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Modeling Tough Scheduling Problems with Software. Alex S. Brown http://www.alexsbrown.com Mitsui Sumitomo Marine Management (USA), Inc. Objectives. Get Past Frustration (Intermediate) Learn New Tools and Techniques (Expert) Not For Beginners Basic Skills Assumed

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modeling tough scheduling problems with software

Modeling Tough Scheduling Problems with Software

Alex S. Brown

http://www.alexsbrown.com

Mitsui Sumitomo Marine Management (USA), Inc.

objectives
Objectives
  • Get Past Frustration (Intermediate)
  • Learn New Tools and Techniques (Expert)
  • Not For Beginners
    • Basic Skills Assumed
    • Assume Experience Using Scheduling Software
  • Software-Brand Neutral - Not Taking Sides
  • Interactive, Case-Study Format

Participate!

key terms
Key Terms
  • Network Diagram
  • Gantt Chart
  • Two Types of Projects

Parallel Opportunities

Serial Dependencies

scenario
Scenario
  • Six Tasks
  • Three Resources
four directions pick one
Four Directions - Pick One!

Go!

  • Resource Leveling
  • Representing Hard & Soft Dependencies
  • Quickly-Changing Work & Assignments
  • Maintaining Schedules During Execution

Go!

Go!

Go!

