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How do you manage multiple projects? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
So as I see it, it basically boils down to resource allocation between several projects. This is indeed a severe limitation. Just adding a tab-feature does not solve this, I'm afraid.
Example: I have several customers with various projects each. So I set up a project for each customer and a task group for each project. After doing this, I have to balance my workload (I am the resource) manually. This can be a pain and certainly leads to a time delta, making predictions about the tasks' end quite difficult. But that is the question I get: "Will you get it done until the umptieth?"
You are correct, what I meant is the setting per many tasks you can do with one click, if/when the resource works on every task.

Otherwise you'd have to cherry-pick, therefore a control coming from the resource pool would make things much easier.
I see. Let me restate to make sure I understand: you want a simple way to rebalance a resource's work on multiple projects by changing the %-assigned for all tasks on that project all at once, correct?

I see how OmniPlan is less than ideal here, although here's a method that minimizes the manual effort involved:

1) Create a filter (cmd-shift-f) for tasks matching All of:
* WBS numbers begin with "1."
* Assigned to Resource 1
* Show only matches in flat list
(Sample screenshot below. I advise saving this filter, and then you can easily edit it to change the WBS number for different projects, or the resource for different people.)

2) Select All (cmd-a)
3) Enter in the new assignment percentage for the desired resource for all of these tasks in the Task: Assignments inspector.

If you want to modify assignment %-ages for other projects at the same time, then press the "Edit" button in the filter toolbar, change the project #, press okay.

What you'd really like to be able to do, is to select a group and somehow say: all tasks within this group should have only 30% of resource 1's time, if resource 1 is assigned to the task. And have this not only change the existing assignments, but act the same way with new assignments. I have some ideas on how you could implement something like that with custom columns and AppleScript, but it would be better if something like it was built in, absolutely.

Thanks very much for going into detail on the actual operations you need. Like Ken said earlier, "multiple projects" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Last edited by Greg Titus; 2011-04-29 at 09:55 AM..
Yeah, I thought that would work, too. Then I tried it :-)

Okay, here's Joe's plate of work, unleveled and unassigned, with the two "projects" being Budget and Site Preparation:

Now we build the filters for Budget and Site Preparation, use them to select all the tasks in each "project", assign them to Joe, and put him at 50%.

Now we level the document, and look what happens!

That's exactly what the leveling rules say will happen, of course ó the stuff higher in the document with equal priority comes first. Unfortunately, what Joe probably wants is to ping-pong between those two projects at the same time, spending half of his time on each, like you can see in the attachment (it would be nice if the limit of inline attachments could be higher!)
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This scenario brings up another interesting UI issue, actually: assuming we support leveling multiple projects together in the way that you'd want in this example, there are two different interpretations of "resource 1 50% available".

(1) as intended in this thread so far, where the resource can simultaneously work on tasks in two different projects because (s)he is 50% available in each, or
(2) the resource really only works half-time, in which case seeing two different projects with 50% availability means that we'd want to have the resource somehow alternate (or in some other manner, interleave) tasks from each.
I suspect what you want is the ability to assign a specific percentage of hours to a project, with no assumptions made about equal divisions as my example unfortunately promotes. I'm sure there are users who would prefer to be able to do it based on a number of hours instead of a percentage (just like you see with completion percentages), so it would be nice if the UI made that possible. Maybe something like the way Disk Utility lets you carve up a disk into partitions, with a setting that is the baseline (equivalent of a project's normal work week), and the ability to alter it for a period of time (off and additional hours).
Yeah, I didn't mean to imply equal divisions either (50/50 was just an example). And the underlying issue I'm trying to get at is in the data model rather than the UI. There is new information needed about a resource (in this example, whether (s)he is 100% available overall in all projects or only 50% available overall) which is not captured in either project #1 or #2 (in which the resource is 50% available in both).

So in order to support what we're talking about here we'd need some kind of additional store of information about resources that is outside of and in addition to the projects themselves.
Originally Posted by Greg Titus View Post
So in order to support what we're talking about here we'd need some kind of additional store of information about resources that is outside of and in addition to the projects themselves.
Yes, I agree; that was what I was trying to get at when I mentioned that we need to be able to assign resources in a hierarchical manner. First, there is the overall availability of a resource, so that X% means that a resource is available only X% of his total available time. (Call this the Global Availability of Resource 1.) Second, there is the allocation to a specific project, so that a Y% allocation of Resource 1 to Project 1 means that, of the Global Availability, Y% is to be devoted to Project 1. (Call this the Project-1 Availability of Resource 1.) Third, there is the task assignment, so that Z% allocation of Resource 1 to Task A in Project 1, means that, of the Project-1 Availability of Resource 1, Z% is to be devoted to Task A.

The reason whpalmer4's attempt failed, I believe, is that, in Task 1.1, for example, Joe is listed at 50% of 100%, whereas it *should* be something like 50% of 50% of 100%. (ie, 100 Global availability, 50 of the 100 in Project 1, and all 50 of *that* 50 in Task 1.)

Unfortunately, I fear there is currently no way to do this in the current version of the application because the only granularity available is either Global Availability, or task assignment. But I'll be very happy to be proven wrong!

Question: If you keep one project per file (so that the resource's availability in the inspector corresponds to what I've called the Project Availability above), then could an Applescript gather different files, add up a Resource's availability and tell you what the Resource's Global Availability is?
Personally I think at the end of the day for this capability, this feature is really going to need to be built into the software as a specific capability.

Maybe you could utilize and expand on the WebDAV-sync infrastructure:

So we could create a "Resource File" and save it to our sync location. This file would define a "pool" of available resources.

Then we could point multiple project files to that Resource File.

The sync process could then look at the linked resource file to allocate and distribute the resources appropriately.
I agree with joelande. A shared resource pool that all project files reference for resource scheduling/leveling is what is needed. Isn't this the way ms project server works? I have 3 project managers each with 5+ projects all using overlapping resources. People across our org complain that there is no way to level resources across all projects. Even without leveling just a view that shows what project and task each resource is assigned to in a given time period would be a tremendous help because it would allow manual leveling and/or bringing on new/temp resources to help out during activity surges.

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