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Hi all,

I realize I'm probably not using the software in the manner that is anticipated. Here's my goal:

I want to enter a task that takes 4w. I want to show that, during these four weeks, two people (resources) each spend about 20% of their time on this task. So, I enter 4w as the task's duration, but when I start to assign resources, the software changes the task's duration! When I had decided the task would take 4w, I had already taken into account how much (20%) of their time people would spend on the task.

How can I configure the software to primarily accept a task's duration without modifying it as I assign people and percentages?

I still would like to be able to take advantage of OP's ability to show me how "busy" a person is in the Resource Allocation view, so I wouldn't like to lose the percentage of a resource that is being used, but I don't want the duration of a task to change dynamically.

I hope this makes sense. Many thanks for any help!
Sorry for the confusion here - if you select a task and bring up the Task Information inspector, you'll see two related fields - one named "Duration" and another named "Effort".

At any given time, one of those two fields will show a darkened "resource" graphic next to it. The value in the field with the icon next to it will stay fixed, while the other one will be recomputed based on the resources you apply.

Your task sounds like a fixed-duration one; you want the Duration field to have the icon next to it. It's like a training film: assigning more folks doesn't make it go faster.

Does that help?
Brian beat me to the punch, although I might have started my answer before he did, and mine has pictures :-)

I'll add to what he gave you. You've already got the answer for how to control whether duration or effort changes when you alter the resource mix, but that doesn't quite cover your whole problem. You need to tell OmniPlan that you only want to give 20% of those resources to those tasks because the other 80% of the time you want to devote to other tasks (in parallel with the long one). You can edit this in the inspector as shown in the screen capture here, and you can also edit it in the Gantt chart. There's probably yet another way that I'm forgetting.

The lengthy task is assigned at 20% for both Curly and Moe, so they are able to use the other 80% to work on Tasks 1 and 2 initially, filling their schedule to capacity, as seen below:

Tasks 3 and 4 I've assigned only 50% effort, so you can see that a task requiring the same effort is taking additional duration, and looking at the utilization graph in the second image, they aren't fully utilized during that time. Note that you have to specify the lower percentage in assignments or you may get a violation (trying to assign Curly at 100% of 100% for Task 3 prior to the completion of the lengthy task, for example) or the leveling code will schedule it for when there are no other demands on the resource. It would be nice if OmniPlan could simply say "oh, he obviously wants this resource to spend all its remaining effort on this task" and do the adjustment for you, but it doesn't.

It strikes me as possible that you didn't really have a fixed duration for this task so much as you'd decided that it was about 32 hours of work, which is 4 weeks of work at 20% effort, knowing that you had 80% of effort of other stuff you wanted Curly and Moe to be working on. It is tempting (to me, at least) to think of the resource allocation as filling a channel through the project, but you have to remember that it uses the smallest channel width that fits all the way, and doesn't make any bulges when the "walls" get farther apart. Assuming my hypothesis about the lengthy task is correct, in real life once Tasks 1-4 in the diagram above finished, Curly and Moe would start working all day on the lengthy task if they didn't have other things to do, but OmniPlan will never give you such a plan unless you split the lengthy task.
Thanks to you both for the very useful answers. You have helped me immeasurably!
Bill's answer was way better than mine, but you're certainly welcome. :-)
Here's me and my buddy Toot Flügelhorn. We haves a job to do, migrating a webserver after hours.

Two tasks, 'do migration' followed by a test task
I make sure the puppet icon is in the right spot, and allocate a duration of 2 hours to the task.
When I schedule these task within project normal workweek, no problem. I can allocate a duration, and create a dependency between the change and test task.
But only if I stay in normal office hours.

I have modified the workschedule for Toot so that on friday aug 5th, he is working all day till midnight, and the 6th he is working midnight till 8am.

Now... we schedule the change to start at 20:00 hours, with duration of 2h.
The test task is scheduled at 22:00 also with a duration of 2h.
Now things go haywire very quickly.
Our test task loses its duration, or the dependent task all of a sudden has end-time on the 8th of aug... duration field turns up with 1w 2d or something silly... all depending on whatever you try to get it right.
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Last edited by Hoot Posthorn; 2011-07-07 at 05:54 AM..

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