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CIOB Time Management Research

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Toby Hunt
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Dear All

Many of you may have already see the results from a new piece of research by The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), which has revealed that a high proportion of complex construction projects are likely to be finished more than six months late, due to poor time control.

A full copy of the report is available to download at www.ciob.org.uk/resources/research.

Amongst other things, those responding to the survey felt that very few projects are currently managed by reference to modern methods of time control, and that improved facilities for the education, training and accreditation of planning engineers and project schedulers are needed.

Do you have any comments as to whether you think this might encourage a "new breed" of adequately trained planners?

Regards

Toby

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Rafael Davila
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Trevor

We do need foolproof solutions, in our country our Project Managers are overloaded and no matter how good they are at CPM scheduling, they simply do not have the time to be playing what if scenarios. In addition not all Project Managers are hooked on CPM, but they are the best qualified to plan the job. Most of our construction jobs cannot afford a full time scheduler on site, but the management issues must be solved as soon as possible, whether there is a scheduler or not, the Project Manager must solve the resource usage issues.

Just read the paper by the CIOB, seems that in the UK the situation is similar to ours and just the opposite to yours. We have no problem at all to be honest with our reality. To fill the gap we need software easy to use and more powerful, that efficiently deal with the issue on resource allocation, otherwise most jobs will continue to be scheduled without the CPM being resource loaded.

http://www.ciob.org.uk/filegrab/TM_report_full_web.pdf?ref=880

Your comment, "I don’t need a foolproof solution because I don’t hire fools to do the job, no matter which tools we use. " is arrogant, sems like you are still taking it personal, there is no need for it.

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael,
Your point seems to be that you have your own opinion and you prefer Spider, and that is a choice that you are entirely free to make based on whatever reasons make sense to you. There is no need for you to convince everyone that you have made a good decision or the best decision, or that you are right and everyone else is wrong, although you are free to believe that if you choose. I am sure that Spider is very good software, and I would like to try it. I am prepared to accept that it is good from what Vladimir has described and explained about it. Also, Russia has a very good technical education and many talented programmers. For many years they had to perform mathematical miracles with inferior hardware so they were forced to be good at it, while in other countries programmers could be a bit lazier and let the hardware do the work.
Earlier you wanted an optimal solution. Now you demand a foolproof solution. I don’t need a foolproof solution because I don’t hire fools to do the job, no matter which tools we use.
Rafael Davila
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Vladimir,

Can you say the 6,000 tasks and 75 resources is not even a very big problem, but instead of not trivial also trivial to the scheduler when using Spider Project, that Spider Project can get an optimal soulution just at a click of the mouse, without the scheduler even thinking about special settings for the software to solve it? Without need of judgement and care? I am looking for a fool proof solution.

How long it would take for Spider Project to make a single resource leveling run on a notebook computer?

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor Rabey
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Vladimir,
You ask if I can do it "manually". I suppose that you do not mean with a pencil and paper and no software tool. I suppose you mean with MSP + judgement + care.
6000 tasks and 75 resources? This is not even a very big problem, but also not trivial. Is there an actual file or is this just a hypothetical? If it exists and you give it to me, I will do it.
Since it will take some time, can you provide an incentive, such as paying me at my usually hourly rate? No solution, no charge.
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael, the rationale is a mixture of judgement, care, careful thought and, yes, trial and error. Trial and error should not be so readily dismissed. It is not a random process, but a methodical and systematic one, usually aimed at eliminating scenarios which don’t work in order to narrow the field and find a "feasible solution space".
Trial and error approaches, such as the branch and bound methods, are well known and used all the time in OR.
When we are modeling a project, which is what project planning is, trying things out helps us to understand the problem. The best thing about the software tools is that the hard slog of the calculations is not an obstacle. Software allows many "what-ifs". Before software there just wasn’t the time available. Even now with software some types of OR problems cannot be solved because it just takes too long.

One trick I find very useful with resource leveling in MSP is to Group By Resource Name.

Vladimir, yes. Bigger just takes a little bit longer.
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael, I don’t even agree with your definition of "optimal" as the shortest duration possible. There may be many reasons to accept something a bit longer than that. It may be possible to produce a plan which is very tight but it has to be executed and coordinated on the ground, and the reality is that nothing can be executed like clockwork. So it has to be tight, but not too tight.
Rafael Davila
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Mike,

And now you come up with this, after all day taking out all grass from my lawn looking for a square root. As soon as I get a square root I will post the photo. I am already at my neighbors lawn.

Anoon,

Cotto will make a square root out of Pacquiau next Saturday.

Best regards,
Rafael
Mike Testro
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Hi Anoon

"what I’m trying to say for example: if you want to get the square root of 25, you don’t have to tell the "tool" that it’s 5 (or you already know the answer)."

Sorry Anoon but its the wrong answer - it should be + or - 5.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Rafael Davila
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Trevor,

I am challenging you to see if you give us the rationale, the same way Roland Tannous has provided us with useful guidance in the use of MS Project. I am interested in the logic, not on a single solution.

Maybe Anoon is right and you got the answer (the square root of 25) and then forced the scheduling options to get the answer (5) within MS Project, the easiest alternative would be using the solution by Spider Project.

Maybe you got an answer and we can put to rest all operation research scientists.

