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Topics: Estimating
Can any industry work with a "duration driven" planning tool?

We are introducing our first integrated project management information system and are finding out that the planning capability is duration driven only whereas we are used to effort driven planning from MSProject. (or at least configurable to resource, duration or effort driven) Can this be a no go criteria?
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Hi Petra,

In my experience, it very much depends on the planning maturity of the organisation looking to use the solution, rather than the type of industry.

I once implemented a centralised solution in an organisation which indicate they performed detailed resource management. We therefore selected a solution which could do full resource management (and drive the plan on that basis). We then discovered that this mature resource management was allocating resources in blocks of one week at a time, and the project managers doing a lot of horse-trading informally to stick to timelines.

If you are at the level where you actually are assigning resources in hours or days, and that is leading to your actual delivery plans, then, yes, this could be a showstopper for the tool you are selecting. But the question to ask is whether you are actually using full resource management, or are you just used to what MS Project does based on putting named resources against a task?

If I understand your question correctly, the tool you are discussing constrains the end date so that you must work within a fixed duration, rather than using your resource constraints to determine when you can feasibly complete the project.

That type of scheduling is actually extremely common. I refer to it as right-to-left planning since you often start with your end date on the right hand side of the schedule, and start creating back-off flows for when preceding events must occur to support the end date.

I am surprised to hear there is a tool that does not allow you to unconstrain the duration, because left-to-right planning or "When can we reasonably finish given the resources we have?", also known as the "Happy Path" plan is the other extremely common way to build a schedule.

Petra -

It really depends on the nature of the activities performed by team members within each project. Some will be fixed duration, others not. Even those which are effort driven will rarely fit a simple effort-driven model such as flat-line allocation so the ability to customize where the effort is spent over the life of activities can be useful.

I am surprised that someone would go to the effort of developing a CPM scheduling engine and not include effort-driven scheduling, but it depends on what their target market is...


Most people estimate duration not effort. They won't tell you it will take 12 hours of work. They will tell you it will take two days.

Of course, you need to get the exact effort for purpose of budgeting. You may want to apply a productivity factor to the duration to get an approximate effort: 80% of 2 days is 12.8 hours.

Both duration and effort depend on the volume of work to be done and assigned resource productivity. Good planning tool capable of resource management shall calculate both duration and effort basing on initial data (volume of work, assigned crew, resource productivity, resource workload).

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