This article highlights the basic functions for scheduling projects.
Create Project Tasks
An approved project can be scheduled, with tasks added as required.
After selecting a project on the Data page in the Projects area (or any hyperlink to the project in the system), select/click on the Scheduler tab
To add a new task, select/click on the + sign (on the left).
The task will appear at the bottom of any existing tasks, with the title "New Task". Simply click on the task to rename it (such as in the task "Legal Closure" in the screenshot below).
If you need to drag the task up or down, you can click on the "page" icon on the task and drag up or down.
Double-click on the cells to update additional task values, e.g. Start or Finish (a date dialog will appear, as in the screenshot below).
Your changes will be saved automatically.
Adjust the window/scale to view complete schedule
Select/click on the Zoom to fit icon in the upper left control tray (the square icon with cross-arrows in the center, to the right of the Zoom in/out buttons) to adjust the time scale and view the total project. The Zoom to Fit icon looks like this:
The full project's Gantt view will now appear in the main window, as in the image below.
Understand the Project Scheduler Controls
The Project Schedule's main control panel is very powerful and easy to use.
The upper left and main panel is as follows:
Moving from left to right:
- The + sign is to add tasks, and the X is to delete tasks.
- The Add External Dependency button (chain icon) can be used to add predecessor tasks from external projects
- The Indent/Outdent buttons are used to indent or outdent a task or phase.
- The Undo and Redo buttons are extremely useful if you've made changes or ran the auto scheduler or compression and want to undo its effects.
- The right and left arrows can be used to move through time phases of the project
- The up and down arrows can be used to expand or contract the task detail (i.e., to show all tasks or just show phases)
- The +/- magnifying glasses are to zoom in or out
- The box with the crossed arrows in the center is the "Zoom to Fit" button, which will show the whole Gantt chart on one screen.
- The flame button is to show the Critical Path. This can be toggled off or on. The Critical Path represents all the tasks that have zero float (or slack). A delay on any critical path task will delay the project.
- The View Histogram (bar chart) button shows the resource histogram, which highlights discrepancies between task assignments and the effort forecast.
- The Show Baseline button (the eye), will show a line representing the baseline on each task on the Gantt view.
The upper right panel offers additional features.
- "Compress" condenses the schedule to remove all slack or float. Again, you can use the UNDO button to undo the results.
- The Auto Schedule button will automatically adjust the schedule to respect the current dates and dependencies, recalculating the critical path accordingly. This may change the project's end date, if appropriate. If you're not satisfied with the results, you can use the UNDO button to undo it.
- Set Baseline allows you to set a new baseline. You will be asked if you want to set the schedule baseline, financial baseline, or both.
- Request Resources (the person icon) will submit resource requests for all resource assignments to tasks that vary from the existing effort forecast. It will request additional assignments or request removal of assignments accordingly, for the entire project. This, BEFORE clicking this button, be sure you've finished assigning resources to all tasks.
- Post to Status updates the phase and milestone status information to the respective phases and milestones on project forms (it links to the correct phases by way of the phase or milestone code in the Task Abbreviation column), and to the Project Status dashboard as well.
- Import MPP allows for the import of Microsoft Project schedules.
Edit Task Information, Predecessors, and Resource Assignments
Double-Click on the Gantt bar of a task to open the Task Information window (below). This will open the Task Information dialog, with sub-tabs for updating General, Predecessor and Resource information.
On the General tab, notice you can update the percent complete, and you can update the Duration and/or Dates. When you update the Duration or the Dates, the system wil automatically keep both in sync. For instance, if you increase the duration, the dates will spread out accordingly. If you change the dates, the duration will change accordingly.
The effort hours on this screen is purely informational, and does not impact the schedule. The true effort is determined in the task assignments and effort forecast.
On the Predecessors tab, you can select which tasks are predecessors to this one, and a dependency link will be created. You can also specify the type of dependency and whether there should be a lag. (see image below).
On the Resources tab, you can enter task-level assignments for named resources, along with their allocation percent.
View the Resource Histogram for Task Assignment/Effort Forecast Discrepancies
The "View Histogram" button on the upper left control panel will produce a Resource Utilization tray on the bottom of the screen, which shows if there are any discrepancies between the assigned resources and the effort forecast. If there are discrepancies (indicated by the color red in the time-phased histogram), you can either adjust your assignments or click the "Request Resources" button in the upper right control panel to request that the respective resource managers adjust the Effort Forecast to reflect your assignments.
WARNING: When you click Request Resources, it will request the resource manager to add Effort Forecasts to reflect new assignments that were outside the threshold of the original forecast, OR to delete forecasts that you haven't assigned anyone for. For this reason, do NOT select "Request Resources" until you're completed entering task assignments for your project.
Review and adjust project phase/milestone dates
Project Phase and milestones on the project schedule can be linked to the phases and milestones on the Status Report via the Task Abbreviation column on the project schedule.
To view or add this column, simply drag the vertical divider (between the project tasks and the Gantt chart) to the right until you see the "Add New Column" as a column heading (pictured below to the right). Select that and view the list of available fields to add as a column. Select the Task Abbreviation field. See the second image below, showing the Task Abbreviation column.
Note that the Task Abbreviation column lists P01, P02, etc. next to the appropriate Phases. This is what links those phases to the Project Status phases. Likewise, use M01, M02, etc. for each milestone that you want to track on the Project Status reports.
Also, note in the upper right of the control panel, there's a Post to Status button. This will post the current task dates and information to the status report, according to whichever phases and milestones correspond to the Task Abbreviation links.
The phases and milestone status can be viewed on any Project form that shows the project status phases and milestones (see example below), where additional status information can also be updated, including the R, G, Y (Red, Green, Yellow) project health indicator.
See "Key Performance Indicators" below for more on the project KPIs (which appear at the top right of the Project window for a selected project, as in the image below).
Note that the Phases on the bottom pane map to the P01, M01, etc. on the project schedule from the Task Abbreviation column. Additional information can be entered in the top pane, which is configurable. See the Administration section on this site for information on configuring screens and forms. Also see Project Status Reporting for information on maintaining project status.
Note: If you are not using project task scheduling, you can choose to strictly do phase/milestone tracking and updating via the Project Status form (below) and then the Task Abbreviation linkage is not necessary.
Generate and review Status Dashboard Report
The status information above (on the project form) also feeds the Project Status Dashboard Report. To view the dashboard, select the bar chart icon from the top-level main icons.
When you click the bar chart, a dropdown menu appears. Select Overview, then Project Status
Choose the Dashboard sub-tab (note: you can also view the Chart, Status or History sub-tabs for additional formats). Below is the Project Status Dashboard. Note that you can select a project on the left, and the information for that project will appear in the main panel.
Key dashboards are shows for Task Status, Financials, and Risks and Issues, and below each chart is the data that supports it. You can right-click on any section (chart) and choose "Send to Excel" to generate an Excel spreadsheet of the data for that chart.
View the Project Key Performance Indicators
The Project KPIs appear at the top right of the project window, and are, for the most part, updated automatically. The KPIs, with a description of each one, are below: