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Author Topic: A few hints on dealing with scheduling  (Read 95 times)
turboultra
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« on: July 17, 2020, 04:37:15 PM »

I had a lot of trouble understanding scheduling when I started with this app. Here's what I've worked out so far. These comments are for when creating the schedule in planning mode.

-> Let the app work out the project schedule. You just provide it with the necessary information to do so. This means you don't generally enter dates in the project plan, except for the first objects in the plan. The app rigidly follows the constraints you add and will think nothing of recalculating all the dates you filled in if they violate the constraints.

-> If an object has predecessors, the start date will automatically be when the last predecessor is complete.

-> Keep in mind that the first object(s) in a nested diagram still has the predecessors of the parent diagram.

-> The fixed start date option, like the late start option, is for *delaying* the start date of an object that has predecessors. Avoid using late start and fixed start date together on an object, because it can result in confusing behaviour. This is because changing the late start changes the fixed start date, but not the other way around. Avoid using these options on objects without predecessors, because the late start is then meaningless and confusing.

-> You can only manually assign an *arbitrary* start date to an object if it is:
   i. In a folder, and
   ii. Without predecessors, and
   iii. Without a nested diagram
Make sure your project starts with such an object, otherwise you won't have control over when the project starts.

-> Assuming work doesn't happen 24/7, create a calendar that constrains when work happens. Doing this at the start and setting it as the default calendar will save choosing the calendar for each object.

-> Calendars control the conversion between hours, days and months. Suppose you set a calendar with seven hours of working each day. You then create an object that uses that calendar, and enter 0.5 days of execution time. If you switch units to hours, you'll get 3.5 hours, not twelve hours, because the calendar says there are seven working hours in a day. It's usually best to stick to the units you entered the execution time in, otherwise you'll end up with strangely precise times on your objects.

-> The calendar doesn't include non working days when it calculates working hours in a day. So if you enter eight working hours a day from Monday to Friday, it won't include the weekend when it calculates that one day of execution time equals eight hours.

-> Don't enter the execution time of objects with nested diagrams. The execution time is already calculated from the nested diagram.

-> Don't enter both the end time and the execution time of an object, as you'll end up with a second execution time shown on the object in brackets. Enter the execution time and let the software calculate the end time.

-> I've been trying to understand what confirming an object means conceptually in planning mode. It seems to be just a way to help you go through the objects in order of precedence when filling in the scheduling information. An object isn't added to the plan and won't show up on the Gantt chart until you confirm its predecessors on the diagram.

-> If you select "analyse diagram as a project" and complete all the prompts, it will schedule everything that isn't on the critical path as late as possible, while still allowing a time buffer to protect the critical path from overruns that feed into the critical path. The idea is to not prematurely use resources by doing tasks needlessly early. This is why objects end up with late starts that you haven't entered.

-> The app doesn't do resource levelling. If you have two independent tasks, the app may schedule them in parallel even if you assign yourself to both tasks at 100%. Create links between the tasks to force them to be scheduled sequentially, even though neither is dependant the other.

-> By default, the plan is updated as actual execution times are known. Whenever you modify the actual schedule of an object, it will overwrite the planned schedule to match. The idea is that the plan is a continually updating forecast instead of showing how far behind you are. The original schedule is not kept, so backup the project at the start if you want to keep it. You can stop this behaviour by unchecking the "sync plan with reality" checkbox.

-> Sometimes you have a fixed deadline and need to set the planned execution time of each object so it fits in the time available. If the plan says you don't have enough time, adjusting the execution times to fit the time available is a great way to ensure you miss your deadline.
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