Project Management Task in MS PROJECT 2016

Hi,

very often I hear a question like: “OK Nenad, you are explaining how to make a good schedule, and how to assign Resources properly to Tasks!. But what about Task which are impossible to plan upfront, like, for example, Project Management Tasks?”

To be honest, Project Management Task is impossible to plan upfront? Why? To answer this question, let’s find out what Project Manager usually do in Project. He/she is preparing Project plan with the team. He/she will be at regular status meeting. He/she will prepare status reports. And so on. All of those actions can and should be planned in MS PROJECT as Tasks. BUI! Most important thing which describe Project Manager job is: SOLVING UNEXPECTED SITUATIONS / PROBLEMS. I am not going to describe what kind of unexpected situations / problems can arise in Project because of:

  1. If you are Project Manager, you know exactly what am I talking about
  2. If you are going to be Project manager, you will find out what am I talking about very soon Smile

Because of things mentioned above it is impossible to make a proper Task like Project Management. Why? Because Project manager should work on this kind of Task when the problem will arise, and that can not be planned!

Let me show you a simple Project:

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As you can see I put this Task in MS PROJECT 2016. This Task is Manually Scheduled, without Start Date, End Date and Duration, because I really do not know when it will be ended. Only thing I know that I know is that it should be done not latter than the whole Project is done, but since Project plan is never fixed this Project Finish Date will be changed in the future, so I didn’t put it in Project management Task.

OK! Now Let’s say that I worked on this Task 4 hours at Wednesday, April 2018. I will use Task Usage view and I will put this 8 hours like this:

image

this is just an example of how do I handle Project Management Task. Once again, This Task can not be predicted or planned because Project manager will work on it in unexpected situations and unexpected time!

Best regards!

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Salesman, Company Owner and Project Manager

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Hi,

I’ve got complaints that I didn’t have any pictures in my previous post. So I will put one from now on. But remember that this post is not about MS PROJECT, it is about Project Management, and there is be no pictures, or graphs. Only text about my experience.

Today I will tell you what problems are Project Managers facing with Salesman and Company Owner!

Salesman has one task, and one task only. To sell! They will have bonus from each sell or if they reach they target at the end of the year, or the end of the month. If they do not reach their target they will be fired. As simple as that.

Company Owner has one main concern! Company growing. It means that he is concerned about revenue, about costs, and about margins.

Project Manager has one task. To Manage Project in the way that it can be successful.  That mean that he should have enough time, and enough resources, and money to fulfill all Tasks. And those Tasks should be clarified upfront if we are talking about Fixed Price contract.

Now, Salesman does not care if something is real or not. In most cases he simple does not! He want to sell the Project as soon as possible for the highest price. And that means that he does not have enough time or patient to gather all the information from the Client, future Project Manager, and Project Team. And that is why is scope almost always unclear. And, I face it all the time, if Customer want something to be done at certain time period, Salesman will promise that. But this is not all! If he knows that he can sell, for example 2.000 hours, and for fulfilling the Project, Teams need, for example, 3.000 hours, he will still sell those 2.000 hours, no matter what Project Manager or Team thinks. Why? Because, after he finish the selling process, he is “good guy”, and when trouble surface because of lack of time, PM is always here to be blamed.

On the other hand, Company Owner want’s to have great margin, which means that he wants that Project finish as soon as possible with lowest costs. And yes, he wants that, for example, one developer work on multiple Projects at the same time, so the costs are low.

Project Manager very often get a Project to Manage, when the deal is done, e.g. Contract is signed. And then he or she is responsible to fulfill all demands which are in contract. BUT! First he/she and the team has to make a, so called, deep analysis. I found myself, almost always in a situation like this. Salesman or/and Company Owners say: “We do not have time to make deep analysis, because we have to sign the contract ASAP! After it will be signed we will have time to make deep analysis” BUT! Even if you, as a Project Manager, have opportunity to make this deep analysis, the question is: “What will you have as a result of this analysis?”. And the answer is: “You will find out that you need more things to do then it was in a contract, you need more time, more people, and more money!” And you will not get it! At least you will get some of this but not all of these. And you are responsible for Project success.

Let’s face it! There is no standard, or procedure, or tool, which can solve this situation!

