Baseline, Auto-Reschedule and Advanced Scheduling
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Audience

Project managers

Description

For project managers that want to learn even more about Project Insight’s powerful, intelligent scheduling, this session goes into more advanced functionality. Learn how to set up tasks that auto-calculate, leverage constraints, even link projects together!

Benefits

  • Learn when to use constraints and why
  • Understand the power of tasks that auto-reschedule
  • How and when to set baselines
  • Learn about cross project dependencies

Key Points


Transcript

A project baseline is used to measure how performance deviates from the original plan. Your performance measurement will only be meaningful if you have an accurate baseline.

A project baseline is defined as the original scope, cost and schedule. A project baseline must be completely defined and documented before the project execution and control activities can begin.

A best practice is to create a baseline after your detailed planning is done and has been approved. That means you will have a record of what was the initially agreed upon and you can see variances from that as the project progresses.

Baselines in Project Insight may only be created by project managers or project schedulers on the project. They can be used in conjunction with the Change Order functionality to track and manage the life cycle of your project.

Creating and Saving a Baseline

To create a baseline, navigate to the task list view of your project. To do that, click on the Projects folder.

Or if you have the projects components showing on the dashboard, click on the project name.

The Task List View displays. You can see that the project schedule has been set up.

Click the Hide Left Navigation icon.

Click on the arrow next to a summary task to expand it and see any child tasks.

You can see all the child tasks, duration, work and resource assignments.

To set a baseline for this current data, hover on the Views menu and select Options.

Click the Project Baseline tab.

You have to enter in the name of the baseline.

Enter Original Plan.

Click Create New Baseline

You’ll see that baseline name listed, along with the date it was created and who it was created by.

Click on the Views menu option to return to the Task List View.

Changes that Affect the Baseline

In our scenario, it’s assumed that this detailed project plan has been approved and you have also created a baseline to capture that original information.

Now the project starts and your first unplanned change occurs.

The resource assigned to the Determine Project Scope task got promoted and now you need to assign this task to someone else. Since they are a more junior person than the original resource, you know it is going to take them twice as long.

To make those changes, first widen the Duration column to can see the full label, click your cursor in the Duration column and drag it right.

Do the same for the work hours, click in the Work Hours label and drag it right.

Double click on the white space on the Determine Project Scope task to go into edit mode.

Change the Duration to 8 days.

Increase the Work Hours to 64 hours.

Click on Edit Resource.

Click the X icon next to the existing resource to remove that person from the task.

Click in the Resource drop down.

Select another Resource.

Click Save.

Those changes have now been entered for the child task.

You will see that the Duration for the summary task has also been increased by 4 days to reflect those changes.

The Work Hours for both the task itself and its parent task have also increased.

View the Baseline on the Task List

You have now entered a change from what was on the original approved plan.

If you want to compare what you had agreed upon originally with your stakeholders or your client with your current plan, click the Display Options icon.

Click on the Column Selection Options header to expand out that section if it is not already expanded.

Click on the option to Show baseline as a separate row.

Click the Update icon.

A line with gray text shows beneath each summary and child task.

This is the current baseline data for that task.

You can see that for the task you changed, it shows the original Duration,

the original work hours,

And who the original resource was that was assigned.

Collapse the task to which this belongs by clicking on the arrow next Scope.

You can also see the baseline information at the summary level.

Scroll to the bottom of the project.

You can also see it at the project totals level.

Any set of columns you choose to display will reflect the values of your original plan versus your current plan.

Multiple Baselines

Project Insight permits you to add multiple baselines against your project so you can track not only your original baselines but also any changes that occur as the project progresses.

The Change Management process is covered in other training sessions, so assume for now that the change you just made was approved and is your new baseline on which you’re managing your project going forward.

You will want to capture that in another baseline.

Hover on the Views menu and select Options.

Click the Project Baseline tab.

Enter in the name of the next baseline.

Enter Change Order #1.

Click Create New Baseline

You’ll see the new baseline name listed, along with the date it was created and who it was created by. Many teams also develop a naming convention that corresponds with their baselines.

You may create new baselines when you have change orders or you may maintain baselines on a monthly basis or quarterly basis etc.

How and when you set new baselines will depend on the business processes of your organization.

