Begin this exercise by bringing up your previous ProjectLibre™ output (i.e., from Exercise 2, you should be able to click the Open option in the File area) or the file, ‘ProjectLibre Exercise 2 – Finished’, that has been provided in D2L. As a reminder, it should look something like this (See Figure 3.1). If you are using your own file from the last exercise, the dates should be fine. If you’ve brought up the ‘ProjectLibre Exercise 2 – Finished’ file, you’ll need to change the project start date to be the first Monday following the end of this course session by clicking on the Information option in the Project box (See Figure 3.1 and Figure 3.2). (Note: Your dates will differ from the dates shown in the figures in this document.) Remember, you can drag the vertical bar separating the task entry area and the Gantt chart area to the right to see more columns of information about the project.
In Exercise 3 we will discuss how ProjectLibre™ can be used to support some of the techniques discussed in Gido chapter 6 based on the Consumer Market Study example. We are going to add resources, mange the time assignment on a task for a resource, evaluate task usage, level resources that are overallocated, and create resource reports. Since we’re going to be working with Resources, click on the Resource option in the main ribbon (see Figure 3.3) and you then the Resources view in the Views window (see Figure 3.4). The resultant view should look like Figure 3.5.
Just like on the Task entry sheet, you can modify this Resources sheet to include/exclude the columns of data in which you are interested. There is also a navigation bar along the bottom to allow you scroll left and right to see other columns. The Resources sheet allows you to enter many details about your resources, and also allows you to enter information about non-human resources. Double-clicking on a resource will bring up the Resource Information window, from which groupings of information can be entered related to the headings you see in Figure 3.6. Those items will then be displayed on the Resources sheet. Also, many of those items could be entered directly onto the Resources Sheet.
The Type column allows you to specify Work (performed by human resources) or Material (non-human resources). Associated costs, availability, etc., related to the resources can be recorded. Add Material resources by entering an appropriate identifier in the Name column and then select Material from the Type column’s dropdown. Add the rows you see in Figure 3.7 now.
You can associate Material resources to tasks on the Task entry sheet (From the Resources view click on Task and Gantt Views to go back to the Task entry sheet) by double-clicking on a task and then selecting the Resources tab. In Figure 3.8, I’ve selected the Print Questionnaire task, indicated Resources, and then selected the icon to “Assign Resources”.
Then, from the resultant Assign Resources window (see Figure 3.9), I’ve selected the Material resource ‘Questionnaire Printing’ (the Work human resource ‘Steve’ was previously linked to this task) and clicked the Assign button to associate Questionnaire Printing to the task. (Note: The Resources turn green after the assignment has been completed; Questionnaire Printing was white before chosen and assigned.)
As a result, the Task Information window (see Figure 3.10) now shows both ‘Steve’ and ‘Questionnaire Printing’ are now associated with Task 11, Print Questionnaire. Questionnaire Printing will also show up in the Task sheet, along with Steve, in the Resource Names column.
Go ahead and assign the other Material resource ‘Questionnaire Mailing’, to the task, ‘Mail Questionnaire & Get Responses’ (see Figure 3.11 after the resource assignments have been completed).
For the Consumer Market Study, not all of the Work resources will work the entire duration of a task. For the Print Questionnaire activity Steve will work one day (assume Steve is doing some preparation work and then sending it off to a print center like Kinkos to be physically printed), and for the Mail Questionnaire & Get Responses activity he will work five days. ProjectLibre™ has the option to make the duration of a task dependent on the effort necessary to complete the task and to set the type of task as Fixed Units, Fixed Work, or Fixed Duration. Setting a task’s Effort Driven category to No (by unchecking the box) and its Type to Fixed Duration, the number of hours of actual work on a task can be set without affecting the duration of a task.
In the Gantt entry view, add the columns Effort Driven, Type, and Work, as shown in Figure 3.12. (Tip: Any time you are inserting a column, you can shorten the process by entering the first letter in the dropdown box and you won’t have to scroll through the entire list.) Then, uncheck Effort Driven on the Print Questionnaire and Mail Questionnaire & Get Responses activities, select Fixed Duration in the Type field for both, and enter 8 hours and 40 hours, respectively, in the Work column. See the results in Figure 3.13.
Notice that the Duration for Print Questionnaire remains 10 days, but Steve’s level of effort has been reduced to 10% and the Work performed in 8 hours. Similarly, Mail Questionnaire & Get Responses remains at 55 days’ Duration, but Steve will work only 40 hours across that span of time, a level of effort of 9%.
Take a look at the Task Usage sheet (click on Task Usage in the Views window) and see that Work and Duration for tasks 11 and 13 show 8 hours worked across a span of 10 days and 40 hours worked across a span of 55 days. (See figure 3.14. Note: I have used the scroll bar to bring tasks 11 and 13 to the top.)
While ProjectLibre™ has done a good job of showing that Steve’s effort will be much less than the duration would indicate, it has spread his work effort across the entire duration. Scroll to the right to see the days Steve is indicated to work (Remember, your dates will differ from my examples). In fact, work on these tasks needs to be completed as soon as possible. Figure 3.15 shows Steve working .8h each day across the duration. Change his first day’s effort (in the Steve cell) to 8 hours, then zero out (by putting 0 hours) in the remaining days during the period. See the result in Figure 3.16.
Similarly, Steve’s 40-hour effort on Mail Questionnaire & Get Responses is spread out over 55 days in increments of .727 hours (see Figure 3.17). His part also needs to be done as soon as possible. Again, front load his effort by keying 8 hours per day in the first week (in the Steve cells), then zero out the remaining days through the duration period (see the results in Figure 3.18).
One thing we need to know, especially as the project plan is initially being developed, is whether we are over-allocating any resources. Once resources have been assigned to tasks, it’s possible to see whether we’ve done any over-allocating by looking at the resource histogram. In this instance (see Figure 3.19), I’ve gone back to the Gantt sheet view and dragged the vertical bar to the left so I see only the task Names with as much of the Gantt chart showing in the window as possible. Click on the resource histogram icon, as indicated.
The resulting histogram at the bottom currently shows Susan’s allocations (see Figure 3.20). The horizontal nav scroll bar will allow you to track to the right to the end of the project activities.
Susan’s current allocations show her fully allocated, but not over-allocated. If you select Steve, Andy, and Jim in succession, you will see that Steve has a burst of 200% over-allocation (see Figure 3.21). This is definitely something to be addressed.
How should we proceed to resolve this issue? The first option is to move the timing of one of the tasks causing the overallocation, if that’s possible. So, we need to answer a couple of questions. First, are all of the tasks that contribute to the overallocation on the critical path? And, if the answer to that is no, what do we have available in the way of free slack?
So, go back to the Gantt sheet view (see Figure 3.22). I’ve brought the Free Slack column into the view, and can answer both of my questions with this information. First, we see that Print Questionnaire is on the critical path, but Prepare Mailing Labels is not. That’s good news! Second, we see that Prepare Mailing Labels has 8 days of Free Slack. That’s even better news, but we would expect it to have some Free Slack if it’s not on the critical path!
We can make a change related to these tasks and not impact the overall schedule, so long as we don’t exceed the amount of Free Slack that is available. Recall that we front-loaded Steve’s work effort on the Print Questionnaire task (Remember, he did some prep and then sent it off to Kinkos). Since there is Free Slack on Prepare Mailing Labels, we can change it to start after Steve has completed his portion of the Print Questionnaire activity. Looking at the relationships among the tasks, this one is easy to resolve. Prepare Mailing Labels is currently dependent on Susan’s Task 7 and Steve’s Task 10. Since Susan’s task, Review Comments & Finalize Questionnaire finishes later than Steve’s Order New Database for Labels, let’s add some lag time, 2 days should do it, to the dependent relationship between the completion of Task 7 and the starting of Task 12. To do that, double-click on the Prepare Mailing Labels task (see Figure 3.23) to get the Task Information window (see Figure 3.23). In this case it came up with the General tab information showing. Click on the Predecessors tab (see Figure 3.24).
Note that Review Comments & Finalize Questionnaire and Order New Database for Labels are both shown as Predecessors, and the Type is FS (for Finish-to-Start, which means that when the Predecessor task finishes, Prepare Mailing Labels can start. Use the horizontal nav bar to scroll to the right until you see the Lag column (see Figure 3.25). On the Order New Database for Labels row, change 0 days Lag to 2 days lag by entering 2 or 2d and hitting
After closing the Task Information window and returning to the Gantt view (see Figure 3.27), you’ll see that the Predecessors specification for Prepare Mailing Labels now includes “10FS+2 days” which means Task 12 is Finish-to-Start with its Predecessor Task 10, plus a lag of 2 days from the Finish of Task 10.
If you bring up the Resource Histogram again (see Figure 3.28), you’ll see that Steve is no longer overallocated.
Are there other options we could have pursued to resolve this overallocation, particularly if we had not had Free Slack available? Sure. Project management should always be looked at from a pragmatic perspective. Just as involving knowledgeable resources in activity estimation was important to both getting a solid estimate and obtaining resource buy-in, the same is true as adjustments have to be made over time. A 1-on-1 discussion and a bit of negotiation with Steve might have resulted in the possibility of one or more of these tasks being spread out over time and, rather than having a 1-day 200% overallocation, Steve might have been perfectly willing to simply work a couple of extra hours each day for a few days. Or, Steve might have said, “There’s nothing that requires specific knowledge from me to prepare the mailing labels…maybe we can just assign that task to another resource.” Then it would have been a matter of reviewing the schedule to see who might have some available bandwidth during that period.
That’s all for ProjectLibre™ Exercise 3. Please be sure to save your work as ‘Consumer Market Study – xx yyyymmdd.pod’ where xx is your initials, yyyymmdd is the date in year-month-day format and “pod” is the file extension that ProjectLibre™ will assign. Then upload a copy of your completed work to the appropriate Dropbox folder.