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Working with portfolios

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Evgeny Z.
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Dear all,

I have a couple of questions regarding working with Portfolio

Q1: I still don’t understand what exactly the action "Update Portfolio" does. I tried to invoke it when the schedule of the project included in portfolio has changed, but it did not have any effect, portfolio was still showing old version after I did Update Portfolio =>New version.

Note: Consolidate/Distribute seems to be working as expected.

Q2: When performing resource constant scheduling of an individual project, only Standard Method is available if an option “Consider Portfolio Schedule”, is selected. Why is that?

Q3: When performing resource constant scheduling of an individual project and option “Consider Portfolio Schedule” is selected, then the following behavior is observed:

Resource leveling takes into account portfolio resources, without considering, that this project itself is already a part of ths portfolio, so it “double counts resources”. Example: when one has a portfolio of 2 projects, each consisting of Activity 1 with Resource A, when portfolio scheduling will be done, then in one of the projects Activity 1 will be correctly delayed by resource leveling.

If I now go to any of the projects and perform resource constrained scheduling, with the option  “Consider Portfolio Schedule”, then I will see, that the Activity 1 will be delayed yet again, even though it is not needed, because it is already a part of the portfolio, hence total resources of the portfolio already take into account this project. 

Did I miss something here?

Replies

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

I checked and can see, that the problem with versions has been resolved now in the Spider v 11.03.34

Thanks

Evgeny

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

I think there could be a couple of reasons to introduce such check

  • In my experience if any mistake can be done by human, it will be done. And if one avoids any possibility of mistake, they still will be done, but less frequently. In case of Spider I can imagine it may be quite difficult to debug the problem if on one project of portfolio they just happen to use different objects with the same code. In this case after portfolio run project will receive project file back, but this object will be changed, which may be difficult to spot.
  • There can be a reverse  situation, when people will happen to use the same code for what is never meant to be the same object (e.g. code A for 2 totally different resources). This is because, as previously   discussed, Spider does not add project specific prefix or suffix to its objects.

Regards.

Evgeny

Evgeny, thank you for noticing the problem with new versions. I will look at this.case 

Portfolio objects shall be synchronized by applying corporate standards, in particular reference-books. Project planners shall not create resources, they shall select required resources in the corporate reference-books. In Spider access rights there is an option when new objects may be taken from the reference-books but could not be created manually. In other case everything shall be checked and this will take too much time.

But cost centers at different projects may be different and the problem with different cost centers with the same codes we met at one of our customers. So we added this analysis when projects are consolidated.

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

I noticed, that recently some changes have been introduced to work with portfolios, including the mechanism to verify that objects with the same code are actually the same. If I see the release notes, at the moment this is implemented for resource centers, material centers and cost centers, which is a great thing!

Question: are there plans to implement it for other objects as well (e.g. resources etc)?

Also I noticed one issue, which was already there, but I thought it was fixed in some recent releases. Any way, it is now there:

If one performs Portfolio => Distribute Projects => New version then everything gets done correctly, except that in portfolio itself the versions of the projects do not get updated.

As a result then if one goes to a Project, then the feature “Consider portfolio schedule” does not work, presumably because project cannot find itself with the correct version in the Portfolio. There is a workaround to up-issue the projects version in a portfolio manually.   

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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 photo 2-18-20145-52-19AM_zps76e55d50.jpg

To create new items you insert a line on the group it shall belong and automatically it is assigned. If job name is changed then the table shall be adjusted with new name and unique code recalculated. 

It looks like Spider Portfolios cannot differentiate if object [resources/materials/calendars ...] belong to a job or to whole portfolio. A separate field for these purposes is not there. A field whose value can be automatically determined. A field that could be used to generate/manage the unique codes. A field that could be used as to control how objects are distributed.

At some point this debate shall end so I am calling it quit on my part, guess we can agree to disagree.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Rafael Davila
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If all project resources will be considered as project specific then in the portfolio you will find tens or hundreds project specific materials and resources that actually are the same.

  • Yes, in my world contractors use crane resources on each of their jobs and its pool is project specific. One job might have 1 crane other might have 3 cranes other none. For a Government Agency portfolio project counts can be in the hundreds, jobs by different contractors that use whatever codes they want.

More than that, portfolio may consist of several subportfolios that share resources between projects that belong to them but not with others. The structure may be complicated.

  • Agree.

Just imagine two models created by two contractors that build different objects. Their construction resources are project specific but materials are the same. 

  • A job might have materials that are available for distribution to any portfolio member.  Say at company warehouse we have available grease for the machines of all jobs.
  • A job might have materials that are available for distribution to a selected list of portfolio members. Say at local warehouse we have available grease for the machines at a specific region.
  • A job might have materials that are only available for distribution to that job. Say at the jobsite we have available grease for the machines at the job.
  • All materials might be same grease but represent different sources and different jobs.

Besides design for both projects is prepared by the same design company. So designers are not project specific and quality control is made by the same company, etc.

  • Both project might have different designers, in this case project specific.
  • Quality control can be done by different geographical divisions so the availability is different.

Another example - project portfolio consists of the projects that are performed by the same company. Some projects are done at the same location, others are at remote locations. Projects at the same location use common resources, but resources at remote locations are project specific.

  • Of course this is one possibility.
  • Funding can be common for all projects portfolio.

Evgeny,

This option may help project managers understand if they have some reserves (analogue of free float) between portfolio updates. Project schedule is still calculated at portfolio level taking into account portfolio constraints and project priorities. If urgent changes shall be made and scheduling that considers portfolio does not provide satisfactory results they shall apply to portfolio managers for the solution.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

understood. I can see, that Spider offers different ways to use it and you cannot impose some hard rules, which may prevent some of your users from using it the way they do.