resource leveling key data
Resource Leveling - Key Data
  • Gather Complete Data At the Start
    • Resource start dates and availability
    • Vacations
    • Accurate work and duration estimates
    • Accurate sequence relationships
  • Good Data is Essential
  • When Data Is Good Enough, Level To Discover The Real End Date
principles of leveling
Principles of Leveling
  • Find a Repeatable Method -- Level Regularly
  • Changes in Any Estimate or Assumption May Require Re-Leveling
  • Leveling is Iterative -- Methods Should Allow Small, Frequent Adjustments
scheduling tools for leveling
Scheduling Tools for Leveling
  • View Resource Use Over Time
  • Adjust Key Task Info
    • Start Dates
    • Delays on Tasks
    • Allocation of Work Over Time by Task
  • Resource Availability vs. Work Assigned
breakout discussion
Breakout Discussion
  • Level the Scenario for 40-Hour Weeks, 8-Hour Days for Each Resource
  • Different Approaches on the Handouts
  • Key Questions
    • What method do you normally use?
    • Which is easiest to set up?
    • Which is easiest to maintain?
  • Five Minutes for Discussion
possible solutions
Possible Solutions
  • Stretch All Work to Five Days Duration
  • Make Work Sequential
    • Move Start Dates
    • Add Delays
  • Break Down the Task List Differently to Simplify Leveling
selecting a technique
Selecting A Technique
  • What is Easiest in Your Software?
  • How Hard is Maintenance?
  • What Methods Allow for Automation for All or Part of the Work?
  • What is the Impact on Reporting and Analysis Techniques?
    • Critical Path
    • Earned Value
hard soft dependencies
Hard & Soft Dependencies
  • Hard Dependencies MUST Be Obeyed
  • Soft Dependencies SHOULD Be Obeyed
  • Real-Life Schedules Often Break or Change Soft Dependencies to Achieve Required End Dates
  • Challenge Your Assumptions:
    • Is It Really IMPOSSIBLE for Task B to Start Until Task A Ends?
issues with dependencies
Issues with Dependencies
  • Software Usually Recognizes Only Hard Dependencies
  • Critical Path Analysis is 100% Dependent Upon an Accurate Network Diagram
  • Documenting Dependencies is a Challenge
  • Documenting Dependencies is Essential
breakout discussion15
Breakout Discussion
  • Scenario Uses Soft Dependencies
  • Soft Dependencies Driven By Resource Limitations
  • Questions
    • Where do you document dependencies?
    • What is the critical path?
    • What do you WANT the critical path to be?
    • How does the schedule respond to change?
documenting dependencies
Documenting Dependencies
  • Many Options
    • Two Network Diagrams - “Hard Only” and Current
    • Narrative Explanation of Dependencies
    • Separate Columns or Spreadsheets Track Hard and Soft Dependencies
  • Pick a Method You Can Maintain Easily
dependencies in software
Dependencies in Software
  • Scheduling Software Usually Enforces Dependencies Strictly (All Hard)
  • Options
    • Only Enter Hard Dependencies - Satisfy Soft Dependencies During Leveling
    • Enter Both Hard and Soft Dependencies for Each Task, Update As Needed
    • Enter Only the Constraining Dependency
consequences of approaches
Consequences of Approaches
  • Calculation of Critical Path
  • Clarity of Network Diagram
    • “Only Hard” is Clearest Diagram
    • “Hard & Soft” Creates Overlapping Lines
    • “Only Constraining” Looks Like a Serial Project’s Network
  • Respond to Change Differently -- Task Estimates vs. Task Assignments
quickly changing schedules
Quickly-Changing Schedules
  • Real Schedules Change Every Reporting Period
    • Estimate Changes - Work & Duration
    • Assignment Changes
    • Resources Added, Removed, and Rescheduled
    • Resource Availability Changes
  • Optimize Schedule, Make New Forecasts
  • The Only Certainty is Change Itself
planning for changes in the plan
Planning for Changes in the Plan
  • Predict Future Changes
    • What is likely to change?
    • What changed often in the past?
    • What project risks will cause change?
  • Create a Small Schedule with Typical Tasks
  • Try Making Typical Changes
  • Experiment, Experiment, Experiment to Find Best Scheduling Techniques
breakout discussion22
Breakout Discussion
  • Start with Initial Scenario
  • Apply Changes
    • Resources No Longer Available
    • Resources Available More Hours Per Week
    • Estimate Changes
  • Model the Schedule Differently and Repeat
    • Hard and Soft Dependencies
    • Different Leveling Techniques
change is fundamental
Change is Fundamental
  • Experiment with Change in a Small Schedule
    • Best way to evaluate and compare different techniques
    • Great way to explore, understand, and evaluate scheduling software
  • Best Techniques Will Vary -- Find the Best for Your Schedules, for Your Software
change drives automation
Change Drives Automation
  • Change is Difficult with Hand-Drawn Schedules and Budgets
  • Software Facilitates Change by Updating Every View of a Schedule Simultaneously
  • WARNING: If the Model is Poor, Software Can Be MORE Difficult to Update
  • LESSON: Understand Basic Principles BEFORE Automating
maintenance during execution
Maintenance During Execution
  • Key Steps
    • Apply actual work
    • Update estimates for remaining work
    • Optimize the schedule and update forecasts
  • Many Managers Shelve Schedules After Developing Them
  • Schedule Maintenance Key to Learning as an Organization and as a Manager
benefits of maintenance
Benefits of Maintenance
  • Compare Actuals to Estimates
    • Improve estimates for next time
    • Improve control of work and scope
  • Required for Earned Value and Benchmarking
  • Accurate, Up-to-Date Forecasts of Delivery Dates
  • Prove Scheduling Techniques
package specific features
Package-Specific Features
  • Timesheets Automate and Distribute Entry of Actuals
  • Entry of Actuals Vary by Software Package
  • Different Packages Reschedule Remaining Work Differently
  • Do Not Focus on Software Differences, Focus on Creating a New Forecast
breakout discussion29
Breakout Discussion
  • Review Actual Progress After Week 1
  • Schedule the Remaining Work
  • Questions
    • Can you predict how your software would reschedule the remaining work?
    • Do we change dependencies now that work is started?
what should software do
What SHOULD Software Do?
  • Actuals Sometimes Break “Rules” in the Schedule
    • Actual work starts before predecessor is complete
    • “Must Meet” deadlines missed
  • Software Packages Make Assumptions and Raise Warnings -- Each Has a Different Approach
responsibility as software users
Responsibility As Software Users
  • Understand That Actual Work Might Break Our Model
  • Software May React Unpredictably When Our Models Are Wrong
  • Understand Software Settings, Defaults, and Options
  • Experiment, Experiment, Experiment -- Create Small Schedules to Test and Learn
important choices
Important Choices
  • Techniques Used When Building Schedule Determine Maintenance Procedures
  • Schedule Time to Update the Schedule
  • Update the Schedule and Forecast New End Dates Regularly
  • Larger Projects = Maintenance is Critical
  • Larger Projects = Maintenance is Difficult
review four tough problems
Review - Four Tough Problems
  • Resource Leveling
  • Representing Hard & Soft Dependencies
  • Quickly-Changing Work & Assignments
  • Maintaining Schedules During Execution
in the paper
In the Paper
  • Exercises
  • More Details on All Four Topics
  • Comparison of Novice vs. Expert Use of Scheduling Software
  • Ideas to Improve Your Skills
  • References and Additional Reading
complete your learning experience
Complete Your Learning Experience
  • This Presentation is a First Step
  • Download the Paper
  • Run Exercises Using Your Software
  • Select Scenarios From Your Schedules and Try New Techniques
  • Hear It and You Will Forget It
  • Do It and You Will Remember It!
questions answers
Questions & Answers
  • Contact Speaker at http://www.alexsbrown.com or [email protected]
  • Evaluation Forms
  • Feedback on New Case Study Format Appreciated
modeling tough scheduling problems with software38

Modeling Tough Scheduling Problems with Software

Alex S. Brown

http://www.alexsbrown.com

Mitsui Sumitomo Marine Management (USA), Inc.

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