If you share your knowledge I will appreciate it, you already know from the spot I accepted your solution to my sample job as optimal and even checked it using SureTrak applying the equivalent priorities values and leveling options and got the same outcome.

If it is so easy then MS Project developers got to be very bad as not to be able to include an optimal solution within their software the same way Spider Project do, about Primavera developers there is no need to say how bad they are, after P6, a disaster from the very beginning, when they started with P3e, and after almost 10 years they are still debugging the software.

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor,
do you suggest to find an optimal solution for 6000 activities and 75 resources schedule manually?
Best Regards,
Vladimir
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael, if you think that I was only able able to solve your example problem by inspection and judgement because it was so simple, please provide a more complicated, realistic one and I will solve that too.
Anoon,
unfortunately Excel cannot level resources, and cannot schedule activities. If some activity will be delayed you will need to do a lot of work moving the dates of all dependent activities.
It is impossible to manage complex projects using Excel.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Anoon Iimos
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I’m for Excel too! you can do what you want (even resource leveling) and never assume any result (whether right or wrong).

i’m never angry
Hi all,
MS Project is the good schedule visualisation and communication tool.
It was not designed for resource and cost management in complex projects. So don’t be angry and use the software for its purpose.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Rafael Davila
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Roland

I will be waiting for your paper, thanks again.

Best regards,
Rafael
Rafael Davila
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Anoon,

Quote: "What I’m trying to say for example: if you want to get the square root of 25, you don’t have to tell the "tool" that it’s 5 (or you already know the answer)."

This is how I believe Trevor solved the resource allocation for my sample job until he explain a simple procedure you can apply to a schedule with hundreds/thousands of activities with the knowledge it will yield the correct result.

About MSP blah blah, I still hold on MSP blah blah, I don’t like it at all, only P6 is worst. But it is still the most widely used scheduling software in the world; we all better learn how to get the most out of it.

Best regards,
Rafael
Roland Tannous
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Hello all,

Yes I agree that the procedures are pretty annoying.
I guess the ultimate thing is to arrive at a conclusion that there are rules that guide those modifications. IF not we’d be performing some type of hard coding, a clear indication that the software miserably failed.

I am exchanging examples with Vladimir and trying to see if they can be solved in MSP.

When we’re done i’ll try to make a summary and post the examples somewhere and indicate how I arrived to a solution and the reason behind the steps taken. Hopefully that will help all of us understand things a little bit better.
But still i do understand why people get annoyed by it. I am annoyed too.

Regards
Roland
Anoon Iimos
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excuse me Rafael, I never said that MSP blah blah...

what I’m trying to say for example: if you want to get the square root of 25, you don’t have to tell the "tool" that it’s 5 (or you already know the answer).

Likewise, for a scheduling tool, if you want to ask how many carpenters will you be needing at a certain time, it will tell you exactly what it knows (assuming that you don’t know anything, but you know that you got 10 carpenters for disposal).

I just assume that MSP can never do that, I mean in just one press of a button.

cheers!
Rafael Davila
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Anoon,

I agree with you, the procedures to get adequate resource leveling in MS Project are insane and error prone.

As of now only Spider Project can do automatically optimal resource leveling after entering restrictions while others do require further cumbersome procedures.

I have to recognize this is the first time I have seen such workarounds (further cumbersome procedures) explained, useful for those of us who have to deal with what we have. Roland presentation has been very enlightening.

Roland procedures can also be applied to SureTrak, what we use at home, although I would prefer Spider Project a lean machine that not only gives you optimal or near optima resource leveling with ease but also provides you with true critical path and float.

To Roland and Vladimir my thanks, I know Trevor will follow.

Best regards,
Rafael
Hi Anoon,
what do you mean by "doing setting on its own"?
Of course all schedule restrictions shall be entered manually, but the levelling shall be done automatically.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Anoon Iimos
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Hi Roland,

I don’t know anything about MSP (or any other program) to be honest, I’m just a part time user in the street corner (no offense, of course).

The first thing you have done is of course MANUAL, and I supposed it applies to all others.

For me, no program is ever intelligent enough to do resource leveling on its own, I mean which can do the settings on its own, and it is all MATH.

Maybe I should ask, how do you compare abacus from a slide rule, or a calculator?

cheers
Roland,
when activity is somewhere in the middle of the schedule we cannot adjust its start time manually. This shall be done by the software.

If resources are not available it is reasonable to delay activity start automatically, isn’t it?
What setting shall I apply to make MS Project do it?

For me 0 hours in Resource Usage Sheet makes sense only if the work was done by other resources earlier.

Please send me your schedule and I will compare it with mine. Maybe I miss something.

I will send you my E-mail in the private message.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Hello Vladimir,

The reason why it won’t work if it starts at 8:00 am is due to the working hours for the night shift crew. Go check the Nighshift calendar and you’ll see what i’m talking about.
They don’t work between 8:00 am and 11:00 pm. So if your task starts at 8:00 am and needs a fixed duration of 10 hours to finish, It will finish before its even 11:00 pm. That means before even the Nighshift crew comes to work. That’s why if you assign the Nightshift crew to that particular task you’ll get 0 hours on the Resource usage sheet which makes perfect sense.

check if your activities span a "Monday" . Do your activities span a Monday ?

In addition could you please tell me what exactly in MSP’s leveling output doesn’t make sense so we can discuss it. Maybe I missed something.

