Tips on using this forum..

(1) Explain your problem, don't simply post "This isn't working". What were you doing when you faced the problem? What have you tried to resolve - did you look for a solution using "Search" ? Has it happened just once or several times?

(2) It's also good to get feedback when a solution is found, return to the original post to explain how it was resolved so that more people can also use the results.

Tracking progress in Spider

56 replies [Last post]
Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

I have the following question regarding tracking of progress in Spider:

I observe the following behavior:

Once I have updated progress on some of the activities (once I have entered an actual data for some of the activities), after that I will get an advice to reschedule project (which is logical).

However when rescheduling, Spider just looks at progress of all activities, finds the latest date among all activities for which the actual data is available (let us call it  Date X), assumes, that if any other activity was not updated, that means it was not done, and them just reschedules all of the activities, which Spider considers as not being done to start after Date X.

Example:

Activity 1 and Activity 2 were scheduled to start on the same date,

Activity 1 only progress has been updated.

Reschedule. Result: Activity 2has been delayed

I understand the logic, but the difficulty I have with it (and may be because I am coming from MS Project) is that it requires, that at certain moment I would update ALL of the activities of my project until the same date. I am not sure it is practically possible. Sometime you just can’t contact people to get progress from them.

I my practice I go to activities for which I know the progress, I update these activities, and for the rest of the activities, for which progress information is just not jet available I ASSUME, that they are on progress and later, when actual progress is available  will update those.  MS Project does not have any problems with this:

However MSP allows me to reschedule uncompleted work to start after certain date. And this date can be any date. This date can be even earlier, then the last actual date (see example below). This I found is also not possible in Spider. In addition to this I have a flexibility of doing it for entire project or just for selected tasks.

I feel like spider imposes quite a strict rules on me, which I am not sure are always practically to achieve. Or am I missing something?

Replies

Evgeny,

it is possible to add only selected activities to the Input table if to choose this item in the activity pop-up menu. Then you will not need to delete other activities, they will not appear there at all.

But I do not object to adding Filters in the Input table.

Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir,

I know, that any activity can be removed from the Actual Input table. But it just that for some of the schedules one will have to remove a lot of activities, and since there is no filter in Actual Data Input Table, one may have to remove a lot of lines manually. For small schedules, like I mostly have, this would not be a problem.  However for big schedules one can think of some filter or possibly not to import “empty” activities into the Actual Data Input Table.

Just for illustration. If one would want to align the progress of all activities to common data date, he would get Actual Data Input Table, where a lot of lines will have to be manually deleted.

Initial schedule:

 photo 1_schedule_zpsaeb650ee.png

Actual Data Input Table to align schedule to common Data Date

 photo 2_actual_data_input_table_zpsf16773f7.png

 

In this example, for instance, one would have to delete all activities, except 4 and 8.

But, as I mentioned, this is not a big thing.

Regards.

Evgeny. 

Evgeny,

any activity can be removed from the Actual Input table if to select this action in the pop-up menu that appears after right mouse click.

Entering data twice for the same period means adding new actual information or make changes to already entered information. It is useful to know about activities whose actual data was already collected.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Meanwhile coming back to tracking in this thread….

I have tested the functionality with v 11.01.05 and it works now exactly as I thought it should be!!

I am now  able to create schedule with different data date for different tasks and to reschedule it, starting from certain date.

 photo 1_diffdatadate_zps1795e987.png

I am also able now to align to the same date progress information of all tasks, by  clicking Add to Actual Input Table on the phase level (this was not possible in the past). In this case Spider comes up with default values in the input table, which, when transferred to the Performance Archive, would align the progress data on all Activities to the same end date.  

 photo 2_aligned_zpsb10aed11.png

So, it all works as expected.

 

I only found one little thing, which requires clarification:

When aligning activities, the activities which already have actual data in entire range being entered, when pulled into the Actual Data Input Table, would not have any performed volume as well as start and finish date would be empty.

 photo 3_datainputtable_zps9c0d126c.png

Later on they would not be transferred to the performance archive and the following warning would come up:

 photo 4_warning_zps25ca0e5d.png

Such entries would get stuck in the Actual Data Input Table and would have to be manually cleaned from it.

Question: it a deliberately made functionality?

Alternative solution would be not to pull these activities in the actual data input table at all or to give possibility to filter and delete them out of Actual Data Input Table.

Regards

Evgeny 

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir,

I raised the same question to Rafael and he provided an answer in the another thread:

Regards.

Evgeny

In Spider you can use multiple WBS.

Phases of one WBS do not exist in the another. What shall happen with the phase links in different WBS where it does not exist? Removing WBS the software shall remove all WBS elements links?

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

You are right, especially as Spider lacks this functionality, agree all software users might give their contribution.

It is just that your insistence on Spider being able to move summary tasks is related to Spider not having summary tasks as implemented in MSP. A functionality I would like to have.

While the PMI seems do not favors linking of summary tasks a well known contributor, Mr. Plotonick, likes the idea as it supports the usefulness of his concept of RDM.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

RE: “Summary Task Linking ”

As always, you bring up very interesting questions.

Does it not make sense to start a new discussion of the in the general forum? This subject is not really related to Spider, but there I think a lot of people will be able to bring their input?

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

I would like to know how important is to you having better compatibility when importing from MSP. To me is quite important and wonder how other software does. I also would like to know what you think about summary task linking and functionality.  

If Summary Task Linking is so bad, then it shall be clearly ruled out by all modern specifications so it will not create problems for those of us that continuously receive jobs generated in Microsoft Project that can create such logic.

A single practical example that can show such practice will create problems shall be enough.

Open Project is free, can anyone give me a sample schedule that will drive the software crazy because of linking summary tasks? Or is is it a capricious statement to hide the incapacity of some software vendor to create good coding enough to prevent errors and to display logic in an efficient manner?

Please note external predecessors linked to the Summary Task shall be allowed only to link to the start of the Summary Task (SS/SF) while external successors shall be allowed to link only to the finish of a Summary Task (FS/FF) if it is to have a chance.

It looks like the "Pacing Hammock", better than traditional Hammocks or WBS or Summary Tasks, nothing new, just forgotten and poorly implemented.

