Carl Chatfield: Top 10 Problems, #5: Expect that automatic resource leveling should be able to alter reality

Carl here. ProjHugger is for Microsoft Office Project newbies, enthusiasts, and zealots. I publish new posts every Monday morning, but you can add comments any time. This week’s ProjHugger post continues the “Top 10 problems new (and not so new) Project users have, and what you can do to ease the pain” series, which started like this: #10, #9, #8, #7, and #6.

Problem #5: Expect that automatic resource leveling should be able to alter reality

Resource leveling is the amazing Project feature that does some impressive math tricks to smooth out resource allocation problems, but produces a result that you often do not want—an extended finish date. Don’t blame Project though, it can’t alter reality. You know the expression, you can't have your cake and eat it too?

Walk a mile in my shoes

Let’s look at an example of a resource overallocation and how I can go about resolving it. Here’s the initial state of my project plan.

At first glance this appears to be a nice, concise schedule with simple task relationships. Put yourself in the shoes of the Screenwriter or Director however and look at the tasks to which you are assigned. One quick way to do this is to filter the Gantt chart (Project menu, Filtered For submenu, AutoFilter command) and then filter the Resource Name column for each resource. Here’s the Screenwriter’s tasks:

And the Director’s tasks:

These both appear to be resource overallocations: each resource has at least one case of overlapping assignments that result in them being assigned more work in a given time period than they would normally be able to complete. In other words, for some amount of time their Max. Units values have been exceeded.

Let's all stay level-headed here

Now I’ll switch to a different view to see how bad the overallocations are. There are a few different ways I can get this information, but my favorite is the Resource Usage view (View menu). This is the evil (or good) twin of the Task Usage view. In this case, assignments are grouped per resource.

Continue reading at projhugger.





P.S. from Devon: Carl Chatfield’s and Tim Johnson’s Microsoft Project 2010 Step by Step will be available in June 2010.

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