Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Work on summary task different from the sum of sub-tasks work! What is happening??

Back to the basics, I'll talk today about a support case I got today in MS Project. Always good to go back to scheduling challenges.
The issue? When running odata reports in Excel, a customer tells me that the work on the summary task is greater than the sum of the sub-tasks work.

Something like this:

2 tasks with 4 and 2 days of work, the work on the summary task should be 6 days and not 12 right? Here were my first thoughts that I submitted to my customer :

  • a filter might have been applied so some of the sub-tasks might not be visible. NO!
  • the tasks might not be sorted along the ID, so some sub-tasks might be located at another place in the WBS. NO!
  • the summary task might be manually scheduled. NO! (anyway this wouldn't have helped since even if it was the case, the sum should have been correct).

Any idea? Guess what, I've been telling for 10 years to my customers NOT TO ASSIGN RESOURCES ON SUMMARY TASKS, but I just didn't think about it! What puts me on the wrong way was the screenshot I received from the customer, similar to the one above: no resource is displayed near the summary task bar. Unfortunately, I didn't remember that the summary task bar style does not display any information around the bar.

So here is what happened:

Without any resource on the summary task, you get 6 days of work. If you add a resource on the summary task with the default unit (100%), on a 6-days duration task, you'll get 6 days of additional work, which makes 12 days in total.

Here is how 2 + 4 = 12 !

So keep that in mind, this is really a worst practice! Not convinced? I could give you several examples. Quite often, the use case about assigning resources of summary task is when you don't want to assign the same resource on 10 tasks, you think this is simpler to directly assign it on the summary task. Here is a simple reason why you should not: it can create ghost over or under allocations

Here is a use case with a resource assigned on 2 task with a positive lag. You can see that I have a duration of 8 days, but 6 days only of work since I have a 2-days lag.

If I assign the resource on the summary task which has no lag, the work is calculated based on the summary task duration (8 days). I thus have 8 days of work, which is not what I want.

Similarly, if I put a negative lag, meaning that the task cannot start earlier than 2 days before the predecessor is finished, I get a 4-days duration but 6-days work since 2 days are in parallel. Moreover, I have an over allocation since resource A is assigned on both task the 2 first days.

If you assign resource A on the summary task which is 4-days duration, you get 4 days of work instead of 6 and no over allocation.

Hope you are now convinced that there takes a lot of verifications when assigning resources of summary tasks. You might anyway need or want to do it (even if I do recommend not to do it), but be aware of the traps and consequences.

Have a good scheduling!

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Playing around with the PowerBI mobile app

I've been working with PowerBI since the first weeks it was available and I could follow the ramp-up of the capabilities. You know if you're following me that I love blogging about PowerBI.
Working since a couple of month with a new customer who is deeply involved in the digital transformation, I are willing to give access to the top management to a set of dashboards. I wanted to anticipate their requirements so I downloaded (why didn't I do it before??) the PowerBI app

I created 2 simples dashboards in 1 hour just to test the app. Note that they are draft and still require to be improved. After getting authenticated, you land on a home page where you can navigate in your various workspaces. Like in PowerBI app, you'll see reports and dashboards which you can add a favorites.

Then you can access your dashboard, playing around with the data. You can also share dashboards with people in your organization.

Note that in my example, I have a lot of information on the dashboard. On a WP10, it is quite tedious to use the segments. It should be easier on a tablet, but I do advice to create lighter dashboards with less information to make easier the manipulation. I think it is better to have many light dashboards (since it is easy to navigate between dashboards using the favorites) than having a few complex dashboards.

Notice how easy and fast it is to create a WOOW with your customer, simple tool, complete dashboard, user-friendly app, in just 1hr!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Office Roadmap for Project: New features rolling out or in development

Hi Folks,

I've been a couple of weeks ago to the European PPM Partner Forum in Amsterdam. First of all, it was a great opportunity to network with the partner community. I had for example a great chat with Allan Rocha, a fellow MVP. I also had the opportunity to talk with Jean Donati who is leading for Microsoft the engineering product team. But as you might know, what happens in Veg... sorry Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam so I can't really blog about what we heard. I can just tell you how excited I am about the new features which are coming soon...
But... I can talk about what Microsoft already communicates about. The best channel is to refer to the Office Roadmap. If you filter on Project, you'll see some interesting things.

In development:

  • External user support for Project Online: often required, you'll be able to add users to Project Online who are not part of your organization, meaning subcontractors will be able to collaborate with the project teams through the SharePoint sites and do timesheets.
  • Label and progress in timeline view: the timeline view has already been improved in 2016 desktop version with the multiple timeline. Now you'll be able to define custom labels for your timeline's bars and show the progress (I guess in a similar way than the team planner).
  • OData improvements to include timestamps for project entities: OData is being improved every week (performance). But a common request was to report on the projects last published dates or some similar timestamped data. It will now be possible.

Rolling out :

Among the various features currently being rolled out, the following one is particularly interesting.

  • Team tasks enhancements: the team task assignment was already a pretty nice feature. You could create teams and add users to teams. Then in your project, you could assign tasks to teams. Finally, any user from the team could take the task in his timesheet. The limitation was that it was a 1:1 workflow: as soon as a member of the team takes the task in his timesheet to self-assign himself on it, then the task was no longer available for other team members. I usually deployed this feature in an Agile context: you have a team of developers and you assign workpackage to the team, no matter who does it since all the developers have more or less the competencies to do the task. But quite often, the reality is different: a first member will start the task and a colleague will finish it for any reasons. Now the team assignment will be a 1:n workflow: once taken a first time, the task remains available for other team members.
Looking forward to see more? Me too! Don't hesitate to comment this article with some feedbacks!

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