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Thread: work is added to high level task when start constraint is added

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    2

    work is added to high level task when start constraint is added

    I am using Project 2007 SP3, and have trouble getting Project to accept that it is not allowed to change the amount of work I assign to tasks and subtasks just because I move a start date or add a predecessor to a task.

    Details:

    I have a project with tasks and subtasks, and resources allocated to subtasks.

    In particular, I have

    Task 2 - Design and Build a piece of equipment
    Task 2.3 - Separable hardware modules
    2.3.1 - Module A
    2.3.1.1 - Specification & preliminary Design
    2.3.1.2 - Design
    2.3.1.3 - Procure component parts
    2.3.1.4 - Acceptance Testing
    2.3.1.5 - Assemble
    ...etc

    I have resources like
    Electrical Engineer, max units = 100% (1 EE available for whole project)
    Mechanical Engineer, max units = 200% (2 MEs available for whole project)
    etc.

    I already had estimatates of work by resource by lowest level task figured out in an excel spreadsheet. For instance, 24 hours of mechanical engineering in 2.3.1.1, and 120 hours in 2.3.1.2. Plus 8 hours of Electrical in 2.3.1.1 and 20 hours in 2.3.1.2, etc. These are estimated outside of MS Project using an estimation tool in Excel.


    I imported these into the project by doing this (it's roundabout, but I have a hundred tasks and 20 resources, and I didnt want to manually enter them)

    Set all tasks at all levels to fixed work (ignored for higher level tasks, which stayed at fixed duration) -- This is how I want the project run - -fixed work, not fixed duration or fixed units.

    Assign all resources to all tasks by...
    In gannt chart, select all tasks (with all subtasks shown, so I selected the whole shooting match)
    Toolbar>Resources>Assign people and equipment to tasks
    Assign resources

    In modal box, select all resources, hit assign

    Assign correct efforts by resource by...
    Select manual calculation (so it doesn't do things while Im importing data)
    Select Resource Usage
    Select a Resource (for instance Electrical Engineer)
    Expand so it shows all tasks and subtasks
    Copy work from excel spreadsheet into this table
    Repeat with other resources
    Select automatic calculation (turn it back on)

    Now it shows bottom level tasks correctly, and shows higher level tasks as having resources assigned, but work = 0.

    I assigned everyone to everything so it would be easy to copy/paste from excel. The excel spreadsheet always has zero hours for tasks that have subtasks, since the labor is actually calculated at the lowest possible level.

    Now what I WANT to happen is be able to move task 2.3 start date to fall late in the project (using either start no earlier or by setting a predecessor like "task 123FS + 3 months"), and have resource requirements correctly figure out the duration of all tasks. Note that I am NOT trying to force durations to change.

    What ACTUALLY happens is Project decides to add arbitrary large amounts of work to task 2.3. Before I add the constraint, the EE resource has zero hours in Task 2.3 (all the work is down in Tasks 2.3.1.x). After adding the start constraint, Project has added many hundreds of hours to 2.3, plus hundreds to 2.3.1.

    So why did Project add work? How do I stop it?

    I suspect this is tied to the fact that high level tasks are locked as being task type="fixed duration" and cant be changed to "fixed work". The bottom tasks are set to "effort driven" by default, and I haven't messed with that.

    Do I need to de-assign all the resources from the summary tasks? I can do that, but it's pretty annoying, because then I dont have an easy way to copy/paste from excel into the project.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    631

    Re: work is added to high level task when start constraint is added

    You are certainly using Project in an unusual fashion and that may be causing the issue. But a couple of comments/questions:

    Resources should be assigned to only the workpackage level -- not summary tasks. You may temporarily turn off the display of summary tasks before selecting the tasks and using the assign resources button. Tools > Options, View tab.

    I'm puzzled as to why you are assigning all resources to all tasks and even further puzzled why you would then copy and paste data into the Resource Usage view.

    I'm puzzled by this:
    Now what I WANT to happen is be able to move task 2.3 start date to fall late in the project (using either start no earlier or by setting a predecessor like "task 123FS + 3 months"), and have resource requirements correctly figure out the duration of all tasks. Note that I am NOT trying to force durations to change.

    If you are specifying work, Project will automatically calculate duration based upon Work/Assignment units. Moving tasks to new start dates should not modify duration.

    May I ask if you have this detailed of a plan in Excel, why you are using Project? It does not appear from my reading that you are using Project for any calculations.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    2

    Re: work is added to high level task when start constraint is added

    I probably am using Project in an unusual way.

    The reason I used such a kludge way of adding resources to the project was that I spent way too much time trying to get Project to import resource allocations from Excel (the documentation is pretty bad -- looked online, etc, but all the instructions I could find were the really basic "select what you want and click go"), and didn't want to do it manually (about a thousand entries).

    The technique I tried worked at least in the sense that it imported all the resource assignments I wanted. I guess the gotcha is that Project sees 0h of work as being fundamentally different from the resource not assigned.

    The reason I wanted to use Project was that my excel spreadsheet says I need 2 man-years of electrical engineer, but it doesnt say when, won't level load, and won't let me figure out how many are needed during any given week.

    The reason I want to be able to move task start dates manually is that some tasks depend on externals which do change, so I may have to move the start date. I'm just saying that when I did this, Project decided to add work to summary tasks. I was not necessarily expecting Project to recalculate durations when I move the start date - just wanted to be clear that I wasn't manually messing with the durations so the work-based calculations shouldnt have broken.

    I did fix part of the problem by removing resources from all summary tasks. That didn't fix it completely, because project still wants to level load a resource using task work entries = 0hours, so then I did go back and manually change every task for every person -- the thousand data entries I was trying to avoid.

    So, I'm kind of left with my initial opinion -- Project has a lot of capability, but also plenty of counterintuitive gotchas.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    631

    Re: work is added to high level task when start constraint is added

    I understand a bit better (I think). If you have some skills with VBA, you might find importing the timescaled values for assignments works better than copy/paste. Portions of fellow Project MVP, Rod Gill's book are available on MSDN for free.

    See:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...ice.12%29.aspx

    If they remove the link search for "project vba rod gill msdn" to find the page.

    You may also find filtering for summary tasks and then selecting all filtered tasks, click the Assign Resources button and remove is faster than the 1000 manual entries.

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