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How do you manage multiple projects? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
One thing you can't currently do is to share resources between projects as if sharing resources between different tasks in a single document while still maintaining the ability to have differing per-project settings. If you want multiple projects now with the ability to share resources, you get projects that are more like action groups in OmniFocus — similar, but missing some essential project functionality.
 
This was missing functionality since version 1. Asked for this some years ago already. How else can I manage our recources over multiple projects (our resources work on different projects at a time).
 
Since OmniPlan does in fact support multiple projects (and a number of us have used it to manage multiple projects!), it helps to talk about what could be better about that support rather than whether or not they're supported at all.

What I'm hearing so far in this thread are two votes for easier ways to coordinate resource scheduling between multiple projects. (However, I'm not yet sure whether that's what the original poster is wanting to see improved. Sometimes when people ask about multiple projects, what they're wanting has nothing to do with shared resources at all—they just mean tabs in a window, or a common dashboard somewhere which lists active projects with their progress towards milestones, or a way to overlay multiple drafts of a project to see what's different between the two.)

Does that mean that you'd want each project to be able to participate in a single shared resource pool? What happens when you want to make another copy of the project to consider an alternate scenario? Do you make another copy of the "shared" resource pool as well? Or do you only publish to the pool when you've blessed a particular scenario? (In which case, how do you truly explore cross-product resource allocation scenarios?)

Now I recognize that it's not your job to figure out the answer to those questions—that's our job! But before we do that we do want to make sure we understand your needs so we don't design the wrong solutions for those needs.

Last edited by Ken Case; 2011-04-28 at 05:39 AM..
 
What I would like (very much) to see improved is exactly what whpalmer4, and falcovandermaden have said. I'm certain I am not alone.

Ken, when you say that OmniPlan supports multiple projects, what do you mean? Certainly I can just make separate OmniPlan documents and maintain all of them independently. You don't mean that *that* is support of multiple projects do you? The problem with that is I have resources spread over several projects. What happens if I want to shift some resources from one project to another (say, go from a 50-50 split to a 70-30 split if I have only 2 projects)? Don't I then have to go to each document and manually change each file, and then ensure (again manually) that the resource is utilized at exactly 100%? You can see, I hope, how that is not tenable, especially if I have more than 2 projects and more than two resources. Yet our project manager needs to do such shifting around all the time. Another suggestion was to use one document but keep projects as separate groups. I don't know if this solves the resource sharing option, but, even if it does, we have problems with the critical path. Maybe 2.0 solves this? Can you have multiple critical paths running in parallel for different milestones?

To answer your question whether or not I'd want each project to be able to participate in a single shared resource pool, my answer is an emphatic yes. In fact that is *exactly* what I mean by supporting multiple projects. (Thank you for being more clear and less snarky than I was.) I want to be able to distribute our (scarce!) resources (mostly people) among our projects in an optimal way so as to maximize our productivity and meet our deadlines. Each of our people is involved in several of our projects, and I want to provide guidance to them regarding how much they should focus on each of their projects.

Your question about exploring alternate resource-allocation scenarios is exactly what I want to be able to do, and that I have great trouble doing in the current version. (Note that I haven't played with v2.0 yet.) I want to able to say "Right, persons X and Y need to devote 80%, not 60% to project A in order to meet our deadline. But how then does affect the other projects?" Currently, it's relatively easy to change the percentages within a project, but it is tedious and error-prone to see what effect that has on the other projects. I also want to easily be able to answer questions like "How is person X's time spread among their various projects?" There is currently no easy way to do that.

Does that help explain the problem?

Last edited by ambi; 2011-04-28 at 07:23 AM..
 
Hi Ambi,

you CAN actually have multiple critical paths in OP 2.0! Any milestone can have a critical path traced back from it. You can check this out by creating a milestone, and then looking at the new Milestone Inspector which is right next to the project Info inspector (it has a diamond milestone icon). There you can turn on and off various critical paths, and change the color they show in, as well as adjust slack for each one.

edit: Here's a screenshot of what I'm talking about, hope that helps!
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Last edited by Rachael; 2011-04-28 at 09:19 AM..
 
Hi Rachael,

That's good to know, and thank you for the screen shot. I have another (more important) question based on your attached picture. On each day, you currently have Resource 1 working on only one task at a time. (And similarly with Resource 2.) Now, can you set each Resource's time to be split equally between Project 1 and Project 2 and then have these projects proceed in parallel? (Of course, each project would then take longer to do.) These are the sorts of things we often need to do, and that's what I mean by sharing resources across projects. I would like the levelling to be able to handle this automatically. Can you do this? If so, I would be very grateful if you could provide instructions on how to get the leveller to do this and also attach another screen shot. Thanks.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambi View Post
Now, can you set each Resource's time to be split equally between Project 1 and Project 2 and then have these projects proceed in parallel?
For that scenario, I think it's actually simplest to leave them in separate projects and simply set the resource availability to 50% in each one.

