Resolving overallocations by manually changing the distribution of work? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a question about resolving overallocations by manually changing the distribution of work across the duration of a task.  I'm not sure if what I am attempting to do is a good idea or not, or if there is a better way to accomplish what I'm seeking.


    Often a resource on a project may be overallocated for a particular month (or any time period) and when looking at the Resource Usage view it seems that it is because of the way the work is distributed.  Using the attached as an example, Edward is overallocated in November, yet has virtually no hours at all for December.  I don't quite understand why Project would make this occur to begin with, but I would like to resolve overallocations like this by taking 4 hours out of November (making it 5), and adding them to December (making it 4.2). 


    Is there a reason I should NOT be doing this or a better way to accomplish what I am seeking other than fiddling with work contours?  Can someone help me understand why Project would make this occur at all when the work could be evenly distributed?  The task is currently the default flat contour, so that isn't factoring in. 



    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 4:33 PM

All replies

  • RichPM --

    Manually contouring Work is one of about a dozen ways to resolve resource overallocations.  Sure, you can do it, but it all depends on how much time you want to spend on such an endeavor.  That is up to you, but you can sure do it, if you like.

    As to why Microsoft Project behaved the way it does, the software does NOT automatically resolve overallocations by contouring the work.  That job is left up to you.  Hope this helps.

    Dale A. Howard [MVP]

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 4:47 PM
  • Hi,

    Although it may ook that way, this is not a contour. It simply says the atsks begins somewhere in November, works at its normal units, and at teh end of the month there is 1 minute left, which is still to be done in Decemnber. Remember two principles of Project's scheduling:

    1. ALL scheduling is done by minute, not by month, weeks, or days. Looking at work distribution in one of the latter time units can never totally explain the schedule.

    2. Project schedules all tasks to begin as soon as possible - disregarding resource load. There is a function that can correct this (resource leveling) but first attempt is always disregarding.


    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 5:37 PM
  • Thanks for the reply.  I understand there are many ways to resolve the overallocation, this method simply seemed the most direct way to doing it, but I'm open to better suggesstions.  I don't want to lengthen the task duration on a task allowed 2 months when one of the months is already unsed.  I also don't want to add a resource for this reason.  I don't want to use the contouring within Project and fiddle around until it gets something more sensible to occur.  If I'm overlooking something more obvious, I'd love the advice.

    Perhaps I have a more base misassumption.  As an example, if I have a task with a Duration of two months, and Work of 10 hours total, I assumed Project would distribute that work in such a way to avoid overallocations, is that not correct? 

    I appreciate the help.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 7:58 PM
  • Thanks for the reply.  So if I have two tasks of 8 hours each of Work and each has a duration of 1 week but can start on the same day, are you saying Project will put them BOTH to start on day 1 and cause the overallocation?  I thought it would put one on day one and one on day 2 to avoid that because if the task is ASAP that doesn't mean Must Start On - what does it consider Not Possible then?

    Thanks for the help, I appreciate it.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 8:01 PM
  • RichPM --

    No, that is absolutely NOT correct.  Microsoft Project does not make any effort to avoid overallocations when you assign resources.  If what you do causes an overallocation, the software puts YOU in charge of figuring out how to resolve the overallocation.  So, your base assumption is totally incorrect.  Hope this helps.

    Dale A. Howard [MVP]

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 9:17 PM
  • Rich PM --

    If you assign the same resource to both tasks with a Units value of 20% and 8 hours of Work, Microsoft Project will calculate the Duration value as 5 days, but the resource will not be overallocated.  If you assign the same resource to both tasks with a Units value of 100% and 40 hours of Work, Microsoft Project will calculate the Duration value as 5 days, and the resource WILL be overallocated.  Your base assumption is incorrect, which is that Microsoft Project will somehow contour Work hours to resolve overallocations (as I said in my previous post).  Hope this helps.

    Dale A. Howard [MVP]

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 9:21 PM
  • ASAP means asap without regard for resource limitations or over-allocation. That is because project scheduling is primarily about the tasks and the resource management is a secondary consideration. This may seem a bit of a limitation but once you get the hang of it makes perfect sense. There are many ways to address over-allocation and MSP can't be expected to know how you can deal with it and be able to make the decisions and the necessary assumptions. So, although MSP doesn't fix over-allocation automatically, it does show where the over-allocation has occurred, so that you can choose how to fix it. Have you tried levelling? have you displayed and investigated the Levelling Delay column?
    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 11:36 PM
  • RichPM,

    In both of your examples, you cite tasks with a work content that is less than the duration (i.e. two month duration with 10 hours work and one week duration with 8 hours work). You should consider making the task a Fixed Duration type task. For a fixed duration task, you set the duration, and then set the work. When you assign resources Project will linearly spread that work over the full duration period. If you don't want a linear spread, you can edit the work via the Resource Usage view as desired.

    Usually with a fixed duration task, it isn't critical when the resource does the work, it only matters that the work is done sometime during the duration. It may be done all at the beginning, in the middle, all at the end, or spread evenly over the duration period. Fixed duration tasks whose work content is much less than the duration, as in both of your examples, the chance of overallocation, even with a given resource assigned to multiple tasks, is less likely to occur.

    Something else to consider.


    Thursday, August 7, 2014 1:39 AM
  • It does, thanks Dale.
    Thursday, August 7, 2014 1:37 PM
  • RichPM --

    If my one of my responses answers your question, would you please mark it as the answer in this forum.  And you are more than welcome for the help, my friend!  :)

    Dale A. Howard [MVP]

    Thursday, August 7, 2014 1:39 PM
  • I'll need to investigate the leveling options in Project since in the past I've always avoided them because it would split tasks in ways I felt were unnatural.  Plus until this post I thought Project would avoid overallocating resources when the solution was what I felt was "obvious".  Thanks for helping clear this up for me.
    Thursday, August 7, 2014 1:43 PM
  • I think fixed duration may be what I do indeed.  Basically I have a bunch of tasks and I know how long each will take in work hours, and who will be assigned to do each task, but just know that they will all be done at some point in a two week period (or whatever period of time).  I think I just want these to be fixed duration and effort driven so that as resources get added it leaves duration the same and reduced the units so each resource needs to do less as more team members are added to the task. 

    Then if I see an overallocation in a particular month, I can just move the hours around across the duration to resolve it. 

    If my task is fixed work, I should never touch or define the duration and always let Project calculate it, right?

    Does this sound reasonable and like I'm understanding?

    Thursday, August 7, 2014 1:53 PM
  • RichPM,

    For your particular scenario, using fixed duration, effort driven tasks would be a good approach.

    Project uses what is called the work equation to calculate the schedule. The basic equation is:

    Duration = Work/Units

    To better understand how Project calculates each part of the equation you might find the following article helpful:

    For your reference those of us who provide help on this (and other) forums are volunteers who share their experience and expertise. We do not work for Microsoft. Our "payment" is in the form of points and kudos. If the help we provide answers your questions or is at least helpful, we would appreciate acknowledgement by marking responses as the answer or with a vote. Note that "mark as answer" and helpful votes is not limited to a single response.


    Thursday, August 7, 2014 3:10 PM
  • Absolutely!  I think I did it right.
    Thursday, August 7, 2014 7:00 PM