There was one of the questions I asked before, more about the organisational procedure, would you have a time to look at it? 

<<

Q4: in general, what is the organizational procedure to use this "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option. I understand the logic of it, that individual project manager can check what is the influence of the resource constraints and interproject links on his project, but how it is supposed to be done in practice?  

My understanding is that portfolio run is done by a Portfolio Managementand then it becomes an approved baseline both for Portfolio as well as for all individual projects it consists of. In between the Portfolio schedule runs individual project managers can play around with their individual projects when they make changes and still have possibility to check how individual project is influenced by an approved portfolio baseline. 

From the other side, if individual project manager has access to a portfolio file (which he has to have in order to be able to use "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option), he can play around with his copy of portfolio directly, by incorporating new version of his project into portfolio and do a portfolio run, no so need then to use "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option (I presume it will take more calculation time though).

 

>>

Regards.

Evgeny

Evgeny,

one of our clients is one of the largest Russian construction company that consists of many regional branches.

All of them calculate costs using the same cost component and cost center structure but with different formulas at their local portfolios levels.

Creating company portfolio we met the problem that the cost centers cannot be recalculated at portfolio level. We can only summarise costs of different projects in the portfolio. So local cost components and cost centers became local portfolio specific and cost centers of local cost centers were created in the company portfolio.

You are right that such verification is useful but it really will take a lot of time. I think that we shall create it but run not automatically but by request. It may be useful first time and when new objects were added but I expect that people will not happy if it will be always necessary to wait several minutes when Spider will check and compare data for many thousands objects when most of them are created by applying reference-books.

Regards,

Vladimir

Rafael,

when resources are created (or transfered from the reference-book) in some project it is not clear if the project belongs to some portfolio and which resources are shared and which are not. If all project resources will be considered as project specific then in the portfolio you will find tens or hundreds project specific materials and resources that actually are the same. This is the situation that shall be avoided. More than that, portfolio may consist of several subportfolios that share resources between projects that belong to them but not with others. The structure may be complicated.

Just imagine two models created by two contractors that build different objects. Their construction resources are project specific but materials are the same. Besides design for both projects is prepared by the same design company. So designers are not project specific and quality control is made by the same company, etc.

Another example - project portfolio consists of the projects that are performed by the same company. Sone projects are done at the same location, others are at remote locations. Projects at the same location use common resources, but resources at remote locations are project specific.

Regards,

Vladimir

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

I know, that Rafael always goes much deeper than me in the matter, but from my simple point of view I totally agree with what you said in the last poste, also with the statement that "decision if some resource (material, etc.) is project or portfolio object is based on the information that is not available in the project model.". Therefore whenever a Project Manager has a suspicion, that he does not have 100% control of a specific resource, then he needs to treat this resource as a global resource and request PMO to add this resource ina Corporate Reference Book and always use corporate code.

I know I repeat myself, but I still maintain, that I think that there should be some kind of verification upon portfolio consolidation, that objects with the same code are actually the same. The opposite situation would indicate, that “something went wrong somewhere”

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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Vladimir,

Now there is a question - if this resource is project specific or portfolio resource that may be used at jobs of different projects. Usually, it depends on location. If there are different projects that are executed at different locations then resource A is project specific.

  • Agree and there shall be no issue if created at the project level or if created at the portfolio level as long as transfer of data considers the prefix as per the previously submitted rules.

If the jobs of resource A happen in the same location then A is portfolio resource.

  • Agree I see no issue with this, I understood you talked about resource A happening on all jobs but it might still be that is happens only on some and it is still a portfolio resource. 

I don't see an easy way to determine this except setting some manual indicator as prefix to resource code or some symbol (yes or no) in specific field.

  • Here I respectfully disagree, any resource created at project level is project specific, any resource created at the portfolio level can be a portfolio resource if when creating resources you add new resource under the group of portfolio resources and a project specific resource if under the desired project resource group it is inserted.

For the same project some resources may be project specific, others - portfolio resources (cranes are project specific, estimators may belong to portfolio).

  • Of course; if on a portfolio the resource group will identify if portfolio or project specific, if on a job the portfolio prefix will identify from what portfolio it was transferred.

So decision if some resource (material, etc.) is project or portfolio object is based on the information that is not available in the project model.

  • If created at a job level it belongs to that job, if created from within a portfolio it belongs to a specific job if created under the project resources group and belongs to the portfolio if created within the group of portfolio resources.
  • To transfer portfolio resources from one portfolio to other this shall be done by transferring to appropriate resource groups. Different portfolios can share same projects and same resources. I believe it shall be easy using Reference Books.

Please be tolerant with me, if I have a few errors this is not easy for me and realize there are few things that are still pending, such as when transferring a resource other objects will also have to be transferred that might be or not project/portfolio specific. Anyway I am as error prone as any human being and therefore my constant quest to look for ways to reduce human error. A single resource/object code error can invalidate the whole portfolio. 

I do not recall how resources are created on a P6 portfolio, nor have an idea on how this issue is handled by Asta PP but I believe they use some resource structure to organize them in groups, Spider structure might be different.

Best Regards,

Rafael

In Spider Project portfolio may be created by adding any projects. These projects may be linked with different or common reference-books. Let's suppose that some resource parameters were taken from the same reference-book to two projects. Both use some resource with code A and the same properties like productivity and costs.

Now there is a question - if this resource is project specific or portfolio resource that may be used at jobs of different projects. Usually, it depends on location. If there are different projects that are executed at different locations then resource A is project specific. If the jobs of resource A happen in the same location then A is portfolio resource. I don't see an easy way to determine this except setting some manual indicator as prefix to resource code or some symbol (yes or no) in specific field. For the same project some resources may be project specific, others - portfolio resources (cranes are project specific, estimators may belong to portfolio).