MSP looks good for high level scheduling (only).

http://www.rdcpm.com/07sem-01.pdf

 photo Topic_zps046e8d24.png

 

 photo msp2013_zpsdc262087.png

Manual conversion of a summary activity to an activity that can be linked can be tedious if importing from a MSP job with hundreds of such activities as in MSP any summary bar can be linked.

I wonder how P6 do it.

 photo looks_zps87133b24.png

On my part I would like more compatibility when importing MSP jobs, too much is lost. I agree with Mr. Plotnick, it is possible to program the Pacing Hammock. A name I like because it is not a traditional Hammock nor a WBS activity, an activity pacing with child activities that can be linked and programmed to display logic.

Maybe the links between any child activity and a Pacing Hammock can be defined as a new type of link (Pacing Link) so instead of individual SS/SF/FS/FF it will be a pair of links SS&FF that will be added or deleted at the same time, in this way including or excluding the activity from the group. The Pacing Hammock can only have FS and SS predecessors (incoming links from predecessors), FS and FF successors (outgoing links) and of course the special link to child activities. The special link (Pacing Link) might be shown on the predecessors tab as well as on the successors tab. Will not be dependent on WBS, an activity can belong to different Pacing Hammocks and in case of a circular reference will be rejected immediately. That a Pacing Hammock can be linked to another Pacing Hammock using the pacing link should be considered, mimicking the outline structure from MSP.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Vladimir,

RE: Rafael, did you notice that you may import MC data from three scenarios and create three scenarios from Monte Carlo data. You don't need using formulas for this.

Of course, it might be in some occasions easier to start with the MC data and from this create the 3 scenarios, I agree. In other occasions it might be otherwise, Spider provides for transfer in both directions.

I can think of the advantage of having both on the same job. Say you want to get the details Monte Carlo can give you on a single Job, MC can handle that same as the 3 Scenarios. Say you want to get the statistics on a 50 jobs Portfolio, the 3 scenarios will have no problem but MC might take too long to compute.

I want both and Spider provides both.

I ran a 3 scenarios and MC for all distribution types for a sensitivity analysis and got very interesting results. The 3 scenarios tells me that 50% probability of success will be at 08/01/2005 while the Triangle distribution tells me this will be met at 09/15/2005. This 15 calendar days (~10 work days).

I remember sometime ago you told me the 3 scenario approach was designed with conservative results in mind, I am glad Triangle distribution came out more conservative because if in general this holds it will make it easier for me to decide on which distribution to use. For the moment it looks like Triangle would be my first choice then the 3 scenario.

I want to keep it as an additional buffer consider as it is impossible to get precise distributions for your jobs not to mention for individual activities. This difference on a 2 years contract is not much.

Maybe for the future Spider will allow for individual distribution types per activity, to satisfy those who want to go into extreme granularity. Of course keeping the options as now but with an additional option to use individual activity curves. I hope such requirement would not add much overhead to the computations, Monte Carlo with resource leveling can be quite demanding of your computer time. For the moment I have a preference for the additional MC goodies to come.

About what resource leveling MC is using, if restricted to "Previous" and not inherited from current schedule is a separate topic by itself that I might like to explore in the future.

Regards,
Rafael

 photo 4distributions_zpsecf63b62.png

Sorry for late reply.

I am busy at CPM construction conference at New Orleans.

Thank you, you discovered a bug, so please download new version where it is removed.

Our developers should wait for more testing before uploading new version. Keep me informed if anything else will be found.

There are other things that should be improved before uploading but our developers were too enthusiastic. I expect that minor bugs may be discovered in the next month and then everything will be fine as usual.

Rafael, did you notice that you may import MC data from three scenarios and create three scenarios from Monte Carlo data. You don't need using formulas for this.

A lot of additional functionality is coming.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

Rafael,

I agree, in MSP it is not easy to compare changes in links logic between versions.

In addition to this, there is simply no links table available as the one, present in Spider. There was a way to get it, if one would export MS Project to MS Access, but export to MS Access has been discontinues after MSP 2003.

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

Will the predecessors/successors naming follow these values or will continue changing their reference? I don't think so, it is not the same. Might help a bit but not enough. By adding a single activity you change all references to the predecessor/successors ID. All logic reference is changed, is INSANE.

What about this user field having duplicates values, in Spider if you declare user defined field as codes no duplicates will be allowed but what in MSP?

In Microsoft Project, the first line is assigned ID 1, the second line ID 2 and so on. If you insert a new activity between 1 and 2, the new activity becomes ID 2. Thus an activity’s ID is determined by its position in relation to the others. So every time you add an activity everything changes.  Your list of predecessors/successors changes and you must change it and not use old references or it will spell chaos.

I wonder how in MSP you can compare file versions and make sure logic was not tampered if by simply adding one activity to a new version, perhaps due to a change order, all references are changed. How you know a predecessor to activity 2456 that had a predecessor with an ID of 650 is the same or different to the new activity and predecessors ID, DOUBLE INSANE. Maybe this is one of the reasons why many consider MSP unsuitable for Construction.

I would not be surprised that because of this some courts might declare MSP unsuitable for claim analysis leaving the claimant with nothing. Still I believe it is a decision by the person who decided to go with it, not all jobs end up in court. If need be the Baseline can be exported to other software and apply there the updates and changes using software where the claimant can satisfy the strict requirements for burden of proof.

I believe this is what some claim analyst do and this is why I am concerned about making advanced software capable of importing all activities from MSP providing similar activity types, and this includes the summary activities. Activities that are not well represented by Hammocks nor WBS Activity Type, activities that can have predecessors and successors, similar to the Topic Activity in SureTrak that added much compatibility with MSP.

Why do you think I liked your idea on making Spider able to mimic the outline activities available on MSP, yes mainly because of compatibility but also because to me makes sense using the software to define the links in the same way a WBS and a Topic activity does. Hammocks are not the same as WBS Activities or Topic Activities. In SureTrak WBS Activity is a subset of a Topic Activity, essentially a Topic Activity without predecessors/successors.

I do not find the need to create two additional milestones and manually adding the correct links, plus remembering making the correct links upon any change can be called elegant. Maybe activity type similar to SureTrak Topic Activity, shall be named the Tuxedo (for elegant) Activity type.

