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New Features in Spider - Perform Automatically, Consider Into Scheduling

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Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

I have downloaded the new release of spider, very eager to try the features, especially the new milestones wich should not be considered into project scheduling. Unfortunetely I haven't been able to get them to work. There is also the posibility that I don't understand how they work.

I placed some milestones to simulate the cashflow between expenses and revenues (from the payed invoices), some of these milestones will, in all situations, surpass the finish date of the project. After this I unchecked the box "consider into scheduling". After Sheduling (with constraints) even though the project shedule doesn't change, from before adding the milestones I don't get a critical schedule, only the last milestone being considered critical. The only way I found to see the critical schedule is to se a NLT contraint to the last activity of the project.

What am I doing wrong?

PS: what does the Perform Automatically checkbox?

 

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Replies

Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

regarding the formulas you are right I don't know where I was typing wrong. Thank you for clearing the question about duration. 

My appologies for 'jumping the gun'!

Best regards,

Bogdan

Yes, Rafael is right, duration is always rounded up to second.

In my tests formulas work properly if to change DurPlandD to DurPlanD. Two d's in the field code is wrong but you should get a warning.

Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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I think you may be right, still the formula and the duration behaviour still seem pretty weird. Let's see what Vladimir has to say about this topic.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

It seems like the minimum time increment Spider uses is 1 second so if you enter the hours in decimal for 1 second it will be unchanged but if you enter the duration of 1.25 seconds it will be adjusted to the nearest second decimal value.

It is not random and because Spider can display duration in HH:MM:SS maybe the developer opted to adjust the decimal number immediately on data entry for mimicking Excel option for precision as displayed down to seconds.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Greetings, 

I didn' know exactly where to post this...I belive there might have slipped a bug in the functions. Just a few moments I tried using a formula which I have used before and it didn't go as planned. Here is the formula:

DurPlandD = if ( DurPlandD >= 1, RoundTo ( DurPlandD* 1.3 , 0 ), DurPlandD )

When I execute the formula all activities with DurPlandD >= 1 recieve the duration BLANK, as in deleted.

Then I tried just RoundTo ( DurPlandD* 1.3 , 0 ). When I execute it doesn't round the values to any decimal, only the multiplication is performed.

Also I think there might be another problem, don't know how to explain this one. For duration type activities, when I type activity duration, if it's under or exactly 3 decimals the displayed duration is the one entered but if I go beyond 3 decimals, all 10 decimal places are completed at random and the displayed duration is no longer the one entered.

I Hope I was clear. 

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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I found my file had some resource production that apparently I scheduled by error, my mistake. But I decided to cost load the hammock with fixed cost of 1,000 and resource A assignment. It collapsed as follows and distributed the cost at the very end.

I was expecting the hammock to be defined by logic and not to be collapsed, I was expecting the cost to be distributed along a non collapsed bar, I was expecting the resource bar to be shown only when available.

 photo rh025_zpsfdf01a8e.jpg

I changed the resource loading on the hammock and resource leveled the job, it did not came out as I was expecting. I was not expecting the job to be delayed by adding a resource on a hammock. If I delete resource B on hammock activity 3 the duration of the job decreases.

 photo rh57_zps9a496588.jpg

By setting resource loading on hammocks to be with Variable Quantity and a min of 0 quantity and min of 0 workload everything works as I expect.

 photo vhr043_zpsae49b865.jpg

Best Regards,

Rafael

Rafael Davila
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You can download my file from the following link.

http://www.mediafire.com/?341w1xpb7x60hgb

Best Regards,

Rafael

Download latest version.

In my previous version the scheduling was OK but the message was wrong. I could not repeat what was shown in the screen. Now the message will not appear.

Spider Project does not level hammocks if it is impossible (preceding SS activity use the same limited resources as an example).

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

It works as expected though somewhat cumbersome to set up when this is something you do not do frequently, it would be good to have more paint options for activity types at the workspace level in a similar interface as it is now and keep the complicated but more functional at the activity level as it is now (with your help I got it). Fortunately Reference Books makes it easy to transfer Signals as well as other data as needed.

  •  there is also a Piority for Painting button which lets you select a field, but I have no ideea how that works exactly.

I will be looking at it, might be what I am looking for.

  • Still I understand why you would desire this option and also the one about the patterns (asta power project, if I'm not mistaking has the option to color bars according to resources assigned - e.g. if the activity uses bricks and you define the a pattern for the brick the activity will have a brick pattern fill, but this can be annoying to set up or even look at).

