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Effort vs. duration vs. period of a task vs. workload Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hello,

I'm working on my graduation thesis and I'm currently creating a project plan for the whole 5-months period. One of my first tasks is "research design", which will last for about a month. The task, however, will take only 40 hours of my time (I'm the only resource in this project), since I'll be working in parallell on other tasks as well.

What I'd like to achieve is having the number 40h displayed in the task outline window, on its own column. Now, so far I've tried two ways:
1) Setting a "workload" key in the custom data panel of the task and giving it the "40" value. However, I can't display the key "workload" as a column in the task outline window.
2) Assigning myself as a resource to the task, clicking the icon next to the Effort field and tweaking the Assigned Amount related to my resource until I reach a number more or less equal to 40h. Unfortunately, I can't get very precise, since the amount can be expressed up to 2 decimal digits so I get a very annoying "< 40h" or "> 40h" in the Effort column on the task outline window.
3) If I play with the Duration, then I see the start/end date of my task change, and I don't want that 'cause the work is going to happen within one month, not less.
4) If I lock (what is the lock feature for, by the way?) start and end date and then I change the duration of the task to 40h, the task shrinks anyway.

My goal is to show on the task outline window the tasks and their workload in terms of hours needed to complete them, while showing on the Gantt chart window the periods in which these tasks are going to take place.

Another example is "conducting interviews": per se, it might take me no longer than 15-20h, but the period in which I'll be conducting these interviews is about 2 months and I'd like to show both of the aspects, somehow, on the task and Gantt chart windows.

Is there a way I can achieve what I'm looking for with the current version of OmniPlan? Or maybe you can suggest me some alternative to what I have in mind?

I hope I was clear enough.
:-)

Ciao,
Nicoḷ
 
OK, there's a number of options.

Quote:
1) Setting a "workload" key in the custom data panel of the task and giving it the "40" value. However, I can't display the key "workload" as a column in the task outline window.
Actually, you can do this. In fact, when you create a new custom data column, it should automatically be added to the task outline view. It should also appear in the column list in the view options pane (command-j) so you can add or remove it whenever you want. If for some reason this isn't happening, please email us to report this bug! However, I'm not sure this will be what you want. If your 40 hours is only in a custom data column, you won't be able to leverage OmniPlan's scheduling tools to balance your work across the total time (resource leveling).

Here's how I would proceed:
1) In the calendar tab, customize your work hours so that they reflect the hours that you'll typically work on your thesis each week. More importantly, the total number of hours in those green boxes should match the total number of hours you expect to work on your thesis each week. (This assumes your thesis is the only work in this plan; if you add all your other classwork as tasks, you should adjust this to have time for all that too.) Then go to the project formatting inspector and make sure the hours/week are correct there too.

2) OmniPlan does not (yet) have a way to interrupt one task with another task, so if you want the plan to show that you'll work on research for 2 hours, then go do interviews for 2 hours, then come back and do another hour of research, you'll need to break "research" and "interviews" down into several separate tasks. You could break research down into topics, or just say "1 hour of research" for each task and make them all 1 hour long. The interview tasks could specify who you plan to interview, or again just be generic "do one interview" tasks. You should put these all into task groups labeled "research" and "interviews"

3) Create milestones for your deadlines (final draft, outline, etc.). Because those are external, immovable dates, you should lock them. Locking says "OmniPlan, no matter what rescheduling you are doing, do not change these dates." Then, if something else pushes tasks out past the milestones they need to be finished for, OmniPlan will display a violation (the icon is kind of like a stop sign).

4) Select all the research tasks and click the "connect" button in the toolbar to create a chain of finish->start dependencies between them.

5) Create a finish->start dependency from your tasks to any milestones they have to be finished for. For example, you might have an "Outline due" milestone, and you want to get 30 hours of research and your outline written before that. So create a dependency from the 30th "1 hour of research" task to that milestone, and another from the "draft outline" task to the same milestone.

6) Maybe you have a meeting with your advisor. You can put that as a task on your project too. If you already have an exact date/time, set those and lock them. (Again, because it's an external schedule.) If you know it will be sometime in the week of April 14-18, create the task, set the duration, but don't set the dates. Then in the task inspector, set the start constraint date to April 14 and the end constraint date to April 18. Then you can create dependencies to that task as well.

7) You can also use a constraint (or a locked milestone with a dependency) to make sure you get all your research done in a month. If you put a "research finished" milestone on April 20 inside your "Research" group, then the group will automatically stretch to include that date and look 1 month long. If you collapse this group (the triangle to the left of the task), it will just look like a single month-long task and you don't have to show anyone else the details of all the individual hours of research.

I think I wandered a bit beyond your questions, but I hope this was helpful. While writing this, I started making an example of what I'm talking about. If it would be valuable to you, please send an email to omniplan@omnigroup.com asking for the file (and link to this post, so I know what file you're talking about!) and I'll send that to you.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizard View Post
Actually, you can do this. In fact, when you create a new custom data column, it should automatically be added to the task outline view. It should also appear in the column list in the view options pane (command-j) so you can add or remove it whenever you want. If for some reason this isn't happening, please email us to report this bug!
Alright, it works now. It seems I was using a key I shouldn't have used: I called it "Time" and what it did was showing me in the column list a column with name "Duration" and the duration of each task as value. Now I called it "Workload" and it correctly displays the "Workload" column in the column list with the correct corresponding value.

About the procedure you proposed, I think it's a good idea if and only if the project plan is so detailed that you can break it down in chunks of 1 or 2 hours that focus on a very specific activity. In my case, I'm afraid it's not possible to do so at the start of the project: I'll get more details on who I need to interview or how much literature I have to review during my research and not before I start. Also, since I'm managing the project myself, I'm pretty flexible in deciding, on any given day, what I'm going to be working on (within limits, that is).

I'll go on with the Custom Data cheap trick for the time being, but I hope future versions of OmniPlan will be able to better address my problem!

Ciao,
Nicoḷ

P.S. For those who are interested, here's my project plan:
http://www.woje.eu/epa/projectplan.zip
 
 


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