In the latest release of fastProject, it is now possible to import a PreFresh (Lookahead) report. The function is located in the Refresh tab, in the dropdown of the Update button (see below). It can also be accessed from within the initial startup screen when Update is invoked.
When invoked, the user is prompted for the PreFresh reports. Multiple reports can be selected. When a file is read, it is first checked for errors. If there are any errors, the file will not be imported and the errors must be corrected before the import can occur.
The import looks at the three columns: Started, Completed, Remaining Duration. If there are any errors, they are described in the column Import Errors.
As we said earlier, the responses are first verified. Approximately 20 different conditions are tested for, e.g. a task has been marked finished or not completed but there is no indication of whether it has started, it task has been finished with a finish date in the future, etc. We have developed a set of rules to aid in completing the PreFresh Report. Note that we are using a Y or N as a response, but a Yes or No entry is equally acceptable.
Rules for Completing the Refresh Report
If an activity has started, a Y must be entered into the Started column
If an activity has not started, an N must be entered into the Started column
If an activity has finished, a Y must be entered into the Finished column
If an activity has not finished, an N must be entered into the Finished column
Following on from this, if an activity has not finished, the Remaining Duration/Finish Date column must be completed as follows. If the entry is a:
Duration, then this becomes the new remaining duration for the task
A date (in the future), then the remaining duration is calculated such that the task will finish on the specified date
Touchpoints should not have an entry in the Started column, and the following rules apply. If the Completed column has the following entry:
N, and the Remaining Duration/Finish Date column is blank, then the Touchpoint is left unchanged
N and contains a date in the future, then this becomes the new date for the Touchpoint
Y and the Remaining Duration/Finish Date column is blank, then the Touchpoint will be updated as finished on the Touchpoint's date (in in the past) or on the previous day (to the update) if in it's date is in the future
Y and contains a date in the past, then this becomes the finish date for the Touchpoint
There are a number of other conditions that give the import some degree of intelligence:
If a task does not have an entry in the Started, Completed and Remaining Duration columns, it is ignored
If a task has not started (indicated by a N in the Started column and the Completed column is either left blank or contains N, then if the Remaining Duration column:
Is blank, the task is simply rescheduled
Contains a duration, then this becomes the new duration for the task (note that a duration is the only valid entry)
If a task has finished (Y in the Stated and Finished columns) then if the Remaining Duration is:
Blank, then the task will assume the finish date of the task, unless the finish date is in the future, it which case the finish date is set to the previous day
0 days, then the same logic as above applies
A date (in the last), then the task is marked as being finished on the specified date
Any other responses will be flagged as an error. Note that you cannot control the order PreFresh reports are imported). This could (in principle) cause a problem. Let's say Task A has a successor of Task B, but Task B is imported first. Let us say Task B has not started, but because it's in the future, this is ok, However, let's say Task A finishes, then Task B is now in the update window and so needs to be re-updated. The solution is, after the end of importing the preFresh reports (and all other updates), you should always re-update the schedule, skipping ay tasks that have ben updated. This will catch the non-updated Task B.
Should I use the Import feature?
Some of the benefits of doing an update with the team is:
Everyone see the status of all tasks (not just their own)
You get face-to-face discussion
However, in some cases it may be beneficial to use the import feature if:
The person responsible for completing the report is in a different time zone such that it makes getting together each week difficult.
There are may tasks to update. An example of this is procuring (e.g. >100) semiconductor tools. Once the lead time has been set, they typically don't change, and if they do, it's an exception. There would be little value or benefit sitting in a room each week updating "On schedule". In this case, the owner responsible for completing the PreFresh report need only change those dates that have changed, and all other tasks will be left as "On schedule" so long as the riles above are followed.
We are not advocating all updates are done this way, but in some cases (like those described above), it can be beneficial.