Painting activities based on resources (can be hundreds) is too much for my stomach, in any case based on resource type and if idle or non-idle, I am looking for some basic painting and patterns on resource bars independent of the setup for activity bars bars.

The issue/bug you mentioned is still unresolved and I am looking to see what Vladimir says regarding your comments as well as regarding my comments about resource assignment on Hammocks. I can live without tweaking the colors, can live without patters but about resource assignment I care very much.

Thanks a lot,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Now I undestand what you were saying, but I don't see how signals are limited to only 3 colors, check the image below

1597
7654gfh54.jpg

The 'code' for this coloring is the following if ( DPH = 'Hammock' and ReservFinD != 0, 0, if (DPH = 'Hammock' and ReservFinD = 0, 1, if (DurPlanD > 6 and ReservFinD = 0, 2, if ( DurPlanD > 6 and ReservFinD != 0, 3,  if (ReservFinD = 0, 4, 5))))) , I chose it at random just to have more than 3 colors on the graph, there is also a Piority for Painting button which lets you select a field, but I have no ideea how that works exactly.

Still I understand why you would desire this option and also the one about the patterns (asta power project, if I'm not mistaking has the option to color bars according to resources asiggned - e.g. if the activity uses bricks and you define the a pattern for the brick the activity will have a brick pattern fill, but this can be annoying to set up or even look at).

When writing the conditions ('code') for the user defined column you have to be careful to include all conditions.

Also it would be nice if you could edit the legend and add the coloured activities to it, or simply to write the legend in another language - if you need/desire this.

Here is the file: http://www.2shared.com/file/6OHYAdn2/colors001.html

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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In other software you paint/color activities in certain order you specify when formatting Bars. You apply the paint/color only if conditions are met and in certain order. You change preference by shifting up/down the bar description.  Similar to the order on Spider Signals, but signals are limited to 3 colors.

  • I might want all hammocks to be grey no matter if critical.
  • I might want critical hammocks to be displayed same as critical activities in red, but if non-critical in grey.

 photo ordermatters_zps4b73378c.jpg

I do not want to become a Picasso, just a few basic formatting is enough, too much is overwhelming. To me an additional option to define bar colors by type would do it, of course keeping actual options. Something like the one available for workspace, just that jobs settings will override global workspace.It should include the move  up/down, shall include all types of activities as well as all types of resources including regular resources teams/shifts, skills, materials, crews/teams, idle and assigned resources.

  •  photo colorsetup_zps945c0445.jpg
    • Say Item shall include all activity type in addition to the two types shown: Duration, Productivity, Hammock, Milestone, Switch, Trigger.
    • Say Item shall also include status of resource assignment: Assigned, Unassigned, Idle, Un-attained (on hammocks only), leveling/non-leveling.
    • a bit more detailed breakdown that fits.
Bogdan Leonte
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It seems you are pretty good at tweaking colors. Do you have control on the order of colors? Please something simple to apply when considering many colors, say 7 colors.

I don't quite undestand whith what I can be of help, what do you mean by Do you have control on the order of colors?, please elaborate.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

I did not know that hammocks are not leveled in spider, I was always under the impression that they are. Also as a coincidence the resources I have loaded my hammock with are used only by the predecessor and the hammock, activities which will never overlap.

  • It seems like Spider do not level Hammocks and do not enforce resource loading if overloaded, if partially overloaded using variable quantity it shall assign resources if available if none of activity required resources is available it shall be collapsed. That would make sense to me but not sure it is working in this way.
  • the following figure shows the idea
  •  photo oops-1_zps52a445d5.jpg
  • If I change Variable Work load and Number to "No" for Activity 3 it will be partially collapsed after resource leveling. http://www.mediafire.com/?9nyfvlblbucbmd1
  •  photo oops2_zpsd1b7fd5d.jpg
  • Just I did not know or perhaps new functionality I shall investigate further, some things still do not make sense to me.
  •  photo oops3_zps0fee9674.jpg
  • The software increased availability by itself, initially one resource A and never used resource production. Why availability  increased, that I do not understand.
  • Maybe Hammocks shall never be collapsed beyond its links, only resource assignments when not available or displayed in different color.
    • Also some field shall identify when resources assigned to a Hammock could not be assigned. In this way you can filter an look for hammocks with such issue. Then you may accept the assignment or take corrective measures such as increasing resource availability or use partial quantities and workloads.
    • A hammock then shall be able to display under separate lines assigned, unassigned and unattainable assignments. Unassigned as well as unattainable assignments are of concern.
    • Over allocations shall only happen in unleveled schedules and on non-leveling resources and do not accept partially leveled schedules, I believe a philosophy of Spider team with regard to leveling.

