Here is an advanced tip on how to create a payment schedule in MS project. This can be required in the case where the sourcing dept. has negotiated a payment timeline with a supplier; let’s say 10% at the contract sign-up, 40% at the first delivery, another 30% when all test cases passes and the remaining 20% after one month support.
At first, MS project is frustratingly uncooperative for this, but with the magic of OLE links, you can get exactly what you want although you need to play with some advanced features.
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In our previous video on Project Management framework we had set the background for how a ‘Schedule’ forms the foundation for all calculations in Project Management. One of the huge highlights in our Project Management templates (Example: Project Manager Excel Template) is the ‘Automatic Scheduling Engine’ which, as the name suggests, automates the schedule creation step and saves enormous amount of time for the Project Manager. In this video, we will understand what ‘Automatic Scheduling’ is and why we need it?
A schedule lays out how we will complete the work needed using the resources available. It should clearly state who will be working on what task for how long on a given day. Let’s see what all goes in to create such a schedule.
To illustrate this, let’s take this simple example where we have 3 tasks and 2 resources for our Project that begins on Mar 1st.
1. HOURS OF WORK Hours of work required can vary by task. TASK 1 takes only 10 hours of work while TASK 2 takes 25 hours.
2. START DATE CONSTRAINT A task can have an external start date constraint. TASK 3 cannot start until Mar 15th. To perform the task, we need an equipment that will not arrive until Mar 15th.
3. PREDECESSORS Tasks can have dependencies between them. TASK 2 cannot begin until TASK 1 is complete. TASK 1’s output could be the input to start TASK 2.
4. RESOURCE ASSIGNMENT Each task is assigned to a resource. Our templates support only one resource assignment to a task. More than one resource cannot be assigned to a task.
There are two more slightly advanced factors. These are handled in our templates, but since this is a simplified example, we will demo those two in separate videos.
ALLOCATION % On occasions, we would like one resource to work in parallel on multiple tasks. We would like to set max % of time that the resource should allocate to one task. For example, if a resource is assigned to 2 tasks and both can be done at the same time. Then, we can set 60% of time to spend on first task and remaining 40% to second task.
PRIORITIZATION In a more realistic project scenario where we will have numerous tasks, a resource can be assigned to several tasks. We may need to control the order in which the resource handles those tasks.
Now, let’s look at the Resource Side.
1.STANDARD WORK HOURS: Each resource may have different work hours. In this case, RES 1 works for 8 hours Mon-Fri, while RES 2 works for 5 hours Mon-Fri.
VACATION/OVERTIME: RES 1 is available to do Overtime on March 1st for an hour, while RES 2 is going to take vacation of 5 hours on Mar 4th
COMPANY HOLIDAYS: March 2nd is a company holiday and no work will be performed on that day.
Now, we have to build a schedule for all the three tasks, given all the above inputs and constraints. Even for such a small project, it doesn’t sound so simple anymore, does it?
Not to worry. This is why we have our Automatic Scheduling Engine. An Automatic Scheduling Engine is embedded in our Project Manager and Project Planner templates. This engine takes into account all the inputs, and prepares the schedule for us, saving tons of time and ensures the rules are followed correctly.
Using this automatic schedule, we can then automatically calculate project dates, cost and resource utilization.
If we are not satisfied with the Plan, we can go back and tweak our inputs. Then, the automatic scheduling engine will consider the new inputs and update the Plan. It may take a few iterations to land on a plan that is acceptable.
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