MSP: Task Integration with Classic PPM
This article explores task terms and reserved fields in
Classic PPMenvironments that are integrated with Microsoft Project (MSP). Use this article to learn about time tracking, completing tasks, and loading patterns and contours. This article also covers milestones, durations, actual hours, fixed work tasks, and resource task assignments.
Task Terms and Reserved Fields
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project support the Project Management Institute (PMI) methodologies for effective project management practices. Each application adopted different terminologies for common concepts such as work or usage, remaining work or estimate-to-complete (ETC). Learn both terms to interpret the same information in
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project. For example, as a project manager, you want to know how much time a resource has to work on a task. Then, you can see the remaining work field in Microsoft Project and the ETC field in
Work (Remaining Work + Actual Work)
Total Usage (ETC + Actuals)
Work is the total amount of effort that is scheduled to be performed on a task in the specified duration of all assigned resources.
The estimated remaining hours that is required to complete the task.
The actual hours reported and posted by the team.
Units represent the quantity of a resource that is assigned to a project. For example, a resource has a daily availability of 8 hours. If the resource is allocated to a project for 100% or Max Units of the resource equals to 1, this means the spends a full day on that particular project. When the Max units of the resource is 25%, the resource spends 2 hours, out of total 8 hours per day on that project.
Max % Load
Units represent the quantity of a resource assigned to a task. This is a subset of Max Units. For example, a value of 100% indicates that the resource is using all of the Max Units on that particular resource assignment. A value of 50% indicates that half of the resource's Project Allocation is applied to that task.
Microsoft Project Definition: Calculates the duration of a task by counting the amount of active working time between the scheduled start and end of the task. This is generally the time from task start to finish, not counting time between split tasks.
A split task has an interrupted schedule. For example, a two-day task that does not require contiguous work can be split. So that, the first day of work is scheduled for Monday, and the second day is scheduled for Thursday.
You should manually specify the % Complete in Microsoft Project and
Microsoft Projectcalculates this field as: Actuals / Total Work
Where Total Work = Actual Work + Remaining Work.
Where Usage = Actuals + Estimate to Complete.
Type (Task Level)
Variable (Resource availability driven)
Fixed Duration Boolean; checked or not checked.
Microsoft Project includes the following task types:
In Microsoft Project, Work = Units * Duration.
Microsoft Project and
Classic PPMshare the same term. However, they differ in how they create the split.
Sometimes, work on a task is interrupted. You can split tasks to indicate periods of time when work is not being done on particular days. If you know in advance there will be interruptions in a task, you can split the task when you create it. If the interruption occurs once a task has started, you can split it then, and use the split to show when you expect work to continue on the remainder of the task. In Microsoft Project, adding splits to a task does not change the Duration, but does change the Elapsed Duration.
Common project task fields that are typically used by a project manager are reserved for the integration.
These common fields act as primary key fields in the integration. Do not change any values in these reserved common resource fields.
The following negative impacts can occur if you change the values in these reserved fields:
- A breakdown in version control
- Inability to save the project inClassic PPM
- Incorrect reporting out ofClassic PPM
The following table shows the mapping between the Microsoft Project and
Classic PPMproject fields:
File Menu/ Properties/ Summary tab/ Title field
File Menu/Properties/custom tab/properties
Version and Project ID fields (prversion and prUID)
Reserved project properties.
Task ID (WBS Number)
Guidelines URL passed to Microsoft Project
Unique Task ID
Indicates a Key Task in
Work, Units, and Duration (WUD)
WUD is an acronym that is derived from the following equation:
Work = Units × Duration
When you update one of these three fields, Microsoft Project recalculates the equation. So, given the equation: 40 hours work = 100% units x 5 days duration. When the project manager updates the duration to be 10 days by entering 10 in the duration field and then clicks out of that field, Microsoft Project will automatically update Work to equal 80 hours. This works really well and as expected –
muchof the time. Things begin to go wrong for the unknowing project manager when he changes a value that is marked as the Fixed task type for that task. For example, changing the duration value on a fixed duration task.
Is the word
fixeda misnomer? Microsoft project supports three task types: Fixed Work, Fixed Unit, and Fixed Duration. Although the word
fixedis used, Microsoft project permits the project manager to overwrite the value in the fixed field.