Best Regards,

Rafael

PS Maybe you already noticed Spider provides Monte Carlo in addition to the 3 Projects Scenario Method. I was having fun, I created the Monte Carlo simulation from an old job of some 600 activities. With only 3 formulas I entered the opt., pess. and probable duration times to define the remaining duration distribution for all activities. It took me less than 15 minutes even when it is new functionality, short lived fun, not a challenge. I will investigate what else is under the hood. I heard some additional functionality is on the waiting line for very soon.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

The question about more than a single link between 2 activities I asked in a separate thread.

Regarding the manual control of activity ID:  why can’t you create in MSP a customer text field, which you would call an Activity ID and would have a manual control over it?

Regards.

Evgeny 

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

I agree MSP can be used without messing the logic. MSP has earned its place long ago. People who are not so hooked up with such tools have a real need to plan, MSP can fill a gap, a gap big enough to make it the most used scheduling software in the world.

I believe that even in the construction industry it is the end user who shall decide which tool he is to use, the owner of the means and methods. I do not like the attitude that it got to be accepted with resignation, it just shall be accepted as the decision of those who manage their work, not a decision of secondary users who pretend at gun point to force others believe they are the exclusive owners of the absolute truth.

There are only two things I would like for MSP to have, one is more control for activity ID and secondly the ability to model more than a single link between two activities. Keep it simple and let other software like P6 and Spider fill the remaining small gap only when the end user chooses so. I will stick with Spider unless forced at gun point to use other tool, but will let you choose your tool.

Two thumbs up for MSP.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

As always, you provided a link to very interesting document (http://www.ronwinterconsulting.com/MS_Project_for_Construction.pdf).

 

In a way it says, that MSP has so much flexibility when it comes to tracking progress, that one has to implement certain discipline of working with schedule to make sure he does not mess up the logic.

But this is a general rule in life – the more freedom you have, the more self-discipline you need to apply, isn’t it? 

It helped me thought to understand better how P6 users look at MSP. As I understand, the Spider user has a view, similar to that of P6.

By the way, I solve the problem, that MSP allows to have uncompleted tasks in the past and completed tasks in the future in a different way, than described in the document: I just make sure, that the progress line on all active tasks goes exactly to the Data Date, when I do the update. So at the time of schedule update the progress lines of all tasks shall form one vertical line (this is in the case, when progress on all tasks gets reported at the same date, which is different from the submarine example, I posted here).

I described  my approachit here:

http://www.planningplanet.com/forums/planning-scheduling-programming-discussion/531610/updating-microsoft-project

Regards.

Evgeny.

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

I supposed you noticed, your call is welcomed, keep hanging around.

Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

I also noticed, that on the 2nd run it works as expected, but I think the idea was that it would work on the 1st run as well.

Let us wait, what Vladimir says.

Regards. 

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

It seems like you are right, there is something not working as expected.

I did the following, in your file I ran it for All-Activities, to have it straightened out, then with the other options and it worked as expected. Try it and let me know.

Save a copy of the original under a different name so you can get back easily.

Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

I think I did everything correctly (figures 2 and 3 generated from exactly the same file)

You can download the file here (Track1.010.sprj)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1FBt_G3gCVqc195SnFXYmQ0ZmM/edit

Note: please make sure to use the latest version of Spider, as only version 11.01.04 has feature to run schedule against different dates.

 photo ResourceConstrainedSchedulingOptions_zps08732da0.png

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evgeny,

Are figures 2 and 3 generated from exactly the same file or different versions of the same job? It seems like if somewhere you deleted your performance archive reducing the Cumulative Duration by one day while keeping Remaining Duration unchanged.

In Spider we have the following basic formulas for Costs, Resources, Durations;

  • Actual + Remaining = Cumulative
  • Actual = Sum of Performance Archive values.

If you delete a value by deleting a row on the Performance Archive you are reducing this value from the Actual and therefore from Cumulative, if Duration you are reducing Cumulative/Total Duration for the activity. Be careful whenever you mess with any such values on the Performance Archive.

If you make any changes to actual values in the Performance Archive the software assumes it will impact "Cumulative" values keeping "Remaining" unchanged.

Can you please post for download the single file where you go from figure 2 to figure 3 simply by changing the options?

Might be of interest the following reference: http://www.ronwinterconsulting.com/MS_Project_for_Construction.pdf

From Page 3.

  • As shown in Figure 1 below, this process creates a potential for inherently flawed schedules with remaining durations in the past or actual dates in the future. Both P6 and MSP suffer from allowing actual dates in the future. P6 and MSP differ from how they handle incomplete work in the past. Common sense and CPM rules require that activities with remaining duration scheduled in the past must be ‘moved’ into the future. It defies logic to say “We will complete this work last month”.

Microsoft schedulers have finally found time travel, they can travel to the past, they can travel to the future.

P6 schedulers can travel into the future and can warp time with the use of such aberrant manipulation of float that can yield Late Dates earlier than Early dates and display "negative float", an unneeded manipulation to display criticality.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir,

I am trying recently released new version 11.01.04. I can see a lot of changes – so congratulation with constant development.

 Among others, I can also see the previously discussed in this topic feature to do resource constrained schedule against dates, which can be selected manually.

However option “Following project data date” and “Following date” produce result, which I can’t understand.

Example: if on a simple one Activity one Resource schedule I enter progress for one day only and then run resource-constrained schedule with the option “All activities”, then the result is as expected.

Before running schedule

 photo 01_beforerunningschedule_zpsa913e651.png

After running schedule with “All activities” option. (expected result)

 photo 02_resourceleveling_allactivities_zps559ecbb5.png

However if instead I run schedule with “Following project data date” option, then I can’t understand result, as the Activity1 is now shortened for whatever reason even though the Data Date is correct (28.01.13 16:00)

 photo 03_resourceleveling_followingdatadate_zps3bfad7f3.png

What is the reason for such behavior?

 

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

I left out this one on purpose as a few recommendations are in error, specially with regard to WBS practice and their missing to mention more advanced functionalities, perhaps in favor of the software favored by the authors who lack these.

I do not like the PMI management to advocate for standards unique of their own and pretend the industry adopt them as to rule out other software that does not follows their whims, I even find it snobbish. Their proposed RDM standard or Relationaship Diagraming Method in no way will make all scheduling software compatible, it will not make all to resource level equal, will not make all to have the same functionalities, it is a phallacy and they know it. I believe it is with the purpose of favoring some software at the expense of true competition, these people are no naive.