@Anoon
No offense, but nothing in the steps I’ve undertaken indicates that I’ve done manual resource leveling.
Most of what I changed are settings in MS Project to tell it that I’m using hours instead of the default "days" value.
I assigned calendars and that’s a step we undertake using any other software too.
Resource Leveling is set to automatic and it did level automatically without intervention..
Regards,
Roland
Anoon Iimos
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Vladimir,

I supposed MSP never level resources on its own, It doesn’t even run a schedule (no Data Date).

I guess Roland is suggesting a manual leveling, so I may suggest to use excel instead.

cheers!
Hi Ronald,
I’ve got the same poor results with 12:00 as the start time.
If you will get the schedule that makes sense after adjusting resource calendar let me know.
Best Regards,
Vladimir
Thank you, Roland.

I will do what you suggested.
You are right that the start hour in my schedule is 8:00 and I do not see anything wrong with it. The work can start at any time and still be done in two shifts.

Besides, you shall set Standard calendar to the Workers 1st Shift resource. They do not work 24 hours.

I will inform you if I will get proper results.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Hello Vladimir,

I’ve done your little exercise.
I didn’t find anything weird in the leveling exercise in Microsoft Project.
I did though notice that if the settings are not set correctly to start with you will get wrong results and maybe that is what previously happened when you tried to level those resources?
Here is my method and setting:
Step 1) Go to Tools->Options---> Schedule and Change
Change "Duration is entered in " value to "Hours"
Change "Default task type" value to "Fixed Duration"
Step 2) Go to Tools---> Options ---> View
Change "Date Format" to value "days/month/year XX:XX AM/PM"
This step is really crucial because Shifts won’t work with Microsoft Project and it won’t level correctly if you don’t change start time to 12:00AM instead of the default 8:00 AM and if you don’t realise that by default it will assume by default work will start at 8:00 am , its output won’t make any sense. So I change this value to 12:00 AM (00:00 AM)
Step 3) Setup Activities and Enter Durations in hours. Start and End Milestone were used.
Step 4) Go to Project ---> Project Information.
Enter Start date and start time to 12:00 AM
Set Project Calendar to 24Hr
Step 5) Setup the 4 resources as indicated and assigned the appropriate calendars (all use the 24Hr except the one that uses the NightShift)
Step 6) Assign resources to Activities as you indicated.
Step 7) Go to Tools---> Level Resources and
Set "look for overallocations on a ... basis" to "Hour by Hour"


All went well and if look at Resource usage, everything seems fine and the numbers make sense. So I’m not sure what happened with you right there.. Maybe along the way , you missed one of the steps and this gives you wrong answers.
For example Setting the resource Calendars without fixing the Project Calendar appropriately gives wrong results.
Not setting the start time to 12:00 am instead of 8:00 am, which makes sense if we’re trying to work in shifts, also gives wrong results.
Not telling MS Project to look for overallocation on Hour by Hour basis will also give conflicting results

Regards,
Roland

Hello Roland,

I still think that bar charts are just schedule reports that show scheduled dates (by hand or using scheduling software does not matter).

Using floats for activity prioritization is one of many approaches to resource levelling. It may be useful but is not necessary.

I am looking forward to the results of your testings.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Hello Vladimir,

If a start and finish milestone are introduced, then that’s a totally different subject. For some reason, I had the impression you’re insisting that there would be no links at all, which made no sense to me.

As for "bar charts". Bar charts might be a concept used by scheduling software, but it is a notion that existed before scheduling software did. It is a statistical tool.. People used to draw bar charts by hand. Do not know why people insist that life before scheduling software didn’t exist :)

As for the resource leveling issue. I cannot really talk in the name of scheduling software manufacturers but resource leveling since PMS by IBM depended on some type of Network model or CPM.
They used to go through 3 phases:
1) A CPM nominal time run
2) Resource compilation called unlimited run
3)limitation of resources (constraints) and output.

Even when resource leveling was done by hand, the procedure itself used the concept of critical and float. People who leveled worforce did the following(more or less):
a)draw critical path
b) draw critical workforce
c) plot float paths
d)float path worforce plot.
Level workforce on float paths.

i’ll try to run your example again by using milestones.
As for Rafael’s example, I thought someone already answered him? But I’ll run that too and tell you what i get..

Regards
Roland
Roland,
it is not necessary to create complex examples for illustrating simple problems.

When resources are levelled activities that can be done in parallel compete for the same limited resources. And the example illustrates this problem.

If you want you can add start and finish milestones. Start milestone shall precede these two activities, finish milestone follows both activities. It does not change anything at all.

I don’t understand what do you mean by levelling bar chart. Bar chart is one of the schedule reports, nothing else. Resource leveling can be applied to any set of activities - it shall not depend on CPM schedule. It just shall take into account all schedule constraints including activity logical dependencies, resource constraints, supply constraints, financing constraints, imposed dates, etc. This is from the mathematical point of view.

I did not want to prove anything with this example. I just want to understand shift simulation in MS Project.

In this discussion Rafael Davila suggested an example of the small 10 activities schedule that illustrates the problems of most PM software packages with resource levelling. Look at this example where most algorithms fail to level correctly.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Dear Vladimir,

Analyzing and planning workforce and equipment by a network should be preceded with using the basic CPM technique.
Your example obviously fails this simple basic rule, because neither does it constitute a CPM schedule, nor any type of network models. It lacks logical relationships/links!!