Set a Current Baseline

When you have multiple baselines, one of those baselines is always set as the current one.

If you add a new baseline, that new one is automatically set as the current one.

You can see the Change Order #1 baseline was set as the current.

The Original Baseline was the previous baseline.

When you click on Views, and you have the baseline showing, it’s the current baseline.

Right now, the current baseline is set to the Change Order #1 baseline and that is the one that is showing.

Since you have not made any changes to the project since you created that baseline, there are no differences showing from the current project to the baseline.

To change the current baseline, hover back on Views and select Options.

Click on Project Baseline.

Click on Set as Current on the Original Plan baseline.

The Status now shows the Original Plan is the current one.

Click on Views.

Now you see the differences again in the Scope task, because it is looking at the Original Plan baseline and not the Change Order #1 baseline.

View Baseline on the Gantt Chart

Another place to view the current baseline against your project is from the Gantt chart.

To do that, hover on the Views menu and select Gantt Chart.

Click the Display Options icon.

Click on the option to Show baseline as a separate row.

Click the Update Display icon.

On the Gantt Chart, a gray line shows beneath each task to represent the baseline data.

Click on the arrow next to the Scope summary task to expand it.

You can see the baselines for all the child tasks.

For the Determine Project Scope task, you can see the original duration of the task, compared to the existing duration.

You can also see when all the other successor tasks were originally scheduled to start.

And also when they are now scheduled to start.

View Baselines on the Project Reports

If you wanted to see all your baselines, and not just the current one, then you do that with the Project Reports.

Before you do that, let’s make a change to the project again. Let’s assume that the project scope increased, so now you need two resources to complete it.

Right click on the Determine Project Scope task.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Resources.

In the Resource drop down, select another Resource.

Leave the option to assign this resource 64 hours and increase the total work to 128 hours.

Click Ok.

Click Save.

Maybe the Duration also got extended because the new resource will not be working on this task 100% of his time.

Click on the end of the bar for that task and drag it right to extend it.

Again, you will have some kind of process in place to manage and approve these changes.

To now see all your baselines and compare them to the current project, click on the Report icon.

Click on Project Reports.

Click Create Project Report.

Click on the Column Selection Options header to expand any section if it is not already expanded.

In the Other Options section, you have Show current baseline as a separate row.

Click on that.

That shows the current baseline information as a separate row on the report, similar to what you saw on the Task List View.

Click on Show all baseline rows as separate rows.

This shows all the baselines that you have for each project.

Note, if you click on Show all baseline rows as separate rows, the Show current baseline as a separate row is always automatically checked as well.

Before you run the report, you may want to change the columns of data that you have showing. For example, maybe you want to see how the cost of the work hours changed and not just the hours.

In the Available Columns section, go to the bottom and double click on Work Total.

That moves it to the Selected Columns.

Click the Update Display icon.

Adjust the width of the columns by clicking in the column label header and dragging it wider.

Now you can see for the Software Development project, there are two baselines: the original plan and Change Order #1.

You can see that the Work Total amounts have changed.

The Start and End dates have changed.

The Duration has changed.

The Work Hours have changed.

And you can even see that the % complete changed. Although we did not update percent complete on each change, because we increased the work, it affected the % complete amount.

Now click on the Software Development project name to go back to the Task List view.

You can see the baseline is still showing because Project Insight ‘remembered’ that for this project, this was the view you were last using. This is another usability feature that minimizes the number of clicks you need to perform.

If you do not want to view the baseline information, then you may want to turn it off.

Click the Display Options icon.

Click the Show baseline as a separate row to uncheck it.

Click the Update Display icon.

Auto-Rescheduling Tasks

The next topic that’s going to be covered is the auto-rescheduling of tasks.

A lot of organizations will leave it up to the project managers to be responsible for re-scheduling tasks. For example, if a task gets delayed, then the project manager will manually change the start and end date of that task to reflect that.

Delay Task until Predecessors are Marked Complete

However, some organizations want Project Insight to automatically reschedule tasks if their predecessor tasks are not completed on time.

Click on the Predecessors column and drag it right to make the column wider.

You can see that a number of tasks in the Scope section have predecessor tasks.