So decision if some resource (material, etc.) is project or portfolio object is based on the information that is not available in the project model.

Rafael Davila
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Bodgan,

Whenever a new object is created at a project level then it is a project object. Those created at the portfolio level can be defined as project or portfolio objects. This means some rules shall be established, it might be:

1. At project level - only project objects can be created or edited.

2. At portfolio level - project objects as well as portfolio objects can be created or edited.

3. When transferring file from project to portfolio the project prefix is added only to the objects that belong to the project to be transferred. The prefix will not be added to portfolio objects.

4. When transferring from portfolio to project the project codes will be deleted from those objects on the portfolio identified as belonging to the target project. Job objects will only be transferred to their respective jobs. Portfolio objects will only be transferred to the jobs that use them. 

It works for P6 with the restriction that all objects at job level must be job specific. These rules are less restrictive and allow transferring back and forth of portfolio resources without confusion, all automatic.  I see no reason not to automate it, though I know my idea is not going to the batting cage.

Evgeny,

Spider does not have a file comparison tool similar to Primavera Digger, we have a field comparison tool that requires you manually set it up in order to be able to see field comparisons, cell by cell. I rarely use it but at times is handy and better than a Digger style comparison, both are good ideas, they complement each other, we have only one.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Bogdan Leonte
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Evgeny,

The data from reference books will can be set up to be always set for portfolio use by having the "Only for Project" option set to "No".

As for checking Spider would have to check all editable fields in order to be able to tell if there is a difference between objects consider this scenario: what if I use the following name for a resorce "Bogdan Leonte" and you change the name accidently to "Bogdan  Leonte" (Two spaces or any other accidental character) if you have tens of projects with hunderd of objects this would take long and may give tens or hundred items in a "Error report". This might be time consumig to sort through, perhaps I'm wrong.

 

Anyway, we are getting ahead of our selfs, let's see what Vladimir has to say.

Regards,

Bogdan

Evgeny Z.
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Bogdan,

May be it is my communication, but I actually was trying to propose something like this. (plus verifications Q5 and Q6, which I mentioned in the previous post).

My only suggestion would be, that objects, derived from Corporate Reference Books would always be Portfolio Wide, so would not get project prefix 

Regards.

Evgeny

Bogdan Leonte
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  • Rafael, it is easy to indicate if some object is project specific or not just adding prefix to object code, or entering some synbol in user defined field. But this shall be done by people, not the machine.

There might be an easier way of creating project specific objects rather than using a formula.

If I may suggest, perhaphs a new column "Only for Project" with an "Yes", "No" option, plus a new project property "Object Prefix", "Object Postfix" and a checkable option "New objects belong only to this project".

If "Only for Project" = "Yes" then Object Prefix/Postfix would be written in the code column, else removed.

If "New objects belong only to this project" is checked then all newly created objects (except activities and excluding objects transfered from reference-books) would automatically get the Object Prefix/Postfix.

I belive that if this can be implemented, or something similar, then this would provide a middle ground solution between the way things are done now and how Rafael and Evgeny would like them to be.

Best Regards,

Bogdan

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

related questions.

Q5: Suppose I am a portfolio manager and I consolidate projects. Is there a way to check that ALL objects, which have the same code are exactly the same across all projects in each of their fields? (I assume this has to be done before they are consolidated). If I would find such difference, this would mean, that something went wrong somewhere and  I would have to  work with the guys (PMO, individual project managers) to fix this and to make sure, it does not happen again.

In general, how it is done in partice, e.g. in Romtelecom?

Q6: Suppose I am a Project Manager. I have created a project and have sent it to a Portfolio Manager to be resource leveled for the resources, which I share across portfolios. Now, few days later, I receive my project back. I think would expect only the following changes there:

  • Delay of activities due to resource leveling
  • Change in resource assignment, in case I have used variable resource assignment or skills.

Is there a way to check, that nothing else what so ever has changed? (e.g. Resource hourly rates, resource names, cost components  etc?) As I can see, there is a risk, that this would change because there is a chance, that  somebody else (some other project manager) would have used different value for some of the objects (for whatever reason) with the same code as I did and then this change would be propagated back to me. (As I understand, during consolidation Spider pics object from the 1st project and the propogates its values to other projects)

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael, it is easy to indicate if some object is project specific or not just adding prefix to object code, or entering some synbol in user defined field. But this shall be done by people, not the machine.

Rafael Davila
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Vladimir,

I do not like the idea on the formulas for this task, many objects to remember to add a prefix . Not all codes will require adding the prefix on every update from external contractor using job distribution/consolidation, difficult to manage using additional fields that might not be correctly populated by our subcontractors.  As I see it only good for a one time transfer of codes or for when all users have access to the same CRB and portfolio file. 

I will abstain from using portfolios and the distribution/consolidation of jobs as much as I can. Too complicated for me and my clients the formula option on every transfer of files, it is not about formula creation, it is after it.  Anyway in my actual practice I have never used portfolios, I have never distributed any job for updating but use Excel to get updating data.

Now I am aware Spider will most likely never have a functionality similar to P6 to optionally define the objects using the project-specific option something we can handle, but P6 is not nor will be our choice. 

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny, yes, you are correct.

The data from the corporate reference books may be transfered into projects without opening them. Different projects may be linked with different corporate reference-books. But if you don't want some information to be rewritten then just change activity (resource, material, etc.) type. The link of this specific activity with the reference-book will be lost.

Rafael, it is easy to modify codes using formulas. Some resources may be project specific, but others may be common. Some materials may be project specific but most of them are the same. It is easier to apply formula and add prefix to all project resource codes than to answer multiple questions when portfoliois are created. You know that in Spider Project you can create nultiple portfolios just selecting and adding projects to the portfolio. So if the project objects are unique run the script that adds project prefix to the object codes. When we start to implement PM system in any company the first thing we do is creating certain rules for project objects coding.