They miss to mention that using external software to model Monte Carlo using different engine is not good practice, perhaps because the same people who advocate for the adoption of their unique standard also advocate for the use of software that is commonly used to model Monte Carlo by importing files from other software. That the same vendor sells the software do not makes them 100% compatible, resource leveling as well as constraints modeling is different, even float values do differ.

I DO NOT LIKE THEM

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

what about PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling - 2nd Edition

 

http://marketplace.pmi.org/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?GMProduct=00101256201

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

There are no universal standards but some guidelines.

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-120G

http://warnercon.com/news/publications/
http://warnercon.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Article-3-What-Makes-a-Good-Schedule1.pdf

http://pcigroup.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/cpm-scheduling-best-practice/

With no standards some might deliver a single activity schedule while others might deliver a 10,000 activities schedules for similar jobs. One of the most basic guidelines is on the scaling of your activities as related to the required frequency of updating.

I do not necessarily agree with all such recommendations and believe they should be guidelines not necessarily to be strictly followed.

Sorry I did not answer before this question but could not find back your original posting on this question, I am glad you asked it again.

Vladimir,

Your idea about how to implement the functionality sounds good. It will be interesting to see how it comes out, especially with the display of DD lines, perhaps a straight one for Actual DD, another for Projection DD, plus one that follows individual activities DD, making it transparent about the assumptions and how the computation was performed. Histograms might also be interesting as they will have actual, assumed and projected data.

Guess this will be after Monte Carlo functionality is added to current 3 scenarios approach to probabilistic modeling.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

may be I am asking totally stupid question, but what is this "CPM "Good Practice Standards"", which you refer to?

I assume CPM stands for Critical Path Management.

Regards.

Evgeny

Assumed data will never go to the performance archive. We think about an option to calculate the schedule from the certain date without changing anything before.
Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Maybe to keep CPM "Good Practice Standards" the software shall not allow to perform a schedule run unless all activities DD are the same. If not aligned then in order to create an aligned what-if schedule the software will allow you to generate a separate file, like if an Aggregate report. In this way the performance archive will not be messed with data that is not final, that was not necessarily true to DD.

I wonder if the the separate new file will have a user defined DD, something between last individual activity data date or even any other date. For the future will be estimated as planned while for a prior DD will be un-statused, if this is possible.

How good the model will be? Let the user decide as it is just a what-if. I belive if DD are close it will be good enough and welcome Evjeny suggestion.

Evgeny, thank you for the proposal.

It looks reasonable and these features will appear in Spider soon.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir, Rafail,

Thanks for feedback

I now came to the following conclusion regarding the subject of tracking progress in Spider (correct me if I am wrong here)

Conclusion: It is extremely important to follow strict schedule update discipline is Spider:

  1. Update all of the active activities for exactly the same period and only then reschedule schedule.  
  2. The period for next performance data entrance shall start at the current Data Date

if you don’t follow these rules, you will get right into the mess. This is due to the following:

  • There is no “assumed progress” functionality in Spider. Spider will always reschedule all activities which do not have any progress and which happen earlier, than current Data Date.
  • Once you have entered progress on different tasks at different dates, it is not so easy to align activities to have progress, entered till the same date (see parallel topic).

In this context I still have one question:

Why does Spider not enforce this project update discipline? Why does it allow flixibility? It is so easy to mess around with progress update in Spider. E.g.

  • It is possible to enter performance data for different activities till different dates (see my example, which Rafael was trying to fix).
  • When entering performance data the start of the period is not forced to be Data Date (it can be earlier or later).

As I already mentioned, I am not that experienced with Spider and scheduling in general, but I would think that the following 2 changes could easily make it possible to use the tool in not so strictly control update structure

  1. Introduce option “do not reschedule activities with no actual data, in the period before Date X (or may be Data Date)” (was alredy discussed)
  2. Add some feature, which allows to align progress date on activities to be the same (the task, which Rafail was trying to solve).  E.g. in the “Include in Actual Input Table” dialogue form add option, which would be called “pull only periods, for which no actual data has been entered yet ”. In this case if one would tick this option, the Actual Date Input table would come up with default data, which, when transferred to the project, would align all activities to have progress entered till the same date without changing the duration.

 

Evgeny,

Any project may be considered as a program that consists of subprojects managed by different managers (team leaders).

Each team leader may reschedule his/her part of the project if it is independent and the program will collect current status of all subprojects. In portfolio model this rescheduling takes into account portfolio resource availability and activity dependencies. So it is not necessary to recalculate program schedule if not all actual data are available.

When I wrote about frozen schedule I meant that MS Project shows progress without moving activities to current dates.

What you suggested is the same as an assumption that activities where progress is not entered are performed in accordance with the plan. I suggested to consider it as what if schedule and replace  this what if version with another one when progress will become known. It is easy in Spider though it is necessary to remember which data are not reliable in the current plan. So your proposal is reasonable and we will think about implementing this feature into Spider Project.

In any case it should be obvious that the schedule is based on the assumptions and is not reliable.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir,

Thanks for exploitation for this possibility.

What I understand is that different schedule update rates / times are possible within program, but shall be the same within project.

I was thinking about another way around with Spider to achieve what I want: create a user-defined field and keep in it the date till which this specific activity has a real performance data. So, scheduler will know, that everything after that date is just an “assumed progress”. So, every time a real progress would be entered for a task, this user-defined field will be adjusted by a scheduler.

I don’t entirely understand what you mean, when you say, that  “MS Project enters actuals in the frozen schedule”. 

If we look at the submarine example, if as a result of a communication from one of the submarine it will become clear, that the submarine is behind the schedule, the tracking office would simply change the activity duration to reflect the current adjusted expectation, which will push in turn the “Meeting in the sea of 2 submarines” milestone. If tracking officer would add activity “patrol the sea” after “meeting in the sea”, it will also be added to the proper place. So, the schedule is not frozen.

In Spider none of this is possible without pressing “reschedule” button, which is not a problem by itself, but it will always reschedule to delay the activities with the less recent reporting date, as it happened with activity 1 and 3 in my previous example.

