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  • Sebastian Sieber

#11 - D365 Project Operations Advent Calendar: Inconsistent Task behavior? Schedule Modes explained

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Hello there, it's the 11th Episode of the Project Operations Advent Calendar already 🎅🏼

We're close to hit half of the way, hopefully, you enjoy it so far and you're ready for today's door

Advent Calendar door 11

Work Templates and Schedule Modes

Today we want to bring some light on the project planning behavior and which options the project manager has to set up a fitting plan for their desired scenario.

There are some pre-conditions together with the task planning, which need to be set up and should be defined.

Work Hours and Work Templates

Each Bookable Resource in the system should have valid Work Hours assigned - either on the Bookable Resource directly or based on the Work template.

Work templates are based on Bookable Resources. So you need to define at least one resource with fitting hours.

Resource Work Hours

The template can be assigned to multiple Resources - please be as well aware of different time zones. This would be a topic by itself - let me know if you want here some input.

In short: maintain the same time zones on bookable resources and the work hours calendar. also, consider the time zone in your personal settings.

Apply Work Hours Templates to different users

Work templates are used for the creation of new Projects as their default calendar. You can already match available days during the year to the Project with creation.

Currently, the Calendar won't be shown as above on the Project, but this will be added in one of the next updates.

Default Schedule Mode

Project for the Web and Project Operations supports three different schedule modes:

  • Fixed effort

  • Fixed duration

  • Fixed units

The default value can be defined in the Project Parameter record of your environment. The Project Manager has the ability to change the type per Project, but only on creation. Afterward it's not possible to change the value:

Schedule Modes in Project Parameter of Project Operations

To understand which setting is the best for you and your organization, I may can give you two helpful pieces of advice here:

  • All three values depend on each other based on the formula Effort = Duration x Units Effort: Value to finish the Task Duration: Value how long the task is planned Units: Hours per Day which will be assigned on the Resource level

  • Based on which of the values the Project Manager wants to plan, this should be the fixed Schedule Mode e.g. the Project Manager plans out the effort per Task first, and the Schedule Mode should be Fixed effort.

Enable Self Defined Project Duration

In the same Project Parameter record enable the Feature for Self Defined Project Duration, available in the Feature Control group

Feature Control Setting

This option will enable additional calendar options on the project table. You will be able to deactivate at any time if you don't want to stick with it for now.

With these pre-conditions in place, we can move forward.

In my case I use Work Hours from 8 AM till 4 PM, so 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Calendar Information on Project Creation

When creating a new Project, different options are now available to define desired values for the Project Planning:

Self Defined Project Duration per Project

The Calendar template defines the above-mentioned Work Template.

As Schedule mode the Project Manager can decide between the same three as in the Project Parameter Settings: Fixed effort, Fixed units, Fixed duration.

New available now are the Hours per day and the translated values to the Weekly and Monthly levels. This setting will change the Unit, how many hours "1 Day" equals.

In my example, I set the values as the following:

Calendar Setting on my Project

  • Schedule Mode: Fixed effort

  • Hours per day: 4 hours

  • Hours per week: 20 hours

All other values remain the default here. How does this turn out on the Task Plan? We will first highlight the Schedule Mode differences and afterwards the Calendar settings.

Schedule Modes on Projects

In the example with Fixed efforts, we plan out the Effort per Task before assigning a Resource and highlight how that turns out.

First step: Show Fields for Start and Finish Dates and the Effort column.

Next in line - we create a new Task and enter an Effort (40 hours)

Schedule Modes in Project Operations

This will set the duration to 1 day and the Start / Finish Dates accordingly. Of course, we cannot deliver 40 hours in 1 day. So we want to assign Resources for execution and finalize the Task planning.

Schedule Modes in Project Operations, Setup

Because we use the fixed effort setting, the 40 hours remain. Instead, the Duration and Start / Finish Date do change to fit the setup.

Other schedule modes work in a similar way. Fixed duration will not change the Duration and Start / Finish Dates, but the Units (Hours per day of the Assignment) or Efforts.

Fixed units setting will maintain the assigned hours per day and adjust either the Duration or Effort values.

If you revise units

If you revise duration

If you revise effort

Fixed unit

Duration is recalculated

Effort is recalculated

Duration is recalculated

Fixed effort

Duration is recalculated

Units are recalculated

Duration is recalculated

Fixed duration

Effort is recalculated

Effort is recalculated

Units are recalculated

Calendar and Unit Settings

The duration from the example is now misleading, right? The actual duration of the task is only one week or 5 days - but the shown Duration is 10 days.

This is because of the new Self Defined Project Duration feature.

We defined Hours per day as 4 hours. As mentioned this will change the Unit. So 1 Day equals 4 hours actually, not 8. This allows the Project Manager to plan out the days in much more detail.

Same behavior for the weekly duration. 1 week of Effort or Duration will be translated into 20 hours because this is what is defined in the Project's Calendar Settings.

Schedule Modes in Project Operations with Self defined Project Durations

The Calendar settings more or less define the Project Manager's translation of the project plan.

And here comes the confusing part - this translation does not directly apply on the Assignments level:

Resource Assignments staffed on the Project

For both task assignments, the resource is planned with 8 hours upfront. Despite the Project Manager's setting is set up differently.

This is because my Bookable Resource Work Hours is defined as 8 hours per day.


The option for Hours per day / Hours per week / Days per month defines the translation of the unit input in the Duration and Effort fields.

In our example, the Hours per day was set to 4 hours. So 1 day = 4 hours. 2 days = 8 hours. And so on.

As Project Manager you want to type in "1 day" directly into Duration / Effort columns.

The different Schedule modes help the Project Manager to calculate the correct values for their plan.

As Project Manager you want to plan the value which is fixed. e.g. plan the Effort for the Fixed Effort setting.

Duration and Start / End Dates will be set with the Resource assignment.

Overall you need to find the approach that works best for you, based on the workflow you have in place. The best case is to try out the same project plan with the three different Schedule mode settings. For my work, the option Fixed effort works best for me. I'm able to plan the estimated effort and budget before I assign and staff the Resources.

After staffing this will provide me the end date of the project with the desired milestones.

Thank you for checking in today, hope you enjoyed today's advents calendar, and see you tomorrow 😊🎅🏼


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