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Conference Logistics Templates

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Level 7
I am now delving into creating a "Logistics" Template for our Conferences Team. The Template includes tasks ranging from reserving booth space to ordering electricity to sending materials, etc. Anyway, with conferences, some of the tasks need to begin 12 months, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month before the start of the conference and a few tasks happen after the close of the conference. What I am trying to figure out is how to effectively configure the Template to properly align the tasks to fall within these timeframe parameters, and I am having a little bit of difficulty in trying to figure this out. I was thinking perhaps of a 'placeholder task' in the Template called "Conference Start Date" and then pivot off of that for tasks starting earlier and for tasks starting after -- but not sure, and I also want to make this as easy as I can for the Conferences Team when they go to add the Conference project using the Template. Does anybody have any experience/advice in setting up logistics templates for conferences and willing to share their best practices or lessons learned? Any feedback would be most appreciated. Thanks, Terry Terry Hynd EBSCO Information Services
2 Replies

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Level 5
Hi Terry, For our meeting templates we work everything back off a task called "Meeting Date". For example if the meeting date is task 127, something like booking a hotel would be 127fs-90d. Thanks, Saher Almaita

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Level 10
Yeah I was going to say we use a negative lag (which is what Saher illustrated here). The "-90d" in his example is minus 90 days (which should actually be business days – so that's like 4.5 months). This is also a designation to use regular days (includes weekends, etc.) but I'd have to look that up if you want. Basically, this is a predecessor function and you must also ensure your Task Constraint is "As Soon As Possible". I've attached another screen print to help. Vic Alejandro, PMP, CSM | IT | Sr. IT Project Manager Denver Water | t: (303-628-7262) | c: (303-319-6473) "http://www.denverwater.org/"> http://www.denverwater.org INTEGRITY | VISION | PASSION | EXCELLENCE | RESPECT

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Level 7
Thanks Saher, Vic...a followup question: Do you schedule these Templates/Projects from Start Date or Completion Date? Terry Hynd EBSCO Information Services

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Level 10
Well, I was going to suggest the start from Completion Date as another Option. But then I remembered you said you had tasks that have to be completed after the Conference too. That doesn't necessarily stop you from using this feature, but it may make things confusing. I've honestly never found a good reason to use the start from Completion Date in any tool. It locks your end date so you can't see how far behind you are (or ahead 😊 ). And it can be really confusing to manage when you're running the project because things are backwards and kinda just against human nature 😊 . So personally I always use the Start Date. Then as I keep the plan up to date during the project I can easily see if my end date has moved and by how much. Not saying my end date would truly move. I'm saying the plan is telling me I'm X number of days behind schedule. So now I know I need to make some adjustments (add resources, work OT, cut tasks, etc.). And the sooner I know, the easier it is to adjust. I'm sure others may extoll the virtues of using the start from completion date. But in my 17 years of PMing, I haven't found it helpful. Vic Alejandro, PMP, CSM | IT | Sr. Technical Project Manager Denver Water | t: (303-628-7262) | c: (303-319-6473) "http://www.denverwater.org/"> http://www.denverwater.org INTEGRITY | VISION | PASSION | EXCELLENCE | RESPECT

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Level 5
Agreed, We are currently doing things (literally) backwards and the pain points are beginning to show. Especially when it comes to pushing the start date (or any subsequent dependencies) forward. Vic's suggestion is definitely best practices. Thanks, Saher Almaita

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Level 5
Terry, Would you mind sharing your template when done. Our Events team will hopefully be coming on board in the next 9 months or so. It would be helpful to see how other event groups are using WF. tks Karen Karen Rutz Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development

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Level 3

Hi @Terry Hynd‚

Although this is an old post, hopefully, your experience can help me ;-).

I'm also struggling with this issue. Could you please inform me about how you solved this issue with the planning for a fixed date meeting with preparation tasks and aftercare tasks?

I would appreciate it.

Kind regards,

Femke

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Level 10

There are a few options.

  1. I would create the plan and the tasks as normal, entering the proper estimates, predecessors, etc. and see where your Conference Start Day ends up in your plan. If it's late, you know how late you are and you can investigate tasks to see where you can "crash the schedule" (cut tasks or add people, etc.). Then after getting the plan where you want, as you update your plan each week, you'll see exactly where you are and if you're in trouble or not. The earlier you know that the easier it is to adjust. This isn't implying the Conference date will move, just what you're plan is showing so you know how late or early you are.
  2. However, I know there are people who will like to work backwards. So you can set the Conference Start Date task as fixed (i.e. Must Start On) then build your tasks around that. So if task #50 was your Conference Start Date. Task #49 can have a predecessor of 50-5d (which is to say it'll start 5 days (1 week) before #50 and the Conference Start Date. Obviously you would do this for all tasks and kind of work backwards.
  3. You can also set the project to Start from Completion. However, I think this is the worst option (IMO). It's like driving a car backwards (it can be done, but it's difficult). Managing predecessors and dates is the thing of nightmares. I've tried (and I'm good with preds) and it's not worth the effort.

The problem with options 2 & 3 is your working backwards and it adds unnecessary complexity and confusion (and perpetuates that throughout your project). If you use option 1 you can start Task 1 today and plan out your work. If your Conference Start Date ends up showing earlier than reality, you know you have time and can change your Task 1 to start on a more appropriate date. Or just start early (never a bad idea :)). If you have Task 1 start today and your plan reflects that the Conference Start Date in your plan is later than reality. Then you know how far behind you are and can take action immediately to adjust. And that's always the goal of a project plan (early warning detection). Hope that helps.

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Level 3

Hi @Vic Alejandro‚

Thank you for your very detailed explanation.

And good to be able to use other people's experiences. This way of working will be of help!

Kind regards,

Femke

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Level 10

Hi Femke,

In addition to @Vic Alejandro‚'s excellent advice, I invite you to review my Get a Handle on Project Start Dates post, which might be of interest.

Regards,

Doug

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Level 3

Hi @Doug Den Hoed‚ ,

Thanks for replying as well. This is also an interesting insight that I will test and reconsider.

Regards,

Femke