Photobucket

Having thought of it I think, that this behavior of Spider is due to the fact (correct if I am wrong here), that it positions itself as primarily a resource leveling solution, whilst Microsoft Project is only mainly CPM software. When making none-resource constrained schedule, the real progress of a task is not that important, however when doing resource-constraint schedule, the tool needs to know real progress to know if activity can de delayed (would not make sense to delay already happened activity)

Still, I think having simple checkbox “do not reschedule activities with no actual data, in the period before Date X (or may be Data Date)” should be relatively easy to implement in Spider and it would make life easier for people, migrating from Microsoft Project or those, who do not have that strict schedule update rules.

 I will now check, how it is done in other professional SWs, but it is definately available in MS Project

Rafael,

I meant project updating (rescheduling) before consolidation, since Evgeny wants just to look at current multiproject situation and updates of different projects are not coordinated.

Up to 2002 (when we added portfolio management features to Spider Project) we used multiproject approach to portfolio management: created portfolio as one large project where different projects were 2nd level phases and it worked well.

But this approach requires certain discipline like using common coding system. Spider founded and changed non-unique codes automatically but it could create problems if different projects followed different approaches to coding. Besides it required to enter Start No Earlier Than constraints if some projects were planned to start in future and some other minor inconveniences.

Adding portfolio features we tried not to loose anything from multiproject approach (you can still open and schedule the portfolio and even save as one large project) but made the work with portfolio somewhat easier and with some additional features.

In portfolios you should not worry if the activity codes in different projects are the same, projects will start at the dates when they are scheduled, software remembers for which project each activity belongs and you will get reports not only on what activity each resource was assigned and when, but at which project it will be busy at any moment. Besides there are additional forms like Project Register, and projects may be distributed and consolidated even if responsibility structure was not created and responsible managers assigned. Projects belonging to the portfolios remember this and even if they will leveled as separate projects could take into consideration portfolio resource availability.

But we kept both approaches and portfolio information may be distributed and consolidated by projects or by responsibility areas in any structure that was used in the opened portfolio model. Like for projects it is possible to create any number of Portfolio WBS.

And you understood properly that multiple WBS are created not only for presentations. As in example suggested to Evgeny, an information may be distributed and consolidated in any structure, some structure may be not full (sometimes very useful) and you can restrict an access to certain structures. There are many ways to use this functionality.

Best Regards.

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Vladimir,

When you say "When project is updated ..." do you men after Consolidation?

I was under the impression Consolidation was limited to Portfolios but not to the individual project.

If it can also be modeled using Portfolios what would be your criteria to use one method over the other?

*************************************************************************

Consolidation of Subprojects

See also

Consolidation performs update of corresponding subprojects in multiproject. Updated subprojects are copied from Outbox (for consolidation) folder (for connection through Local network) or FTP server (for connection through FTP- server) of responsible manager only, assigned in phase properties dialog box. Path to Outbox (for consolidation) folder and FTP server name are set for responsible manager in Users Table.

To perform consolidation:

  1. Invoke phase shortcut menu with a right mouse button click on corresponding phase row number.

  2. Select Consolidate Subprojects.

After consolidation multiproject is updated with latest versions of subphases.

After consolidation of subprojects a message in which managers for whom consolidation has realized successfully will be listed.

*************************************************************************

This is one of the "very pretty cool" functionalities of Spider, perhaps so unique I forget it is available.

Seems like multiple WBS functionality goes far beyond organization for mere project presentation, far beyond functionality for reporting and diagrams, maybe ahead of our time.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny,

your submarine example is about program management.

Both submarine may be considered as separate projects that belong to the same program.

In this case I would suggest to create a program with two WBS structures created for the communication with submarines one and two that look like this after status update: Photobucket Photobucket It is necessary to create two users in the Users table (managers of sub 1 and sub 2 subprojects) defining the folders where they will get new schedules from the program manager and where they will submit their project statuses.

These managers shall be assigned as responsible in the Properties of First Submarine phase in Sub 1 structure and Second Submarine phase in Sub 2 structure.

Select Distribute subprojects in the drop down project menu in both structures.

Now each of responsible managers will get the following subprojects where they will enter next actual data: Photobucket Photobucket After entering actual data these subprojects may be rescheduled before submitting to the program manager.

First manager is informed that the second submarine will be late.

When project is updated basing on the information from the first submarine secong manager will be informed that the first submarine is ahead of time and will be ready for Patrol before second submarine will arrive at the meeting point.

Once again: MS Project enters actuals in the frozen schedule. It is not the same as the model just discussed.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

As mentioned, Spider has features which make it very interesting to to consider for my applications as well (close to optimal resource-constrained scheduling, productivity in assignment, resource skills feature,  lots of things.. you know much better then me). 

But I will continue looking around.

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

It is you who shall decide which tool to use, not others impose it.

I am glad you are taking a look at Asta, if it is your fit go for it. My experience with Asta Demo was very good, my experience with their support was also great. They have some pretty good functionalities unique of their software. I particularly liked the ability to display multiple activities on the "same" line accommodating for some overlap, very convenient for those involved in housing construction. As far as I recall same line in reality is a condensed group of lines that are arranged to accommodate the overlaps, pretty cool.

For may needs and ways of working my schedules Spider is the best, but it does not means it is the best for you. Because you are on Telecommunications Industry MSP might still be your best choice even when not as powerful as other software. You might not need the strict updating features those in the Construction Industry need.

Good luck,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafael,

I honestly think, that Spider has some great functionality, but do you see my point? Very real (in my view) and very simple scenario, which is dead easy in Microsoft Project requires tricks in Spider.

I must say I don’t know how it is done is other professional tools (Asta, Primavera etc), may be it is the same.

 This is by the way in no way demolishes all the evident advantages of Spider, which I have already played with (e.g. resource skills) and the ones I have read about. 

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

It can be done in Spider, it can be done in Microsoft Project, it can be done in Excel, it cannot be done using Frozen Bar Charts.

  1. It can be done using actual data known for both submarines adjusted to previous day, this would be an update projection. This will not require revising/changing data entered as actual data because this already happened, for scheduling purposes is accurate.
  2. It can be done estimating position of the submarine that reported on prior day, that would fall into the category of a what-if. If the estimated position did not happens then it will require to revise/change data entered as actual because now it comes out it did not happened, for scheduling purposes is no longer accurate.

In both cases one of the most important metric to follow would be navigation trends for each Submarine.

An easy way to mimic frozen bar charts in some old school software is to display fixed baseline bars edited to display progress of current schedule, yes data of different versions on a single bar. It can even be done in SureTrak and P3, both discontinued products.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Vladimir, Rafael,

I was thinking  about an example.