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

It was my understanding, that Corporate Reference Books are the reference books, which are linked to a project under the “Corporate Reference Books” menu, and the idea is that user needs to periodically refresh information from then into the project by using the option right click => transfer data, hence the information transferred from them will not be normally further modified, because it can always be overwritten during the next refresh.

This is an opposite to the “normal” reference books which user has to manually open and manually transfer data from them

Is it correct?

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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The decision shall be made at object creation; 

  • if created within a Job outside a portfolio it belongs to the specific job,
  • if created within a Portfolio then it either belong to the portfolio or to a specific job as decided by the creator.

Code creation and transfer of codes are rules that can be enforced automatically based on where the object was created.

Standard Reference books are a beauty to anyone using Spider, I just love them, Corporate Reference Books are a beauty for those limited to work within a single enterprise, but as soon as there is transfer of files to other enterprises it can become useless because there will be two Corporate Reference Books competing against each other. Do not miss my point about transferring project files and resources among different enterprises. In my case I and my Subcontractors create all jobs and resources as if each one belong to a different enterprise, as 100% stand along projects all might have Resource A but to be interpreted as different if merged into a single portfolio for funding purposes or even for reporting only. In no way I am ruling out CRB, I believe will still be as useful and compatible if code creation and transfer of codes are rules are enforced via some automation. 

Best Regards,

Rafael

We recommend to use reference-books but it is not mandatory.

If somebody creates two projects and sets the same codes for Concrete then by default we suppose that is the same material even if the names are different. In more complicated case the cost may be also different (if projects are at different locations) and in this case we suggest to use different codes and create material center Concrete to provide necessary reports.

Some machine may be shared between different projects or different machines of the same type are used in different projects. In the first case the code is the same, in second case codes shall be different and resource leveling will know that these machines are different and will not jump from one project to another.

This informtion shall be entered by people. Even if the machine properties were taken from the corporate reference-book its code shall be modified if it belongs to specific project.

When portfolio is consolidated and some errors were discovered it is not hard to make changes and repeat consolidation. Answering hundreds of questions on resources, materials, calendars and other objects codes may become time consuming and boring. Deciding if resource is common or project specific is human responsibility and I don't see the way to automate this decision.

Rafael Davila
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I believe the key to automation is on keeping track of code origin with the use of some additional fields when object is created. 
     
CODES AT CREATION ON PROJECT LEVEL  
CODES CANNOT BE DUPLICATED EVER   
VALUE1 NOT USED AT JOB LEVEL   
CREATIONVALUE 1VALUE 2VALUE 3 
LEVEL  [unique] 
JOB01XAJOB01_ANEW
JOB02XAJOB02_ANEW
↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓ 
CODES AT TRANSFER TO PORTFOLIO 1   
VALUE1 IS CREATED AT TRANSFER   
CREATIONVALUE 1VALUE 2VALUE 3 
LEVEL  [unique] 
JOB01JOB01AJOB01_ATRANSFERRED
JOB02JOB02AJOB02_ATRANSFERRED
↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓ 
CODES AT CREATION ON PORTFOLIO LEVEL LEVEL  
VALUES CREATED WITHIN PORTFOLIO CAN BE EITHER PORTFOLIO SPECEIFIC OR JOB SPECIFIC
A PORTFOLIO GROUP IS EITHER A PORTFOLIO JOB OR PORTFOLIO FOR ITEMS NOT BELONGING TO A SPECIFIC JOB
GROUP AND PORTFOLIO PREFIX ARE ADDED TO VALUE 3 WHEN CREATED AT PORTFOLIO LEVEL
CREATIONVALUE 1VALUE 2VALUE 3 
LEVEL  [unique] 
JOB01JOB01AJOB01_ATRANSFERRED
JOB02JOB02AJOB02_ATRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_JOB01APORTF1_JOB01_ANEW
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_JOB02BBPORTF1_JOB02B_BNEW
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_PORTF1APORTF1_PORTF1_ANEW
↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓ 
CODES AT TRANSFER TO INDIVIDUAL JOB  
CREATIONVALUE 1VALUE 2VALUE 3 
LEVEL  [unique] 
JOBXAJOB01_ATRANSFERRED
JOBXAJOB02_ATRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIOXPORTF1_JOB01_APORTF1_JOB01_ATRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIOXPORTF1_JOB02B_BPORTF1_JOB02B_BTRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIOXPORTF1_PORTF1_APORTF1_PORTF1_ATRANSFERRED
↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓ 
CODES AT TRANSFER TO PORTFOLIO 1   
CREATIONVALUE 1VALUE 2VALUE 3 
LEVEL  [unique] 
JOB01JOB01AJOB01_ATRANSFERRED
JOB02JOB02AJOB02_ATRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_JOB01APORTF1_JOB01_ATRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_JOB02BBPORTF1_JOB02B_BTRANSFERRED
PORTFOLIO 1PORTF1_PORTF1APORTF1_PORTF1_ATRANSFERRED

Hope this makes sense, if there can be a manual algorithm I believe a computer shall be able to automate it.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

I am not familiar with Primavera, but taking into account distributed architecture of Spider, I find your approach to be quite logical. I must say, I like Spider’s logic more and more. I would only add a bit more automatic control and verifications in order to prevent conflicts

a)      Make a clear distinction: if object is not imported from Corporate Reference Books, that means it is a project specific object and in this case Spider always ads project-specific prefix to the object code. I am still not sure, whether it is best to add this project-specific prefix at the time of portfolio consolidation (like with activities) or already on the stage of individual project creation.

b)      When consolidating portfolio, add automatic control to verify that all objects, which have the same code, are actually exactly the same in all their fields. After consolidation of objects, Spider can create conflicts table and advise human to look at this.
 

