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Random duration changes not requested

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  #1  
Old 31-05-2012
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Random duration changes not requested

I have a schedule that for some reason the durations on multiple tasks have been increasing by a day at a time at random times. I can't figure out why and there doesn't seem to be a pattern.
The duration of the schedule has been getting longer, but we figured it was from adding new tasks that had popped up after we baselined the schedule. But we put three different versions of the schedule up together and noticed that the durations were getting longer even though we didn't increase them. I printed the file at two and at three when I opened it in the conference room, the durations had increased again.
It was originally created in 2010, but I have 2007. I don't know if that has been an issue, though. I couldn't find anything about a similar problem when I googled it. I know there are issues when printing in the network diagram when going from 2007 to 2010, so that's why I'm thinking it's a compatibility issue, but what do I know? It could also have something to do with saving it to a share drive.
If anyone knows how to stop this, please let me know!
Thanks

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  #2  
Old 31-05-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

To the best of my knowledge, durations increasing is not an issue of file compatibility. So, there must be something else going on.

Are you tracking work? If you compare timescaled (use the Task or Resource Usage view) baseline work against actual work, are you resources performing less work per day than they were scheduled?

Have the assignment units for resources been altered? Are you seeing any Work variance?

Let us know a bit more about what you are doing with the file and we'll try to assist.

Julie
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  #3  
Old 31-05-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

Thank you for the speedy response!

I inherited this schedule from someone else who has 2010 (I have 2007). He put names in the Resource column on the Gantt chart, so I guess that might have something to do with it. We don't resource our schedules normally.

I don't think I am tracking work. I status the schedule by putting in actual start and finish dates and updating % complete.

For the task that caught our attention, its baseline duration is 2 days, duration is up to 5 even though we didn't change it. Its Baseline work is 16 hrs, Work is 48 hrs and actual work is 0 hours. This task isn't scheduled until May of 13, so I guess the actual at zero makes sense, if I understand what it tracks correctly. Its work variance is 32 hours. Shouldn't work be at 40 hours since it is a 5 day task currently?

I don't know how to change assignment units for resources, so I don't think I did that.

The addition of days seems to occur when I copy it to our share drive. It did have a random date change once when I emailed the file to someone: It moved one task's finish date out to 2024 or something really rediculous like that.

Thank you for your help! We don't know what to do about this. We are thinking the file is corrupt and that I will need to rebuild the schedule. I really don't want to have to do that, but will if necessary.
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  #4  
Old 01-06-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

If resources are assigned, you now have a more complicated scenario than just tasks, durations, and dates.

You are tracking when you say you are entering Actual Starts and % complete. Are you using Status dates?

If the baseline work on tasks was 16 hours and the task currently shows 48 hours, either the work changed thereby increasing duration -- or the duration changed -- increasing work. No, variance is the difference between current work (48) and baseline work (16). If you have 48 hours of work on a 5 day duration task -- do you have more than one resource assigned?

It is possible that there is corruption -- but usually corruption throws errors when you open the file -- not randomly increasing durations. Do you have any hammock tasks in the schedule -- tasks where the start and end dates are paste linked from other tasks in the project?
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  #5  
Old 01-06-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

Wow. This is more complicated than we had hoped!

We just went through it line by line to compare the baseline duration with the current duration. The tasks that had changes were ones where a name had been entered into the Resource Name column.
Some tasks were as much as 12 days longer than we intended, which should account for the schedule length doubling.

There are no hammocks in this schedule.
I do use status dates.
Some tasks have two resources.

If I delete the names out of the Resource Names column, will it help? Then I could change the durations back to what we want them to be. I will put the names into a text category. It was just to know what entity was responsible for the task, not to track resources.

Thank you so much for your help!
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  #6  
Old 01-06-2012
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

I checked my resource levelling settings. It is set to manually level. So doesn't that mean I have to tell it to level?
I haven't leveled anything, unless I did it unknowingly.
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2012
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If you un-assign the resource that should make Project much more predictable. The durations may not drop back down without manual intervention -- but they should stay stable after removing resources.

