Biggy Zahn

Biggy Zahn

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Why you should know about the resource allocation view when leveling?

The Resource Allocation view (view tab > more views > resource allocation view) is perhaps the best view to use when you have MS Project do the leveling for you. This combination view combines the resource usage view and the Leveling Gantt view. To understand and appreciate its value, have a look at the images below. The first shows an over allocation and in the second you will see the delay of each task as a consequence of the leveling action.

Before leveling:

Why you should know about the resource allocation view when leveling?1

After leveling:

Why you should know about the resource allocation view when leveling?2

The olive-green bar represents the pre-leveled task and the olive-green line is the leveling delay. The field leveling delay keeps track of the number of days the task was delayed as a consequence of the leveling action. These are called ‘edays’, short for elapsed days.

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Managing against deadlines

You can set a deadline for a task or a milestone, by going to the task information window and click the tab advanced > deadline > select the date for your deadline. You will now see a green arrow in the Gantt Chart.

Managing against deadlines1

What to do if deadlines have passed?

If any of the deadlines you entered for your primary deliverables have passed, it means you need to manage back your schedule.

For this, you can do several things:

  1. Plan for overtime – allow that certain tasks have more than 8 hours per day.
  2. If possible, assign parts of the critical work tasks to other people. In the above image, can John or Gary do things to help Amy, like documenting, preparation etc.?
  3. Place even more focus on agreeing input and output criteria, so that when John takes over from Amy, the risk of rework is limited.
  4. Fast Tracking: Have tasks run in parallel where possible. Is 100% of Amy’s deliverable needed for John to take over? Or could John already start when Amy delivers a first part? (Use lead-time on the dependency).
  5. Crashing: Add resources to effort-driven critical tasks to shorten the task duration. Make sure this makes sense, and getting someone else up-to-speed will not just increase the duration.

You can share your personal experience about managing against deadlines in the comment below!

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Using the Resource Graph

The Resource Graph view displays a bar chart view of an individual resource’s workload and availability. This view allows you to quickly discover whether the selected resource is over allocated or under allocated for a specific period of time. You can also see the percentage of units allocated for assignments, along with the resource’s maximum unit availability.

If the resource name is listed in red, then the resource is over allocated. Resources listed in black are allocated either exactly at or under their full capacity. Peak units are listed at the bottom of the graph.

Using the Resource Graph1

Get your own template

In our e-course you get a template in which we have made a small adjustment by creating a combined resource graph. This graph combines the resource sheet with the resource graph. The main difference as opposed to the default graph is that you can now select multiple resources at once and see their combined availability and workload. Don’t be afraid to send us an email or give as a call so we can help you to set this view up for yourself!

Try it yourself

Test it out for yourself by selecting multiple resources and try out the different sections in the resource graph that you will see once you right-click on the graph area.

Using the Resource Graph2

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How to use the team planner view?

The team planner view

Use the Team Planner view (only available in the professional version of MS Project) for a quick and easy way to see which tasks are assigned to which resources. In the Team Planner you can easily drag and drop tasks; however this is not recommended as moving tasks will create a constraint on that task.

An overallocation would also show red in the Team Planner.

When using the Team Planner, see this tool as a quadrant where each of the four sections has a distinct meaning.

How to use the Team Planner view?1

  1. These tasks are
    • Not yet scheduled in time
    • Not yet assigned to a resource
  2. These tasks are
    • Already scheduled in time
    • Not yet assigned to a resource
  3. These tasks are
    • Already scheduled in time
    • Already assigned to a resource
  4. These tasks are
    • Already assigned to a resource
    • Not yet scheduled in time

The Team Planner can be used as a traditional plan board, but you should realize that when you reschedule a task manually, you are adding constraints to your schedule.

Share your team planner experiences

Let us know your experiences with the team planner view and what you like most about it?

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How to change the resource calendar?

We see a lot of schedules when we are coaching project managers. There we notice that many times the personal vacations are neglected or simply forgotten when making the schedule. Suppose a person has 20 personal holidays in a year, forgetting to add this in the schedule, will already give you a month delay on a one-year project. This post will show tell you how to change the resource calendar to avoid such situations.

Avoid overtime

Think of resource availability as a fish tank of hours you can use to fill up with tasks. Whether you use this availability fish tank for big tasks, small tasks, long or short tasks, at a certain point the fish task is full and the people need to start doing overtime. It is your job to avoid that as much as possible.