What about the following:

  • 2 submarines need to leave the base and voyage to a Meeting Point. Trip takes 2 weeks
  • Submarine 1 reports it’s position on odd days and Submarine 2 on even. This is done for security point of view and decision did not depend on the software to be used for tracking.
  • Once submarine reports it’s coordinates, tracking officer updates progress till that day for this submarine.
  • In this situation Data Date for submarine 1 and submarine 2 will always be different, because they never report on the same day.
  • 4 days after the voyage has started and submarines have reported their position a tracking officer is ordered to add another task: Once submarine 1 and submarine 2 have met in the see, they shall patrol it together for 1 week.
  • Tracking officer shall add this task and report when they will finish this new activity as per plan.

Are you saying that there is no straight way in Spider to do, what is described above and tracking officer shall say, that he needs Microsoft Project, Excel or Frozen Bar Charts for this?

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

Just what I thought, you are painting updates on a fixed schedule, you do not need a CPM schedule but a drawing program.

Nobody I know updates schedule data and not perform a schedule run, the whole idea on updating progress is to see the current impact.

If you perform a schedule run on the schedule it will look as in the top half of the following figure, the procedure is wrong.

Photobucket

Your reporting reminds me of old school reporting on Frozen Bar Charts, they give you some status information, the diagram do not necessarily paint actual start or actual finish and do not make projections. Is of very limited use and such updating was discontinued as soon as CPM came to life.

Vladimir,

If you ever add functionality for applying filters and formulas directly into the Input Data Table I doubt I will ever use it to enter progress data, there is no magic formula to predict what happened. I would use the formulas and filters to filter and organize for data entry only on huge schedules. My schedules are no huge so for the moment I do not have a real need for filters on that table. At the moment I update an average of 40 activities per job on the monthly updates for my clients.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny, I still don't understand your problem.

You can open Input table (setting update period) and enter actual information only on those activities where you have actual information. Other activity will be updated as if they were performed as planned automatically. I just don't approve entering actual data that were just assumed and suggested to repeat entering (collecting) actual data when actual information will become available and consider previous version as what if.

I don't understand and approve the freedom to submit or not submit actual information. You may have an agreement that if actual information is not submitted then everything is going in accordance with plan. In this case people (not you) will become responsible for actual data reliability. In other case it is poor discipline and poor management.

You wrote that when people do not update actual information they mean that they will be on time. MS Project does not do this. When it shows that an activity is behind the schedule but will be finished on time, this "time" may be in the past too. People do not create updated schedule but just show current statuses of project activities in the frozen schedule.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None
Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

- Under DD you mean Data Date, is it correct?

Yes

- So DD - the latest date, for which the actual performance data is available for any of the Activities in a schedule. So, in my example in the previous post the DD is the 3rd of December 2012, is it correct?

The DD is a single date you fix under project properties.

- I think it will require me some time to digest the fact that in Spider I have to know everything about everything to plan a next step in anything, in my view the whole our life is about taking decisions in a citation of certain degree of uncertainty.

All CPM software are updated in similar way and the basic computatios are similar, it is on advanced functionalities that they differ.

Updates shall not reflect uncertainty but historical facts, projections always reflect uncertainty, schedules are not deterministic and the best way to handle this is using probabilistic methods.

- May be it is because I am not in building, but in telecom/IT industry, where projects change very often. At the end of the day the term of agile project management did not come from building industry.

The term Agile is a Sales strategy, it shall be wrong if using wrong methodologies.

- But now I have simpler, less philosophical question:

- In my example from the pervious post, I could not find a simple way in Spider to bring the DD for ALL activities to be identical, to be able to continue my “what if analysis”. I am looking for 1-2 clicks solution. Does it exist in Spider?

The DD on CPM schedule activities is always a single one. I need a copy of your file to really understand it, can you copy the file to a filehosting service where we all can download a copy of it? I use Mediafire, it is free.

As an example, in case you do not use Mediafire, the following is a Mediafire link you can use to download one of the files I used on a prior posting. 4shared is also another free file hosting service you might be interested.

http://www.mediafire.com/?0i0d82yym13b8d7

Spider Development team does not believe in telling its customer what they need, it is their customers who shall say. Of course, Spider will provide guidance on how to use their products. You can be assured your request for alternate ways for data entry on the Actual Data Input table is being heard.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

Rafael,

Thanks.

Under DD you mean Data Date, is it correct?

So DD - the latest date, for which the actual performance data is available for any of the Activities in a schedule. So, in my example in the previous post the DD is the 3rd of December 2012, is it correct?

I think it will require me some time to digest the fact that in Spider I have to know everything about everything to plan a next step in anything, in my view the whole our life is about taking decisions in a citation of certain degree of uncertainty.  

May be it is because I am not in building, but in telecom/IT industry, where projects change very often. At the end of the day the term of agile project management did not come from building industry.

But now I have simpler, less philosophical question:

In my example from the pervious post, where DD date for all 3 activities was different from each other, I could not find a simple way in Spider to bring the DD for ALL activities to be identical in order to be able to continue my “what if analysis”. I am looking for 1-2 clicks solution. Does it exist in Spider? 

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

By definition what you are doing is a what-if scenario and not a true update otherwise all major software would have functionality to update in such way.

It is correct as a what-if analysis that can be almost anything as it is just an assumption, not a valid update, reporting it an an update is in error, you should be transparent and say what it is, an assumed scenario for which you do not have all data. CPM math uses a single DD for all activities in the schedule calculations, even MSP. 

MSP allows you to fix some actualization dates the same way you can do manually just faster, it is an update data entry shortcut you can use right or wrong. If the dates you fix with the functionality are assumptions and not real actual values you are performing a what-if and not an update that meets good scheduling practice. It applies also to cost and other progress data. It is a shortcut easy to abuse as for example what precisely you are doing, mixing actual progress with assumed progress and call it an update instead of a what-if scenario. When you status all activities as planned it is possible to identify what activities were statused as planned, the answer is "all" but when you have a mix it becomes difficult if not impossible.

The correct progress reporting requires all activities to be statused to a single same date, something you can do a day or a week after the facts. There is not a single CPM nor quasi-cpm software that reports updates with different DD for the activities and another DD for the project. When you have different update dates for your activities the latest DD you can use to status your job in an acceptable manner is limited by the earliest of all. In such case you have data to report all activities to a common DD after you make the appropriate adjustments with the real data you got.

