leveling resources causes changes in assignments units


P

Pierre

The conundrum: the automated leveling feature is unreliable, but I can't see
myself manually leveling my big project plan.

The context. I have a big project plan (about 4000 man-days) that gets
tracked with timephased actuals. There are many unrelated simultaneous tasks
- meaning, they can all start at the same time, and they do - and for which
many distinct resources get assigned. As a result, I have a bunch of tasks
that are "in flight", for which assignments all procede at their own little
pace. You basic nightmare as MS Project plans scheduling go.
The tracking process is the following. Every week period:
1. enter the actual worked performed the week before
2. re schedule the remaining work so it starts after the beginning date of
the current week
3. Fix the schedule, so that resources are not overallocated and that
milestone dates can be met.

The problem. I'm trying to use MSP's automatic leveling tool to fix the
schedule. I have always had issues with this tool, but this recent one has
cause me a day's work trying to fix it, and I've not succeeded. Whereas most
published documentation on the subject hammer that the leveling tool only
induces splits and delays (be they on task or assignments), and NEVER changes
the resource assignment work or units, well, it does for me. And it's bugging
me big time, the result being that some assignments get stripped down to a
very low percentage, and the duration augmented to a big value (causing some
tasks to finish in 2049 - thank god there is a limit in the year). But I've
also seen worse results.

Has anyone here experienced this situation? Can you suggest a reason why
project changes the resource assignment units and/or work while leveling? Do
you know of a workaround or a recipe to avoid it happening? Do you have the
address of the authors at QuantumPM that have published "Special Edition
Using Microsoft Office Projecgt 2007", so I can complain about their
assertion that MSProject leveling tool NEVER alters units and work?

In my situation, the only manual alternative I see to this would be to
manually set timephased work, which would be VERY time intensive (and tricky,
as I've experienced situations where MSProject would add work to an
assignment when all you really want, is for it to reschedule the time when
the same amount of work gets planned). Doing so would also actually steer me
away from keeping my schedule as probabilistic as possible. So I'm really
trying to make this automatic leveling feature work for me. And I obviously
need help...

I'm using MSProject 2007 professionnal SP1, unconnected to MSPServer.
 
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J

Jack Dahlgren

Pierre,

Updating the tasks can cause the tasks to push out like that. I think it is
your update process, not your resource leveling which is causing the issue.
Take a close look before you do leveling and see if you can figure out how it
is working. The reschedule remaining work CAN cause resource assignment unit
changes.

Are you set to have auto-calculation? If it is off it may mask changes made
earlier.

-Jack Dahlgren
 
M

Mike Glen

Hi Pierre,

Welcome to this Microsoft Project newsgroup :)

Levelling only delays tasks, nothing more. Going out to 2049 sounds to me
as if you have resources assigned to summary tasks and/or you have linked
summary tasks. You might like to see FAQ Item: 48 & 49 on summaries.FAQs,
companion products and other useful Project information can be seen at this
web address: http://project.mvps.org/faqs.htm

Hope this helps - please let us know how you get on :)

Mike Glen
Project MVP
See http://tinyurl.com/2xbhc for my free Project Tutorials
 
D

Dave

Try levelling piecemeal to try and identify the tasks that are causing
the problems. By that, I mean level the project and set some priorities
so that the most important tasks come first. Then when you are happy
with the immediate results, fix them by setting their priority to 1000
and repeat with the remaining tasks. You can also level by date range
if that is more appropriate.

Are any of your tasks fixed work so that a low rate of work on them last
week effectively means incomplete work is pushed into the remaining
duration thereby increasing the assignment units?

I have seen problems similar to what you describe but you need to check
your plan out thoroughly and try to identify the problematic tasks as
described above. Do you have any summary level linkages, resources
assigned to summaries etc?
 
S

Steve House

If you have multiple resources assigned to a task you can get the illusion
that Project is changing assignment units but it's just that ... an
illusion. If you have 5 day task X with Ike and Mike each assigned 100%,
your total units is 200%. If Ike is assigned to something else as well at
the same time, overallocating him, and you resource level, it's possible for
Ike's work to shift into the following week while Mike stays as originally
scheduled. It appears the assignment units has changed from 5 days @ 200%
to 10 days @ 100%. But the equation W = D * U applys to each resource
individually, not in the aggregate. Neither Ike's nor Mike's assignment
units have been changed nor will they ever. Each assigment pre-leveling was
5 days @ 100% and after leveling they remain at 5 days @ 100%. The only
thing changed is WHEN the 5 days takes place.
 
