Assignment Delays – Pitfalls and Tricks

Where does it come from, Assignment Delay?

Contouring

Schedule owner zeroing out the work in the start of the task in the grid of a Task or Resource Usage view.

Task Updates/Timesheets

Resources putting work in a time frame after the start (creating an “actual start” date) or changing the start date.

What does it do?

This seems obvious, and MS has an official explanation explanation of it, but basically, it changes the assignment start date of the resource in question, but not the task start date.

So what’s the problem?

In a word, Duration. Duration is the problem.  For whatever reason (an oversight?) even when there is only one resource on a task, the task date doesn’t change, and the task duration is calculated between the first work on a task and the finish date.  (Ok, even I realize that it would require a constraint to change that date because yadda yadda “scheduling engine” or whatever, but I don’t have to like it) What it really should do is calculate Duration from the Start Date to the Finish Date, like any sane and rational program.  But it doesn’t.  This means that if an assignment is delayed say, 10 days on a 20 day task, the task duration will change to 10, even though you can clearly see the calendar days of that task are 20 days apart.

In a scenario where anyone is reviewing the schedule and sees these, it’s very easy for them to assume “something is wrong” or the “schedule is corrupt” etc.  I hate those kinds of accusations (when they aren’t true, anyway) and it’s very difficult to defend the “Project Logic” when it’s just so…stupid.

Kill. Me. Now.  Project and I had a huge fight about this.  Seriously, if it weren’t for the kids, I think we might be considering divorce right now. I tried a bunch of different things to work around this issue – adding the assignment delay to a task view (nope) adding the assignment start to the task view (nope) creating a custom field to show duration between start and finish…

The iffy solution

Sure, you can create that custom field (I called mine “Task Duration”; it’s calculated thusly: ProjDateDiff(Start,Finish) ) but it’s just a reference, not anything you can actually work with.

Could you go into a task usage view and then manually set each start date to match the earliest assignment start date?  Sure, if you like constraints and pain and suffering and happen to be a masochist.

Mitigation

If your resources are submitting updates and their workloads are varied and fluid, you’re pretty hosed here.  (read, us)  But if your PMs are updating actuals manually, you might be able to mitigate a lot of these scenarios by using  The Ultimate Assignment Update View which I will be posting about any day now.

Have fun with this, Project and I are off to some much needed couples counseling now.

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