From the beginning,Resource planning/leveling techniques relied on the concept of an underlaying Network schedule.
Whether be it PMS by IBM,RAMPS by CEIR, RPSM by Mauchley or the resource leveling algorithms in recent scheduling programs that use the critical path and float concepts to do their job.

So you are expecting people to run a resource leveling algorithm over what really constitutes a bar chart , is not a CPM schedule and the results are supposed to be a healthy indication to whether the resource leveling algorithm is good or not?
For me that doesn’t make any sense.
I mean even if your planning program can do that correctly , this doesn’t mean It is better.
If you really wanna compare try to find an example that is a correct CPM schedule and where some algorithms fail to level correctly then I’m all ears.
But trying to level a simple non CPM bar chart indicates nothing, at least from a mathematical/engineering point of view.
Regards,
Roland
No relations.
Just two activities that use common resources.
Roland Tannous
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Hello Vladimir,

Define : There are no links?
What is the logical relation between Activity 1 and 2?.
Hi Trevor,
I don’t agree that it is easy. In large projects it is not possible.
In my example I’ve got the results that I don’t understand, please look.
Best Regards,
Vladimir
Trevor Rabey
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Vladimir, I haven’t (yet) done your example but I think I know what you are getting at. In MSP, if there are two Resources such as a pilot and an aeroplane assigned to various tasks there is no (direct) way to keep them together, so leveling, when done without any care or judgement or attention to the leveling settings, will split them up so that the aeroplane can leave without the pilot. This is well known but it is easy to allow for, such as level only selected tasks or selected resources.
Hi Roland,
I created the small sample project consisting of two activities and 4 resource types.

All activities and the project have 24 hours calendar.
Resources Excavator and Bulldozer have 24 hours calendar,
Resource Workers 1st shift has Standard calendar, there are 3 of them,
Resource Workers 2nd shift has Night shift calendar, there are 3 of them also.

All resources were assigned to activity 1, Bulldozer and 3 workers 1st shift were assigned to activity 2.

There are no links.

Activity 1 has 10 hours duration, activity 2 has 5 hours duration. All activities are of Fixed Duration type.

Please level this project Hour by Hour and let’s discuss the results. I don’t understand them.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Hey Vladimir,

I don’t think I really follow your logic.
I mean I understand what it is you mean but as Trevor already described, you are able to simulate shifts in Microsoft Project following the procedure he gave you.
The two resources he mentioned using ,lets call them calendars A and B (10 hour shifts calendar) and which derive from a base calendar of 20 hours per day work represent the two different teams which will work different shifts during the day. (The 10 hours in each of resource A and B’s calendars do not interlap, therefore different shifts during the same day).
Apart from that , what is it that you think is still missing. I am not sure I really got your point
Regards,
Roland
Rafael Davila
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Roland

Thank you very much for the reference; it might be an introduction but quite in depth introduction, a good start for those seriously into it.

Coding these into practical application I believe is no piece of cake, which is why just a handful (if more than one) of software provides us with true resource allocation with optimization instead of just a search for a suboptimal solution. I wonder if the same suboptimal applications are being supplied by software vendors to similar resource allocation issues like Supply Chain, instead of the more advanced applications that truly search for optimal solutions.

Maybe Spider development team along with SAP can do it as to compete with ORACLE.

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor,
all of us have other things to do. So everybody will understand if the reply is delayed.

To similate shift work there is a need to use at least two types of resource assignments:
1) Team assignment - resources belong to one team if they work together and the absence of some team resource means that activity execution will be delayed (machinist will not work without his machine, if the crane is not available the works that depend on lifting something will not be performed),
2) Independent assignments - resources belonging to different teams (different shifts in particular) work independently.

Besides, the duration of effort driven activity shall depend on the efforts of driving resources only.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Trevor Rabey
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Vladimir, as mentioned already, I have other things to do (it is 0800 Sunday morning here and I am going sailing at 0900) but briefly (and I am sure you will find something wrong with it) about shifts:
Make a task with a duration of 20 hours.
Or a duration of 10 Days but make sure to check Tools, Options, hours per day = 20.
Make a calendar for the project which allows for the tasks to have 20 hours in one day.
Make two resources, call one Dayshift Boilermaker and the other Nightshift Boilermaker.
Use the 20 hours calendar as the Base Calendar for both resources.
Adjust the individual calendar for each resource to allow for 10 hours only.
The dayshift guy gets the first 10 hours and the nightshift guy gets the second 10 hours.
Assign both resources to the task.
They will each be assigned only to the part of the day that they each are available for.
I’ve done it, it works fine and is obvious and it is not a work-around, just standard usage and functionality.
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael, you said (quote):

"For the moment, I interpret your avoidance on disclosing a methodology as that there is not such a methodology other than trial and error."

I did not avoid "disclosing a methodology" or providing an explanation, I just didn’t do it (yet). Perhaps you should allow for the possibility of other possible interpretations, such as I did not have the time and have other things to do.
Trevor Rabey
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I am happy to continue to discuss the topic even though it seems I have no supporters, only opposition, but perhaps the discussion would be better if there was more attention to what I actually said and less assumptions about what you think I mean.

Rafael, you say (quote) that I am:

"arguing that PP member who have never written a written a line of software in their lives should not evaluate the software they are to use."