Right click on a task that has predecessors, such as Scope Complete.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Task (full).

Click on the Advanced tab.

Scroll down to the Task Auto-Rescheduling Options.

By default, tasks will not auto-reschedule, but to change that, you can click on the drop down for the Auto-Rescheduling Type and select Delay Task until Predecessors are Marked Complete.

This means that even though this task is scheduled to start on a certain date, if that date comes around but all its predecessors not marked complete, then the start date of this task will be automatically delayed by the system.

The next field Increase Delay By: indicates the number of days or hours to delay the task.

Enter 1 day in that field.

Click on Save.

You can see that the Scope Complete task is scheduled to start on a certain date.

If that dates comes around and all its predecessors tasks are not marked complete,

then the start date of this task will be automatically rescheduled to start one day later than what is indicated here.

This will all be performed without the project manager intervention.

Duration Delay Column

When a delay in duration does occur, Project Insight records that in a Duration Delay column, so that the project manager can see what has happened.

To see that column, click on the Display Options icon.

Click on Duration in the Selected Columns, because you want the new column to appear right before it.

In the Available Columns, click on the first column and then type D and the system will scroll down automatically to the Ds.

Double click on Duration Delay.

Click the Update Display icon.

Click on the column header label for Duration Delay to drag it wider.

If an automatic delay had occurred on a task, you can see it in this column.

Hard Code in a Duration Delay

Project Insight will automatically set the duration delay, but you as a project manager or scheduler can also hard-code a delay in.

Right click on the Scope Complete task.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Task (full).

Click on the Advanced tab.

Scroll down to Duration Delay.

This is where you can hard code in a delay.

Enter in 5 days.

Click Save.

You can see that there are 5 days now displaying in the Duration Delay column.

You can also see that the Scope Complete Start Date has been delayed 5 days from the End Date of the predecessor task.

Calculation from Actual Dates

Another option for auto-rescheduling is by using the actual start dates of a task.

When you are setting up your project schedule, you are using the intelligent scheduling and task dependencies to determine scheduled start and end dates, or you are entering in the planned start and end dates for tasks. It is a best practice to use Project Insight’s intelligent scheduling.

With good planning, a good work breakdown structure and good estimates, your actual start dates should be the same as your planned start dates, but of course as project managers you know that in reality, that is not always the case.

If you wish, your team members can enter in the actual start and end dates of tasks as they do their work. Or you can also setup Project Insight to set the actual start and end dates of tasks automatically based on when time is entered or the task status is updated.

In either case, you can have Project Insight recalculate the schedule based on what those actual start and end dates are.

To have the system do that, right click on a task, such as the Secure Core Resources.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Task (full).

Click on the Advanced tab.

Click on the option: Calc from Actual Dates:

A few best practices, if you do this. The first being that you should ensure auto-alerts are set up to notify project managers of task scheduled start and end dates changes. That topic is covered in more detail in other training sessions.

You also want to review the option Enable Task Owner Actual Dates.

This sets whether or not you want the task owner to be able to enter actual dates or do you want the system to calculate them based on different criteria.

Those criteria are set in the Task Actual Start Date Auto-Population Type and the Task Actual End Date Auto-Population Type.

Using Constraints

Another advanced scheduling feature is the use of constraint dates.

To see how those work, click on the Views menu option to return to the task list view.

Project Insight has task dependencies and intelligent scheduling features to help you schedule your projects.

These features are outlined in detail in our training session called Leveraging Task Dependencies and Intelligent Scheduling .

However, in certain circumstances, you must hard code dates on projects or another way of saying that is to put in constraint dates.

First, update your display with those columns.

Click the Display Options icon.

Click on the Column Selection Options header to expand out that section if it is not already expanded.

In the Selected column, click on Resources to insert these fields just before that.

In the Available Columns, type in C or scroll down to the C’s and double click on Constraint Date and Constraint Type.

Click the Update Display icon.

You can enter in hard coded dates with these columns.

Say, for example, you know the Scope Complete task has to be done by a certain date because your manager is scheduled to do a live webinar for all your investors outlining those details.

That date cannot change. It is hard coded. It has been advertised and announced on social media.

To enter that hard coded date, double click on the white space of the Scope Complete task to go into edit mode.

