When I am estimating a project, I typically break down the work into tasks/activities that are small enough to estimate accurately. However, when I go to schedule this work, these activities are typically smaller than I need to use for creating the schedule. At the same time, since they are relatively small, they are great for tracking percent complete because they can be used in a binary (done/not done) mode and provide a more accurate picture than a guess at how much has been completed. Some of this thought process is coming from my work in agile software development but it is also applicable to Engineering work as well.
The problem that I am facing is that all scheduling software that I have seen and have reviewed are based on the idea that the task is the lowest level of work and is required to have constraints that relate it to its predecessors and successors to create a critical path. However, what I need is a new type of scheduling task that I am calling a "bucket task". This task is scheduled like any other task but contains the other construct which I am calling a "floater task". The floater task is one that does not have any constraints and is always contained in a bucket task. The bucket task is where all of the duration & effort (rollup of floater task effort?) calcs are done as well as the predecessor / successor relationships are created.
One point here is that I ALWAYS work in an effort-driven mode so that I can adjust the applied resources to calculate the duration rather than the other way around (a BIG argument that I have with PMI and other classic scheduling methodologies). In my type of work (hi-tech & software), this has served me well as proven by a very high level of success in completing projects on-time and on-budget (although there are some other tricks involved in that as well).
Given all of this, if anyone has any insights into the availability of this functionality in a project scheduling tool, I would very much appreciate your help in identifying this tool. I would love to have this capability available and one of my consulting clients is in desperate need of this as well (they just don't know that yet).
Thanks in advance.