Assigning Work Resources to Tasks
Microsoft Project uses effort-driven scheduling by default when you assign your work resources to, or remove resources from, a specific task. As an example, this means that if you assign one person to a task, Microsoft Project will calculate how long that person will take to complete the task based on the person’s work availability. If you assign another person with the same work availability to the same task, Microsoft Project would then decrease the total duration of the task by half. When using effort-driven scheduling, assigning the total work load of the task equally to the two resources results in a reduction of the work time involved by half.
Note that you are not required to assign resources to tasks. There are some tasks whose duration cannot be reduced by assigning additional resources. However, for most tasks, effort-driven scheduling allows you to know when a work resource is supposed to be working, and on what tasks they should be working. It can also prevent over-scheduling of your resources that are available. For example, using effort-driven scheduling can prevent assigning too many tasks to a single work resource. It also allows you to track the costs associated with the resource as it completes the task in the project.
To allocate resources to tasks, you need to be able to select the task items. You should switch to the Gantt Chart view of your project file when assigning resources. You can also see the changes to task durations in this view, as well. A helpful feature of the Gantt Chart view is that you can view resource assignments for selected tasks in a separate “Task Form” within the Gantt Chart view. To enable the display of the “Task Form” view within the Gantt Chart view, click the “View” tab in the Ribbon and then check the “Details” checkbox in the “Split View” group when using the Gantt Chart View. You will then see the “Resource Form” view appear in a separate pane at the bottom of the window. Next, use the drop-down to the right of the “Details” checkbox in the “Split Form” group to select “Task Form.” This will then change the “Resource Form” to display the “Task Form” instead within the split at the bottom of the window. When you click a task in the Gantt Chart view, you will be able to see assigned resources in this area.
You can create resource assignments within the “Assign Resources” dialog box in Microsoft Project. To do this, select the task in the project file to which you want to assign resources, and then either click the “Assign Resources” button in the “Assignments” button group on the “Resource” tab in the Ribbon, or press “Alt” + “F10” on your keyboard.
Next, select the name of the work resource that you wish to assign to the selected task from the list shown in the “Assign Resources” dialog box. Note that if you wish to select more than one work resource, you should click the first resource to select it, hold down the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard, and then click any other resources to select. You can then release the “Ctrl” key. Once you have selected the correct work resource, or work resources, you can then click the “Assign” button to assign those selected resources to the selected task.
Once you click the “Assign” button, you will see the “Units” and “Cost” for the task assignment shown for the selected resources in the “Assign Resources” dialog box. You may also see a “R/D” column if using Microsoft Project Professional. This column is related to setting a priority for resource assignments if using Microsoft Project Server with the “Resource Substitution” column.
Note that you can also remove work resources in this dialog box selecting the resource to remove, and then clicking the “Remove” button to remove the resource assignment. This also will impact the “Units” and “Cost” shown. If desired, you can also substitute one work resource for another by selecting the assigned work resource to replace within the list, and then clicking the “Replace…” button to open the “Replace Resource” list. Select the name of the substitution work resource from this list, and then click the “OK” button to substitute the resources. Note that substitution may change the “Units” and “Cost” shown, but not necessarily. When you have finished making your work assignments, click the “Close” button. Note that you should be able to see the resource assignment information for the selected task in the “Task Form” at the bottom of this window now that you have work assigned.
You can also assign work resources to selected tasks by simply using the “Task Form” split view shown within the Gantt Chart view. For example, if you wanted to add a second work resource to a selected task, first select the task in the Gantt Chart view. Any resource assignments will then be shown in the “Task Form” view at the bottom of the split in the window shown. You can add a resource by simply clicking into the next available blank row in the “Resource Name” column within the “Task Form” view. Then use the drop-down arrow that appears to select the name of the second work resource to assign to the project. Note that the “Effort driven” checkbox in this pane should be checked and that the “Fixed Units” option should be selected under the “Task type” drop-down in this pane. This means that when you click the “OK” button in this Task Form to save your changes, Microsoft Project will use effort-driven scheduling on this task, and recalculate the duration of the task, while holding the actual units of work performed as a “fixed” value. This will then cause Microsoft Project to decrease the duration of the task based on the extra work that the second resource can perform.
Note that, if you didn’t want the addition of a second resource to decrease the duration of the task, you could select the “Fixed Duration” choice from the “Task type:” drop-down in the “Task Form” view, and then click the “OK” button to allow Project to keep the duration of the task fixed, and simply decrease the work hours attributed to the task to each resource assigned- changing the “Units” of work for each resource on the task. You can also keep the work value for the task fixed, if desired, by selecting the “Fixed Work” choice from the “Task type” drop-down when assigning work resources in “Task Form” view. This can often result in a durational decrease, as well.
Also, if you simply do not wish to use effort-driven scheduling for the selected task, you can uncheck that checkbox, if needed, when making your work resource assignments for a task.
Remember that when you add or remove resources, you should click the “OK” button shown in this view to save your work assignment changes for the selected task. Note that you can also click the “Previous” and “Next” buttons in the “Task Form” view to move to the next task selection within your project file. This is simply another way to move through the tasks shown in the Gantt Chart view.