Advice on projecting dates RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hey folks, back for more advice, since y'all are always so great. :)

    Using Project Standard 2010.

    I work in a software development organization. Part of the stuff I have to do is plan out testing. I have some fairly discrete tasks I can create, with hours estimates, like so:

    Test - New Function A

    • Write test script - 5 hours
    • Execute dry run - 10 hours
    • Execute formal test - 6 hours

    Normally I create these as "fixed work" tasks. So, if you can imagine, my plan has a whole bunch of these that add up to, say 500 hours of work.

    I have a number of testing resources in my project, assigned at the project at 80%.

    What I really need to be able to do is figure out, "with X testers available at 80% each, when can all of this testing get done?"

    However, I don't really know WHICH testers will be working on WHICH specific tasks. I can assign them one by one, but then it becomes haphazard, and I have to count to make sure I've assigned about the same number of hours to each tester. Very tedious.

    What I have sometimes have tried to do in the past is assign all three testers to each task, and then level resources. While we would never actually have multiple people on these tasks, I thought that, while the actual work breakdown that Project creates isn't very realistic, it should at least allow me to estimate when I should be able to get the testing done with that number of bodies

    I would swear this had worked before for me, but in my current plan, it's not working at all. For some reason when I try this, it's making the schedule go out way into the future. When I look at the Resource Usage, the testers will go days without any tasks and then work 2.83h on one task. I don't get what it's doing, but it's clearly not what I want it to do. There's only like 160 hours of work left. Even with dependencies, there's no way it should take 3 bodies until next June to finish this!

    Any suggestions for the best way to go about this?

    Again, the main goal is: "Given these 100 fixed work tasks totalling 500 hours, if I divide that work between X resources, when do I think the tasks will be completed?"

    I should also add, my higher ups are also quite likely to reply to this data with questions like, "Well, if you add a fourth tester, when will it get done?" I would prefer to be able to check that scenario without jumping through too many hoops.

    Thanks in advance!


    • Edited by sbattisti Tuesday, July 14, 2015 8:48 PM
    Tuesday, July 14, 2015 8:43 PM

All replies

  • Steve,

    Stop where you say " I don't really know WHICH testers will be working on WHICH specific tasks". If you don't know, then you must make an estimate and assign people to the tasks.

    Break the problem into two main stages. First establish the duration estimates for the tasks and the predecessor/successor relationships between the tasks. Make sure that you have a "closed" network in which every task has a predecessor and a successor, at least one of each and probably more. Make sure that there are no predecessor/successor links on/from/to the summaries. Then you will have chance at finding a critical path and you will have an answer to the first question, which is, "considering only the tasks and durations, and given unlimited resources (or without considering resources), how soon can this project be finished?"

    Then assign the people according to who is best suited to the task, and how many people will work on each task. You say that you assign them at 80%. What is the max units for each resource? Is it 80%? Assign them all at the default max units. If your max units is 80% then they will be over-allocated whenever their assignment is greater than 80%. As you assign resources there will be over-allocation. This is inevitable. Alternatively, assign a person to tasks until he becomes just a little bit over-allocated, then assign him to no more tasks.

    After the resource assignments, use leveling to delay tasks until the over-allocation is resolved, i disappears.

    Now you have the answer to the next question which is, "given the tasks, durations, predecessors/successors and resource assignments in the model, how soon can the project finish?".

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015 1:47 AM
  • Alright, sigh. :(

    So, I guess this means there's really no way to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I HAVE to assign out all of the tasks, let's say split between 3 resources, and if management then says "Well, if we add a fourth resource, what will happen?" the only way to answer that is to redo the task assignments splitting it between four resources.

    Am I understanding you correctly?

    (And yes, we use 80% as our standard max, under the assumption that 20% of peoples' time is going to get sucked up with administrative or non-project related stuff.)

    Thanks very much for your feedback!

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015 12:54 PM
  • So, follow-up question:

    I did what you suggested. And yet it is still doing very strange things with my resources and pushing my date out way into the future.

    For example, I gave KS 15 tasks totaling 65 hours. The tasks are all ABLE to be started today, i.e. they have no predecessors that are incomplete. KS is available at 80% and has no other assignments other than these 15 tasks.

    Theoretically, since he is working 6.4 hours per day, he should be able to burn through these tasks in about 10 days, or by the end of July approximately.

    However, when I level the resources, he is given most of his tasks in the next week to 10 days. However, there are several tasks that he doesn't work on until NEXT YEAR. 

    As I look at it more closely, the ones that are getting pushed out are tasks that are at least partially complete already. So, the Work is 12 hours, the Actual Work is 9 hours, and the Remaining is 3 hours. There should be no reason he can't complete the remaining 3 hours ASAP.

    Any ideas as to how I can convince Project of that fact?

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015 3:05 PM
  • Yes, send me the file to trevorATperfectprojectDOTcomDOTau
    Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:23 AM
  • So, I appreciate your offer very much!

    I was able to work around the issue by deleting the offending tasks and just recreating the tasks with only the remaining work. Not what I wanted to do, because it messed with my metrics, but I unfortunately had to meet a deadline...

    Of course, doofus that I am, I didn't back up my file right before I did that, otherwise I would just send it anyway. :(

    Thursday, July 16, 2015 1:35 AM