I think my suggestions are not so difficult to implement and they do not change but just reinforce the overall logic of Spider.

In my experience: if you prevent every opportunity for humans to create a conflict in data – they still will manage this somehow. If you rely on humans to avoid conflicts in data – conflicts will appear all the time.

Regards.

Evgeny

Bogdan Leonte
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Vladimir,

of the top of my head why not create a more detailed transfer options for transfering objets from projects to portfolios and vice-versa.

Portfolio to Projects:

1955
portfolio_to_project_transfer_suggestion.png

And for transfering from projects to portfolio perhaps this can be set up from the User Access Rights?

This would require more timp to set up, but I think it would give better control to the data/objets that are transfered.

What do you think?

Yes, there is a problem when different planners use the same code for different cost centers, calendars, resources, etc.

But there is another problem if people use the same calendars, the same resources, the same materials and the same cost centers but the software considers them as different. If there are hundreds projects in the portfolio we'll get hundreds resources instead of one and leveling will not work.

So usually companies create some rules for creating codes for project specific objects, like adding certain prefixes that are added automatically when activities are merging. I don't see how this process can be automated because the software cannot distinguish between portfolio and project specific objects before the portfolio is even created. But the problem still remains. Just imagine that at different projects indirect costs are calculated using different formulas. In this case we cannot recalculate it in the portfolio. The same with cost centers that in different projects may consist of different cost components. At the moment we suggest to make cost center calculations at the project level and in portfolio use the results. But still there are the ways for improvement like importing and using project specific formulas. We are thinking about the best ways to deal with these problems and any proposal is most welcomed.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
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I do not believe creation of resources, calendars and activity codes [implemented in Spider via user defined fields] are frozen in time, they are alive and continuously changing, so in order for it to work flawlessly in sync with Corporate Reference Books they shall be updated on real time and everyone shall be connected to the Reference Books.

In my world every contractor and subcontractor usually create their schedule detached from a common server. Imagine such requirement when the common server is to accept different software. The mere idea of limiting myself to create my own schedules within a government agency computer as to avoid conflicts is disgusting. 

All my sample jobs have a resource named A, some also have a resource named B, what a mess, Spider should create new resources using a name never before used. At home there are over 20 Rafael Davila on the phone book and over 200 Jose Hernandez, if using first name only it grows exponentially. 

Either I am missing something or in my world the Reference Books methodology will not make it. Project-specific activity/calendar codes option available in P6 looks better than the Corporate Reference Books methodology to prevent duplicate codes, and I was hoping for something superior. 

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

Thank you for your feedback.

I just downloaded latest version (11.02.09) and I see, that the issue Q3 with “Consider portfolio schedule” feature has been resolved in it (or at least I could not reproduce it any longer).

One of the other questions, discussed here was that whilst Spider uses mechanism of Corporate Reference Books to ensure, that objects, which have to be the same are the same, there seems to be no explicit mechanism (except for activities) to ensure, that objects, which are not meant to be the same, are not accidently made to be the same during a cycle of portfolio consolidation and re-distribution. Example: PMO agreed, that only Resources, Calendars, Weeks and Exceptions will be managed centrally, the rest will not be looked at on the portfolio level. In this case PMO will create corporate reference books for Resources, Calendars, Weeks and Exceptions. However if now different Project Managers will happen to use the same code for different cost centers, cost components, materials etc, then during the consolidation - distribution Spider will make them the same, which may cause a lot of confusion

Regards

Evgeny

Hi, I am sorry for the absence for quite a long time.

I saw that a lot of portfolio management features were discussed.

I will describe some rules that shall be followed working with the project portfolio.

1. Activity and phase codes may be project specific, Spider understands that activities belonging to different projects may have the same codes and adds prefix automatically when portfolio is consolidated.

2. Activity types do not get prefixes. If activity types are the same Spider supposes that activity parameters are similar. Activity type is usually a connection field for the link with the reference-books. If activity shall not be modified by the data from the reference-book it is necessary to assign specific activity type that is not present in the reference-book.

3. When projects are consolidated Spider considers resources, materials and other objects (except activities) as the same if they have the same codes. That is why we suggest to use corporate reference-books creating objects in different projects. In other case different materials with the same code will be considered as one material, the same materials with different codes will be considered as different materials. The same with other objects. If it is not  true object code shall be modified.

4. To avoid confusion we suggest to use access rights to some objects that are called From the reference-books only. In this case the user cannot create new resources (materials, etc.) except transfering them from the corporate reference-books. Thus we may be sure that the same resources (materials, etc.) have the same codes.

5. We cannot consider objects from different projects as different. In this case a lot of new objects will be created though they are the same and there will be problems with scheduling and reporting (resource leveling in particular).

Thank you for founding an error in project leveling considering portfolio. It was fixed though testing is required.

I will look to other discussions that I missed.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
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Evgeny,

Any way, I think we need to wait for Vladimir to look at this.

  • I agree, as I understand it a prefix is always added ONLY to activity ID code and project name, it is a matter of adding this to other appropriate fields and 50% is done, the rest shall be on identifying calendars and other fields to be transferred when needed on a controlled way, and this mean either asking for what is to be transferred back/forth and via Access Rights.
  • I am including a few extras such as the ability to create project specific values when working at the portfolio level while I believe when working at the job level user shall not be able to create new portfolio values. I am including the concept of projects sharing resources. In this way a user at the portfolio level can pull down portfolio resources as well as other project resources that will be identified as belonging to some other project. 
  • I am/was looking for something better than project-specific activity/calendar codes option available in P6, even before I learned [today] of such option, I am not a fan of P6 but the reference can help me with communicating the idea.
  • Not sure everything makes sense or if in conflict, this is main reason why Vladimir comments are welcomed. 

