A student recently asked if there is a way to set Deltek Acumen’s S3//Risk duration uncertainty for groups. Deltek Acumen has a very efficient way for updating duration uncertainty for individual activities or duration uncertainty for groups i.e. all activities below a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) element. The duration uncertainty setting allows you to change the triangular probability distribution of an activity. This triangular probability distribution tells Acumen your confidence level in your activity duration estimates.
If the setting is off then the software calculates the deterministic end date of the activities and project, which means you are certain the duration estimates are good. It can also be set from excessively conservative to excessively aggressive. You would expect excessively conservative duration estimates in the Monte Carlo analysis to meet or beat an activity’s estimated duration.
On the other hand excessively aggressive duration estimates probably will miss an activity’s estimated duration. So Acumen has a very quick way to adjust the activity duration estimate triangular probability distribution, i.e. the minimum duration, most likely duration, and maximum duration.
My student, however, has a schedule with 7,000 activities and wanted to change the triangular probability distribution on about 300 related activities. Changing the triangular probability distribution or duration uncertainty of 300 activities individually is prohibitive. Fortunately, Deltek Acumen supports setting the duration uncertainty for groups.
Duration Uncertainty for Groups
This article demonstrates how Deltek Acumen can adjust the duration uncertainty for groups of activities.
Our starting point is a Microsoft Project Schedule that has the custom field subcontractor, Figure 1.
We imported this Microsoft Project schedule into Deltek Acumen, Figure 2.
In the resulting open dialog we select the Wellmont.MPP file, Figure 3.
The project will appear in the Projects navigation window to the left of the screen, Figure 4.
We then click to select the Wellmont project in the workbook. At this point we have simply linked the project source file to the workbook in Acumen. Before we import our schedule we want to map fields using the fields tab, Figure 5.
The Wellmont column lists all the fields in Wellmont and the corresponding field in Deltek Acumen is listed in the Deltek Acumen column. At the bottom of the navigation pane, click on the User Defined Fields bar, Figure 6.
Note the nomenclature is User Defined Fields. The equivalent in Microsoft Project is Custom Fields. (Acumen appears to have adopted its terminology from Oracle Primavera P6.) Now left-click drag and drop the subcontractor field to the Wellmont Fields list to the right, Figure 7.
Its Acumen mapping is displayed next to the Wellmont map column. Click the save button to save your new mapping settings to a mapping template for future use.
Click on S1//Projects tab. Then click on the lower portion of Import All Projects button. Note that you have two options when the lower half of the button in clicked. If you click the upper half of the button, the Import All Projects option is run. Click on the Import All Projects option, Figure 9.
After a few moments the project data will be loaded into the workbook and you will be able to see a Gantt chart and table data in the S1//Projects tab. You can now use the buttons to drill down into the details of your project, Figure 10.
Normally at this juncture you would want to perform a diagnostic of your schedule, but this is not necessary for the purposes of our demonstration. So we choose the S3//Risk tab, Figure 11.
We want to group our activities by subcontractor. To do this we select Activity View | Grouping | Group by Fields, Figure 12.
We choose the Subcontractor field in Available Fields and click to include it in Grouping Fields, Figure 13.
Now our schedule is grouped by subcontractor, Figure 14.
We can additionally include a Subcontractor column in our activity table. To do this right-click on the activity table column heading and select Show Column Chooser in the popup menu, Figure 15.
Now we left-click on Subcontractor and drag and drop it to the activity table, Figure 16.
To drill down in our schedule select Activity View | Grouping | Display Level 2, Figure 17.
Now to adjust the duration uncertainty of all the Groundhog Subcontractor activities we simply choose the duration uncertainty of the Groundhog parent and slide the setting to aggressive, Figure 18.
Note that the duration uncertainty of all the Groundhog Subcontractor activities is now Aggressive. If you want to further alter the groupings choose Activity View | Grouping | Configure Group and Sorting, Figure 19.
Deltek Acumen provides Grouping and Sorting activity features to support organizing the schedule. Once the schedule is grouped as required, then the scheduler may set the duration uncertainty for groups of activities.
This is particularly helpful and/or important when attempting to adjust the duration uncertainty for numerous activities on a large project schedule. In this way, the scheduler can efficiently provide a more suitable triangular probably distribution to a group of related activities in the schedule.