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I am relatively new Project Scheduling/Management. I have been using Microsoft Project for about 6 months to schedule projects for the engineering dept. The IT dept came to me for some help in scheduling their projects.

The engineering schedule is very linear; Do Task A, then Task B, then Task C. Dependencies and progress are clear. Whereas, the IT dept is much more sporadic; I'll work half my day on Project A, doing tasks A and B, then leave it to compute, and do %25 of Project B and then %25 of Project C. The next day might focus entirely on Project B, with only %10 on Project A and C. With multiple projects happening at the same time I typically show a lot of overallocation and I have a difficult time representing progress.

My question is has anyone experienced something like this and do you have any tips/resources for how to reflect this working style in MPP?

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    Support processes aren't projects. Are you sure that what you have is really a project? In any event, multitasking is a productivity killer.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Jun 16, 2017 at 21:02
  • Could you clarify the question? What is it you want to know?
    – MCW
    Jun 19, 2017 at 10:11
  • @Mark C. WallaceThey are looking to make some ballpark predictions of when their projects (yes they are projects) will be completed. When you have Task A followed by B followed by C, predictions are helpful and easy. Even if then you have simultaneous tasks but multiple available resources this adds a level of complexity but not too much. Just not sure of best practices for reflecting one resource who bounces between simultaneous projects (if there are any). I do realize there work style may have flaws and pitfalls but I am not able to tell them how to work. Just trying to best help them out.
    – user28885
    Jun 19, 2017 at 13:57
  • Can you update the question and the title to indicate what you want to know? Clear requirements lead to quality products.
    – MCW
    Jun 19, 2017 at 14:00

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If these are true projects, decompose each project as you normally would, create intra-project dependencies as normal, and load your resources at a reduced utilization that represents your best plan, i.e., load resources around 20% to 40% each day. Do not worry about getting so precise that you know resources A will work projects B and C on Monday and then project A on Tuesday. Just load them equally (unless you know some type of priority) across all projects across the total duration. Show all the projects to run simultaneously. Each of those projects still needs to commit to completing pieces of the project by certain dates so you will know, and be able to measure, progress as each meets a completion milestone.

Load cost actuals and measure your variances for each of those projects but also at the hammock level task above all of those projects. You can see how well you're doing at the higher level plus the variances at the lower levels.

This is really not that unique. This is a normal scheduling issue that represents complex projects within a matrix organization. There WILL be tons of variances, tons of over and under utilized resources (on paper), and risk, but that's what PM is all about.

Here's my general rule on leveling: the only time it matters to remove over or under utilized resources is at the first baseline. Thereafter, it doesn't matter because the work we do is hugely probabilistic and variable. Chasing it, trying to constantly level it, is trying to control random variables.

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  • THanks @David Espina. We are working on the first baseline and I'd like to avoid overallocations (not so worried about under). Perhaps I should approach it with less precision in mind.
    – user28885
    Jun 19, 2017 at 14:00
  • I would approach this with less precision, too. If a resources landed at 100% plus or minus 20%, I'd move forward with baseline. Work is too probabilistic to worry about that degree of precision. Jun 19, 2017 at 14:10

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