You should by now have a sensible working plan with an acceptable Gantt chart
showing the critical path through your project. This month we’ll look at how
to enter resources into your plan and begin to see how Microsoft Project deals
Entering a Resource
You will be pleased to know that entering a resource is one of the
easiest steps in Project: what happens afterwards is another story!
Select Tools > Resources > Assign Resources…,
ALT+F10 or click on the Assign Resources
This will activate the Assign Resources dialog box, as shown
in the image below.
The dialog box “floats”, i.e., remains on screen until it is closed, allowing
work in the active view while the dialog box is visible (click and drag on the
title bar to reposition it). Because of this, always click in the appropriate
window to make it active before entering data, otherwise you will enter the
data in the wrong place. So, in the dialog box, click in the first Name
cell and type in the name of the resource, and press Enter.
There, that was easy wasn’t it?
Assigning a Resource
Once the resources have been
entered into Project, using the same Assign Resources dialog
box, select the task, then select the resource and then click the Assign
button. Alternatively, move the mouse pointer into the cell to the left of the
name of the resource. The pointer will change to an arrow attached to the Assign
Resources icon. Hold down the left button and drag it to the task and release.
When assigned, there will be a Tick in the cell next to the resource
name, the Units will register the default setting of 100%, and the resource
name will appear to the right of the Gantt bar. If more or less than 100%
is wanted, enter the number required before assigning the resource.
Removing a Resource Assignment
Select the tasks to which the resource is assigned and in the Assign
Resources dialog box, select the resource to be removed then click
the Remove button.
Project is an effort driven program. This is defined as a scheduling method
that bases a task's duration on the amount of work the task requires and the
number of resource units assigned to it: i.e., calculation is based on the formula:
Resource Units X Duration
The values in the formula are set up for each task when a resource is first
assigned; subsequent changes will be governed by the formula. I can’t do better
than quote from the Help pages:
"When people are assigned or removed from a task, Microsoft Project
will extend or shorten the duration of the task to accommodate the additional
or fewer resources applied to the task, but it will not change the total work
for the task. This is called effort-driven scheduling and is the default Microsoft
Project uses when assigning resources to tasks.
"As resources are added to a task, the total work on the task stays
the same. The amount of work distributed to the resources assigned to the
task, however, will change.
"Effort-driven scheduling only takes effect when resources are added
to or removed from a task (the emphasis is mine—Mike). Effort-driven
calculation rules are not applied when changes are made to work, duration,
and unit values for resources already assigned to a task."
When working with effort-driven scheduling, keep the following in mind:
- The effort-driven calculations will apply only after the first resource
is assigned to the task. Once a resource is assigned, the work value will
not change as new resources are assigned to or removed from the same task.
- The effort-driven calculations will not be applied to multiple resources
that are assigned at the same time and that are the first assignments on a
task. After this initial assignment of multiple resources, however, the work
value will not change as new resources are assigned to or removed from the
- If the assigned Task Type is Fixed Units, then assigning additional resources
will shorten the duration of the task.
- If the assigned Task type is Fixed Duration, then assigning additional
resources will decrease the individual unit values for resources.
- If the assigned Task type is Fixed Work, then assigning additional resources
will shorten the duration of the task.
Okay, enough of the Help pages! Resource assignment can be very complicated
as you can see. My advice is, if at all possible, keep to one resource per task
and it is difficult to go wrong or fail to understand what’s going on. Remember,
and I repeat: Effort-driven scheduling only takes effect when resources are
added to or removed from a task. So, after the first assignment of a resource,
effort driven scheduling has no effect unless you subsequently add or remove
resources from the task.
After assigning resources, it is likely that at certain times there will
be more work assigned than there are resources available. In Project, leveling means resolving resource conflicts or overallocations
by delaying tasks. Leveling requires delaying tasks until resources are available, thus enabling
the project to be finished, though often resulting in a later project finish
To see overallocations, I’d like to suggest
my favourite way for dealing with resources, and that is to use the split screen
technique that I introduced in the March issue. I repeat: select Window
> Split or right-click in a free area of the
Gantt chart and select Split. A combination view will be seen with the Gantt chart in the upper pane and the Task Form
in the lower pane. Click in the lower pane to make it active
and select View > Resource Graph, or click the Resource
Graph icon in the view bar.
To view the resource graph from a split screen, a task must be selected
that has the resource assigned.
The resource graph will indicate the peak usage rate of that resource as a histogram.
Overallocated resources are shown in red text and the amount of overallocation
is shown red on the graph. Use this resource view to display information about
a single resource or group of resources over time. If you have assigned different resources, use the horizontal scroll bar on
the left side under the resource name label to see the others.
When you have resources that are overallocated, you will need to level the project
to ensure that no resources are assigned to work more than the standard working
day. Project levels the resource allocations by delaying tasks until the resource
To invoke Project’s built-in leveling process, select Tools > Resource
Leveling… (Tools > Level Resources… in Project 2002 ) and select
the Level Now button.
Such leveling, with the default settings, will be resource-limited and will
remove overallocations but will almost certainly delay the project beyond the
time of the critical path. This will be the normal behaviour as you will want
Project to tell you what is possible. However, selecting the setting to Level Only Within Available Slack
produces a time-limited schedule, ie maintaining the critical path, but is unlikely
to resolve all resource overallocations, which then become your problem to manage.
The effect of leveling can undone by selecting Tools > Resource Leveling
and selecting the Clear Leveling… button.
That’s enough for this month to get you going. Experiment with a couple of tasks
and a few resources, and then add and remove their assignment. I will cover
leveling and the effect of the various settings in more detail in a later lesson.
Next month, we’ll have a look at some of the main Views provided with Project
so that you can get a feel for some of the ways you can view the data to help
you manage the plan.