The duration is also
fixedat the assignment level. It is possible to have one assignment start one week, and a second assignment start during a second week. Each assignment has a 5 day duration, but the overall task duration is 10 days.
When you change the fixed value and do not understand which of the other two fields are updated when you do this, you can easily get into trouble. Should you try to get back to the original settings by updating the field that just unexpectedly changed, Microsoft Project will look at that update as yet another chance to recalculate the WUD equation. Many times, this yields another unexpected value appearing. So, now you get into a frustrating downward spiral without the ability to get back to the original settings.
This section discusses important default Microsoft Project functionality. Interestingly, many Microsoft Project users have never learned the features discussed in this section. They report experiencing many frustrating hours with Microsoft Project while trying to reconcile their project plans.
The following table shows the values that Microsoft Project calculates. The shaded table cells are also indicated with an asterisk (*). Microsoft Project updates these fields when you change their fixed values. We also recommend that you create a standalone MSP project plan that has a Fixed Work, Fixed Duration, and Fixed Units task type and become familiar with these calculations.
When You Change Fixed Units
When You Change Fixed Duration
When You Change Fixed Work:
- In a Fixed Duration task, Microsoft Project recalculates Work when you overwrite the Fixed Duration value.
- In a Fixed Work task, Microsoft Project recalculates Duration when you overwrite the Fixed Work value.
- In a Fixed Units task, Microsoft Project recalculates Duration when you overwrite the Fixed Units value.
An Update to Task Status Also Updates Resource Status
status updates resource statusfeature in Microsoft Project automatically updates the status of projects. For example, you type 25% in the % Complete field for a 40-hour task. Microsoft Project automatically shows 10 hours of actuals in the
Actual Workfield. The program also decreases the
Remaining Workfield to 30 hours.
This behavior can introduce an issue when Microsoft Project is integrated with
Classic PPM. When the
Classic PPMtime sheets are enabled (Track Mode = Clarity or
Classic PPMbecomes the owner of actual hours. Actual hours in the Microsoft Project project plan are not honored and are dropped when you save the project to
Note: No error message appears to indicate that the actual hours are dropped during the save. As a project manager, be aware of this behavior.
If this setting is enabled, the unknowing project manager might update the Microsoft Project % Complete field. Microsoft Project creates actual hours in the project plan which are then dropped upon saving to
If you open the project in Microsoft Project, the following can occur:
- Actual hours disappear from the plan
- The decremented Remaining Work field shows the reduced value
- Task dates are rescheduled
- If a rescheduled task is on the critical path, the project finish date might shift.
To avoid this situation:
- Uncheck the Update Task Status Updates Resource Status field in the Tools>Options>Calculate tab.
- If you must use this field, only use it when the project's Track Mode = None
New Microsoft Project Task Type Attribute
Clarity15.5 and higher, you can indicate how a task is mapped to the Microsoft Project
Clarity15.5 and newer releases include a new
Microsoft Project Task Typethat represents the Microsoft Project task type. The new attribute derives its value from one of the following lookup values:
0 - Fixed Units 1 - Fixed Duration 2 - Fixed Work
The new Microsoft Project Task Type (
msp_task_type) attribute is supported by the
Clarityintegration with Microsoft Project and is available in
Clarity, Microsoft Project, and the XOG.
In previous releases, Microsoft Project task type values were lost when converting from the legacy driver to the new XML driver and
Claritywas not aware of MSP task types. In 15.5 and newer releases, when using the new MSP driver to open an existing file saved in the legacy MSP format, the MSP task types are read from the saved file and merged into the new file. When the new file is saved back into PPM, the MSP task types are copied into
Clarityand saved in the new Microsoft Project Task Type attribute using new synchronization rules.
Any legacy task type values are preserved after an upgrade. A project saved to
Claritywith the legacy OLE driver can be opened with the new XML driver with the original task types intact.
- Create a project inClarity15.4.1 or older with the legacy driver, before you upgrade to 15.5 or newer.
- Create three tasks and configure the task type on the Task list page.
- Set Task1 msp_task_type toFixed Duration.
- Set Task2 msp_task_type toFixed Units.
- Set Task3 msp_task_type toFixed Work.
- Open the project with your legacy driver.
