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MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

In-frequent user of Microsoft Project but I have been given the task of creating a resource management system to cover the work we carry out and thought I had it working but found lots of problems and would appreciate some advice from more knowledgeable users!

Our work involves the following:
Single projects that each have 6 tasks that run 24 hours a day
6 tasks need to run back to back so changing the duration of one will change the timing of the subsequent ones
Group of engineers & technicians that can all be assigned to any task - these are stored in a common resource file
The amount of resource assigned to each task will mostly be lot less than 100%. i.e. 365 day task and engineer will assign 100 hrs to this which needs to be spread equally over their working days for the length of the task
Tasks need to be independent of the resource availability and vice versa
All the single projects to be imported into a Master Project to summarise all the resource assignment for all engineers & technicians across all projects

So far I have done the following:
Created a master template for the single projects using Auto scheduling
Set the tasks to run to a 24hr calendar
Referenced the common resource file.
Saved these as single files and imported them as subprojects into a master file
Set calendars for each resource to match their working pattern which is NOT 24hrs !

All seems to work but finding the Start and End dates do not match the durations. i.e. when imported a 365 day task does not go across 365 days according to the Start & End dates

I have tried ticking the 'Scheduling ignores resource calendars' option but this does not seem to fix the issue
Unsure whether the tasks should be Fixed Duration, Fixed Units or Fixed Work as not sure the difference between them.
Tried changing the tasks to Manual Scheduling but this makes it more difficult for the users who would like to just change the duration and leave the Start & Finish dates to change themselves. Also means remembering the Respect Links each time to ensure tasks do not overlap.

In summary hopefully Project is suitable for what I am trying to do and if anybody can give me any pointers then I will be most grateful.

RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

Hi Grayedout,

Here are some solutions that you might want to try.

To set a task to run 24 hrs without interruption, for instance end at the completion of the work day, instead of using the task time as (24 hrs) use (24 ehrs). The (e) tells Project to use continues hours instead of stopping at the end of the work day and carrying the remaining time to a new day. Here is something that you need to understand about ehrs. Depending on your project work calender will determine the restrictions on when a task can start, but not end. Here is an example

This is based of the standard calendar of 8 am - 5 pm M - F.

Task 1 = 24 ehrs (start on Wend.)
Task 2 = 24 ehrs (starts on Thur. because the predecessor is Wend.)
Task 3 = 24 ehrs (starts on Friday because the predecessor is Thursday and the task will end on Sat.)
Task 4 = 24 ehrs (starts on Monday because the task can't start on Sunday because the work week is M - F)

In regards to the resources partially assigned to the tasks, you can add a percentage of the resource assignment.

Here is an example that will calculate the correct task cost:

Task 1 = 8 hrs out of an 8 hr max day
- Resource is only supposed to work 50% of the time on Task 1
- Bob is your resource
- Bob makes $10 / hr.
- Bob's percentage of work = 50% or 4 hrs.
- So 4 hrs. * $10 / hr = $40 for the task

here is how you would enter the resource at 50% work time:

Bob [50%]

I hope this is close to the answer to your question. Let me know if you need more help.


RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration


I like the idea of the eHrs but my tasks are better expressed in days so I tried eDays and seems to accept it! smile

Unfortunately I am going to struggle with the % resource and I'll explain why:

The Projects are actions that are mostly happening outside of the organisation. What the resource is doing is listing how many hours they predict they are going to have to spend managing these external Projects. I.e. a Task may be 365 days in duration and the engineer will predict (& cost) that they will spend 100hrs managing this task and so I would like Project to equally spread this Work across the engineers available working time in that 365 days duration.

Each Engineer will then be managing many Projects and we want to use this as a resource planning tool to show when the sum of time spent on all the projects each day starts to exceed the Engineers working time.

Therefore I want the Project Tasks to be fixed duration but somehow disconnected from the resource work for that task!

Hope that makes sense.


RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration


I'm glad that the edays worked for you.


have you tried using the baseline and the fields work and work variance?

What you might be able to do is the following:

1) Enter your entire project tasks
2) add the work and work variance columns
3) add the total number of hours the engineer can work on a project to the work field for the task
4) Set your baseline: project tab > set baseline > set baseline... > Press Ok
5) Set the work field value to 0 d or hrs...
6) The work variance will change to a negative number

As you add hours to the work time, the work variance will approach 0. If it goes positive, the task has exceeded the possible amount of time budgeted.

When you add the resources, you can somewhat see what they have left in their task / project or what they are over by.

RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration


That may work but how do I stop Project from re-scheduling tasks when I change the resources that are working on it? Is this with Fixed Duration task?

RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

When you change a resource assigned to the task, it shouldn't change the times. Have you tried it and seen the effect of this?

RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

Pardon me for bumping in.....

A couple of things:

  • Be cautious about eday duration tasks. They do run 24 hours per day - but you will also see your resources assigned 24 hours per day. If the task truly does run 24 hours per day - then either set the project calendar to the 24 hours calendar or use the 24 hours calendar as a task calendar.
  • Regarding 365 day task taking more or less than 365 days: There are two places to worry about regarding durations - what calendar is in play and what is your definition of a "day". If you are using the 24 hours calendar as the project calendar (set in Project Information) did you also define a day = 24 hours and a week = 168 hours? If you have the 24 hours calendar set but didn't change the definition of day from the default 8 then all of your dates will be only 8 working hours.
  • As you note, your human resources do not work 24 hours. So, I would set the resource's base calendar to Standard for the 8 hour day.
  • If you want to spread the 100 hours of work (at 8 hours per day) over across the long duration - create the task. Split your screen (right click in the Gantt chart and select "Show Split") to show the Task Form in the lower pane. Set the duration and make the task a Fixed Duration task using the Type drop down in the Task form. Click OK. Select the resource from the list in the Task Form and manually enter the estimated work amount. Project will spread that work out evenly over the long duration. Then, as you need, set the task back to fixed Units. The true % assigned will show in the Peak field added to the Task Usage view. The Resource Usage view (in the pool) will show you total work for the resource across all projects.
I hope this helps.

RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration


Many thanks for the input and feel free to bump in at any point !!

I have defined the days as 24hrs & weeks as 168 hours so the 24 hour tasks are working as 24hrs and the 365 day task is now showing as 365 days on the chart.

Will the resources not be defined according to their own working calendar of 5 days a week and 8 hours per day?

The problem with the last option is these Projects will be entered by the Engineers themselves, who vary greatly in computing abilities, so I need to make things as simple as possible. I will have a play the setup as I have it now and then see how it goes.


RE: MS Project - Struggling with Configuration

As long as you select the "Standard" calendar as the resources' base calendar in the Resource Sheet view, they should have the 8 hours per day 5 days per week setting. You may also want to record the usual company holidays in the Standard calendar so your resources get those as holidays in their working calendar.

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