You can also use the "Contact" field that is available on the task side of Project and then customize the Gantt chart view to show people in the contact field. You won't have the cool pick list -- but it sounds like assignments are creating their own share of pain.


Resource leveling should not have changed durations unless you are splitting tasks. You are correct -- if leveling is set to manual, you have to go in to the Resource Leveling command and choose "Level now".
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  #8  
Old 01-06-2012
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

Thank you so much! I will definitely tell poeple not to use that column anymore since we aren't resourcing our schedules. It's funny how this is the only schedule that has been doing this. It isn't the only one with entries in the resource names column.

I already was playing around with unassigning resources, because I hate to sit around doing nothing when things need to be done and I tend to find things out about Project by stumbling onto them.
A funny thing happened that I didn't expect: Tasks that were 100% complete changed to 0%. It's not a big deal because the dates stayed what they had been. So I just had to put 100% in the % complete column for those tasks.

This will be much quicker than remaking the whole schedule. It's only a 171 line schedule, but the network diagram takes forever to lay out manually.

Thanks again for all your help!
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2012
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

Hi,

Yes when you unassign resources, you shuold get a message about removing actuals. If you say yes (which is the only way to unassign resources) the % complete will be re-set.

Add the field and fill down to catch a bunch of tasks at a time.

And you're most welcome for the assistance. Glad to have helped and thanks for the feedback.
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  #10  
Old 06-06-2012
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

So far, so good. No random increases anymore. I've only posted it to the share drive once, though. I will definitely keep my eye on it and my other schedules incase they start creeping to the right for no reason!
Thanks!
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  #11  
Old 15-06-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

I think I found the culprit for changing dates/durations in the files.
I link multiple files for the purposes of making a screen shot once a month for a presentation.
Initially we intended to link all the files together, but that didn't pan out. Now each project is collapsed to show just the top summary task with milestones rolled up to show where major events occur.
Today as I opened the file, the end dates on this file, which is one of the linked files, had a finish date of 2022! I closed it out and opened the source file, but it still had the correct end date.
So when this linked file changed the dates and I didn't notice it, I must have saved back to the source file.

Is this a common occurence? How do I keep it from happening? I don't think they all have the same calendar, but the two calendars that I use are only ten days apart. We changed the standard to add the ten Federal holidays. Projects started a while ago still have the standard calendar.

I have no idea how to fix this or find a work around for this months brief!
Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks
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  #12  
Old 16-06-2012
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

Are you sure your resource leveling is set to Manual? Is it possible that someone else is opening the master file and leveling?
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  #13  
Old 18-06-2012
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

I check the last date saved on the file and it is always for the last day I had used it. Most people I work with view the schedule as a plague. I doubt they would go any where near it.
It happened even when I made a new file in the same manner, too.
I'm stumped.
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  #14  
Old 19-06-2012
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

There is certainly something amiss. Project 2007 is up to service pack 3 -- what level of SP do you have applied?

Do you have links on summary tasks? Resources assigned to summary tasks?

If you open only the subproject file, do tasks change? Do you have links from one task in one project to another task in another project?
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  #15  
Old 19-06-2012
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Re: Random duration changes not requested

I have service pack 2, so I will work on updating that.
There are no links on summary tasks.
There are no resources anymore, either.
I had my IT guy in my cube with me this morning and I showed him the file. When we opened files, dates changed on the one file that was giving me problems at the beginning of this thread. Every other file reverted back to its correct dates after we opened and closed them a second time, but the one file kept extending by a year a time until 2023. For some reason it stopped expanding that year.
We think it is a corrupt file. This occurs on our share drive and on my hard drive, so I think we can rule out a glitch in the share drive. And it is just this file.
I am going to rebuild this file from scratch. Luckily it's only a couple hundred lines.
Thank you for all your help! I've learned a lot I can apply to projects in the future.
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