- Task1 should have typeFixed Duration.
- Task2 should have typeFixed Units.
- Task3 should have typeFixed Work.
- Open the same project in Microsoft Project with the new driver after an upgrade toClarity15.5 or newer:
- Task1 still showsFixed Duration.
- Task2 still showsFixed Units.
- Task3 still showsFixed Work.
MSP Task Type Behavior
Clarity15.5, the application supported two different task types:
Non-Fixed Duration. Whether a task is
Fixed Durationor not was indicated using a Boolean attribute (
prIsFixed) on the Task object in PPM. Microsoft Project supports three (3) task types:
Fixed Duration, Fixed Work,and
Fixed Unitswhich correspond to the schedule, cost, and scope dimensions, respectively.
To resolve the mapping,
Clarity15.5 and the new MSP driver deliver the following enhancements:
- A newClarityTask object attribute synchronized with the legacy Fixed Duration Boolean attribute.
- Adjustments to the MSP integration to leverage the new attribute.
- New processing that can read the legacy MSP XML files for task types and carry them into the New MSP Driver XML files.
- Exposure of the new Microsoft Project Task Type attribute inClarityand in the Project XOG element.
- A new capability that allows project templates to bring the Microsoft Project Task Type attribute into new projects.
In environments that integrate with Microsoft Project, update your best practices so users know how your organization prefers them to set this value. When users change the value of the existing
Fixed Durationtask attribute or the new Microsoft Project Task Type attribute, the two attributes must remain in sync:
- IfFixed Durationis selected, when you click Save,Claritysets theMSP Task TypetoFixed Duration.
- IfFixed Durationis false (not selected),Clarityresets theMSP Task TypetoFixed Units.
- IfMSP Task TypeisFixed Duration,ClaritysetsFixed Durationto true (the check box is selected).
- IfMSP Task TypeisFixed UnitsorFixed Work,ClaritysetsFixed Durationto false (not selected).
- If both attributes are set to a new value, the existing value for the legacyFixed Durationattribute prevails. In other words, when you select theFixed Durationcheck box but theMSP Task Typeis already set toFixed UnitsorFixed Work, the check box has precedence. When you save, the application resets theMSP Task TypetoFixed Duration.
If no value is set in
Claritytasks for the Microsoft Project Task Type (
msp_task_type), the default task type defined in Microsoft Project is used for the task when you open it in Microsoft Project.
- Create a project inClarity15.5 or newer.
- Create two tasks.
- Configure Fixed Duration and Microsoft project type on the task list page.
- Mark Task1 MPT forFixed Duration.
- Do not mark Task2 with any type.
- Open the project in Microsoft Project using the new driver.
- Set the default task type in scheduling options to Fixed Unit and configure the type field.
- Task1 shows a type ofFixed Duration.
- Task2 showsFixed Units.
- Close Microsoft Project without saving.
- Set the default task type in scheduling options toFixed Work.
- Open the project in Microsoft Project.
- Task1 now shows aFixed Duration.
- Task2 showsFixed Work.
ClarityTask Object Attribute
Attribute Name: Microsoft Project Task Type
Attribute ID: msp_task_type
API Attribute ID: mspTaskType
Default Value: No default value. We recommend that you do not set a default value. This is not a required attribute. If you set a default value on this attribute, the
Clarityattribute default will be set but it will not set the default value in Microsoft Project.
Lookup: Microsoft Project Task Type (MSP_TASK_TYPE)
Valid Lookup values: Fixed Units (0), Fixed Duration (1), Fixed Work (2)
Synchronization: The legacy Fixed Duration Boolean attribute (ID: prlsfixed) is synchronized to the new MSP Task Type.
Turn Off Time Tracking at the Task Level
You have seen in prior sections that applying errant actuals to a task could lead to a task's start or finish date shifting. And this could also shift the project's end date should it be on the critical path. To minimize this risk,
Classic PPMprovides a feature to the project manager to toggle a task as being either open or closed to time tracking. This way, project team members will only have access on their time sheets to the tasks which are open for time tracking, preventing hours from being placed accidentally on tasks which should not have actual hours applied against them.
For any task, the project manager can remove the ability to track time to it. This proves helpful when:
- Your project is multi-phased and you do not want resources to accidentally tracking time to work in the future phases.
