Microsoft Project 2010 Training: Project Tracking and Resource Allocation
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Monitoring Resource Allocations
As you complete the work on your project file, you should monitor your resource allocation. You may be under-using resources that you could otherwise utilize, which is called underallocating resources. Perhaps more importantly, you may also accidentally be overallocating resources, trying to schedule more work to a resource than is possible in a given time period. In this lesson, we will examine how to monitor your resource allocation within your project file.
One useful view that allows you to see resource allocations is the “Resource Usage” view of your project file. You can click the “Gantt Chart” drop-down button in the “View” group on the “Task” tab and then select the “Resource Usage” command to see this view. This view show resources, work contours, and resource allocation issues. Within this view, overallocated work resources are displayed in red. One way to change resource overallocation is to manually change the hours assigned to the selected resource, or to add additional work resources to the tasks to which the overallocated resource has been assigned- thereby reducing the hours for the selected resource. Another way to resolve overallocation is by using automatic leveling available in Microsoft Project.
Leveling Overallocated Resources
As we saw in the previous lesson, you can use the “Resource Usage” view of the project file to examine resource allocation. You can also make manual adjustments to the overallocated work resource in order to ensure that it remains fully allocated based on the “Units” of work available. In addition to manually correcting overallocated resources, you can automatically level overallocated resources in Microsoft Project. When you automatically level resource overallocations, Microsoft Project will either delay the start times of tasks, delay the work resource assignments for a task, or split tasks durations, in order to resolve the conflicts. It will not change task assignments or unit values of the assignments. If you wish to resolve resource overallocation by assigning additional work resources, you must do that manually.
To set the parameters used to automatically resolve resource overallocations, you can click the “Leveling Options” button in the “Level” group on the “Resource” tab in the Ribbon to open the “Resource Leveling” dialog box. This dialog box allows you to control the processes and guidelines that Microsoft Project will use when performing the resource leveling. Note that the settings that you make here will be applied to all project files that you use, and not just the currently selected project file. For this reason, it is recommended that you do not select the “Automatic” choice within the “Resource Leveling” dialog box, as that will apply resource leveling in all project files, whether you want it or not, which can cause more problems than it corrects. Leave the “Manual” option shown in the “Leveling calculations” section selected in order to allow for resource leveling only when you select to apply it.
Next, use the “Look for overallocations on a” drop-down to select the basis to be used for resource overallocation examination. Note that choosing a level of inspection that is finer than a “Day by Day” basis may result in many, unnecessary adjustments to the work schedule. Use care if selecting a level of inspection finer than the “Day by Day” basis.
Next, decide whether or not you wish to remove any leveling adjustments before applying the new leveling. If you wish to clear old leveling adjustments before applying the leveling adjustments that you are about to create, then leave the “Clear leveling values before leveling” checkbox checked.
Next, in the “Leveling range for” section, you can set the specific range of leveling to use within this project file. If you wish to level the whole project, leave the “Level entire project” option selected. Otherwise, you can use the “From” and “To” drop-downs in order to select the range within the project file to inspect.
You next choose the guidelines to use for leveling from the choices shown in the “Resolving overallocations” section of the “Resource Leveling” dialog box. For most projects, ensure that the “Standard” choice is selected from the “Leveling order:” drop-down. This resource leveling method respects the task relationships between the tasks in your project file, and is therefore the most commonly used.
Next, if you want to allow the leveling to only use the available free slack within the project file, then select the “Level only within available slack” checkbox. This choice is most often unchecked, in order to allow Microsoft Project to extend the finish date of the project in order to resolve overallocations. Often, there is not enough free slack in a project file to allow for resolution of overallocated resources without extending the finish date.
You can check the “Leveling can adjust individual assignments on a task” checkbox in order to allow Project the ability to add leveling delay to individual work resource assignments on a task, independently of the other assigned work resources. You can check the “Leveling can create splits in remaining work” checkbox to allow Project to split a task, or work assignment on a task, in order to resolve resource overallocation. If you are using Microsoft Project Professional, you may also see a “Level resources with the proposed booking type” checkbox. You will most often leave this checkbox cleared when leveling resources. You can also check the “Level manually scheduled tasks” checkbox to include manually scheduled tasks in the leveling process within this project file.
Next, click the “Level All” button when you are ready to level the entire project file. Doing this corresponds to clicking the “Level All” button in the “Level” group on the “Resource” tab in the Ribbon. Also note that you can click the “Level Selection” and “Level Resource” buttons in this same button group to level a selected task or resource within your project file if you wish to manually level resources one at a time. If you decide to manually level each resource or task individually within a project file, you can also use the “Next Overallocation” button in this group to select the next resource overallocation to resolve.
You can also clear a resource leveling that you have applied by clicking the “Clear Leveling” button in this button group. When you do this, a “Clear Leveling” dialog box will appear where you can choose either “Entire project” or “Selected tasks.” Simply make your choice, and then click the “OK” button to remove the resource leveling that you have applied.
Monitoring Project Costs
While monitoring resource allocation and task duration is a very important part of project management, monitoring project costs is another very important aspect of many projects. You can see much of the cost data that you need to monitor within the “Cost” table in the table view of your project file. You can switch the view of your project file to display this data easily. To do this, click into the table within the “Gantt Chart” view. Then click the “Tables” drop-down button in the “Data” group on the “View” tab in the Ribbon and select the “Cost” command from the drop-down menu. Remember that you can select the “Entry” command from this same drop-down menu to reset the display of the table area within the view to the basic task entry view when finished examining costs, if desired.
Generally, some of the most important costs that are requested regarding a project are shown in the “Costs” table. However, you can also generate reports that display this type of data within Project, as well. You can see baseline costs, which are the scheduled costs that were saved as part of the project baseline. You can also see current costs, which are the costs that are scheduled for the task. After costs have been incurred, this shows the actual costs plus remaining costs. This information is displayed in the “Costs” or “Total Costs” column. You can also see the actual costs, which are the costs that have been incurred for tasks, assignments, and resources. You can also see remaining costs, which is the difference between the current costs and the actual costs for the task, assignment, or resource.
Monitoring Project Statistics
As you make adjustments to your project file, you should check your project statistics and finish date. You can access this type of information within your project file by clicking the “Project Information” button in the “Properties” group on the “Project” tab within the Ribbon in order to open the “Project Information” dialog box. Here you will see the scheduled finish date of the project shown in the “Finish date” field. This is important to keep track of as you level resources and adjust the tasks within your project file.
Also notice that you can click the “Statistics…” button to display the “Project Statistics” dialog box for your project file. This dialog box shows the “Current,” “Baseline,” “Actual,” and “Variance” for the “Start” and “Finish” dates of your project file. You can also see the “Current,” “Baseline,” “Actual,” and “Remaining” values for the project file’s “Duration,” “Work,” and “Cost.” When you are finished viewing this data, click the “Close” button to close the dialog box.