I was talking about the message when doing resource leveling and about the implication (if there are any) when leveling. In other words is it just an error message bug or something else.

  • Your question was always clear, maybe the message can be improved.

About coloring hammocks in the Gantt->Options there is something called Activity color depends on parameter,..

  • I know about it but did not got to where you did, kind of too difficult for something that shall be easier therefore I will continue doing it manually.

PS: you can select another float, I used the Finish Float, Days.

  • I like the idea if colors are executed in some controllable order, so if Start Float Critical one color, if Finish Float Critical another color.
  • It seems you are pretty good at tweaking colors. Do you have control on the order of colors? Please something simple to apply when considering many colors, say 7 colors.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Greetings Rafael,

I did not know that hammocks are not leveled in spider, I was always under the impression that they are. Also as a coincidence the resources I have loaded my hammock with are used only by the predecessor and the hammock, activities which will never overlap.

 I was talking about the message when doing resource leveling and about the implication (if there are any) when leveling. In other words is it just an error message bug or something else.

About coloring hammocks in the Gantt->Options there is something called Activity color depends on parameter, below you can select 2 fields, one of them is field and the other one is the signal. Personally I haven't used signals that much but you can create a user field with the following code if (DPH = 'Hammock', 1, if ( ReservFinD = 0, 2, 3)), have it calculated in the actity field and set up signals for the values as follow:

1 - any color you like;

2 - red (for critical activities or any other you use);

3 - greed (for non critical activities or any other color you use);

To be fair I only tried it just now for a hammock activity but the extrapolated ideea should work for what I wrote here. If it doesn't please let me know in order to try something else.

PS: you can select another float, I used the Finish Float, Days.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

Because resources on Spider Hammocks are not leveled, making it possible for overloads I never resource load my Hammocks but seems like you are right, there is something wrong. Just resource load activity 3 and look what happens to the hammock.

 photo spiderbug_zps8a599dd2.jpg

I do/would not allow hammocks to be resource loaded except with non leveling resources. Then I would look at the allocation of non leveling resources and take appropriate action if needed. Resource loading on hammocks can create unsuspected overloads, when using partial assignments can be very confusing.

Perhaps non leveling resources shall be colored differently as for you to visually distinguish them.

I also would like to color differently my Hammocks but have not figured it out, maybe you can help me with this. I wish patterns on bars would be available as colors on B&W copies cannot be distinguished except as shades of grey.

Best Regards

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

yesterday I forgot to post something about this bug so I did it today. I don't know if this affects the actual resource leveling in large projects but I thought it should be mentioned.

If I link a hammock F-S with the first activity and I add the same resources to both activityes, even though they do not overlap at all after resource constrained leveling I will receive the message that the hammock has been delayed because resource .... is used by another activity, also the activity is no delayed not even for a second. I don't belive this should happen. Also if I assign more than one resource to both activities the message will appear for only the first resource not the others.

Here is the sample file: http://www.speedyshare.com/mmR3N/Hammock-Res-LvL-BUG.001.sprj

Best regards,

Bogdan

I will ask to check this tomorrow and fix.

I suspect that showing link properties was sent as default.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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This calls for a 'LOL', don't know how I missed that or how I ticked it by accident.

My appologies for the silly question.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Try with the Gantt Diagram Options.

 photo showlp_zps1180b98b.jpg

Untick last box, Show link property window when creating link.

Bogdan Leonte
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I always keep that option ticked-off.

I even tried reseting spider options to its basic instaltion options by deleteing the folder created in the C:\Users\UserX\AppData\Roaming\Spider. I still get the same behaviour.

I am at a little stuck?!?!?!?!?!

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Untick this

 photo Properties_zps1458eb99.jpg

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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Since version 11.01.24 it each time I create a link using the mouse (by dragging the spider symbol from one activity to another) the activity link property menu appears. Is this a new feature/setting? I looked both in the Workplace options and in the Options for newly created projects, I couldn't find any checkbox to toggle it on/off.