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
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Rafael,

Re “Making mandatory enforcement via CRB will add unnecessary burden. Imagine when hundreds of independent schedules require their own resources or when an Utility imports schedules from independent contractors.

Why is that? May be I did not express myself correctly. The rule shall be (in my view):

  • If information in certain Spider Project table is transferred from CRB, than information is transferred exactly the way it is in CRB
  • If information is added from any source, other than CRB, than a fixed project specific prefix is always added to the code.

So, to conclude: if you work as you work now (without CRBs), you do not notice the difference with the exception of the fact, that a prefix is always added to an object code.

Any way, I think we need to wait for Vladimir to look at this.

Regards.  

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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Rafael, Evgeny, you should take a look over the Access Rights and Users, which is quite extensive. You can configure access rights down to the column level.

  • I know it very well and know rights are transferred with project file, something unique of Spider. Spider is way ahead of everything else, you ask Spider things way ahead of what others can do even when programming implications are not as easy as they look on the surface. Portfolio Management is not easy, any help from the software should be welcomed. 
  • I have seen P6 specs by some US utilities that address the same issue, they requires strict discipline on these codes otherwise it would be a mess, they require some sort of prefix to the codes. I am looking [or was hoping] the software could get automatically over this issue.
    • https://www.dot.ny.gov/main/business-center/contractors/construction-division/construction-repository/CPM_Special_Spec_639_1022--01.pdf
    • The schedule file shall not contain any User Defined fields, all Calendars assigned to activities must be project level Calendars not Global or Resource Calendars, all Activity Codes shall be project level and not Global or EPS level Activity Codes, no Resources shall be assigned to activities, and no Project Codes shall be assigned.
    • Schedule Submission Method - The Contractor shall submit the schedule to the Engineer electronically for review and acceptance. The filename shall conform to the requirements of Table 1.
    •  photo table1_zpsc0e6e458.jpg
    • INSANE, probably based on older P6 versions and promoting brand name specifications something that might be illegal under government procurement rules.
    • Virginai DOT Specs looks better:
      • http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/const/ProgressScheduleSPForCategoryIVProjects.pdf
      • If Primavera (P6) or equivalent scheduling software with similar features is used to prepare the Progress Schedule, the Contractor shall define activity codes using the project-specific activity codes option.
        • Note in P6 activity codes are different to activity ID.
      • If Primavera (P6) or equivalent scheduling software with similar features is used to prepare the Progress Schedule, the Contractor shall define the project calendars using the project-specific option.
  • I bet Spider team can do better with their small and efficient database engine within Spider than what others can do with their un-necessary huge [a super-sized huge] external database. So hard to maintain it requires learning about the intricacies of the database system while in Spider it is transparent to the user. One of these external database is notorious for frequently rejecting user connections, something they fix with much trouble just to find latter it will happen again and again. Multy valued fields shall be no challenge to them, I believe Activity Name is one of them, the control they have on their own database can give them a programming advantage. 
  • I believe it is possible to combine single, multiple project and portfolio specific safe transfer of data making it superior to either project specific only or everything uncontrolled. 
  • The automation I was expecting goes beyond basic file structure; it also refers to the transfer of multiple portfolio fields necessary for the project level to handle the resources, for example the transfer of portfolio resources will require the transfer of portfolio calendars tied to the resources being transferred.

I would say that to avoid such conflicts Spider needs to enforce the rule, that  everything, which is not taken from the corporate reference book, shall have a unique project prefix added to a code. What do you think?

  • I very often create and use Standard Reference Books but I do not use Corporate Reference Books.
  • From Evgeny Portfolio I cannot see any Corporate Reference Book [CRB] either. 
  • Making mandatory enforcement via CRB will add unnecessary burden. Imagine when hundreds of independent schedules require their own resources or when an Utility imports schedules from independent contractors.
Bogdan Leonte
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  • I would say that to avoid such conflicts Spider needs to enforce the rule, that  everything, which is not taken from the corporate reference book, shall have a unique project prefix added to a code. What do you think?

Perhaps this is more of a programming question, but the problem to your suggestion is the capability to distinguish objects from a reference book from any other object. Reference books are essentially tab delimited text files and any Spider file can be decomposed into reference books or text files.

The definition of Users and Users Rights is very practical in distinguishing those objects that can be edited and those that cannot.

Rafael, Evgeny, you should take a look over the Access Rights and Users, which is quite extensive. You can configure access rights down to the column level.

Regards,

Bogdan

Evgeny Z.
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Rafael,

I think, that the situation is exactly as you describe. This comes both from my tests as well as from Vladimir's posts (here and also on some other forums).

As far as I understand, for anything else except activity, if the code is the same, Spider treats it like the same thing (calendar, resources, week etc). As an example, if different resources from different projects have the same code but different Name, then when consolidating them into portfolio Spider will use Name from only one of them and when projects will be distributed back, this resource will be have the same name in both projects.

To avoid such conflicts Vladimir recommends, that all objects, which have to be the same are managed through the corporate reference books:

<<

in large companies with many projects strict order is necessary.

When you will look at the access rights that may be assigned to different users notice that some of them can add objects only from the corporate reference-books. It means that a planner is not authorize to add new resource (for example) but only add to his project those resources that exist in the corporate reference-book. The same with other objects. Some of them shall be managed centrally (on the PMO) like resources, materials, cost components, etc. So when resources in different projects have the same code then they are the same.

In Spider Project corporate resource pool is stored in Resource Reference-book.

But Spider can manage many portfolios with different reference-books. In your project you may define what reference-books are yours.

In some organizations PMO creates project templates that already have these links and access rights, and suggests to start the schedule development using the template.

