Managing Your Business Processes

Understanding Auto-Scheduling and Related Functions in ProjectQuest

Saturday, February 26, 2011 4:08:55 PM

Automatic Scheduling of Tasks and Task Dependencies

Automatic scheduling of Tasks helps users to quickly create Project Plans without having to set Target Start and Due Dates for each Task.

Automatic schedule is calculated when the Auto-Schedule Task checkbox is checked. The Target Start and Due Date fields are disabled.

If Auto-Scheduling is disabled for the current Task, the user can manually enter Target Start and Due Dates. All fields related to Auto-Scheduling are disabled (hidden). The user can still pick this task as a dependency for another task.

Start Date

When Automatic Scheduling is on, Target Start Date is calculated based on the Due Date of the previous Task. For example, Task 2.2.4 will start when Task 2.2.3 finishes. This implies that the actual work of a task should be finished before its Due Date.

If a task is the first child of its parent Task or Phase, the Task will start when the task preceding its parent (its parent’s previous sibling) finishes. For example, Task 2.2.1 will start when Task 2.1 finishes.

If a Task is the first task of a Project, the Task will start when the Project starts. Tasks 1, 1.1. and 1.1.1. will all have the same start date – the Project Start Date.

The user can override this automatic value and select a later date then the calculated.

Dependencies

Users may choose to override the automatic behavior and explicitly set which tasks need to finish before the current Task starts. In the dependencies field, user can pick multiple tasks. The Start Date of the current Task will be the latest Due Date of the selected tasks. For example, if:

-          Task 1.1.2 finishes on May 16

-          Task 2.3.1 finishes on May 20

-          Task 1.2 finishes on May 22

-          Current Task will start on May 22 (on the latest Due Date)

Dependency picker shows all Tasks in the current Project, except direct parents:

-          For Task 2.2.3 it will NOT show:

  • Task 2.2.3.1 – Task cannot start after its subtask finishes
  • Task 2.2.3 – Task cannot start after itself
  • Task 2.2 – Task cannot start after its parent finishes
  • Task 2 – Task cannot start after its parent finishes

It will show all other Tasks.

Duration

Duration can be set for each Task, and also in the Task Template. If no Duration is set, automatic scheduling will not work.

Duration can be set in Days (elapsed days, not work days); Weeks (7 days); Months (calendar month)

If a Task has sub-tasks, Duration can be automatically shrunk or expanded to fit its sub-tasks. In this case, Duration will include the period from the starting of the earliest sub-task, to the finish of the latest sub-task. For example:

-          Task 2.2.1 from May 16 to May 20

-          Task 2.2.2 from May 21 to May 22

-          Task 2.2.3 from May 17 to May 23

-          Parent Task 2.2 will have a duration of 7 days, from May 16 to May 23

Milestones

If a Task has a Duration set to 0 (zero), it displayed as a Milestone in the Gantt chart. Milestones can be used to display key dates, or to indicate tasks done by an external company, such as a supplier.

Due Date

Due Date = Start Date + Duration. Users can override this value by choosing a manual date. The manually set date should not precede the Task Start Date.

Lag Time

Some Tasks may require additional time after the actual work has finished. For example, painting a wall may last 3 days and then require two more days for the wall to dry. The next task will then start 2 days after this task has finished.

Exclude Tasks

Tasks that are not important to the schedule can be excluded from it by checking the Exclude from Schedule checkbox. In this way, the next task does not calculate based on this task’s Due Date. It takes the previous one:

-          Task 2.1 from May 16 to May 20

-          Task 2.2.1 from May 21 to May 24 (excluded)

-          Current Task 2.2.2 will start on May 20.

Users can still explicitly select the excluded Task as a Dependency of another Task by choosing it from the Dependency picker of the latter.

Disable Tasks (not yet implemented)

Disabled Tasks can be used when the Project is low on resources. In this way, task data can be saved for a later period when there are spare resources.

-          Disabled Tasks are excluded from the schedule.

-          They do not show in pickers.

-          No notifications are sent to assigned personnel.

Project Team

Project Team is used to do batch assignments on multiple tasks.

Defining Project Team

-          User: Clicks Project Team button on Project View page.

-          System: Displays Project Team page. This page shows all Functional Responsibilities currently used by Tasks in the Project. There are 2 people pickers for each Functional Responsibility: Responsible Person and Record Administrators. Initially, these fields are empty.

-          User: Selects people for each field. The people picker shows all personnel.

-          U: Checks the Process? checkbox before each Responsibility they need to update.

-          U: When she has finished selecting people, user clicks OK.

-          System: Displays a confirmation showing the number of tasks that are about to be updated.

-          System updates all Tasks that have Functional Responsibility field set. Current values in task fields are replaced with values from Project Team (if the Process checkbox was checked).

-          Users can still edit a particular Task and make changes to the assignments.

Updating Only Selected Responsibilities

-          User can update only selected Functional Responsibilities. This is done by checking the Process checkbox before each Responsibility.

-          S: Only the selected Responsibilities are updated.

-          Tasks that are assigned to other Responsibilities keep their current assignments.

Removing Assignments

-          User can remove current assignment from multiple Tasks:

-          User: Selects a Responsibility to update by checking its checkbox

-          Removes all people from each people picker and clicks OK.

-          System removes assigned people from all Tasks that are using one of the selected Responsibilities.

Management Views (not fully implemented)

Add a new menu item “Management Views” with 3 submenu items, navigating to 3 List Views:

-          All Tasks  Includes all Tasks for open Projects, i.e. Project Status is Not Started, In Progress, On Hold.

-          Tasks Requiring Attention

  • Overdue Tasks
  • Tasks that are not yet assigned to anybody
  • Tasks that have not started on their Target Start Date

-          Open Issues Includes all Issues, except Completed issues.

Change Phase Content Type

Change the content type of Phases so that it is the same as Tasks – including Target Dates,

Improved Gantt Chart

The Gantt Chart can be filtered to display:

-          Tasks from a certain Project;

-          Only Tasks assigned to selected people;

-          Only selected Phases / Summary Tasks;

Users may choose to display only a range of dates (and view the result as Days, Weeks or Months). Also, users can navigate to a specific date.

Hovering on a Task Bar in the chart displays Task Information as a tooltip.

Clicking on a Task or Phase filters the Gantt Chart to display only this Task / Phase and its Subtasks.