That is what Project Managers are facing all the time. No matter how much experience do they have. And that is real life.


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Project Management – perspective from an old Project Manager

Hi,

If you follow me, you already know that I’m writing my Posts about MS PROJECT for 6 or 7 years. I will continue to do that. But, I decided to share my long, long experience (30 years overall, and 25 years as a Project Manager) as a Project Manager with you. Why am I doing that? Because I found tons of books about Project Management, a lot of standards, guidelines etc, etc. And NO, I’m not going to write something similar. I am going to write my experiences. I was and I am Project Manager for a lot of Projects. Some of them were successful, some of them were awful. Some of them were awful because of me, some of them were awful because of lack of money, some of them were awful because of Management who thought that something coul be done when the whole team knew that it was impossible, and so on.

What do I want to achieve with my posts? Discussion! Thinking! Similar experience! That is what I want.

Be aware that I’m going to share my experience which is limited. In which way? I run Projects in Europe, particular in Southeast Europe! OK, so what?  you may ask yourself. What difference does it make? Well it does. Each and every part of the world has different people with different habits, different culture, and different approach to work. Whit that said, I do not mean that some people are more valuable than other. No, I just want to say that different habits, different Legislative, different cultures need different approach. And when you will read some of my further post you will often ask yourself: “How is it possible?” But it is. It is! And, last but not least, my experience is connected exclusively with IT Projects.

For the end of this first, introduction post I will tell you a story.

There was a customer who needs a brand new IT system. That was a huge Project. Vendor made an estimations:

  1. What has to be done? Everything was straightforward without any doubt. Everything was well known upfront, and there was no such a thing like – RISK.
  2. What kind of people do I need (I mean, developers, Database administrators etc.), and he conclude that he has got the best team in a world, and he can hire more of them, because they are easy to find. And, of course, all of them was and will be a great team who will work together in a best way, without any fight and intolerance
  3. How much time do my time needed for finishing the Project? Because scope was clear, and I had the best team, time estimation was perfect, without any discrepancies.
  4. How much money do I needed for this Project? Because scope was clear, team was well know, and time was estimated without discrepancies, I got a budget which was accepted form the Customer without any negotiation

After that Customers accepted the offer., and project had started. Everything went perfect. Team members were available all the time, no one had ever interrupt them, no one had ever even think about engage any team member on any other Project, or any other activities outside the current Project. And Project finished on time, within budget, customer did not had any Change request, and he was happy.

This story has a name. Fairy tail. This will never happens in real life. Every Project has number of problems. And that is exactly why I’m running this posts.

Till my next post,

I wish you all the best

 

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“Real” daily work on Tasks in MS PROJECT 2016!

Hello,

today I’m going to deal whit one significant question which basically has many answers, or none. How many hours to assign to Resource per day?

Let me show you one very, very simple example. Let’s say that we have a simple Project with one Task, 5 days duration in MS PROJECT 2016:

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OK! Task has to have Resource (or Resources), to work on it, to finish it. If I assign John to this Task, and John is 100% available, and he is working 8 hours per day, I will get:

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Let’s take a look at John’s working time:

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As you can see, John is supposed to work from 08:00 AM to Noon, then he has a break (1 hour), and then he is supposed to work from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, e.g. he is supposed to work 8 hours per day.

Let’s face it! No one will work all the time. During your work each and every day, you have to go to the rest room, you will grab a cup of coffee or tea, you will make few phone calls, you will be interrupted from your coworker, boss, name it!

What is best thing to do? Well, there is no magic answer on that question. I will show you what I do, but this does not mean that you should do it! First of all my Project is set up like this:

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and:

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As you can see my working day is 7 hours per day!

I also set up Standard Calendar, which I use like this:

image

Now I will create Task again and I will assign John and I will get:

image

Is this what I wanted? Not at all. Now I’ve got that John will work 7 hours per day, and that it will be enough 35 hours in total for the Task. But! since I work with IT projects, I always estimate hours needed per Resource to accomplish the Task, and Duration is calculated. So, let’s say that for accomplishing the Task John has to work 40 hours in total. I will assign him like this:

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and I will get:

image

As you can see, Duration is now 5,71 days, and john will work 7 hours per day from Monday to Friday, and the remaining work of 5 hours will be done next Monday. And Duration? It is 5 days (from Monday to Friday), and 5/7= 0,71 day!

Why I use this approach? Because it is most realistic. I know that john will work 7 hours max on a Project per day! I know how many hours do I need for the Task. And Duration is calculated!

But what if Task has fixed duration, for example 5 days, and still 40 hours are needed for this Task:

image

I will get:

image

I this case John is overallocated, which is perfectly logical.

So, you should choose your own approach to deal with this “problem”. Every one is good one if it suits you.

Regards!

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Project management Task and Administrative work in MS PROJECT 2016

Hi,

my blog reader has a question about Project management Task, and administrative work, and how to handle it in MS PROJECT 2016?

Here is Scenario. This is Project Schedule:

image

First of all, I will advice not to use Project Start as a Task (Milestone), because I Project management Task should start at Project Start it will at that date without this milestone. As you can see we have Project management Task which is 5,5 days, and End of PM Task which is connected to the last Task of the Project, and it has 0,5 days of led time, just to finish at the end of the Project.

I often hear complains about MS PROJECT in a way that you cannot create one single Task which will dynamically increase or decrease it’s Duration according to the Project start and end date. for example I want to have a Project management Task which duration will be same as it is Project duration. And yes, this is true.

In this example it was estimated that PM Task will be 5,5 days. Now, my blog reader has assigned resources to Tasks like this:

image

The questions are: “Now if John, Mary or Nick performs any administrative work that I want to record to Project Management task, how should I do that? If I assign John, for example to that task he becomes to be displayed as over allocated. After all the resources that can work on LOE task are properly assigned, how to record progress for all of them on that task?”

To answer to those question I will show no more screenshots, but I will explain this case briefly.

If John is assigned to Task 1 with 100%, as he is in my example, and if I want to assign him to Project management task as well for 10% (this is just an example), and his maximum capacity is 100% he will become over allocated. And this is correct. Why? Because, if you exceed maximum capacity for resource this resource should be marked as over allocated, because IT IS OVERALLOCATED! As simple as that. On the other hand you can put maximum capacity for John 110%, and in that case John will not be over allocated. But be aware of this: John will never, ever be over allocated if it has to work, for example 110% on any single or multiple Tasks, no matter if those Task are “regular” or “PM”!

Now the answer on the second question: “How to record progress for all of them on that Task?” the answer is simple and straightforward: “As you will handle progress on any other Task which has multiple resources assigned on it!”

To conclude, sometimes you r Resources will be and should be over allocated. Just another simple example. If you have meeting every single day, and this meeting should be 5 minutes per day, will you have a real, I mean REAL problem if this resource will be over allocated for 5 minutes? I don’t think so.

Regards!

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Fixed work Task Type with limited Resource availability in MS PROJECT 2016!

Hi,

my Blog reader run into problem with limited Resource availability. I will show the scenario and explain it with MS PROJECT 2016.

I will create simple Project with one Task, 4 day duration, and I will assign John to it:

image

Now I will make this Task as fixed Work, because I want to reduce Duration when I assign another Resource to it:

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Now I will make this Task as 25% completed, and it means that John has worked one day on it:

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No I will assign Mary to the Task, but she is supposed to work only at Tuesday and Wednesday. My Blog reader did this:

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The Result is:

image

Since he put Wednesday, 14.03.2018. as finished day, Mary became over allocated. Why? Because Mary is supposed to work at Tuesday (because John is finish his work at Monday, and after that he has assigned Mary to the Task), and Wednesday. Remaining work for John was 24 hours (total work was 4 days * 8 hours per day = 32 hours – 8 hours done at Monday = 24 hours), and Mary will work at Tuesday and Wednesday 12 hours per day. To avoid that, he should follow this step:

image

and he will get:

image

But this is also NOT what my Blog Reader expects. He expects:

  1. Task 1 actual duration is 1 day,  remaining duration is 3 days, actual work is 8hrs and remaining work is 32h- 8h = 24h – OK
  2. So the amount of total remaining work that falls on Tuesday and Wednesday is 24 h- 8h = 16 hrs to be shares between two resources. – NOT OK
    So John’s  work for Tue and Wed:  = 8hrsNOT OK
  3. Mary’s work for these two days is the same – 8hrs – NOT OK
    John also works alone on Thursday which is 1 day.  – NOT OK
  4. So the remaining duration should be a sum of two durations: Duration 1 – when John and Mary work together (Tue and Wed), and Duration 2- when John worked alone on Thursday: Total remaining duration = 1d +1 d = 2days – NOT OK
  5. So total remaining task duration is  2 days and the total task duration is  actual duration + total remaining duration = 1d + 2d = 3 days NOT OK

I will not explain why those things are not OK, but I will rather explain how MS PROJECT really works:

  1. First we had a Task with 4 days Duration – fixed work, and John assigned to it. It makes TOTAL WORK to be done 4 days * 8 hours per day = 32 hours
  2. Then we put 25% complete, which means that Actual work is 8 hours (1 day), and remaining work is 32 – 8 = 24 hours. So far, so good
  3. Then we assign Mary to the Task. Now we have John and Mary available to split those 24 hours among them
  4. John and Mary will work 8 hours each at Tuesday, e.g 16 hours together. Now, 24 hours – 16 hours = 8 hours left for Wednesday.
  5. John and Mary are going to split those 8 hours at Wednesday among them, so each of them will work 4 hours at Wednesday:

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And now – Duration:

  1. John has worked alone at Monday (Mary wasn’t assigned to the Task). This is 1 day
  2. John and Mary are working full time at Tuesday. This is 1 day
  3. John and Mary will work half a day at Wednesday. This is 0,5 day
  4. Total is: 1+1+0,5=2,5 days

This is how MS PROJECT works.

Hope this helps!

Regards.

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How to “loan” Resources from non-critical to critical Tasks in MS PROJECT 2016

Hi,

today I will explain one specific Case which one of my Blog users have. And I will do it by reproducing this Case step-by-step, using MS PROJECT 2016!

There are three tasks with resources assigned to them:

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I will switch to the Detail Gantt View:

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Now I will mark Task 1, and Task 3 as 50% completed:

image

As you can see, Task 3 has 4 days slack (e.g. it is not at the Critical path, and it can finish 4 days latter without affecting Project end date).

Now the question from my Blog reader: “Let’s assume that I decide to delay Task 3 for 2 days  in order to release one or more of its resources  (Tom and/or Nick) and use them on Task 1 to decrease the duration of the Project. How to loan , that is, to re-assign resources from Task 3 to Task 1 just for the period of the delay?“

I should not do anything on Task 3, because I need Tom and Nick to work on this Task. But, as you can see, they are supposed to finish their work on Task 3 at Tuesday, 6.3.2018. so they are available to work on Task 1 at Wednesday, and Thursday (e.g. from 07.03.2018 – 08.03.2018). so I have to put them on that Task in that period. But! Since I want to decrease the duration of the Task 3, I will make that Task – fixed work, because if Tom and nick will help Jack and John on this particular Task, and the Duration will be decreased, in that case they will split the work, and therefore this Task is Fixed Duration.

image

Now I will assign Tom, and Nick to this Task like this:

image

and I will get:

image

As you can see Duration of Task 1 is now 3 and not 4 days. Let me explain how this happens.

I had a Task with 4 days Duration with Jack and John assigned to it. So, the Total work was 4 days * 8 hours per day * 2 Resources = 64 hours. John and Jack have finished half of work, so they spent 32 hours, and 32 hour were remaining. Now we have 4 Resources (Jack, john, Tom and Nick). 32 hours divided by 4 persons is 8 hours per person, and that means that this task will be finished in one day. So Duration was decreased for 1 day, which means it is 3 day instead of 4 days as it was before. And Jack and john will have 24 hours in Total each (16 hours already done + 8 hours to be done = 24 hours), and Tom and Nick will have to work 8 hours each.

It is easy, but be aware of that. Tom and Nick are not over allocated because they are assigned to the Task 1 when they are not supposed to work on any other Tasks. BUT! If, for example, for some reason Task 3 should change from 2 to 3 days, both Tom and nick will become over allocated:

image

And this is because Tom and Nick are supposed to work on Task 3, and it has extended Duration now, so it is supposed to be finished on Wednesday, 07.03.2018, and they already are supposed to work on Task 1 at that day!

Regards.

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