Projects belonging to the same portfolio are certainly using the same resources, materials, cost components, calendars.

>>

<<

... resources, materials, cost components and calendars shall be certainly managed centrally to avoid duplicates and errors.

Other data that we suggest to manage centrally include activity types, resource skills, complects of materials, actually any data that shall be the same in all projects belonging to the same portfolio or the same organization.

>>

What just came to my mind based on your post, is that whilst corporate reference books provide mechnism to ensure, that what has to be the same is the same, it does not provide a mechanism to ensure, that what is not meant to be the same in reality is not treated as the same. (e.g. calendars, which just happened to have the same code). I would say that to avoid such conflicts Spider needs to enforce the rule, that  everything, which is not taken from the corporate reference book, shall have a unique project prefix added to a code. What do you think?

 

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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Evgeny,

Thanks but it does not answer my question in a direct way. If I create a new portfolio from two new jobs when they get consolidated, resources marked A with same code A on both jobs they get transferred with same code without any prefix so unless I am missing something then Spider does not distinguish between project specific and portfolio specific resources, and perhaps calendars, calendar exceptions ... 

I was expecting:

  • For every job specific code for resources, calendars ... codes would have [invisibly] attached the job code as a prefix to the activity codes, calendar codes ... A multi valued field where first value would be inherited from the job code, invisible at the job view, visible at the portfolio view, not editable and the second value would be the editable visible part.
  • For every portfolio specific code for resources, calendars ... codes would have [invisibly] attached the portfolio code as a prefix to the activity codes, calendar codes ... A multi valued field where first value would be inherited from the portfolio code, invisible at the portfolio view, visible at the job view, not editable and the second value would be the editable visible part.
  • The resources, calendars ... you create at a job file are job specific and resources, calendars ... you create at the portfolio can be portfolio specific and can be defined as job specific.
  • Maybe it makes sense to allow assignment of project specific resources, calendars ... to other projects while in portfolio, required calendars would be transferred.
  • Otherwise coordinating codes could be a nightmare.
  • All automatic using job and portfolio codes as a prefix. 

Or something else, I am still looking for the something else as it looks like what I was expecting is not there and maybe is implemented in a different way.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Evgeny Z.
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Rafael,

regarding your question:

<<In any case I wonder how Portfolios distinguish other field codes such as resources, calendars, weeks, exceptions, user defined fields, etc., that might have similar names but different at project level versus at portfolio level, the distinction between Portfolio and Project Specific codes that might be transferred both ways.>>

I think Vladimir has answered this in the other thread:

http://www.planningplanet.com/forums/spider-project/542982/resolving-conflicts-when-working-portfolios

Bogdan Leonte
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1. Project specific objects such as calendar exceptions, weeks, cost components, cost centers, resource etc. have to be assigned to each project through unique codes before portoflio consolidation otherwhise the values will  be overwritten by other objects with the same code.

2. When distributing projects you have the option of deletin unused objects (the above mentioned).

Rafael Davila
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I am still wondering:

  • In any case I wonder how Portfolios distinguish other field codes such as resources, calendars, weeks, exceptions, user defined fields, etc., that might have similar names but different at project level versus at portfolio level, the distinction between Portfolio and Project Specific codes that might be transferred both ways.

About keeping track of project versions it shall not be difficult to figure it out with user defined fields. Portfolio management requires discipline. 

  •  photo hhhhh2222_zps06bfabfa.jpg
Rafael Davila
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When you have a portfolio of hundreds of jobs.

  • Have all jobs started?
  • Have all jobs finished?
  • Are all jobs in progress?

When updating a portfolio I suppose you want to increase version in a controlled way.

  • For not yet started jobs, under portfolio update, I suppose you do not want to make changes to baseline number.
  • If during the updating some new job start, I suppose you want to keep baseline and update version number of this one.
  • For an ongoing jobs, I suppose you want to increase version number.
  • For finished jobs you want to keep history, I suppose you do not want to make changes and increase version number.

Version number represents something you must label as to distinguish what each number means. Each time you increase a version number you shall change the meaning of the version under project properties.

Or I am missing something?

About algorithm under Consider Portfolio Schedule I would speculate if not selected then any algorithm makes sense but if selected then somehow resource assignments on detached portfolio must be considered, how is the question. Perhaps assignment allocations to remaining jobs on referenced portfolio is assumed fixed or non available and then the software considers standard resource leveling on assumed availability, it can also be previous version where portfolio represents previous version. This is just speculating, Vladimir is the one that can really tell. 

Evgeny Z.
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Re: 

Q2. "Spider uses special method, not the standard. You may notice that there is no choice for method selection in this case."

What sort of level of intelligence this algorithm is? (On the limited tests I have done it produced the Optimization plus- like results, which is good). 

Q4: in general, what is the organizational procedure to use this "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option. I understand the logic of it, that individual project manager can check what is the influence of the resource constraints and interproject links on his project, but how it is supposed to be done in practice?  

Is it that portfolio run is done by a Portfolio Management and then it becomes an approved baseline, and in between project managers can play around with their individual projects when they make changes?

From the other side, if individual project manager has access to a portfolio file (which he has to, in order to be able to use "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option), he can play around with his copy of portfolio directly, by incorporating new version of his project into portfolio and do a portfolio run, so so need then to use "Consider Portfolio Schedule” option (I presume it will take more calculation time though).

Regards.

Evgeny

Evgeny Z.
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Q3:

Bogdan,

thanks! It works now and I think it also works without having to keep a unique activity code. Do you know whether there is any reason for Spider not to update this project version aotomatically, when distributing projects?

Regards.

Evgeny

P.S. Spider scripts is something which is still on my to do list to learn

Bogdan Leonte
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You just have to get used to it.

