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Author Topic: Set deadlines for projects/milestones?  (Read 3447 times)
vincentness
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« on: October 09, 2011, 03:39:53 am »

Hello! Before I begin, i just want to say that I'm a student at uni (and not doing a course associated to management or the likes) so i'm very new to BPMN and PERT concepts. Nevertheless, I like to plan ahead and have been looking around for a good flowchart-type app and, despite the steep learning curve, this one i really like! Very visually and functionally pleasing! Its ability to manage large projects (like career paths) and drill down to fine details is just awesome!

I got very confused at the start because I've always set out my plan with a deadline (like for example must finish assignment by this date) and work backwards that way. Took me a while to realise that the estimated times readjust from the when the project is initiated and thus the estimated time of the completion is shown at the last buffer (if i'm not mistaken?).

Is there a way to set a deadline and be able to workout an estimated date or latest date I should start the project? Or say if one of the resources is a milestone, i could set its date and then work out the latest time certain tasks needs to be done? Or is there a concept to do with PERT i'm missing?

Thanks!! n hope that makes sense!
-Vincent
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Colin
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 05:32:39 am »

I've got some ideas as a user, but rather than leading you astray, I'd like to know what Jury (the developer) has to say in terms of theory and a use case first Smiley
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vincentness
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 11:50:22 am »

Any ideas are welcomed at this stage  Grin
How would you go about it?   Huh
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shortki
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 10:54:28 pm »

Of course, often a project should be completed by a certain date. Now the program cannot take this into account automatically, but it's quite easy to do yourself. It's enough to determine, after the analysis, the time interval between the required completion date and the completion date for the buffer of the critical path, after that it is not difficult to shift the start of the project by the calculated period.

Milestones tied to fixed dates, except in special cases, do more harm than good. Typically, a project has one goal, and it lies at the end of the critical path. Tasks on this path must be performed in the optimal schedule, any binding of the schedule to the fixed dates is a limitation and distorts the optimal execution of the project. Thus, if some task on the critical path ends at a certain date (e.g. date of arrival of a flight with parts), this should be reflected in the time of the task completion after the analysis, what will allow estimating how many percent of the time buffer "eats" the shipping by this very flight. Remember that it is concentration of all time resources in one easily controlled place that prevents terms from being "spread" along the whole project. A project should have only two fixed dates — the start date and the completion date, all the rest have to depend on them.
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vincentness
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2011, 12:32:55 am »

Ahh! And the total time for a drilled down diagram is in its root properties panel under "expected time"! (if im not mistaken)

Makes a lot of sense now! Thank you!  Cheesy

Btw love this program and really looking forward to update for managing people   Grin
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apkawel
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 06:18:57 pm »

Dear Jury,

Of course, often a project should be completed by a certain date.

Almost everyone needs to complete at least some of their projects by a certain date.

Now the program cannot take this into account automatically,

Why not? If the program can calculate based on a starting date, why can't it calculate backwards from an end date? Perhaps create a special object for this purpose?

but it's quite easy to do yourself. It's enough to determine, after the analysis, the time interval between the required completion date and the completion date for the buffer of the critical path, after that it is not difficult to shift the start of the project by the calculated period.

This should be done by automated analysis.

Milestones tied to fixed dates, except in special cases, do more harm than good.

In my world (and I think a lot of other peoples'), milestones with fixed dates are not optional, they are necessary.

Typically, a project has one goal, and it lies at the end of the critical path. Tasks on this path must be performed in the optimal schedule, any binding of the schedule to the fixed dates is a limitation and distorts the optimal execution of the project.

Yes, a project has one end goal at the end of the critical path, but for some people, most projects do have milestones with fixed end dates, and if those milestones are not met by the fixed end date, the project fails. E.g.: As an attorney, the one end goal at the end of my critical path is to win the trial (ethically, of course). But there are a panoply of deadlines along the way: discovery must be filed by a certain date. Court-ordered disclosures must be filed by a certain date. (I could go on.) If these deadlines are not met, game over. "Optimal execution of the project" means: (1) Don't miss a court-ordered deadline!! and (2) Optimally schedule the entire project, taking intermediate, hard deadlines into account.

Thus, if some task on the critical path ends at a certain date (e.g. date of arrival of a flight with parts), this should be reflected in the time of the task completion after the analysis, what will allow estimating how many percent of the time buffer "eats" the shipping by this very flight.

This does not make sense to me. How are we supposed to plan to meet a firm deadline?

Remember that it is concentration of all time resources in one easily controlled place that prevents terms from being "spread" along the whole project. A project should have only two fixed dates — the start date and the completion date, all the rest have to depend on them.

Fair enough, but I think that is my point: I (and, as far as I can tell, other people, including the original poster) need to be able to specify firm deadlines—both for the project as a whole, and for interim milestones—and have the program automatically optimize the schedule by taking those deadlines, if any, into account.

This program has so much potential. But I have spent the last 48 hours (since I bought it) reading the entire user manual (several times), combing this forum, and racking my brain, trying to figure out how to represent a firm deadline that is on a feeder path, and then get the program to automatically calculate the optimal schedule. It seems like I cannot get it to do this, even though it would seem obvious for a project-management program like this. It's very frustrating.

I do not know everything, and I imagine there could be something obvious that I am missing or doing wrong. If so, please tell me! I'm dying here!  Huh
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Colin
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 08:47:45 am »

I think confusion in this area originates from a practical point around exactly what this style of management is trying to achieve.

From my understanding we're talking about manufacturing processes, so things like fabricating the back seat of a car, the driver's seat and console, which are repeated many times over and over. You know how long each component takes to make by monitoring activity and each separate process needs to come together for the assembly. They may be made by different production lines, so managing the slowest production line and maintaining buffers is important.

Other kinds of projects are going to hit this philosophical hurdle.

The Theory of Constraints or Management by Constraints field is going to first try to challenge the idea of setting an end date.

I have found this app most useful for defining the order and path of execution, much like a drawing program. Then I just start the project without focussing on what the end date is actually calculated as, as I'm happy to finish early and will keep it updated as it pans out.

There is a case for a mode of scheduling that would produce a fixed milestone such as where I work only part time on a project or for a particular client. Or 1 day per month, etc -- this is not the tool to analyse such a schedule.

Analysis is aimed at providing a sensible end date only based on the time it takes to fabricate components. If you have an end date due to some kind of meeting or launch event -- that is best managed with a circle drawn on a calendar.

I have not really found a way to have a sensible calendar schedule line up perfectly with periodic client meetings, conference calls or progress presentations, but the time drawing and fiddling with charts helps me think about how to tackle the project!

Jury: can you see some kind of hybrid element helping that can adjust start dates based on a milestone/meeting date time/etc in the middle of a path? Similar to time-based triggers in reverse?
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shortki
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2014, 11:48:09 pm »

As Colin rightly pointed out, the matter is what style of planning is used. As a rule, "loose" projects with a mass of milestones are typical for tasks with weakly coupled executors, when an additional synchronisation is required. But even in this variant the milestones are a necessary evil rather than a means of optimization.

In fact, this issue sternly intersects with your other question in a neighbouring topic, an attempt to make a milestone in the future affect the timeline in the past.

Nevertheless, it is possible to make an analogue of milestones in inShort, simply create a resource with a fixed start date. While terms of execution of previous processes allow, the start/end date of such a resource will be unchanged.
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