P

Pierre

Jack, thanks for the reply. Let me respond.

I can confirm that the ressource assignment unit is indeed changed by the
leveling tool.

After I rechedule the remaining work, I always review the assignment units
of all assignments with remaining work, so I set them to values that will
allow the leveling tool to give me the better results. Since MSProject isn't
supposed to change resource assignment units, I'm always careful to set them
myself so leveling will not yield a situation where a low unit assignment
will actually cause an under allocation.

I always have a gant view and a resource usage windows active. I level while
on the gantt view, and I look at the leveling results on the resource usage
view. As you know, version 2007 will highlight in blue the changed values (a
VERY valuable feature), so it is easy to pick out the results of the
leveling. Also, the undo/redo function will furthermore confirm that the
assignment unit changes are indeed the result of the leveling function.

Lastly, I confirm that my environment is always set to automatic calculations.

Pierre
 
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P

Pierre

Mike, thanks for your reply. Let me respond.

I do not have assignment on summary tasks, but I do have summary tasks
dependancies. I understand that using such links is not recommended, but have
a hard time pinning my problem to the fact that I do. One reason being that
these links have always been in the plan, and I have only recently
experienced the topic's leveling issue.

Having said so, if you still feel strongly that my using links on summary
tasks cause MSProject to change resource allocation units when I use the
automatic leveling tool, I will alter my schedule.

Thanks,

Pierre
 
P

Pierre

Steve, thanks for your reply.

All you said is very true. Unfortunately, the situation I'm experiencing is
not an illusion. I see these results on a resource usage view, expanding each
resource to see it's assignments. I then see the altered units on some of
these assignments (boy, I wish I could submit screen shots to these boards!).
The result of the leveling is that (some) resource ASSIGNMENTs units are
altered, sometimes yielding - as originally posted - much flatenned
timephased work assignment. The remaining work on these flatenned assignments
is so spread out that it will last years, all the while allocating almost
neglectable work effort each period. An unacceptable result (and very
unrealistic schedule) when it is said that the leveling tool only delays
tasks/assignments.

Also, all of my tasks are fixed work.
 
P

Pierre

Dave, thanks for your reply.

I might try your piecemeal approach to identifying culprit tasks. Thanks for
suggesting it. I'll let everyone know how it turns out. But I must say, if I
try to identify the situation that causes MSProject to alter resource
assignment units during leveling, it is an admission that MSP indeed does
change these units when all literature says otherwise.

Let me also confirm that my tasks are (almost) all fixed work. The scenario
you describe in your 2nd paragraph is certainly possible and expected. While
inputing actuals or changing scheduled work or units, it is indeed expected
that using the work formula, MSP will sometimes alter your units. But the
issue at hand is regarding another scenario, MSP's leveling tool changing the
resource assignment units when it is said that it never does.
 
P

paul

Dave, thanks for your reply.

I might try your piecemeal approach to identifying culprit tasks. Thanks for
suggesting it. I'll let everyone know how it turns out. But I must say, if I
try to identify the situation that causes MSProject to alter resource
assignment units during leveling, it is an admission that MSP indeed does
change these units when all literature says otherwise.

Let me also confirm that my tasks are (almost) all fixed work. The scenario
you describe in your 2nd paragraph is certainly possible and expected. While
inputing actuals or changing scheduled work or units, it is indeed expected
that using the work formula, MSP will sometimes alter your units. But the
issue at hand is regarding another scenario, MSP's leveling tool changingthe
resource assignment units when it is said that it never does.

I have seen similiar behavior (tasks shoved out to 2049) with hammock
tasks combined with resource leveling. Do you have any start or
finish dates explicitly linked (Edit|Past Special|Link) to some other
dates?
 
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P

Pierre

Paul, yes, I do have linked fields (hammock tasks) in this project plan.

I'll run a test without them to see if that is the cause.

Thanks for the tip.

Pierre
 
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