How to change the resource calendar?1

Warning!

MS Project warns you for that by showing a red (heated) puppet before the task that requires overtime, based on the working times for that resource. And that’s what we will now do, tell MS Project what the working times per resource are.

The resource calendar by default

When entering a resource in MS Project, MS Project automatically creates a resource calendar. By default, it assumes an forty-hour work week, with five 8-hour days.

To modify this calendar:

  1. In the Resource Sheet, double-click on the resource so that the resource information window appears.
  2. Choose ‘Change Working Time’ in the resource information dialog box
  3. To deviate from the standard calendar, either modify this standard calendar or create special resource calendars. For example swing shifts or night shifts.
  4. You can edit the resources’ calendars to indicate nonworking time

Step by step

  • Purchase Order: to indicate a resource is only available for a certain range of time, put the start and finish date of the availability period in the available from and available to fields. This will automatically set the time outside these timeframes to 0%.

How to change the resource calendar?2

  • Vacation of absence: click Change Working Time. In the Exceptions tab, enter name for example ‘vacation Spain’ or ‘PPM training’ and the start and finish date of the non-available period.

How to change the resource calendar?3

  • Part time days: click Change Working Time > tab Work Weeks > details and change for example the Wednesday to Set days to nonworking time if Wednesday is the standard day off for this resource or Set day(s) to these specific working times: when you want to change the default working times for specific days.

How to change the resource calendar?4

 

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These are the options to have MS Project level your resources

Why do things manually if you can have the tool do it for you automatically? Automatic resource leveling in MS Project will solve the overallocations based on the settings, just like Excel would do the calculation for you based on the formulas you put in.

As automatic resource leveling respects all settings within your schedule, your schedule should adhere to the guidelines for a good schedule, such as proper use of links and constraints. Next to these settings, MS Project uses a certain logic to determine which task to put first and which ones to delay when resolving the overallocation. This logic, the leveling algorithm, will be explained in the next article.

Keep the control when leveling

If you do not want to level your whole project at once (Level all), you can also level on a per allocation basis. This keeps you very much in control and on top of the changes. Always start with the most critical resource (on the critical path) and work your way through as resources become less important for the timing of your project.

Dealing with resource leveling:

(starting with the smallest incremental changes to your schedule):

  1. Reschedule to available date: only one task will move
  2. Level selection: only the tasks you select will be leveled
  3. Level resource: only one resource you select will be leveled
  4. Level all: level all resources at once

For leveling your whole project at once, or by using any of the incremental steps, the MS Project leveling algorithm and the leveling options apply.

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What is resource leveling in MS Project and should you use it?

What is resource leveling?

You have a project with several tasks, and resources assigned to those tasks. Some resources are assigned to multiple tasks, which has resulted in some overallocated resources. Resource leveling is the act of taking a resource-loaded schedule, and making it so that they don’t have to work overtime. The main goal is to have a critical path that is corrected for resource dependencies. Furthermore, all other tasks and deliverables should have reliable plan dates correctness.

What is resource leveling in MS Project and should you use it?1

Manual resource leveling

Manual resource leveling means that you reassign or take action to resolve this. MS Project also has a feature that evaluates your work and resource allocations, and adjusts your schedule so that your resources have no over allocations.

Should you level the resources yourself or have it done by MS Project?

A question we hear quite often. If you have a tool at your disposal, why wouldn’t you use this? A reason could be that you do not fully trust the tool yet. MS Project could come back with some strange results, but whether it does, totally depends on whether you have checked the completeness and  of your schedule’s network logic (dependencies or links). If for instance you did not use a dependency to indicate that ‘reviewing document’ has to take place after ‘writing document’, resource leveling might put the order incorrect since it solely relies on the leveling algorithm.

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What can you do with the task form and resource form?

The task form and resource form are nice views if you want to have some more detailed information per task/resource.

The task form

The task form will provide an overview of tasks including task information per resource. The task and resource form can be added to the Gantt chart (or any other view) by clicking view tab, checking Details and selecting either the task or resource form.

What can you do with the task form and resource form?1

The resource form

The resource form will show which other assignments these resources already have. See the other resource, by clicking Next (for tasks that have multiple assignments).

What can you do with the task form and resource form?2

Good to know!

Note that both the task form as the resource form have different views, which you can select by right-mouse-click anywhere in the view. Any of these views provide much more detailed information on a task or a resource, as for instance cost information or dependencies.

 

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