The idea on making it easier the data entry is good and perhaps some improvements can be done by all software vendors. Additional functionality to use formulas and filters directly on the Actual Data Input Table along with a warning when posting filtered tables can be one such improvement. The work around through other tables are not so easy, updating is not just about dates but also about resource hours and volume of work, here direct application of formulas might help. For what-if scenarios use of constraint dates is easier and safer.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

Vladimir,

RE: “I still do not understand the problem with creating what if version that contains an update for one activity and an assumption that all other activities were performed as planned. ”

In my case, the way I do the scheduling (and may be it is totally wrong) it will not be a “what if scenario”, but just the most actual schedule update.  You see, the way we work, it is relatively safe to assume, that if you don’t have update information, that means things went on schedule (at least time wise, may be it costed more hours a day, but people still plan to finish on time), otherwise people would probably have called me to escalate the problem. At the same time it is very difficult to get from everybody update on their progress at exactly the same date. 

The problem is that if I follow your suggestion, I will lose information on which tasks have a “real feedback from the field” actual data and which tasks have just assumption that they went OK.  (It I still important to collect an actual data eventually)

 

So, consider the following scenario.

You will see, that all 3 activities have actual data, but it is collected at different dates. I still can assume, that they are on schedule, but I just want to be able to eventually collect actual data. For this I need to know 

 

In fact often the actual data, which interests me is the amount of hours, which people have spent, as they often just work overtime to still be able to finish the task in time.

In this case if  I want to reschedule my schedule on assumption, that all activities are on plan (say I want to add new action after Milestone), I would have to artificially update Activity 1 and Activity 3 to have actual data until end of 03.12.12 ( which is the latest data for Activity 2 in this case). Which means I will lose information that for Activity 1 I still have to collect performance data for the period starting from 30.11 and for Activity 3 for the period starting from 28.11, which means I will have to record this information somewhere else just before I do update, which makes it just all too complex, in my view.

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

By manual actuals I refer to data entered manually to override the default dates and other progress data Spider will assign to be as planned on current version before update, then to adjust to reality each individual activity you can:

  1. leave all the assigned updating data to be "as planned" on current version before update if this happened (almost never) leave only some to be "as planned" and adjust the remaining/
  2. make manual adjustment to some or all activities selected for progressing
  3. use formulas to assign dates and other progress data to some or all activities
  4. use a combination of any of the above

Sorry for my literal translation, at times I think in Spanish or even "Spanglish".

I am glad a PM is doing his own scheduling, for 30 years I was a Construction PM and used to do my own schedules, and a lot of what-if. But when started using Spider I was no longer a PM doing what-if for my own jobs but updates for other PMs that never ask for what-if, and they are wrong. I will be glad to practice with you the formulas for updating what-if schedules, it will be a learning experience as I am used to create formulas in other tables but never for updating.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny,

I still do not understand the problem with creating what if version that contains an update for one activity and an assumption that all other activities were performed as planned. Just open an Input table and enter actual data for only one activity without changing anything else.  You will get the schedule where the progress of all activities was as planned except for those where you changed expected volumes and durations.

But still it is what if version. When all actual data will be known they shall be entered and then real schedule will be obtained.

I would not call the schedule without data date flexible. It is just wrong and that's all.

You started to discuss management of portfolios and multiprojects where the need for schedule update frequency is different at different management levels.

It is not rare in construction when site managers updates their schedule each day, project manager updates project schedule each week, portfolio manager (or client, investor) updates the schedule monthly. It is usual in large programs (Sochi 2014 is an example).

Spider Project tracking was designed with this in mind.

In professional version multiproject planner creates responsibility structure (one of WBS) and assignes responsible managers to subprojects (phases). Selecting Distribute Subprojects in project drop-down menu multiproject manager creates copies of subproject schedules that are sent to assigned managers for autonomous work.

These managers may also have responsibiliyty structures in their subprojects and also may send copies of project phases and workpackages schedules to managers of lower level (let's assume site managers).

Site managers update their schedules daily but they know that on Tuesday a planner of higher hierarchical level will collect (automatically) all data from their schedules and will create next version of subproject, reschedule it and sent new versions of their work packages calculated taking into account common resource restrictions and links between activities of different responcibility areas.

Multiproject planner does the same but once in a month.

This model of group work permits to select different update periods for different management levels. But still there strict rules. If somebody will input data for the wrong date the schedule will not have common data date and will noy be reliable.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

Rafal,

Thanks for feedback.

I probably need to look deeper into the formulas, manual actual, reference books and their combination.

One question: what do you refer to exactly as “manual actual” ?

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

"as far as I see, they still don’t allow to have a situation, when I have upgraded progress for only a single activity on a project and then just to check what it did to the rest of the schedule and assuming that the rest activities are pretty much on progress I would press “reschedule button” without causing of all unupdated tasks to be moved to start after the date of the last performance data availablebe."

With the use of formulas applied to the Actual Data Input table you can take control of every single activity update you want to apply a unique rule for updating using the if statement. Some activities can be set to start/finish as per scheduled dates prior to schedule update and others to start/finish on a number of fixed dates, this is more powerful that what MSP can do therefore not as easy. You can use a UDF to identify these activities and latter on use this mark to make the adjustments as you get the information.

Because the above option is somewhat [very] complicated I would rather apply my what-if updates to schedule files under different file name, keeping intact the schedule used for contract reporting. With the use of reference books I would transfer selected update rows I want to keep on subsequent revised what if schedules and apply a clean update to activities with different updates than the assumed.

"Spider from other side, seem to force a strict discipline (at least when it comes to tracking) without leaving too much space for flexibility."

Definitively I am not against what you propose, I have issues applying it to contractual schedule updates instead to what-if schedules until getting to the final version.

Strict discipline is required on all contractual updates, otherwise the schedule becomes invalid as a claim tool. Keep the strict discipline for contract schedule updates and use what-if updated schedules for your analysis. You can use formulas, manual actual, reference books or any combination.

As a matter of fact my initial updates to contractual schedules very frequently require some revision before making it final. I prepare an initial update based on the data as supplied and send it to the client for their revision. Very frequently they find some activities were missing on the updates, perhaps because of out of sequence progress they started earlier but because of this the updating table missed them, others just an omission.