I did not argue that. I simply said that I think that much of the criticism (not all) is uninformed and biased. Everyone is free to make any criticism they like, whether it has a sound basis or not. I just don’t attach much credibility to much of it.
We have an American customer - the company that developes the software for the Government. They found us through the Internet.

They had a problem with the Government contract that shall be finished on Summer. Their project consisted of more than 6000 activities that shall be done by 75 programmers with different qualifications. People shall be assigned in accordance with their qualifications and the project levelled. They used MS Project and got poor results despite a lot of hard work. They were desperate.

We imported their project schedule from MS Project, created and assigned resource skills and levelled the project. Spider Project selected who will do what basing on resource skills and the schedule finished on June 14 (starting in November of the previous year) that satisfied the customer.

When this schedule with already assigned resources (not skills) was exported back to MS Project and levelled by this software the resulting schedule finished at the end of October.

Now the task to Trevor:

How to assign activity priorities in 6000 activities schedule with 75 named resources to get satisfactory result?

Manual prioritization means that the planner schedules the project instead of the software. It is easy with 10 activities, hard with 50 activities, impossible with thousands activities.

The schedule that we created for ship building project consisted of 91000 activities. This schedule took into account limited space and some activities were delayed because the place where they can be performed was occupied.
I cannot imagine how to use MS Project for the projects of this size and complexity. Maybe MS Project 2010 will be able to open the projects of this size but previous versions could not.

Trevor, you mentioned that in your project people worked in 2 shifts. But MS Project does not simulate shifts! What workaround did you apply?

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Roland Tannous
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Hey all,

For those interested in the subject of resource allocation and related algorithms, I suggest this introductory book(199 pages so it has a higher probability of being read :D).
"Resource Allocation in Project Management"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Resource-Allocation-Project-Management-GOR-publi...


Regards
Roland
Rafael Davila
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To all,

http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=JCE...

"Construction schedules, generated by network scheduling techniques, often cause undesirable resource fluctuations that are impractical, inefficient, and costly to implement on construction sites. This paper presents the development of two innovative resource leveling metrics to directly measure and minimize the negative impact of resource fluctuations on construction productivity and cost."

In the above reference you will find other possible metrics to define optimum solution. Good software should provide you with the best available algorithm for each metric or combination and let you select which metrics you are to use at a click of the mouse.

The knowledge has been there for many years, just that most software developers have not been able to catch up. And yes I believe it to be because of the technical incompetence that we are not getting these functionalities. There are some line coders that can do coding and get nothing good out of it while there are some that can do pretty good things, but these got to be more than just database developers, is more than that.

I don’t have to hide my opinion; this is the spirit of Planning Planet. As long as we continue supporting software that does not satisfy our needs we will be getting just that. The idea of forums like this is not only to trouble shoot specific software malfunction, if so P6 would be the absolute owner of this site. The idea of this forum is also to share knowledge and compare the available solutions one against each other. The idea of this forum is also to expose our needs and make our voice heard, not to be shut-up, make your voice sound loud and clear.

If we want to change the status quo on time management we need efficient resource allocation functionality, easy to use, so that the average scheduler and even the occasional user can make use of the tool easily and without waste of scarce time. If you are an experienced manager scheduling what you know best you should already know the issue is not merely in the logic, the easy part, but also in the efficient use of resources.

Best regards,
Rafael
Roland Tannous
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Hello all,

1-I don’t think Rafael is criticizing the "programmers" behind the software for one.In addition, your statement, the one which seems to infer that just because a person hasn’t written a line of software in their lives, automatically means that this person has no right to give their opinion about certain matters or that they are automatically categorized as uninformed people making prejudices is unfair and out of subject.

We’re not here trying to make any kind of advertisement for such or such software vendors.
After reading his post, the issue raised by Rafael is a valid scientific issue and I have to strongly agree with him, that there is no reason a planning software wouldn’t execute a well respected optimization algorithm for resource leveling.
Maybe for some of the people out there, having to tweak the resource leveling after the software has done its job doesn’t bother them or they do consider it to be a normal practice. That does not in any case refute the idea that the software should be able to do this mathematical exercise correctly by its own if necessary on projects of varying size and complexity

Good day
Roland
Rafael Davila
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Trevor,

I don’t believe you have any share with Microsoft; I believe you honestly like the product and know the tricks and traps and one of its fans.

What is the reasoning behind looking optimum or near optimum resource leveling, Brute Force (trial and error)? I would not call “brute force” to be reasoning, not even an algorithm. For the moment, I interpret your avoidance on disclosing a methodology as that there is not such a methodology other than trial and error. Remember the solution worked with SureTrak also, seems like both are using the same outdated resource leveling algorithm, none can find the best solution unassisted. I worked the solution using Spider Project unassisted, this is far superior to trial and error.

Can you please be frank and tell us your reasoning, if there was any other than trial and error? If this is the best Microsoft can do, then my opinion about Microsoft Project will continue being as bad as always. As bad as the opinion I got about Primavera products when I realized how bad at resource leveling they also are.

Finally I would like to say that you should not take it personal by arguing that PP member who have never written a written a line of software in their lives should not evaluate the software they are to use. For years I tried MS Project, my opinion is in no way uninformed, is based on comparison with the functionalities of other available software. I can even remember MS Project version for the MAC, this was really bad compared to Micro Planner version available at that time.

