Category Archives: Scheduling

Featured Speaker at the upcoming Northeast Florida PMI Conference!

Most of you know I’m a road warrior, with constant travel a part of my normal day-to-day as I’m heading to and from clients and conferences around the country. As I often do, I’ll be presenting at a local chapter of the Project Management Institute on April 7 – 8, and I’m really looking forward to this one!

The Northeast Florida chapter in Jacksonville has invited me to present a couple of very timely topics to their Expand Your Horizons conference attendees, held at the beautiful Jacksonville Public Library event facility.

The event seeks to enhance leadership and management skills and offer solutions to keeping up with business trends essential for all professionals, for those new to the profession and those with many years of experience. Attendees will earn 14 PDU’s and you can register up to the start of the conference.

I’m looking forward to leading two sessions at the conference. The first is “Agile in Action.” Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. In this session, you will participate in hands-on exercises to learn agile techniques and how to make them work for you and your organization. Attendees will learn general agile techniques and gather takeaways that may be applied to a wide variety of agile methodologies implemented by organizations.

And second, I’ll present “Best Practices in Schedule Development.” Attendees will have the opportunity to learn best practices from someone who has made scheduling a career and has worked with thousands of companies. I’ll describe how often the issue with the schedule is not your ability to provide a logical plan but your approach to the schedule. This session will answer the questions on how to know if your schedule has the right level of detail, if your task estimates are uniform, if your schedule makes sense, if you are managing resource expectations, and if you are setting up your schedule for success.

There are several other valuable sessions available led by 11 other presenters on such topics as Leadership, SharePoint, Communication, Strategy and Project Online.

Will you be at the NEFL PMI conference? I’d love to hear from you on what you most desire out of the conference. Are you curious about my sessions and want to hear more about my experience and capabilities? Contact me today to start the conversation!

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Recent Travels & New Ideas

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting at the annual meeting of PMI (Project Management Institute) Great Lakes chapter. The meeting took place at the Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan.

The topic, Agile in Action, was one that I know well, as I’ve presented it at the PMI-NEFL Oceans of Opportunity conference in September 2015 and online at the Microsoft Project Virtual Conference in February 2016.

So what does “Agile in Action” mean?  Let me ask you this first: Are you using Agile in the workplace?  Yes?! Well…maybe; well, we use it …sometimes. Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. This presentation took the audience from Agile ground zero to using actual Agile techniques that could be taken back to work immediately.

As part of my presentation, the following Agile topics were discussed, and included lots of hands-on exercises.

  • Agile approach versus traditional scheduling
  • What is a User Story and how is it used?
  • What is Planning Poker and how is it used?
  • Risk vs Value management
  • Advanced burndown chart interpretation

Those of you who know me well, know that I’m never in one place for long. Next I’ll be presenting Agile in Action and Best Practices in Schedule Development for the PMI Northeast Florida Conference on April 7th and 8th, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Did you see me at the PMI Great Lakes chapter event? Drop me a line and let me know what you found most valuable!

Or are you planning to attend the PMI Northeast Florida event? I’d love to hear what you most want to learn about.

 

 


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Getting Rid of Resource Overallocation Indicators in Project

For schedules where you display the Indicators column, you might be unhappy to see a column filled with Overallocation Indicators (looks like red stick figure people). Even if the issue is only with one resource on one day, all tasks during that timeframe display an indicator. When I show my schedule to others, I find that missed deadlines indicators or note indicators are extremely useful but the overallocation indicators can be very distracting to the viewer. This blog focuses on getting rid of those overallocation indicators in a quick simple fashion without spending too much time in the tool solving all the causes of the overallocations.

Resource Overallocation Indicators

Recommended features to assist you are available when you right click in the indicators cell. Tip – A very fast way to get rid of the indicator is to simply choose “Ignore Problems for This Task” and it goes away!

Right click option

Tip – Another very fast tip to get rid of these indicators is to simply increase the overallocation threshold for the resource. That threshold is the Max Units on the resource sheet. Increasing the number to a larger number will eventually get rid of the indicator.

Resource sheet with max units

Both of these tips are fast ways to hide the indicator if that was your goal but the negative behind these techniques is you might need to do this a number of times across multiple tasks and resources  to get the results you want.

A hidden option that many users are not familiar with is you can change the timeframe sensitivity of the overallocation. What this means is you can instruct Project to identify when any one day on a task exceeds the threshold (typically an 8 hour day) or you can instruct Project to evaluate when one week exceeds the threshold (typically a 40 hour week). Tip – A task where you are scheduled to work 10 hours on Monday and zero hours the rest of the week would appear as overalloacted by day but not overallocated by week since you are within the 40 hours available for the week. Resources are typically very skilled at balancing out their workload even if the resource assignment isn’t scheduled this way. To make this change on the Resource tab, click Leveling Options and find the section Look for ovallocations on a _____ basis. Switch Day by Day to Week by Week and then click OK.

Leveling Options

Tip – Even if you never use Level All, the settings you select in Resource Leveling are being applied. In my experience, this one change alone will reduce the number of overallocation indicators in your schedule without a lot of effort on your part. Now you can focus on the critical overallocations that can’t easily be resolved by the individual. This should also make you feel better when reporting to others as the long list of overallocation indicators has been reduced.

Less Resource Overallocation Indicators

If you have tried any of these techniques, I’d love to learn what worked well for you.

 

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Should You Strive To Be An Expert In Everything In Your Field?

This post was adapted from a previous submission to a BeMo newsletter.

“Should you strive to be an expert in everything in your field?” This is a question that took me years to answer for myself and ironically the answer came to light through a personal experience.

Doctor with Stethoscope
Doctor

Years ago my ear, nose, and throat doctor was evaluating me for a second surgery to correct a new breathing problem I was having. After having such great success with my last surgery, I put all of my faith in him to perform my next operation. What happened after I left the office was something I was not expecting. After some time had passed, my doctor called me personally to tell me that he felt my current issue with my nose is something that he can do; however, he really felt I needed an expert who specialized in external facial surgery to correct my current problem. His expertise was more internal.

I have extreme respect for my doctor who knew where his expertise was and was not. He even recommended a surgeon who he already personally evaluated based on the work done on his own son after a dog bite to the face. My doctor did not just send me off on my own, he personally explained the situation to my new doctor and even wrote a letter on my behalf to my insurance company to negotiate for reimbursement. I felt like I was working with a team, not just one person to achieve the best results I could get.

Over the years, I have personally applied this approach to what I do with customers. I will let them know where I am an expert at and where I am not. While it might seem like everyone can be an expert at everything within their field, that just isn’t practical. What worked for me instead was to decide what my specialty is and partner with someone else who has a complementary specialty. I find that this approach works well for several reasons:

  1. Customers appreciate my honesty
  2. I can recommend the best comprehensive solution
  3. I can eliminate things from my head that I do not want to specialize in and leave that knowledge to true experts

BeMo is a great example of a company that I partner with for these reasons. Their expertise is hosting and that is what they focus on. Just like my customers count on me to know all the ins and outs of scheduling and configuring with Microsoft Project/Project Server/Project Online. This partnership helps me to provide a best practices, customer tailored, solution.

As illustrated in my personal story above, I could perform the role of two different doctors. First by creating a hosted solution and second by configuring it, but there is no way for me to be an expert at two things which require years of practice, experience and constantly pushing the limits of knowledge to stay on top of the latest updates. Instead, I choose to be a scheduling expert and I hope you respect me for that decision.

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