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How to Create Multiple Calendar Exceptions Which Occasionally Coincide RRS feed

  • Question

  • Ok so here's my situation

    I have a group of schedules that currently have technical work and routine meetings and I am working in Project Standard 2010.  I am not a fan of including meetings in technical schedules especially the recurring variety that represent informal tag-ups.  However, the team that is working the actual schedule has a significant portion of their work day captured by meetings.  They want to be able to resource level, but they have to also be able to show the impact of their meeting obligations on their ability to complete technical work.

    So originally I was going to have these meetings entered as recurring events in the schedule; their periodicities were various.  Some meetings were daily, some weekly, some monthly.  But it became clear to me that this approach was going to become unsustainable.  With schedules that extend out a full calendar year, the daily and weekly meetings in particular became voluminous numbering in the thousands; in some cases representing 2/3 of all the schedule activities.  

    This makes timely tacking, updating, and statusing of these schedules un-achievable.  I searched on the web and was given a clever suggestion: to create a resource calendar with recurring exceptions that represented meeting obligations for a resource.  

    I liked the idea but there was a problem.  When I was testing the idea I wanted to see what would happen if a resource had multiple exceptions (representing multiple meetings) that coincided on the same day.  Would Project recognize all of the exceptions?  So I created a resource named "Bob" and gave him

    -a daily exception with a work day defined from 9:00-12:00 and 1:00-5:00 (to represent an 8:00 hourly meeting)

    -a weekly exception with a work day defined from 8:00-12:00 and 1:00-4:00 (to represent a 4:00 hourly meeting)

    -a monthly exception with a work day defined from 8:00-11:00 and 1:00-5:00 (to represent an 11:00 hourly meeting)

    I ensured that the weekly and monthly exceptions happened on Mondays, and then I found a Monday were all 3 exceptions would be in effect.  I schedule an activity to begin on the date, and then applied Bob to that activity.  Then I went to the Resource Usage view to Bob's hours, and instead of reflecting that Bob could only do 5 hours of work, it showed that Bob could do 7 hours of work.

    It appeared that Project 2010 would only honor one exception at a time, and it appeared to do it in a hierarchy... first daily exceptions, then monthly exceptions, then weekly exceptions.  Is that simply how it works in Project 2010?  Can only one exception be honored at a time?  And if there are coinciding exceptions, does Project 2010 start with the daily exception first?

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:16 PM

Answers

  • Hi B Fennell,

    I strongly agree with John. Managing this way meetings can turn into a nightmare. For example, you'll have 1d tasks that might start beginning of a given day then finish at 11am the next day.

    I'd advice to manage it in another way, for example by reduce the % of availability of the resources. Meaning that you can consider that resources are available at only 80% of the working week, due to various meetings.

    Concerning multiple recurring exceptions, I apparently have the same behavior that might be by design, meaning the if 2 exceptions are impacting a unique day, they won't be cumulated.

    Hope this helps.


    Guillaume Rouyre - MBA, MCP, MCTS

    • Marked as answer by B Fennell Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:12 PM
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:34 PM
    Moderator
  • B Fennell,

    Yes, you understood the approach correctly.

    With regard to your second question, I only created a simple scenario of a couple of tasks, I did not carry it forward to test how it might work with recurring tasks, but since you have three meeting schedules, you won't be able to set up a single meeting calendar using the recurring feature. Unfortunately you will need to manually set up each weekly and monthly meeting. For the daily meeting you could simply set the resource working calendar to be 7 hours instead of the normal 8, leaving the first hour of the day for the daily meeting.

    John



    • Edited by John - Project Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:40 AM clarity
    • Marked as answer by B Fennell Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:12 PM
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:31 PM

All replies

  • B Fennell,

    First of all, I commend you for writing a very clear, concise explanation. That is refreshing.

    I personally think someone is taking the meeting thing to an extreme. Meetings are a normal part of any project and trying to "schedule" them will probably result in a whole lot more effort than it's worth to simply maintain the file.