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael,
I think that a lot of criticism of MSP is uninformed prejudice by people who just like to put the boot into MS and mostly who have never written a line of software in their lives.
I don’t have any shares in MS and I am not related to Bill.
The corporation is a tempting target which never responds to the criticism, and lets the product, and its fans, speak for itself. At some point MSP is designed by individual people who, I think, have done a pretty good job of it and I say let’s be fair, credit where credit is due. If I had written it I would have been quite pleased with it. I acknowledge that it has some flaws and limits, but what doesn’t? I know that other software tools have other features and functionality but I am not convinced that they are necessarily so much better, just different. And, let’s face it, the reality is that MSP has the market share and is here to stay.
The standard academic edition retails in Australia for about $120 and in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing with it can be used to make $1M the first time it is used out of the box.

I would rather have extra smart people who understand the concepts, the methods etc and can get the best out of the tool, than extra smart software that can be used without any understanding or judgement.

Assumptions, such as the one you made about OR and optimisation, are risky, unjustified and unnecessary. Nowhere is MSP said to be able to find an optimal solution.
I don’t agree with you that anything less than optimal is unacceptable, and I will settle for a feasible solution over no solution any day. Construction projects are generally conducted so inefficiently, and are usually so badly planned and run that any improvement is worth having.

Recently, I used MSP to plan, in about 1 week, a ship refit project that had more than 2000 tasks, 25000 direct hours of Work, 40 days duration, 2 x 10 hour shifts per day, about 200 individually identified resources, all of the costs and of course completely leveled. Judgement, trial and error and good technique were all required. The weak link in the whole process was the way the plan was used (or not) and the way the project was run in the dock, not the software.
Rafael Davila
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Trevor,

Thanks for standing up to the challenge. Optimal solution shall yield shortest project duration feasible within resource constraints. Preferably the software should look for it without requiring your intervention as I did with Spider Project, no small reasoning required, none at all. The software has optimization with the only available input for priority as optional, for my run with Spider Project I did not used priorities.

With SureTrak default settings I got 87 calendar days duration after resource leveling, a 21% difference compared to the 72 calendar days.

I applied the priorities and leveling settings to SureTrak and to MS Project as per your recommendation and it worked on both as you just said, got 72 calendar days duration after resource leveling

Please explain your reasoning so I can apply it to other jobs with hundreds of activities, I will appreciate your sharing of a few tricks (all) on resource leveling.

- "Why would you have ever believed that the software can provide an optimal solution?" : I assumed they were using some operations research techniques, to me any solution not close to optimal is no solution. The same goes for manually tricking the software by trial and error to produce a better solution.

Of course trial and error by the computer without external intervention is acceptable. A logical procedure to select your leveling options that will ensure optimal or near optimal solution is what I would consider slightly better than nothing, but no less, still close to nothing to what today’s standards should be.

Best regards,
Rafael
Trevor Rabey
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Rafael, regarding your example, it’s a piece of cake in MSP. 72 days. Some small amount of judgement is necessary to set the fine tuning of how the leveling works. I set the Priority of Task 2 and Task 6 to 600, then adjusted the leveling settings to "Level By Priority, Standard" and all of the check boxes off.
I can send it to you.
Are you saying that MSP can’t do it?
Are you saying that the software should be able to do it without any judgement applied?
Does a guitar play itself?
Why would you have ever believed that the software can provide an optimal solution, rather than just a solution?
Surely some solution is better than no solution at all.
How do you define "optimal" when there may be many possible solutions available?
Mike Testro
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Hi Toby

I look forward to receiving my copy for peer review.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Toby Hunt
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Rafael
This is covered at sectin 3.5 in the draft guide.
Regards
Toby
Rafael Davila
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Toby,

I believe more emphasis should be given to resource planning. Ups and downs in resource demand create inefficiencies at the jobsite; it can even influence the perception of urgency as demand goes up and down.

Many of today’s planners do not consider resources loading into their schedules and to make it worse, those who do are using the wrong software. All Primavera Products, Microsoft Project and almost all do provide substandard resource leveling using outdated algorithms to handle the issue. They still use 40 years old and outdated reasoning.

To my surprise a few weeks ago I realized most software resource leveling is not looking for optimization but for a less than optimal solution. Naively I assumed they were looking for the optimal or near optimal solution. These produce resource leveling plans that misguide the Project Manager.

The good thing is that you can test the resource leveling algorithms with real life sample jobs without the need to understand operations research science.

Try resource leveling with the following job to see how your software can handle it and let me know. All relationships FS and 0 lag, two resources AA and BB one each assigned per activity as per table, one of each are available, for all activitiees use a 5 work days per week calendar, very simple.

AAA sample

Answer: Before resource leveling 70 work days total job duration, after resource leveling 72 work days days total job duration.

If your software cannot solve it then try to use “soft dependencies" to solve it manually by your own, got to be easy, only ten activities. of which two are milestones.

Best regards,
Rafael
Toby Hunt
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GUIDE TO GOOD PRACTICE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF TIME IN COMPLEX CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

You may already know that as a result of some work the Chartered Institute of Building did in January 2008, there was published a report on the way the UK construction industry managed time entitled ’Managing the Risk of Delayed Completion in the 21st Century’. This report is available at:

http://www.ciob.org.uk/filegrab/TM_report_full_web.pdf?ref=880.

The main purpose of this research was to further awareness in the construction industry of time management issues, identify the current level of understanding, gauge opinions and determine the use of available technology.

Following completion of this research and recommendations to the CIOB set up a Time Management Working Group the main objectives of which are:


· To establish standards of industry best practice for the management of time on complex construction projects


· To address training, education and certification needs for those engaged in project planning and scheduling



· To raise the expectations and skills of clients and other professionals in their understanding of the management of time related issues.

The first phase of this process is now nearing completion with the publication for consultation of the Draft Guide which, from today, can be downloaded from

http://www.ciob.org.uk/resources/research/timemanagementdocs.


I hope you will find the time to have a look at it and comment on it. On the other hand, if you know of anyone else that might be interested in commenting on it, please feel free to pass on the link to them.

Regards

Toby
Trevor,
you suggested me to pay for the decision I don’t need.
You asked for the real project, not me.

Spider Project finds the shortest resource constrained schedule for this project in 8 seconds. And my notebook is two years old and is not the fastest machine available.
You suggested to pay for the long time you will spend finding similar solution and honestly I don’t believe that you will ever do it.
This way you answered the question why the software that creates good schedules is profitable to have. It will save a lot of time, a lot of efforts, and a lot of money.

And having good and experienced field managers does not mean that the scheduling is not necessary as one can decide reading your post.

Best Regards,
Vladimir

Danya Pearce
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Just a comment on the bars discussed above.

I think what happens is that summary type bars are used during tendering (due to time and information constrainsts) and then when the project starts being progressed, the immense pressures forces planners to be unable to detail the programme adequately.

In South Africa, you often find on the larger projects only one planner really involved. Its also to do with inadequate understanding given to the planning profession by the contracts managers (who often think its an innesccessary evil).

Just a thought.......(though my boss likes to detail more so he has tought me better discipline)
Mike Testro
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Hi Toby

Thank you for that head up.

I will contact Gary at PEO with a view to getting involved.

The last I heard of Keith he was in Hong Kong but it will be good to meet him again.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Toby Hunt
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Mike

The idea is that to start with the CIOB will develop a "CIOB Guide to Good Practice in Project Scheduling"

The purpose of this guide is to set down the standards of project scheduling necessary in order to facilitate the effective and competent management of time in construction projects.

The recommended use of the guide is that it will form the basis for the education of project schedulers. It will also be the standard by which project schedules will be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice. It should also be identified in contract conditions, project specifications, and bills of quantities as the required standard for the preparation and updating of construction programmes, progress reporting and time management.

Keith Pickavance, current President of the CIOB is heading this initiative up, and it has support from a number of leading industry players including Gary France of the PEO.

Regards

Toby
Mike Testro
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Hi Toby.

Who is going to do the training?

It is hardly touched upon in colleges and universities so no one knows the basic principles when they start work.

How do you stop contractor’s planners putting together multi task multi location bars and then using mid bar links to the next bar.

In the analysis I am now working on the planner has one bar for "1st Fix All Trades" over a three storey building linked to "Plastering" and then on to "2nd Fix All Trades" each with a start-start link with a 5 day lag.

This proctice is not unusual - in fact it is alarmingly common.

I welcome your suggestions as to how to get the next generation of planners to do it properly - the current lot are beyond redemption.

Best regards

Mike Testro.

Toby Hunt
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Dear Mike

In responce to your earlier comment, I am quite surprised that you don’t see the benefit of training planners formally, so that they get things right from the outset (unless of course this was tongue in cheek).

I would have to say that although QSs now receive a more formalised training, that does not stop the number of cost related dispute that I see arising.

As such I am sure formal training for planners will not stop time related disputes arising.

Regards

Toby
Mike Testro
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Hi Ken

All programming software allows you to over ride logic links and force a task to either:

1 Start on a set date
and/or
2 Finish on a set date

These are what I call artificial restraints - they distort the logic and the critical path and therefore should not be used.

If there is a reason why a task cannot start before a particualr date then put in a predecessor bar and give it a name.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Ken Barrett
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What exactly are you refering to when you say "artificial constraints"?
Danya Pearce
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excellento

will check it out :-)
Mike Testro
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Hi Danya

There is a PP thread on PowerProject Teamplan where there was a lively debate on the merits of PowerProject against P3 - that would be worth a visit.

Or you can go to Astadev.co.uk and get a 15 day demo version.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Danya Pearce
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thanks Mike,

very informative. Guess we arent doing too much wrong (we do love those lag links ha ha). I totally hate any artifical constrainst. As far as I am concerned, people using those shouldnt be called planners!!!!

Tell me, what is the joy of using powerproject compared to other software? It is not used down here in sunny south africa.......
Mike Testro
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Hi Danya

I have a few rules - not in any particular order.

The programme should be structured to fit a workspace where 1 trade can work on its own.
The programme tasks form a FS cascade within the workspace - sometimes known as bottom up prgramming.
Logic links are placed between workspaces to control resource levels.

Nevr use:
Artifial constraints.
Lead Lags on links.
Tasks more than 10 days long.

Always:
Have at least one outgoing link from every activity - even if it is to contract completion.
Put 24/7 calendars on curing or drying out bars.

Other factors:
Use a calendar to represent anticipated weather down time.
Deploy a single resource called "hours" for all resource modelling and extract the hours from the cost plan.