Or, for more control, you could split their scheduled hours to spend half-time in each project, e.g. spending their mornings on one project and afternoons on the other, or by alternating days or weeks or whatever. That would let you change the allocation over the course of the project, e.g. if you decide they should focus on a particular project as it approaches a deadline, then go back to their normal 50/50 schedule afterwards.

I do agree that it would be helpful to visualize resource allocations across multiple projects, so you could see when you've accidentally scheduled them at 75% time on 3 projects at once. We started heading that way in OmniPlan 2, but we're not done yet. (You can get part-way there in OmniPlan 2 by publishing a resource's tasks from a project to a calendar server, then pulling free/busy times from that calendar server to block them out of another project. That's not the easiest workflow, though, and doesn't help you level resources across multiple projects at once.)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
For that scenario, I think it's actually simplest to leave them in separate projects and simply set the resource availability to 50% in each one.
Yes I agree. It is the simplest of the available choices, and that's the problem -- it is not really very simple to use at all because we have a number of projects and a number of resources (people, mostly). It seems we are constantly fiddling with the parameters to make it work, and even then it is up to us (ie, there are no UI cues) to tell us if someone is over- or under-utilised. Hence my original remark about the situation being basically untenable. I use Omniplan myself for small "scenario theatre" but I cannot really foist it on all my people until this is sorted out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
Or, for more control, you could split their scheduled hours to spend half-time in each project, e.g. spending their mornings on one project and afternoons on the other, or by alternating days or weeks or whatever. That would let you change the allocation over the course of the project, e.g. if you decide they should focus on a particular project as it approaches a deadline, then go back to their normal 50/50 schedule afterwards.
And keep everything in one document (i.e., in one file)? That might work better, in that it should be easier to keep track of people being over and under-utilised when I look at the loads. But, again, it will entail a bunch of manual and frustrating tweaking to make it all work. It's a bit of a hack, and a fragile one at that. In any case, I think you understand my problem. I'm sure there are many others who have this exact same problem. Perhaps some of them will chime in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
I do agree that it would be helpful to visualize resource allocations across multiple projects, so you could see when you've accidentally scheduled them at 75% time on 3 projects at once. We started heading that way in OmniPlan 2, but we're not done yet. (You can get part-way there in OmniPlan 2 by publishing a resource's tasks from a project to a calendar server, then pulling free/busy times from that calendar server to block them out of another project. That's not the easiest workflow, though, and doesn't help you level resources across multiple projects at once.)
Ouch. I really hope you guys solve this problem. Levelling resources across multiple projects at once is very important. It is what's keeping us from using Omniplan exclusively.
 
Actually, I don't understand why it would be such a hack/effort to have 2 projects in one file but in different group task? What is the difference between 2 projects and 2 group tasks that both can be executed simultaneously?
You can multi-select all the tasks in one group and change with one action the percentage a resource works on these.
Then you do the same for the other group task and should you put some tasks to higher priority than 100-(the other one), the levelling would even automatically shift the dates so that your resource is not working more than 100% (even so you COULD do that if you wanted it).
Additionally you can set different levelling priorities on different tasks and/or groups, so you have very detailed control if you put both in one file, doesn't seem so bad to me?
(I don't have budget experience, so that might be difficult to separate)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelaye View Post
You can multi-select all the tasks in one group and change with one action the percentage a resource works on these.
I don't think you *can* do that in one action, but maybe I'm missing something. I've attached screen shots (one task view and one resource view of the same project) of how I'd like things to end up. I was only able to do this by manually going through each task and assigning resource percentages for each one. If I select Project 1, for example, I don't think I can say "Resource 1 spends 50% of their time in Project 1." If I try, Resource 1 gets assigned 50% to *each* task in Project 1, which is not what I want.

If you look at the resource view screen shot, you can see that the total Units for Resource 1 is 100%. I think what I need, is to be able to say that Resource 1 has 50% for Project 1 and 50% for Project 2. Right now, all I can say is that Resource 1 has 50% for Task 1 and 50% for Task 3. Am I making sense?

I think we need to be able to assign resources in a hierarchical manner; first, allocate resources to a Project; then, within that Project, allocate resources to a task. That way, if you want to shift resources between projects, you don't need to change the percentages for each task individually. This is not a problem if you have one file per project because, in each file, you can globally set the units for a Resource to something less than 100%. But then you loose the benefit of the auto leveller between projects, and it's up to you to make sure your Resource isn't allocated more than 100% across all your projects.

Basically, there are currently pros and cons for keeping projects all in one file vs. splitting them up between files. If you now go up to, say, 5 or 6 projects and 5 or 6 resources, then it all becomes unwieldy and, I think, untenable.

I hope that make sense. Does it?
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Last edited by ambi; 2011-04-28 at 06:40 PM..
 
 


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