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Resource allocation question

    Question

  • Dear Forum, 

    I am new to MS Project 2010. I am trying to understand how MS project can help me with resource allocation and planning over multiple projects.

    I have essentially three questions:

    1. I am planning a project which has a number of deliverable dates. Now I want to plan certain time phases for certain project tasks. I want those time phases to stay fixed and then assign a number of potential coworkers/resources to these tasks, as well as a percentage of distribution of total work over these people. How do I do that?

    1. I would like to distribute the work over several people and be able to specify the percentual distribution of work for a given task (75% project officer, 20% project leader, 5% CEO for control and supervision). Is this possible in MS Project? (MS Project seems to require an awful lot of micromanaging of hours, etc.)

    1. Then I want these estimates to be displayed for each individual over time AND over multiple projects and have a calendar for each person with his or her tasks and the estimated required work. How do I do that?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    Lukas

    Thursday, March 01, 2012 5:38 PM

Answers

  • Lukas,

    1. In your first question, you are using Project in an unconventional way, but it is possible - sort of.  You can assign tasks fixed dates (or phases) using constraints.  You should not try to tell Project to maintain both the start and end dates, even though using a fixed duration task and a constraint would do what you want.  One of the purposes of MS Project is to have the software calculate either a start or a finish based upon a duration.  You could use a "Must Start On" constraint to fix a start date for a task in which Project will never move off of it.

    2.  You can distribute work over several people using the units field, for example in the Assign Resource Dialog box.  However, I do not agree that it is MS Project forcing the user to micro-manage - it is the user who decides to use MS Project in this manner.  Project is a planning tool and although it takes the information from the user and slices it up into micro-segments, in my opinion this is not what the user should focus on.  Just because the tool can plan down to the minute does not mean the user should do project planning plan in this manner.

    3.  A recommended answer to your third question is better broken into two parts:

    (a) To have Project report the time estimates for each user on a single project file is easy enough.  There are a couple  reports in the Reports area that will do this fairly well.  On the other hand, to get a report for a single individual over  multiple projects, you can create a master project file (sometimes called a consolidated file) wherein Project has all the information in one location from which a report can be generated.  You could use a VBA macro to pull this information from multiple files, but a master file is much easier.

    (b) Having a calendar can be done but I don't think it is in the format you are thinking.  The calendar view can have the "Using Resource…" filter applied which will show only those tasks which that resource is assigned, but it will not break out the estimated hours that only that resource is working on that task.  I think the type of information you are looking for would be better developed from Project Server (which is an entirely different animal). 

    I recommend taking a class on using the stand-alone version of Project at your local college or through a commercial vendor, or if you prefer to be more self-taught, get one of the three dozen or so books on the market about MS Project.  The best valued one in my opinion is Project 2010, Step-By-Step, by Carl Chatfield and Timothy Johnson.  Once you become familiar with the tool, you can get deeper volumes such as the one by published MS Projects Experts called The Ultimate Study Guide, by Dale Howard and Gary Chefetz. The resources spent up front will be paid back many times over in more productivity with the tool.

    Good luck and I hope this helps.


    Gregg D. Richie, PMP, MCTS; Author, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Official Academic Course Series


    Friday, March 02, 2012 5:36 AM
  • Hi all,

    Just for the sake of completion. Without the use of Project Server, in a master file resoruce load is NOT consolidated, instead a same resource occurring in more than one subproject will appear several times in all resoruce list, so NO consolidation.

    You have to use a resoruce pool to consolidate resoruce load (and it is fairly straightforward to create a master file from a resource pool)

    Hope this helps,

    Friday, March 02, 2012 5:50 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi,

    Seems a bit awkward since for Project Work=Duration * Units. (Three men working together for 4 days produce 12 mandays!)

    Changing one parameter while keeping the other two constant is contrary to the definition itself, Sorry.

    Greetings,

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012 11:32 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Lukas,

    1. In your first question, you are using Project in an unconventional way, but it is possible - sort of.  You can assign tasks fixed dates (or phases) using constraints.  You should not try to tell Project to maintain both the start and end dates, even though using a fixed duration task and a constraint would do what you want.  One of the purposes of MS Project is to have the software calculate either a start or a finish based upon a duration.  You could use a "Must Start On" constraint to fix a start date for a task in which Project will never move off of it.

    2.  You can distribute work over several people using the units field, for example in the Assign Resource Dialog box.  However, I do not agree that it is MS Project forcing the user to micro-manage - it is the user who decides to use MS Project in this manner.  Project is a planning tool and although it takes the information from the user and slices it up into micro-segments, in my opinion this is not what the user should focus on.  Just because the tool can plan down to the minute does not mean the user should do project planning plan in this manner.

    3.  A recommended answer to your third question is better broken into two parts:

    (a) To have Project report the time estimates for each user on a single project file is easy enough.  There are a couple  reports in the Reports area that will do this fairly well.  On the other hand, to get a report for a single individual over  multiple projects, you can create a master project file (sometimes called a consolidated file) wherein Project has all the information in one location from which a report can be generated.  You could use a VBA macro to pull this information from multiple files, but a master file is much easier.

    (b) Having a calendar can be done but I don't think it is in the format you are thinking.  The calendar view can have the "Using Resource…" filter applied which will show only those tasks which that resource is assigned, but it will not break out the estimated hours that only that resource is working on that task.  I think the type of information you are looking for would be better developed from Project Server (which is an entirely different animal). 

    I recommend taking a class on using the stand-alone version of Project at your local college or through a commercial vendor, or if you prefer to be more self-taught, get one of the three dozen or so books on the market about MS Project.  The best valued one in my opinion is Project 2010, Step-By-Step, by Carl Chatfield and Timothy Johnson.  Once you become familiar with the tool, you can get deeper volumes such as the one by published MS Projects Experts called The Ultimate Study Guide, by Dale Howard and Gary Chefetz. The resources spent up front will be paid back many times over in more productivity with the tool.

    Good luck and I hope this helps.


    Gregg D. Richie, PMP, MCTS; Author, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Official Academic Course Series


    Friday, March 02, 2012 5:36 AM
  • Hi all,

    Just for the sake of completion. Without the use of Project Server, in a master file resoruce load is NOT consolidated, instead a same resource occurring in more than one subproject will appear several times in all resoruce list, so NO consolidation.

    You have to use a resoruce pool to consolidate resoruce load (and it is fairly straightforward to create a master file from a resource pool)

    Hope this helps,

    Friday, March 02, 2012 5:50 PM
    Moderator
  • Dear Gregg, dear Jan,

    Thank you both for your helpful replies. I believe I did not make myself sufficiently clear on question #2. I would like to specify a percent-wise distributation of work for a task that will stay the same even if I change the task duration.

    Example:  75% project officer, 20% project leader, 5% CEO for control and supervision.

    A duration of 10 days would translate into 7,5 days for the project officer, 2 days for the project leader, 0,5 days for the CEO. 

    A duration of 20 days would translate into 15 days for the project officer, 4 days for the project leader, 1 day for the CEO. 

    Is this possible in MS Project?

    Thanks a lot!

    Lukas

    Monday, March 05, 2012 4:27 PM
  • Yes. Tasks with type Fixed Units will keep units same when Duration changed so work changes.

    I agree with Gregg, if you want to use Project fully training and/or a book will pay for themselves many times over.


    Rod Gill

    The one and only Project VBA Book Rod Gill Project Management

    Monday, March 05, 2012 6:45 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi,

    As a matter of fact, when going ito the details of it, this is not how Project works.

    You can specify Project officer works on the task 75% of HIS TIME, Project leader 20% of HIS TIME, and so on.

    This is not the same as specifying the Project officer takes 75% of the work of the task. For instance, you could assign the project officer @ 70%, and still assign the project leader @ 60%: Project would not mind. The assignment unit percentages are calculated vis a vis duration of the task (individually) and they thus will not necessarily reflect a share of the total work on the task.

    It is true, however that once you set these units, and you select Fixed Units as a task type, changing total Work on the task will keep the work of the different resources in the same proportion.

    Hope this helps,

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012 9:18 AM
    Moderator
  • Thank you Jan, 

    I wonder, how come it is not possible to set fixed duration AND fixed work so Project would automatically update the work done by each unit when I change work but does not change duration or total work when I add units (instead of increasing either work or duration). 

    Is there any way to solve this problem in MS Project? 

    Thanks!

    Lukas

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012 11:13 AM
  • Hi,

    Seems a bit awkward since for Project Work=Duration * Units. (Three men working together for 4 days produce 12 mandays!)

    Changing one parameter while keeping the other two constant is contrary to the definition itself, Sorry.

    Greetings,

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012 11:32 AM
    Moderator