Thank you,

Bogdan

Bogdan,

thank you for discovering.

Solving the problem is easy when it is discovered.

Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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Thank you Vladimir for solving the bug so quickly!

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Hi Bogdan,

thank you for the example.

This is certainly bug and we will look at it tomorrow.

I missed your post, thank you for reminding.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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Greetings Vladimir,

I was reading the topic related to the fields required to generate cash-flow and I was wondering if you had had the time to take a look at the example I posted in this topic. I am curious if the behaviour is a glitch/bug or if I modeled the financial constraint and the other cash-flow in the wrong way.

Thank you,
Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bogdan Leonte
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I think this is exactly what is happening, what I told you in the previous post was to delete the Revenue milestones because the financial constraint leveling takes them into consideration and it should not, this behaviour should not occur. The financial contraints of the project are only the Finance milestones.

As you can see the hammock activity tries to surpass the last revenue milestone, this should not happen, try turning the hammock activity in duration and you will see that the financial contrained leveling perform correctly.

So it will not be confusing, the revenue milestone present a problem, just delete them and until this behaviour is fixed.

Hope I was clear.

About the financing, trying to do financial contraint leveling from the contractor point of view is pretty dificult since you have many cash-flow to create and monitor, this is the simplest scenario. You don't get any advance from the investor so you would have to finance the contrunction until the first payment, this is what I call Finance, because the contractor must have the money to sustain the project. The Expenditure-Revenue cash-flow is just statical information, it isn't considered into the leveling process. I am still working on how the financial contrained leveling for the contractor should be done so that you get a feasible shedule.

PS: When you have some free time can you answer my question about Monte Carlo, I posted it in a separate topic.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bogdan,

I noticed you have a Hammock that is cost loaded, but when resource leveling I am missing the usual warning that resources, in this case hammock costs, are not being considered on resource leveling.

Thanks for the clarification about the negative sign, I am hard wired into negative, being in red, means trouble. I had to think it twice, I was hearing but not listening.

 photo qqq2_zps1390f426.png

 

 photo qqq_zpsfe1522d2.png

If the cash flow is spent because you are not considering any revenue to make up for full financing doesn't it means the project runs out of money at some point and financial resource leveling is unfeasible and whatever the output is it is not valid?

About "consider in scheduling" I still do not understand what to expect from this, at times the descriptions fall short of what it is, sometimes are even confusing to me. I suspect it is possible that the mere addition of this functionality might be the reason why financial constraints stopped working as expected, if it ever did worked on unexpected way, and as Vladimir said it is a matter of debugging.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Rafael,

the financial leveling the the sample project I have posted has abnormal behaviour since the milestones entitled Revenue 1,2,3 should not be taken into consideration in the leveling process especially since they are not to be considered in scheduling at all (consider into schedule has been turned off).

The leveling should only consider the Finance milestones. If you want to experiment with financial contraints I advise to delete the Revenue milestones.

The cost component(s) used for financing are considered to have the unit cost with a negative sign in order to be able perform the leveling.

For financial leveling you have to create a Cost Center in which you will include the expenditures of the project and the financing, then in the resource contrained scheduling check the cost centers and add the respective cost center to be leveled. When you show the cost centered which contains the financing cost componet, if it has a negative sign then you have financed more then the expenditures, if it is positive then you need more money in order to finance all of the expenditures. Hope I was clear.

I hope I was clear explaining the abnormal behaviour.

Best Regards,

Bogdan 

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

I will be loking at it during the week, for the moment I noticed nothing strange, but this is new to me.

It seems like there are insufficient funds to realize the job (-875.00) and therefore the resource leveling was stopped.

 photo b03_zpse2cfab76.png

Once again, 1,000 thanks for your sample job, a clean cut good to learn about financial resource leveling.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan,

thank you for examples. At the moment I am on the business trip and have no time to study them. On return I will look at them and discuss with our programmers. When new functionality appears it is not rare that some cases were overlooked. Financial and material leveling is more complex than renewable resource leveling and this is one of the reasons why it is implemented only in Spider Project. Feedback like yours helps a lot for improving the software capabilities.

Thank you and Best Regards,

Vladimir

Bogdan Leonte
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If you consider individul projects I agree with you, but each contractor has more than one contract and sometimes it is neccesary to move money from one project to another in order to keep them all going without interuptions, especially if one or more investors are late with payments. I don't use financial contraints for single projects, but rather for portfolios.