- You complete a task and need to prevent further time tracked to it.
This feature is configured and managed within
Classic PPM. To set it up in the
Classic PPMTask UI:
- Place the Open for Time Entry field into your task view
- Click into the field and set it to checked
This feature is managed only in the
Classic PPMUI; it is not found in Microsoft Project.
Update a Task to Complete
Microsoft Project permits the project manager to status a task using several methods. When integrated with
Classic PPM, we recommend using one specific approach. If not, Microsoft Project tries to add additional actual hours to the task which, upon save to
Classic PPM, are dropped.
Follow these steps:
- InClassic PPM, open a task.
- Clear the Estimate to Complete (ETC) value in the resource assignment area.
- Select Completed from the Status drop-down field in the task section.
Classic PPMdisplays an error message if the status Completed is selected before the ETC field is zeroed out. The thought here is that a task is not complete as long as there is ETC to be worked.
The scenario highlighting this issue (refer to the screen shot below):
- Work = 40 hrs. Your team member has finished the task and recorded Actual Work to be 19 hours on the time sheet. You want to close this task so that it reflects that the 19 hours of Actual Work was all that was required.
- Your first click in Microsoft Project is to change the Remaining Work value to 0. Microsoft Project will adjust the Work value to be the new sum of Remaining Work (0 hours) + Actual Work (19 hours).
- Change the %Complete field to 100%.
This sequence ensures the resulting Work value to correctly reflect the number of hours recorded against it. In this example, 19 hours is correct.
Update a Task to Complete (Incorrect Process)
The scenario highlighting this issue:
- Work = 40 hours; the team member finishes after 19 hours; you want to close this task so that it reflects only 19 hours.
- If your first click in Microsoft Project is to change the % Complete field to 100%, Microsoft Project will respond by looking at the Work value and then make sure that the actual hours equals this value. In this case it will over-write the 19 hours with the 40 hours in the Actual Work field. This is not what the Project Manager Expects! So, the task's duration will now be based on 40 hours, rather than 19 hours.
- When the project is saved toClassic PPM, two things happen:
- The additional actual hours which Microsoft Project just added (21 newly added hours) will be dropped without warning. SoClassic PPM's actuals for this task will remain at 19 hours.
- When the project is reopened in Microsoft Project, the task is showing 19 hours of actuals and no remaining work. This can confuse the project manager since it appears that they have lost actual hours.
Loading Patterns and Contours
This section discusses the mapping between
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project loading patterns, and Uniform, the recommended default loading pattern setting in
Microsoft Project refers to resource assignment loading patterns as a contour. A contour is a manner in which a resource work on a task is scheduled over time. Both
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project offer several types of loading patterns that can be applied to a resource's assignment.
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project have different terms in this area. The following two lists show the mappings. You will note that it matters in which location you
firstcreate the assignment – whether it is in
Classic PPMor in Microsoft Project.
When you create a task in the
Classic PPMUI and open the project in Microsoft Project:
Microsoft Project Field
The specific Work Contour (if the task was created in Microsoft Project when the project was saved).
For example: Turtle, Bell, and so forth.
When you create a task in Microsoft Project and save the project in
Classic PPM, the mapping is reversed. Late Peak, Early Peak, Double Peak, Bell, and Turtle in Microsoft Project become Contour.
Uniform Recommended Default Loading Pattern
Classic PPMAdministrator will need to set the
default loading patternsetting in
Classic PPM(Admin Tool, Project Management, Settings, Project Management, Settings, Default Loading Pattern.
Of the five choices available, we recommend selecting Uniform when your company fits one of these scenarios:
- When Microsoft Project is your sole scheduling tool, or
- When Microsoft Project and Open Workbench are both being used by the enterprise as the schedulers
The reasons for this recommendation:
- Due to the way Microsoft Project distributes estimate to complete (ETC) when using both front and back contour patterns, and
- Performance when opening from and saving toClassic PPM.
This information below discusses the reasons.
Microsoft Project ETC When Using Both Front and Back Contour Patterns
Scenario 1: Microsoft Project is the only scheduler used.
Recommendation: Uniform is the recommended
Classic PPMdefault loading pattern.
