. What could have caused this? One possible reason is neglecting to…

Sequencing Product Backlog

Written on April 21, 2020, by

When modeling a project as a flow process, one objective is to deliver the maximum amount of value in the shortest amount of time. Most project managers likely start with an inventory of features in a product backlog. The sequence in which features are executed determines whether we will achieve the objective. The effectiveness of…

MS Project Leveling Performance

Written on March 23, 2020, by

In my recent “Is MS Project’s Leveling Optimal?” article, I covered the fact that MS Project may not produce optimally leveled schedules in terms of schedule length. The analysis showed us how well Project’s leveling performs relative to established optima. In a comment on that article, Eric Uyttewaal suggested it would be informative to explore…

Is MS Project’s Leveling Optimal?

Written on February 11, 2020, by

The objective of resource leveling is to minimize schedule length while honoring precedence relationships and resource constraints. If we know what a schedule’s optimal leveled length is, we can compare that to leveling results that Project provides. In a prior article, we assessed the optimality of Project’s leveling relative to one particular schedule. The next…

How Optimal is Your Leveling?

Written on January 20, 2020, by

For the project manager, the objective of resource leveling is to minimize the length of the resource-feasible schedule. For the computer scientist, the objective is to write code that will find a resource-feasible schedule in a reasonably short amount of time. The resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP) is NP-hard, which means that finding an optimal…

Removing Start-to-Finish Relationships from Mid-point Scheduling

Written on November 12, 2019, by

Mid-point or block scheduling involves a sequence of tasks, the scheduling of which is dependent upon the start of a target task embedded within the sequence. In practice, as the sequence is moved forward or backward within the schedule, start-to-finish (SF) task relationships are used to drag the predecessors of the target task along with…

Finding Resource Critical Paths and Eliminating Phantom Float

Written on August 30, 2019, by

  The schedule in the figure above was leveled in Project using the standard leveling order. Even though it appears to be discontinuous, the critical path is correct. It takes into account the leveling delay (lag) between tasks 4 and 5, but, what is causing that leveling delay? The start of task 2 depends on…

Scheduling Schemes and Heuristics for Leveling

Written on August 6, 2019, by

Figure 1. An unleveled schedule (adapted from Peter Brucker and Sigrid Knust, Complex Scheduling, 2nd ed, Springer-Verlag, 2012, Figure 3.2, p. 120)   The schedule in the above figure is not resource-feasible. Resources are over allocated, and the schedule needs to be leveled. Assuming you want to minimize project duration, how would you level it?…

A Resource Leveled and Smoothed Schedule

Written on July 2, 2019, by

  In the figure above, a schedule was resource leveled using Project (left Gantt chart). It was resource smoothed using Excel (right Gantt chart). Both results are resource-feasible, but the schedule on the right has a smoother resource allocation. To contrast the resource optimization techniques of leveling and smoothing, I will share how both schedules…

A Resource Constrained Schedule

Written on May 21, 2019, by

  Impact on Expected Duration, Criticality, and Finish Time Correlation Schedule simulation can be used to estimate project duration. In addition, it can measure how much a task’s scheduling will influence project duration. Two such measures are a task’s criticality and finish time correlation. Criticality measures the likelihood that a task will appear on a…

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