If the screenshots don't appear it is fairly simple to see my problem: the schedule as it is has no strange behavior, but if you move the milestone "Revenue 3" further on the calendar, past 15.02.2013 and use contrained scheduling (with financial constraints) you should get a very weird schedule. Also after moving Recenue 3 past 15.02.2013 and after leveling, calculate costs and look at the Project Cash-Flow column.

Regards,

Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

I just downloaded your file, it is a very sample schedule, perfect to keep focus on the issue. Unfortunately I was hooked on other issues and now cannot see the figures you posted.

I never used financial leveling as contractors here do not finance investments, the money is supplied by the owners but will try to understand the issue to see if I can be of any help.

Contractors here have a limited line of credit but are required by the Sureties to be enough as for cash flow not to be an issue.

BTW 'delete keeping links' is indeed very nice, more functional than the 'dissolve' available in other packages but not to be used blindfolded. When you delete an activity getting back the missing logic is not always that simple. I like it, with a bit of attention is a time saver.

Best regards,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Rafael,

'delete keeping links' is indeed very nice. And the new 'merge' option for reference books is very useful, much faster than the old way of transfering materials, cost components, from one reference book to another. 

I was wondering if you tried creating a similar schedule to the one I have posted, using financial contraints and milestones which surpass the project finish date (in order to create different cash-flows). I still can't figure out if I missed something when I made it or if it is an bug.
 

Rafael Davila
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Another new functionality is "delete activity keeping links". It works best for me if just before deleting the activity I reduce duration to 0 and perform a schedule run with no leveling, though I am still figuring out how it works.

Bogdan Leonte
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Consider in scheduling or better said 'do not consider into scheduling' doesn't behave well when using financial constraints and hammock activities. 


 If the milestone which should not be considered in scheduling 'surpasses by too much' the project finish date the hammock activity and those chains of activities linked to the hammock try to surpass the milestone thus resulting in either moving the whole project closer to the milestone or by moving some of the activities so that they surpass the milestone and receving the message that the cost center leveled is spent on... . 

 This happens especially when I use NLT constraints.

1508
1.jpg

As you can see 'Project Cash-Flow' is -500.
1509
2.jpg
 And this is what happens if I try moving the milestone further from the project finish. From what I could figure out it seems that spider checks to see if the cost/hour of the hammock multiplied by hours coresponding to the float is greater than the remaining financing, if so it behaves as the picture above.

 If I move it further let's say a couple of months the whole project wil move, but not so much as to surpass the milestone.

 I have uploaded the file here: 

http://www.2shared.com/file/axuaAxd2/Cs_Sched_Hammock001.html

 Regards,

 Bogdan
Rafael Davila
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My guess for "perform automatically" is for auto-updating the milestone Actual Start as soon as all predecessors have been satisfied. I would expect for the milestone actual start to be determined after the updating of all predecessor actual dates, therefore should be automatically inserted in the performance archive via a actual data input table after the software compares all predecessors driving dates, making sure all have been reported as finished and considering some predecessors might be in the actual input table with dates different to as previous schedule update. Perhaps to be updated during the posting of actual data input if the requirement for all predecessors having finished has been met, guess this shall include all active lags. Anyway if it can be determined manually the software shall be able to do it faster.

About "consider in scheduling" I believe it means "consider in optimization", maybe a functionality to give the user some additional control on the optimization resource leveling algorithm. If so we shall wait until a more detailed description on how it is to be used comes out. It can be driven and can drive other activities as it can have active links. I wonder how priorities can play a role on the optimization algorithm when "consider in scheduling"/ "consider in optimization" is selected.

I would like to see flags as another type of activity used merely to draw markers that have no impact at all, flags to be fixed with time with no predecessor or successor. A phase consisting only of several such activities can be handy as can be collapsed or expanded. Better than P3 comment on Gantt Bars as you will have a better control of where to place the flags.

Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan,

if an activity is not considered when scheduling it means that optimization will work even if some activities will finish later than the project finish. Optimization will be done on the subset of project activities. But it does not mean that these activities will not be considered when floats will be calculated.

So you shall set NLT constraint or define that critical activities shall have float not more than the float of the last project activity excluding those milestones that you do not want to consider.

Regards,

Vladimir