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

Rafail,

Thanks for the “tricks”, but as far as I see, they still don’t allow to have a situation, when I have upgraded progress for only a single activity on a project and then just to check what it did to the rest of the schedule and assuming that the rest activities are pretty much on progress I would press “reschedule button” without causing of all unupdated tasks to be moved to start after the date of the last performance data available

I agree, that Microsoft Project has that much flexibility, which makes it dangerous in hands of inexperienced user. This flexibility however can be mitigated by applying the scheduling discipline.

Spider from other side, seem to force a strict discipline (at least when it comes to tracking) without leaving too much space for flexibility.

I definitely do not have your experience in scheduling, but as a project manager I would like to have a flexibility to take a calculated risk to assume, that the progress of the tasks, for which I don’t have recent progress update,  went pretty much on schedule, without having to trick tool with fake progress updates.

Another interesting subject, which it raises: Spider forces to have the same update frequency on every task in progress. However in real life, it is probably not required. In real life one would want to have frequent updates on activities which are on the critical path/chain and/or using shared/limited resources or which are likely to go wrong. However the tasks, which do not use critical resources, which have big float or the tasks, , which do not have a high risk of going wrong,  or which you probably can’t do too much about if they get delayed, these tasks do not have to be updated frequently.

Just for illustration: when tracking schedule for Winter Olympics in Sochi (where Spider is used), one would probably want to update very often the progress of the tasks, which are related to preparing the object, which a Prime Minister wants to visit very soon. At the same time other tasks, related to the objects, which just need to be ready for Y2014, can be monitored less frequently for now.

So, with my still limited understanding of a scheduling, I would think that a tick box, called something like “for now just assume, that all none-updated tasks went on schedule” would be a good thing to have in a Scheduling dialogue box. To move it further, may be one can set a flag for every task individually “if progress information is not the latest, assume, that task progresses as scheduled, when applying scheduling algorithm”

Just wondering, what is the progress update strategy, which is implemented in other professional tools like Asta, Primavera etc? (for now I consider MSP just an office application) 

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Evjeny,

If on your update you missed an activity you will always have the option to add it to the performance archive with the option to advance or not the version number without changing the DD. You can also make corrections to past performance by deleting the activity performance line(s) and add it again without changing current DD, at times find it easier. What you cannot due is progress an activity past the DD.

You can add individual activities to the data input table by selecting the activity or activities, for multiple selection you can use CTLR or filters, then right click and select Add to Actual Data Input Table.

You will not need to define and post to financial periods as this method will allow you to get any period data correctly distributed. Good for reporting on different performance periods whose start/finish dates do not match, such as monthly versus weekly periods and the month start/finish in the middle of a week. But this is another topic by itself.

See following example on which Activity 2 performance was edited, note remaining duration was edited for Activities 2 and 3 but this was done directly on the Gantt view.

Photobucket

DD remained December 31/2012 and after revision the projected project finish date was advanced. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Best regards,

Rafael

Evgeny,

you shall not reschedule the project if not all actual data was entered.

Spider Project sends table forms with the planned data to project participants that are authorised to enter actual information. They shall know that on certain time they shall enter actual data in this forms and save. Spider collects data from these forms automatically, you shall not call and ask people what was done. They shall know that entering actual data in this form at certain time is their duty.

Collecting actual information Spider will warn if somebody did not submit the form. You may suppose that everything was done in accordance with plan and create new project version but later you shall repeat this process and replace the version based on your assumption by the true version based on performance reports.

Project Management System shall include certain rules including project updates routine. People shall enter actual data for the certain moments and it does not depend on the software that is used.

MS Project does not suppose that when actual data are not entered then everything goes as planned. It just does not move activities that are behind or ahead of the schedule. Some managers like it because being behind of the schedule on certain activities does not cause expected project finish delay. Nice but totally wrong. It is a bad practice that shall not be encouraged.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

P.S. For entering actual information in Spider Project input forms it is sufficient to install free Spider Demo. Demo has restrictions on project size but does not have restrictions on the size of tables.

Evgeny Z.
User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Jan 2008
Posts: 405
Groups: None

 

Rafael,

I simply want to have a possibility to assume, that all other activities are on schedule. This is probably philosophical question, but is it possible to know exactly with 100% certainly the status of all ongoing activities of a project at a given moment? The next second after you have collected this status it will change already any way. Schedule is just a model of a reality, which is far too complex to put in any tool. So in our life we do all sorts of assumptions, e.g. today I have assumed in the morning that the weather will not be very different from yesterday and from what it is supposed to be for this place for this time of the year. So, why can’t I do assumption, that all scheduled activities, for which I don’t know exact status at the moment, went pretty much on schedule or that at least the deviation was not that dramatic?

If I understand well the functionality of Spider (correct me if I am wrong) now when engineer calls me and raises exception by saying, that instead of completing 90% of work on this document by now he only completed 10%, I can’t check what it does to the schedule immediately, because  need to collect statuses of all other activities.

Actually I still can do what I want in Spider: I can just go an update all activities in Spider up until now to show them, that they were progressing as per schedule. However having done this, I  will lose information on what is the real update, received from actual input from the field and what is the “pretended” update, which I had to do to bypass the rules of a tool, hence later I will have problems to know for which activities I need to go and collect actual statuses and for which I have already collected ones. 

Rafael Davila
User offline. Last seen 2 hours 23 min ago. Offline
Joined: 1 Mar 2004
Posts: 4780

Such updating is wrong, if you do not know the status of your activities you shall not attempt execute a schedule run, it might display wrong progress and might lead others to do the wrong things. Good scheduling requires some discipline.

In Spider you can also do the wrong thing by using formulas to assign such guess for start and finish dates that will create all sort of problems. You can execute formulas at the Gantt view or at the Actual Data Input table, you can use the formulas to create constraints or to set other data. I doubt Spider will ever provide functionality specifically designed to break the rules of CPM.

It is well known in the industry that some [many] users of Microsoft Project do not use it for true CPM modeling and instead Draw the schedule braking very often the rules of CPM logic.

What is the purpose of displaying half activities with true updates and half "lie" updates? Do you identify your "lie" updates? How do you identify "lie" successor, successors driven by "lie" predecessors?