    Nonetheless, I did a quick scenario which will be laborious to set up but I think will get you where you want to go. First, I set up two resources for Bob. One is his work schedule (e.g. Bob work) , the other his meeting schedule (e.g. Bob meetings). Bob's work calendar shows working time exceptions carved out for each daily meeting, weekly meeting and monthly meeting. So for example if Bob has a weekly meeting the last hour of each day and a monthly meeting between 11:00 am and noon, then Bob's work calendar would show those two times blocked out on the day's those meetings take place. Meeting that coincide on any particular day will of course show two time slots carved out of his normal workday.

    For Bob's meeting schedule, I set up calendar that only showed work time in meetings for the specific meeting days. So for example, if Bob has a daily meeting from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, a weekly meeting on Wednesday from 11:00 am to noon and a monthly meeting on the last Friday of each month from 8:00 am to noon, then Bob's meeting calendar would be "active" (i.e show working times) for only those days and times throughout the year. As I said, laborious to set up.

    Now, for the actual schedule, set up separate meeting tasks as needed and assign those resource's to the meetings using their "meeting calendar". All other tasks are assigned using the resource's "work calendar".

    See if that helps.

    John

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:50 PM
  • Hi B Fennell,

    I strongly agree with John. Managing this way meetings can turn into a nightmare. For example, you'll have 1d tasks that might start beginning of a given day then finish at 11am the next day.

    I'd advice to manage it in another way, for example by reduce the % of availability of the resources. Meaning that you can consider that resources are available at only 80% of the working week, due to various meetings.

    Concerning multiple recurring exceptions, I apparently have the same behavior that might be by design, meaning the if 2 exceptions are impacting a unique day, they won't be cumulated.

    Hope this helps.


    Guillaume Rouyre - MBA, MCP, MCTS

    • Marked as answer by B Fennell Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:12 PM
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:34 PM
    Moderator
  • John,

    Thanks for your reply.  I think I understand your scenario, you are representing all of Bob's work hours by breaking it up into it's constituent components (i.e. an actual work calendar and then a meeting calendar).  The actual work calendar is inactive when the meeting calendar is active (and vice versa).  Do I have that right?

    My question though is, for those times you carved out of the working calendar (times that represented meetings coinciding on the same day) were those generated automatically or manually?  Are you physically putting in the total outage due to coinciding meetings one day at a time, or are you using the recurring function to somehow do that?
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:33 PM
  • Guillaume,

    Most people who have familiarity with scheduling agree with John, you, and myself; that the attempt to schedule, track, status, and update routine meetings is probably ill-advised.  I thought about doing something a long the lines of what you are suggesting (if for no other reason because it would make my life easier) to just reduce their percentage availability.  

    I may ultimately present that also as an alternative.  My solution right now is to create exceptions to the exception.  Meaning: If I have a daily, weekly, and monthly exception, then I consider my daily meeting to be "The Exception" (because it has the highest frequency of occurrence), and my weekly and monthly meetings are exceptions to "The Exception".  On the days when a weekly and/or monthly meeting coincide with a daily meeting, I just add all of their outages together and create an exception to "The Exception" on that day.  Theoretically this should work,  I was just hoping for a more elegant solution.  I was hoping someone would say, "oh yeah, you just go to options and select 'Merge Exceptions' and you're good to go".   

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:38 PM
  • B Fennell,

    Yes, you understood the approach correctly.

    With regard to your second question, I only created a simple scenario of a couple of tasks, I did not carry it forward to test how it might work with recurring tasks, but since you have three meeting schedules, you won't be able to set up a single meeting calendar using the recurring feature. Unfortunately you will need to manually set up each weekly and monthly meeting. For the daily meeting you could simply set the resource working calendar to be 7 hours instead of the normal 8, leaving the first hour of the day for the daily meeting.

    John



    • Edited by John - Project Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:40 AM clarity
    • Marked as answer by B Fennell Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:12 PM
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:31 PM