As everyone knows, the priority of the thing in the industry are operational tasks. At the same time, there are project tasks that are difficult to schedule and especially difficult to respect its schedule. So are there people who work with this type of projects so they can give us how they proceed.
Hi Jebir. What you describe is typical of most every environment. Typical solution is to first understand how much time on average is spent on operational, support, and admin activities over time. Then use the remaining time as the resource capacity for projects. It obviously depends on the consistency of your other activities, but given the difficulty of planning it will hopefully give you your average over the life-cycle of the project. Hope that helps…
Hi Larry, thank you for your response. In fact, the real issue is those tasks (projects, tasks) which requires 1 or 2 hours of work, but they are executed during a week and maybe more. The difficulty is how do I integrate them with Ms Project. ( By the way I’m working with Project pro and project server 2013)
I’m asking for best practices
Thanks a lot!
Jebir, that’s a bit bigger question. I tend to teach managing Projects and tasks based on how often you reschedule. For example of people who update schedules weekly, manage tasks required to be completed that week. Give resources the list of tasks to complete that week with a mid-week deadline if necessary, then manage how they did. Resources should be responsible for letting you know if something is going to be delayed. If you manage daily then give him/her the project task on a day that isn’t filled with operational activities. Hope that helps…
Thank you Larry for your time, but I’m asking about tasks ! how to proceed with MS Project (type of tasks, constrains, work, duration…)
Jebir, I’m not sure what else to tell you. The task type would be the same, work is the amount of work required to complete, the duration would probably be the length of time to complete unless you are trying to keep the schedule short and want to get it done ASAP. In summary, set the task up based on the requirements of the task. I hope that helps…
Thank you Larry
You may be trying to do too much in one schedule, meaning operational AND project work.
One technique I’ve used was segregation of operational tasks from project tasks by having them in different physical schedules.
For example, we’d configure one schedule for operational work. If for example, 15% of a resources time is to be spent on operational work each week, we’d add resources to operational tasks with an assignment units of 15% (setting up the task as Fixed Units). These operational schedules may have very few tasks, but those tasks may extend for the entire year. What you put in these schedules in terms of tasks is really dependent on what, if any type of reporting/breakdown management may want to see related to the operational work.
As the second part of this technique, we would then have project specific schedules that only contained work required to produce that project’s specific deliverables. To keep the example simple, we’d allocate resources to project tasks at no more that 85%. (100% – 15% operational allocation) Scheduling these tasks becomes much simpler since we’re now isolated only to that project work.
The key is to ensure that resources on the project schedules don’t exceed 100% when combined with their operational allocation.
Different resources could have different operational demands. Joe might need 20% operational allocation while Sue might only need 10%. So manual work is required to make sure that the project task work plus the operational task work doesn’t exceed 100% for all involved resources.
Its a manual coordination process to identify those resource specific operational allocations, but once defined, it greatly simplifies the individual project schedules by allowing them to focus only on project tasks.
As a side note, I used this technique in a 2013 and 2016 Project server environment where resources tracked task progress using the MS Project provided time sheets. Time sheet users didn’t really know/care which task was in which schedule since they saw all current tasks in their weekly time sheet.
Hope that helps
Thank you for your response, seems that you got the situation!
But the real issue here is that the capacity is varying everyday and it’s for sure more than 60% or 70% allocated to operational work. Even resources don’t know their capacities because they are working on production process and unexpected actions are occurring every day and it’s their priority to deal with even if there are project task. So always, 99% of cases, operational work is prioritize even if it’s not scheduled and even if there is a project task scheduled.
Based on your response, it appears your biggest problem is not in MS Project. Your bigger problem appears to be an unstable operational environment resulting in an unpredictable operational work load that regularly consumes all your available resources, leaving minimal to no time for project work.
Operational or “keep the business running” work is definitely highest priority. I would suggest that you have several courses of action that must be discussed and agreed upon with Sr. Management.
* Stabilize operational work. No new projects until the operational work is under control and somewhat predictable. You might need some root cause analysis here to determine what is actually causing the operational issues so those root causes can be fixed, as opposed to constant on-going patching.
* Dedicate existing staff to operational work, obtain new resources that would be dedicated to project work. Yes, this means adding resources, which management often doesn’t want to do. Note these could be contract resources or full time and contract resources could be assigned ownership of stabilizing the operational environment, which means they could be whittled down over time as less and less operational work is needed.
* Get management to accept/sign off on the current environment. Meaning operational work may consume all resources and project work will never be predictable and may never get done. (probably not acceptable)
Either way you look at it, it appears the problem is too much work for available resource capacity.
Sr. Management should help set, agree to, and then help you manage towards an operational/project work distribution goal. For example, Management may want a 20/80% work split for operational/project work. The key is defining what they think is an acceptable operational work ratio, agreeing on a plan to get to that ratio, and setting an organizational goal to obtain that goal. How you get to that goal is not as critical as recognizing the root issues and addressing them.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything you can do in MS Project at this time that will help you manage this. You can be an MS Project expert with the coolest, most sophisticated schedule, but if the resources aren’t available to do the work, the schedule is irrelevant.
Hope this helps