Microsoft Project's curve for Front loading and Back loading pattern will take a 40 hour task and actually extend the task's duration. See the following screenshot where we created each of these 40 hours tasks in
Classic PPM, one with Front Load, next with Uniform, and last with Back loading pattern. We then opened the project into Microsoft Project.
Actual: Only the uniform task started on Monday and finished on Friday. The front and back loaded tasks both extend out over 9 days.
Potential Impact: If these tasks were on the critical path, the project's end date is now scheduled further into the future than expected.
Scenario 2: Open Workbench is the only scheduler used.
Recommendation: Any loading pattern is fine – front, back, contour, uniform, fixed.
Note: Most Project Managers prefer Front Load as the default.
Scenario 3: A combination of both Microsoft Project and Open Workbench will be used.
Recommendation: Please refer to the comments made in Scenario 1.
Configure a Microsoft Project Milestone
By definition, milestones have neither duration nor effort assigned to them. Rather, a milestone is a point in time which may or may not have a person responsible for it. Microsoft Project's fields are designed such that a project manager can create a milestone using more than one process. Our discussion here focuses on the best approach for creating a milestone in Microsoft Project such that is won't change into a task should the project manager re-configure the milestone at a later time.
If this is your sequence for creating a milestone, you are doing it in the safest way possible and you don't need to worry about the milestone turning into a task at a later time.
- Open the Task Information box.
- Click on the Advanced tab.
- Click in theMarktask as milestonebox.
- DoNOTenter azerovalue into theDurationbox.
If you do and at some time in the future another value is placed in the
durationfield, the milestone will convert into a task.
Example: Create a Milestone (Not Recommended)
We do not recommend the steps in this example.
If this is your sequence for creating a milestone, you may find the milestone changing into a task under certain circumstances as described.
- Open the Task Information box.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Click in theMarktask as milestonebox.
- Enter a zero value into theDurationbox.There could be subsequent actions you make that turn this milestone into a task. This is because later Microsoft Project will not retain the check you placed in the milestone box if you do one of the following actions.The milestone can become a task under the following conditions:
- Adurationvalue other than zero is added to it
- Remaining workis added to a resource assignment on the milestone
Business Rules for Milestones
Classic PPMpermits the Microsoft Project user to:
- Place the milestone into the dependency chain.
Classic PPMdoes not permit the Microsoft Project user to:
- Assign remaining work to a resource assigned to a milestone.Classic PPMdoes not recommend the Microsoft Project user to
- Place a duration on the milestone (by PMI's definition, a milestone has no duration)
If the milestone is on the critical path and then accidentally converts into a task, the change could impact the project's finish date.
Smallest Duration Unit
Classic PPMsmallest duration value is one day. It does not recognize duration down to the hour level. The Microsoft Project lowest level is hours and minutes.
This difference is typically small, but it could lead to different duration values in
Classic PPMand Microsoft Project reports.
Durations Changed Unexpectedly to Zero Days
Durations changed unexpectedly to zero days causing the duration of the task to become zero, which then instantly converts the task to become a milestone! And now the finish date is not reflecting the true scheduling finish dates.
Steps to reproduce: This can happen in a rare case where a single resource is assigned to a task and the project manager then decides that the person is no longer needed on that task. Rather than deleting that assignment, the project manager zero's out the resource's assignment unit value.
Result: With the resource assignment zero'd out on the task, the duration of the task is recalculated to be zero. This is because Duration = Assignment Units (ETC) / Resource Availability, so in this case: Duration = 0 / 8 hrs = 0. And since a milestone has a duration of zero Microsoft Project converts the task to a milestone!
Copy and Paste Tasks
When copying or pasting rows in Microsoft Project, you should select the fields and not the grey numbered boxes on the left (which would highlight the complete row).
By selecting the grey numbered box on the left you are copying ALL fields related with that task. The problem is that you will be copying hidden fields which contain values that
Classic PPMexpects to be unique. The result is that there will now be duplicates of the unique values, specifically project text fields 1 & 3.
Manage Actual Hours for Time Tracking
At times, project managers ask if they can manually add a person's time directly into the Microsoft Project plan. The answer is yes they can, but the configuration required to permit this may actually be too onerous to support in an ongoing way. The reason is that this would mean that the time from all the team members would need to be manually entered. For example, if there were 15 time members and the project's duration was 12 months, this would mean that someone would need to be tasked with manually entering everyone's time over the time span for the year. For this reason, the majority of companies opt for deploying the
Classic PPMtime sheet feature.
