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Hard constraint dates for multiple tasks - how to? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I have an Excel file output from a third party scheduling package. I intend to use this as a base it import into Project so that I can start scheduling & planning my work requirements. This is essentially a fixed framework I need to work within.

    As this is an existing schedule, the dates can't be rescheduled when I start inputting my tasks. I can see how to set these existing dates using MSO & MFO , but as far as I am aware this has to be done for each task individually. This is fine if it only a few items, but the data I am working with consists of several hundred tasks over the 6 month schedule that I have.

    Is there any way of selecting groups of tasks, or the entire column of imported dates, and setting them as fixed, inflexible dates?

    Thanks

    Monday, December 2, 2019 10:40 PM

Answers

  • Yep. Insert the constraint type and constraint date columns into the entry table. Copy the task names from the spreadsheet and paste in all of the task names. Set the constraint type to MSO for all tasks. The easy way is to make the first on MSO, then select from there to the bottom of the list with shift-ctrl down arrow, the fill down with ctrl-D.

    Now copy all of the dates and paste them into the constraint date column.

    Any help?

    • Marked as answer by Scott_Ixx Tuesday, December 3, 2019 8:13 AM
    Monday, December 2, 2019 11:30 PM

All replies

  • Yep. Insert the constraint type and constraint date columns into the entry table. Copy the task names from the spreadsheet and paste in all of the task names. Set the constraint type to MSO for all tasks. The easy way is to make the first on MSO, then select from there to the bottom of the list with shift-ctrl down arrow, the fill down with ctrl-D.

    Now copy all of the dates and paste them into the constraint date column.

    Any help?

    • Marked as answer by Scott_Ixx Tuesday, December 3, 2019 8:13 AM
    Monday, December 2, 2019 11:30 PM
  • Hi Trevor,

    Thanks for your reply, and great to hear that it can be done!

    As I'm new to Project, I may need some clarification on the process that you described above (let's take out any assumed knowledge here). I'll give it a go and see what the results are!

    Regards

    Scott

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:18 AM
  • Well, what can you do?

    How far did you get?

    Where did you get stuck?

    Can you insert columns? Right click on the heading of any column, select from the list, constraint type and constraint date. Select the MSO constraint type from the drop down list.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 8:46 AM
  • SUCCESS!  Took a couple of attempts, had to toggle between manual/auto scheduling for the MSO part.

    But I have my base data in and sorted now :)

    Much appreciated, thank you.

    Now for the fun part, adding my planned tasks & sub tasks and setting some dependencies to see what works and where the potential train-wrecks are.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 9:23 AM
  • Scott,

    I should warn you that if you are going to start with the dates and then add predecessors/successors you will have train wreck right there. Ideally, for the critical path method to work, you should start with the durations and then build up the network with predecessors, and no dates at all except a project start date. Do not put predecessors/successors on summaries. Every task should have at least one FS0 predecessor and at least one FS0 successor.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 1:07 PM
  • Trevor,

    Which means Scott will have to remove all the hard constraints.

    Well, it will be a real learning experience for him :-)

    John

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 1:58 PM
  • I have durations for my proposed tasks, & was intending to have date dependencies configured around these and the existing pre-determined dates. I fully intend to see areas that won't work - that's almost the whole point of the exercise!

    I am using this as a planning tool to identify potential problems with proposed workloads well ahead of time, and modify/amend/reschedule the planned work accordingly. And in such a way that it is easy and repeatable when I get periodic project schedule updates.

    How else would you approach the problem? I am not setting the operation's schedule, that is already done. I am trying to work within it.



    • Edited by Scott_Ixx Tuesday, December 3, 2019 10:05 PM clarity
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 9:50 PM
  • Scott,

    If I may throw in my two cents, I would not have imported the "framework" directly into the schedule fields, rather, I would have imported the top planning lines into custom fields such as Start1 and Finish1. The next step might be to set up a custom field formula to calculate the difference between the Start1 and Finish1 fields to determine what that time is in working time as defined by the Project schedule. That will give you the duration for each planning task. From there you can set the Start field based on Start1 and add the duration from the custom field. It should yield the desired finish (i.e. Finish1) but with only a SNET (soft) constraint of each planning task.

    Once that is set up, lay in the performance tasks under each planning task with appropriate dependencies, including those that may link to performance tasks under other planning tasks, and durations. Not, as Trevor noted, do NOT link any planning tasks themselves. When the performance tasks are indented under each planning task (i.e. each planning task becomes a summary line), change the SNET constraints on each summary line to ASAP and you have a "first cut" at a dynamic plan. The dates will most likely not match the top level dates stored in the Start1 and Finish1 fields but you now have a detail framework in which to work.

    Trying to dovetail a realistic plan into a top down framework is always challenging and remember, if something just does not fit, raise the issue, don't sign up for something you know will fail.

    John

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 10:15 PM
  • Thanks John,

    I am keen to hear of other approaches to this problem using this software. My initial approach was based on my logic - but the members here know the software and how best use it to get the desired result. It's all a learning curve.

    I have no problem with highlighting & escalating potential "failures" in the process, I am just trying to get better at planning to mitigate & avoid them for my work where I can.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 11:27 PM
  • Well, I would do it the way I said. Let the software calculate the dates from the durations and predecessors. That's what it is for. If you have a rack of dates that you already have in mind, then perhaps store them in a spare custom field (Start1, Finish1) and compare them to what gets calculated. The start and finish columns in the entry table are the early start and early finish. In the schedule table, you will see also the late start and late finish, as well as the free slack and total slack (and this the number you are really looking for). When you start with a rack of "predetermined" dates, that is what you "want", but that may not be feasible. If you set up the network of tasks properly, MSP will show you what you can have, ie what's feasible, and what you might want, or thought you wanted, is more or less irrelevant.

    Where did your "predetermined" dates come from? It must have been a lot of work to figure them out, and then perhaps they have to be scrapped.

    Most commonly, MSP is used in this way, mainly as an application of the critical path method. However, the functionality also lends itself to other uses, perhaps such as yours. Just don't re-invent the wheel.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 11:41 PM
  • The predetermined dates are from the schedule - created by a third party industry package.  Typically, my work requirements would be incorporated into the long term plan by the Planning Engineer, but for a variety of reasons, not this time. For context, I am in the mining industry. My work (drill program) is the first part of a repetitive cycle, but doesn't need to be in every cycle (ideally every 4th/5th cycle).

    I have work programs designed - I know ideally where (spatially) and how much (duration) is required, as well as the lag time for my sub tasks. My work is to gather information for other areas of the operation to use &  I have some flexibility in the design of my work programs. I can vary the magnitude of the program - break it into 2 or 3 smaller programs, to spread across more "slack" periods, although this rework can be time consuming. I may also need to do this if I have resourcing issues - needing to be in two places at once.

    I appreciate that I am not using Project as it is intended - but it has to be a better option than Excel! I have no intention to reinvent the wheel, that's why I am here asking experienced users and Project Managers for advice on how to achieve what I need. Plus learn something new along the way (that I can apply even better next time). 

    Wednesday, December 4, 2019 12:34 AM