When you use distribute->new version you have to keep in mind that Spider creates new versions of the projects but doesn't update the new version in the Project Gantt. You will have to update these values manually or by formula.

1951
porfolio_project_gantt_increase_version.jpg

You could do this using a script.

Formula: (Code: IncVer) Version = Version + 1

Script Example:

PROJPORTFOLIODISTRIBUTENEW ();
PROJTABAPPLYFORMULA (IncVer, GANTTPROJ);
PROJSAVE();
Regards,

Bogdan

Evgeny Z.
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Q3: I seem to have found, that the issue occurs, when the option Distribute projects -> New versions is used. When I use Distribute projects -> Current version, then it seems to work.Overall I found the feature “Consider Portfolio Schedule” to be a bit unstable. Regards. Evgeny. 
Rafael Davila
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In this case what is the purpose of the option “Consider Portfolio Schedule”?  

  • I have not used portfolio functionality for very long time and some of the options seems like might be new, so I do not recognize/understand them all. I suppose the "Consider Portfolio Schedule" is intended mainly for those who are concerned with the individual schedule and have no need [or access] to open a portfolio of hundreds of jobs just to see their single job.  
  • When others are updating individual jobs separate form the portfolio this functionality is handy as there is no need to create artificial Start NET constraints. They will see their individual job as if within the portfolio, valid before updating, then after entering their actual dates it shall be brought back to the portfolio for true portfolio scheduling. Because I always have access to the portfolio, in the few occasions I used them, I had no need to use the functionality.
    • In case they execute a resource leveling run they might see some conflicts with their resources but I would never trust this runs as final because the portfolio interaction with all updated jobs is missing. 
    • In order for it to work the user must have access to the portfolio link. Something subcontractors might not have.
    • I suppose there is some procedure for Subcontractor updates but I never had the need and perhaps will never have it as for subcontract work updating our  job PM/scheduler gets the updates via an Excel worksheet.
  • It will consider Portfolio as-is and will bring down some missing links but will not update the portfolio nor will level the portfolios, the only way to get true portfolio resource leveling is by working within the portfolio.

With regard to project specific codes I had the understanding this is taken care automatically as Portfolio codes are unique to project codes, they are two separate fields as shown in following figure.

  •  photo portfoliocode_zps6bc4a96a.jpg
  • In any case I wonder how Portfolios distinguish other field codes such as resources, calendars, weeks, exceptions, user defined fields, etc., that might have similar names but different at project level versus at portfolio level, the distinction between Portfolio and Project Specific codes that might be transferred both ways.
Evgeny Z.
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Q3:

Bogdan,

thanks. It works now when I made all project to have unique activity code, by adding project specific prefix already before they are consolidated in portfolio. Not sure why it was not working yesterday, I did exactly the same.

Anyway, I think we need to address this to Vladimir, if all activities need to have unique code already before consolidation of projects for portfolio scheduling to work correctly, I think this needs to be somehow more automatically imposed or controlled. I thought that Spider takes care of this by adding a project code in from of every activity before consolidation.

Rafael,

RE” Distributed projects are stand alone versions that will not be impacted by other jobs so if you execute a schedule run it might move unless you add some date constraints to make up for the missing links.”

In this case what is the purpose of the option “Consider Portfolio Schedule”?    

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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Evgeny,

Try the following:

  • 1- Delete all project versions 3 and greater if any.
  • 2- Keep aligned project versions with portfolio versions, for purposes of this exercise. On live portfolios new jobs might be added while old might be deleted so you might have different jobs on same portfolio version each with a different project version number.

 photo FFF00_zps9c07129a.jpg

  • 3- Distribute Projects to new version.
  • 4- You shall get newer versions of each project. For Project 2 version 3 you shall get:

 photo FFF01_zpsef696726.jpg

To me all makes sense, the data date is same on distributed projects as on portfolio.

  • On portfolio projects are delayed by their relationships with other projects.
  • Distributed projects are stand alone versions that will not be impacted by other jobs so if you execute a schedule run it might move unless you add some date constraints to make up for the missing links. A formula can be handy to set Start NET equal to Start before schedule run, you will loose track of original date constraints and here a user defined field can be used to keep them. You will get a Start NET constraint for every activity but remember it is not just about logic dependencies but also about resource dependencies.
Bogdan Leonte
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After adding the prefix/postfix/changing the activity/phase codes in the projects you have to consolidate the projects into the portfolio in order for the new codes to be transfered.

Evgeny Z.
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Bogdan,

thanks for your suggestion, but somehow I still have the same problem after I have implemented it.

I will check it more a bit later.

Regards.

Evgeny

Bogdan Leonte
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Evgeny Z,

from my experience, each project in the project portfolio must have unique codes for activities and phases otherwhise Spider gets confused about which activity belongs where. I think the simplest way to change object codes would be to add prefixes or postfixes to the phases/activities (Right click the Code column header and use the Change Values option to add prefix or postfix to the phase/activity code).

1943
project_protfolio_1.png

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

Q3: I did not do any comparison and behaviour is quite easy to reproduce:

Spider files are here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1FBt_G3gCVqUEtteHgyRUY0RWs/edit?usp=sharing

Step 1: Initial resource-leveled portfolio schedule

 photo 01_ScheduledPortfolio_zps9caa7f99.png

Step 2: Project 2, resource-leveled taking into account portfolio (you can see, it is delayed)

 

 photo 02_rescheduled_Project2_zpsb6167f46.png

Q1. Portfolio is updated by changes in the schedules that were already included in project portfolio.

New version means that new version of portfolio is created, but newer project versions are ignored.

Q2. Spider uses special method, not the standard. You may notice that there is no choice for method selection in this case.

Q3. Please check if portfolio was compared with some other version before distributing projects. We recently found an error created recently in this case that soon will be fixed. If it happens without this please send an example.