There are times, however, when a person's time needs to be manually entered into
Classic PPM. In that circumstance, the
Classic PPMAdministrator would use Transaction Entry to do so. While this is a manual task, it can serve a purpose when needed.
- The most common scenario is when all resources, employees and/or contractors are required to track their time using theClassic PPMtime sheet. This requires that each resource is licensed with aClassic PPMlog-in.
- A less common scenario is when only the employees are licensed to have access to theClassic PPMtime sheet. The contractors are asked to manually track their time and submit it to theClassic PPMAdministrator to enter manually via the Transaction Entry screen.
- The least frequent scenario, but one which is supported is when the project manager will manually enter all project team member's time into the project plan. In this scenario, theClassic PPMtimesheet is not employed.
The following chart lists the
Classic PPMfield configurations required to support each of the previously described scenarios:
Everyone using the
Classic PPMTime sheet
Track mode =
Track mode =
No time sheets; manually enter time into the project plan
Track mode =
Track mode =
Every employee using
Classic PPMTime sheet; Contractors do not have
Classic PPMlogins so their time needs to be entered manually.
Internal employees' Track mode =
Contractors' Track mode =
Note: The contractors'
time needs to be manually entered via the
Transaction Entry screen in
Track mode =
Be vigilant! Impress upon your team members to track their time accurately and on the appropriate day or your project finish date may unnecessarily be delayed.
Your project team actual hours significantly impact your project schedule. Correctly recorded, your plan schedule is predictable. However, if they are logged incorrectly, you could certainly see unexpected scheduling behavior.
Actual Hours Considerations
The resources assigned to your project likely use timesheets in
Classic PPMto enter the weekly work they accomplish on their assigned project tasks. These timesheets automatically include tasks you have scheduled for that week.
Timesheets are submitted and approved before they can be posted to the project plan. Pending actuals appear in Microsoft Project before posting actuals. The Pending Actuals field can be mapped to Microsoft Project.
When a timesheet is posted, the ETC (Estimate-to-Complete) field is modified on any assignment with actuals on that time sheet. The ETC is reduced by the amount of the actuals so that the total work on the assignment remains the same.
In Microsoft Project, assignments with a work contour assigned as
Classic PPM) are processed differently. In this case, any scheduled estimates for the week that was not entered as actual hours are removed. The result, depending on when the estimates were scheduled in Microsoft Project, can be a decrease of total work.
In Microsoft Project, work contour assignments are reset to
Contouredif you edit the work distribution in the timescale view. If you modify the total actual or remaining work total for the assignment, the work contour is not modified.
Posting a time sheet will not immediately change the finish dates of the tasks that were on that time sheet. For example, when work on a task takes longer than planned (more actuals are entered than planned), the result is a new, reduced estimate-to- complete. Remember, Microsoft is a scheduling tool, and the work reschedule will happen only when the plan is exported to Microsoft Project.
When less work is completed on a task during the week than was planned,
Classic PPMwill schedule this work at the higher rate within the task schedule. In this case, when you open the project in Microsoft Project, the task is rescheduled and the finish date is delayed.
Tasks not reported on a time sheet may change due to the posting of the assigned resource's time sheet.
Classic PPMassumes that a person's time sheet is a complete accounting of the project work they completed that week. If a scheduled task did not appear on the time sheet, it implies no work was completed by the resource on that task, and must be rescheduled for the following week or beyond.
When you open your project in Microsoft Project, it will be scheduled. This is true even if you use Manual Calculation mode in Microsoft Project. As a result, task finish dates and resource work distribution in Microsoft Project may be different from the values in
Impacts of actual hours on task schedules:
- The day on which the first actuals are recorded impacts the task's start date, and ultimately, the project's finish date if this task is on the critical path.
- Conversely, should a task end on Friday and then a negligent team member tracks their hours on the following Wednesday, the task's finish date will fall on that Wednesday.
- Should partial days be worked, duration increases and ultimately shifts the project's finish date.