Click in the drop down for the Constraint Type.

You can see the various Constraint Type options available.

Click Must Start on.

Enter in the constraint date. Click on the Calendar icon.

Select the start of the next month which is when the webinar is scheduled.

Click the Arrow to go to the next month.

Click on the Date.

Hit Enter to save.

You may get a message informing you about what you are doing and the ramifications. It is important to read and review any dialogue boxes in Project Insight.

You have hard coded the fact that this task must start on that date.

You can see that the Duration Delay that was entered got removed.

Also, any predecessor tasks that are entered are ignored.

The constraint date and constraint type, override any of those other scheduling options.

You have other constraint options as well.

Click the Edit icon for the task.

Click on the drop down for the Constraint Type.

You could have also said it must finish on that date

Click on Must Finish On.

This would be used if your task had a duration entered. For example, enter 5 days’ duration for the task.

Hit Enter to save it.

If it were going to take 5 days’ duration, then you would say that it must finish on the day before the presentation and then it would be automatically scheduled to start 5 days before that.

Click the Edit icon for the task.

Click on the drop down for the Constraint Type.

You could also click on Finish No Later Than.

This means that it would finish no later than the constraint date entered, but it could be started earlier than the 5 days as long as it was finished sometime before that date and did not have to finish on that specific date.

Click on the drop down for the Constraint Type.

You also have options such as Finish no earlier than.

That means you do not want a task to finish before a specific date or you could say Start No Earlier Than, to Start No Later Than.

These are the hard coded constraint types you can choose based on your specific scenarios.

Remember, if you want Project Insight to use intelligent scheduling to allow you to flexibly shift start and end dates, then always set the Constraint Type to As Soon as possible.

With the Constraint type set to as soon as possible, any constraint dates entered will be ignored but it is a best practice to remove those dates for consistency.

Click in the Constraint Date and delete it.

Click Save.

When you’re finished working with Constraint Dates, you may no longer want them on your task list view.

Click in the Display Options icon.

Click on the drop down in the Quick Selection.

Select the default Planning View.

Click the Update Display icons.

You’re now using the default view again.

Cross Project Dependencies

The last feature you’re going to see in this session is the use of cross project dependencies.

This is a very unique feature that not a lot of other mid-market project and portfolio management solutions (PPM) have.

It is a very beneficial feature because it allows you to tie the schedule of tasks in one project to tasks in another project.

This can save your organization money and also save your team valuable time. For example, if you have multiple projects going on that require work to be done in the same geographical area, you can use cross project dependencies to link them together and optimize the use of resources in the field. This can cut travel time and costs and increase profitability on those projects.

To begin, right click on the Scope Complete task.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Predecessors.

You can see on the Edit Predecessors layer, there is no way to select a different project.

Click on the drop down for the Tasks, and all you will see are the tasks in this project.

Click X to close this layer.

The first step in creating a cross project dependency is to create a relationship between the dependent projects.

To do this, you must be a project manager or scheduler.

Hover on the Views menu and select Options.

Click the Cross Project Dependency tab.

Click Add/Remove external projects for cross project task dependencies.

In the Project drop down, select the project you want to create a dependency with.

Select Database Development.

Click Add.

That project is listed.

Click on the Views menu option.

Right click the on the Scope Complete task.

Hover on Edit Task (inline) and select Edit Predecessors.

You can see on the Edit Predecessors layer, but now since you have linked it to another project, there is a project drop down.

The current project is always the default project.

To continue to add dependencies for tasks within this project, just leave that project listed and click in the drop down for the task as you would normally.

However, to set up a dependency between this task and a task in the other project, select that other project in the project drop down list.

Click on the drop down for the Tasks, and you’ll see the tasks for that other project.

Click on the arrow next to a summary task to expand it out.

Click on the dependent task.

Click Save.

Click on the column label for the predecessor task and drag it to widen it.

You can see this predecessor has the project name in front of the task name.

This is how you create a cross project dependency.

One main rule to keep in mind is to only create dependencies one way. Don’t setup a dependency in both projects i.e. create a link here then create a link in the other project as well. This is because you can accidently setup circular references which of course are not allowed.

That concludes our session for today.

Online 8/27/2015
Updated on: