I’m new to Project and struggling to make happen in MS Project what I believe I need. Basically, all of my tasks are geographically disparate (think: team service calls at many different locations around the city). Because all tasks are spread out and each one has start/stop and practical setup time to get started, there seems to be no point to a team traveling across the city to a new location if there is only X amount of time left in the workday.
So…IF there is only X amount of time left in the day then I need the next task to begin the next workday. I don’t think the “dummy task” on alternate nightshift calendar will work b/c as the project progresses and the schedule changes the same tasks will not always be the one at the end of the day and tied to a dummy task.
– 8 hr/wkday
– tasks have estimated durations based on highly variant or incomplete variables about level of work effort (investigation required to get better schedule input information is cost-prohibitive)
– ACTUAL duration may wind up being +/- 40+%
– Real world ACTUAL, if there is only a couple hours left to finish a location at the end of the day, my people will stay very late to get it done and stay on schedule, but that obviously cannot happen all the time b/c of burnout. If they get done with a location way ahead of schedule, we are not always able to move to the next location if scheduled for the following day.
Task 1 – 3.5 hours
Task 2 – 4 hours
Task 3 – 2.5 hours
Task 4 – 5 hours
Task 5 – 1 hour
Project would schedule these to take 2 days. But b/c of associated travel costs, setup time, etc it doesn’t make sense for us to move to Task 3 with half an hour left in the day, nor task 5. Given that there is less than 1 hour left in the work day I’d like Task 3 and Task 5 to start on the next workday.
Is there a way for Project to do that programmatically? If not, and if I’m just not seeing the proper way to construct a project of this type in MS Project, can you please help me? Thank you!
I can’t think of any feature in Project that forces each task to start on a new day as this goes against one of Project’s primary objectives which is to make the best use of resources and create the shortest possible schedule.
However, if we think outside the box a bit I can think of something to try. No guarantees….
It doesn’t sound like the amount of work entered in the schedule for each activity is that important for scheduling purposes. Using your 8 hour per day basic calendar, can you simply create every activity as an 8 hour task? This would allow MS Project to follow it’s natural algorithms and result in each task scheduled on a separate day. And if there are multiple teams, each could have it’s own service call task on the same day because the assigned resources differ. You could even schedule 4 hour tasks if you know that the team can do one task in the morning and one in the afternoon. The down side is that planned work wouldn’t be that accurate.
Again, no guarantee, but it may be worth playing with and it may spark other ideas.
Hi, Courtney. I think you can do what you need using an additional task calendar. First, consider each commitment as being made up of two tasks – Let’s call them Setup and Deliver. So you then have Setup 1 followed by Deliver 1, Setup 2 followed by Deliver 2, etc. with FS dependencies.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that Setup is always 1 hour and Deliver is whatever it should be to make the total time for the pair of tasks what you would estimate them to be as in your example.
Create a new calendar (Project->Change Working Time->Create New Calendar) – let’s call it Setup and base it on Standard. Using the Work Weeks tab->Details, select Monday through Friday and set the working times for these days to specific working times. You can decide what makes most sense but something like 8am to 12 pm and 1pm to 4pm. Save this calendar.
Now for all the instances of Setup tasks in your WBS, set the Task Calendar (Information->Advanced) from None to Setup – leave the Scheduling ignores resource calendars box checked.
So now what happens is that if a predecessor Deliver task ends at 3 pm, the next Setup task can be scheduled to start at 3 pm. On the other hand, if the predecessor task finished at 4 pm, the Setup task could not start then because of the working time in the calendar. It’s not perfect – you may find the Setup task split from 3.30 one day to 8.30 the following morning but at least the related Deliver task will be scheduled for the following day.
You can play with the working time calendar settings and the length/meaning of the setup task but this approach should give you a starting point.
Courtney, from what I’m seeing maybe Project isn’t the right tool. I hear a lot of “doesn’t make sense” and “depends” that might warrant something else, like Excel. Project is great for planning tasks where you can enter most or all the specific dependencies, but it sounds like a lot of changes are real-time that depends on progress of the day, specific availability, team communication, and real-time decisions. Project wants to do the schedule for you, but if you can’t provide it what it needs upfront it can be more work to “work the tool” than to use a simpler tool to begin with. Don’t get me wrong I love Project, but only when it makes sense and you have the skill to get it to do what you want. Those answering this forum can probably make it work, but you are new to the tool and a complex solution doesn’t work either.
Remember the saying, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Assess your problem, and then choose the tool that makes sense. Sorry to put a crimp in your plan, but I hope this makes sense. Good luck in whatever tool you use…
Thank you All!!!
Daryl and Graham, I’m going to give your workarounds a try!
Larry, I hear what you mean about Project not possibly being the right program. Problem is that my client is forcing a lot of schedule changes and last minute changes on a project with 500+ locations to visit. I was managing it in Excel but that is a lot of work to update every successive task when something changes. Was hoping that Project could help with that, though I know that the ongoing changes to sequence are going to be A LOT of work to keep up to date in project.