Microsoft Project Impact of Actual Hours on Fixed Unit and Fixed Work Tasks
Also known as watch your finish date slip and slide around. The following diagram shows how misplaced actual hours on a time sheet will impact the task duration on Fixed Unit and Fixed work tasks.
Microsoft Project Impact of Actual Hours on Fixed Duration Tasks
Microsoft Project lets you select the task type of Fixed Duration.
! The word
fixedcan be considered a misnomer. Many users anticipate that the task duration is actually frozen when using Fixed Duration. Misplaced actual hours change the duration of a Fixed Duration task.
Add Actual Hours Directly into Microsoft Project
Classic PPMbusiness rules determine how actual hours from timesheets are handled. The business rules are written such that either all project team members track their time using the
Classic PPMtime sheet, or none of them track their time using the time sheet and instead all hours are manually typed directly into the Microsoft Project project plan.
The following results illustrate the impact of adding actual hours into a Microsoft Project plan. The project is configured to only permit actual hours to come from
Classic PPMtime sheets. If you do type Actuals into the plan and then save in
Classic PPM, the following processing occurs:
- The manually entered Actuals are not imported. Instead, these entries disappear (no error message). The ETC is no longer in sync with the original Effort estimation.
- Microsoft Project changes the task loading pattern when a user manually modifies the hours on an assignment in Microsoft Project. The pattern maps to the Fixed pattern inClassic PPM. Time posting behavior changes occur including the removal of the unused ETC in the current week.
The following chart reflects the respective settings:
Classic PPMField Settings
All project team members using
Classic PPMtime sheets
You can manually enter actual hours into a project with this setting by using the
Classic PPMTransaction Entry page.
All actual hours are manually entered into the Microsoft Project project plan
Task, Summary Task, and Milestone Configurations
Microsoft Project permits the project manager to be exceptionally flexible with how and where he places resources, actual hours, durations, and more.
Classic PPMbusiness rules are very specific and relatively restrictive when compared to Microsoft Project's business rules.
There are specific configuration rules for what is and is not permitted in Microsoft Project in order for the Microsoft Project project plan to respect
Classic PPMintegration rules. If these configuration rules are not followed, one of three things may happen:
- Assigning a resource on a summary task. Although this is allowed in Microsoft project, theClassic PPMbusiness rules do not allow summary task assignments. This action will result in the following error message when saving:Summary task assignments are not supported.
- Placing remaining work on a Milestone directly into the Microsoft Project project plan: The milestone will turn into a task the next time the Microsoft Project project plan is opened fromClassic PPM. The reason: The project will successfully save intoClassic PPM. The issue here, though, is thatClassic PPMconsiders a milestone to be a point in time.Classic PPMbusiness rules state that if something has an estimate to complete (remaining work) on it, it is therefore a task. So the next time you open the project into Microsoft Project, this milestone appears as a task.
- Placing actual hours on a Milestone directly into the Microsoft Project project plan: If there is no resource assigned to the milestone and actual hours have been added to the milestone (Microsoft Project permits actual hours to be added to a task with no resource assignment), the project will save successfully intoClassic PPMand the actual hours will continue to be there the next time you open the project in Microsoft Project.If there is resource assigned to the milestone and actual hours are added to that resource assignment, the project will save successfully intoClassic PPM. But the actual hours are dropped during the save, without an error message that it is happening. So the next time the project is opened from Microsoft Project, the actual hours will not be there.
The following graphic illustrates the configuration rules:
Resource Task Assignments and Start and Finish Dates
Pay attention to the resource assignment start and finish dates on a task. Do not have any tasks whose start date is before all of its assignment start dates or whose finish date is after all of its assignment finish dates. A probable slip in the project schedule or a probable schedule pull-in may occur.
Slip: Suppose that the task must begin on Monday. So you create the task and assign Sally. All is well. But then you learn that Sally cannot start until Thursday so you adjust her assignment start date accordingly. Be aware that Microsoft Project will show that the task is now starting on Thursday and not the Monday you needed it to begin. But if no one is there to work on it on Monday, logically the task should not start until the first person arrives. The project end date could slip if this task is on the critical path.
Pull-in: A task whose finish is after all of its assignments' finishes gets a NEW earlier finish date that will match the start date of the last assignment finish date. The project end date could pull in if this task is on the critical path.