And finally - switch to PowerProject software.

I hope that helps

Best regards

Mike Testro
Danya Pearce
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Hi Mike (again)

Please can you explain the requirements that make a contractors programme fit for purpose (so to speak). I am always wondering about the balance between too much and too little information.

Thanks

Danya
Mike Testro
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Hi Toby

I have not yet read the CIOB report but I really do not need to.

In my role as a forensic delay analyst over the last 10 years I have rarely encountered a contractors programme that was fit for delay analysis purposes.

My conclusion is that construction programming in the UK industry is unfit for purpose.

I raised this point at a recent seminar on NEC3 and as the only "planner" my views were endorsed by all Project Managers in the room.

How do we get them to do it right first time?

Why bother we would be out of business if they did.

Best regards

Mike Testro
Samer Zawaydeh
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Dear Toby,

Since you are talking about complex projects, then the data required to plan and schedule these projects are always available. You will have to depend on the project team and their experience.

Training is always good and it will enhance your skills only if you are using what you trained for. With complex projects comes, complex requirements as well.

The key to success in these projects would be planning, execution and control and monitoring the activities on a daily basis. If you have a good team and enough technical support and resources, you will be able to complete your complex project.

If you have something specific, please let us know.

Best Regards,

Samer
Trevor Rabey
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Vladimir, I am sure you are right and I wish you all the best and I hope you sell a million licenses of Spider. And I will advise clients that MSP is not the only software tool, and direct them to the alternatives and they can make their own choices. Meanwhile, I still have to make a living in the world that is, not the one that might have been or the one that it might one day become.
Rafael Davila
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Anoon,

By taking a look at the Forum Discussion Category Primavera Version PM5 / PM6 you will see how many questions are there regarding the many bugs within the software.

Is even hard to get simple graphic reports with functionality similar to old P3, is more like you are limited to screen or layout printouts. This was an issue about 10 years ago when P3e was introduced, a software different to P3 and developed by another enterprise who sold the software to Primavera.

Primavera P6 has so many date definitions it even creates confusion, and some data fields seems like temporary calculation values.

Primavera P6 does not gives you a single automatic algorithm that look for optimum resource leveling, it cannot even provide you with true float values under resource leveling. Of course the various definition of optimal solution might require various algorithms. My main concern is job duration, for others might be resource smoothing, not as defined by Primavera but to minimize incremental changes in resource loading, for others might be Time-Cost trade off to minimize total project cost as a function of project duration.

The software is pricey and you can get better value from other software that is more efficient and less demanding on the hardware. At home we consider it too expensive and we have serious issues with the Government agencies, mainly uncle Sam, the US Government, because even against the federal procurement rules (FAR) many US Government Agencies brand specify Primavera, you have no option, is a matter of force, bullies take advantage of it.

What can you do when your own institutions evade the law, as the procurement regulations are supposed to have the full force of the law? I guess is complain, and make your voice heard. If not because of this I would not be comparing other products with Primavera, there would be no need. I am for allowing the end user to select the tool. If you are working on a lump sum job then the Contractor should be free to select the tool of his choosing, if you are under a PM type of agreement then the PM is the one who shall select the tool. We are in need of government agencies to stop evading the law. We need to get our government agencies, State and Federal, to issue performance specifications that do not favor a particular software.

GSA serves as the acquisition and procurement arm of the federal government, the following was extracted from one of their job specs.

CPM Specs by GSA

Obviously, under free choice, I would expect MS Project to be the most widely used in Government Contracts, and why not?

Best regards,
Rafael
Roland Tannous
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Hey all,

Allow me to add one more thing.
Its something that is pretty obvious but I didn’t really pay attention to it until yesterday when I was trying to run Rafael’s example.
All MS products are made in such a modular way that you can write add-ins for those Products. Add-ins that would do anything you’d like in a much different way then the original product does.
Maybe ,sometimes, thats one reason MS doesn’t care about the basic features that come with its product that much. They count on 3rd parties to be improving these products through add-ins. Kind of the lazy’s man solution to making a lot of money.
Surprisingly there are many add-ins for MS Project. I used a demo of one of them yesterday and was really surprised it leveled Rafael’s example perfectly without having to trick it into doing it like Trevor already did with MS Project..

@Vladimir,
A more intuitive spider user interface would be nice. It already hurts my eyes . :)

Regards
Roland
Roland,
those who use Spider Project consider MS Project interface as not logical and hard to use.
It is natural.
Besides, Spider Project has much more functions and thus options. It makes its interface more complicated.
We will work to create an option to hide the functions that are not necessary now.

I know about some of MS Project scheduling add-ins. Some of them produce better schedules for small projects but work poor with the large schedules. But I don’t know all of them. So please give us the reference.

Best Regards,
Vladimir
Anoon Iimos
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Hi Mike,

Yes, you are right it is supposed to be + and - (plus and minus), but you are looking for the absolute value, which is supposed to be the bottom line, so whether it is plus or minus doesn’t matter, but again, it matters in scheduling to know whether you are ahead or behind.

So I guess, you will need a dynamic formula for your manual leveling to become faster. Maybe Vladimir has it already, why don’t you try Spider?

cheers
Anoon Iimos
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A question for Mr. Rafael Davila (if I maybe allowed):

What really made you think and said that P6 is the worst?

Is it in general? If not, in terms of what?

Thanks