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Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 6) - Adjusting Resource Assignments - Increasing Units to Decrease Duration

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1/13/2015 2:56:20 AM

Adjusting Resource Assignments

As you schedule your project, you assign some number of resources to tasks, depending on how much help you need (and how many helpers you can manage). After you complete a draft schedule, you often end up fine-tuning some assignments—and that requires finesse, as discussed in the box on The Fine Art of Assigning Resources. For example, stakeholders may try to throw resources at a problem, only to have learning curves and chaos delay the task even more. Additional resources can increase costs, which may or may not be OK, as you learn on Paying More for Faster Delivery.

Experienced project managers know that most schedule problems have several solutions. For example, if you find underallocated resources working on critical path tasks, you can increase their assignment units to shorten task durations. Or you can look for a person with the right skills and more available time. If you’re trying to cut costs, you can look at replacing expensive resources with people with lower rates.

Power Users' Clinic: The Fine Art of Assigning Resources

Experienced project managers assign resources carefully, because they know that resource assignments can affect schedule, cost, risk, and quality. The wrong resources assigned to tasks can increase the risk of delays on the critical path or costs going through the roof. On the other hand, smart assignments can reduce costs or decrease duration—or both. Because critical tasks are so critical, you can’t be too choosy with critical task assignments. Here are a few resource assignment strategies to try:

  • Keep resources on critical tasks focused. When resources have to juggle several tasks at the same time, the risk of delays increases. Although you can tell people to prioritize their critical tasks, one way to prevent delays is to limit the multitasking that resources on critical tasks do. Assign those resources to only one or two tasks at a time.

  • Use less expensive resources. Some tasks use both experienced and inexperienced people, who typically have different price tags. You can reduce cost by reassigning some or all task work to less expensive, less experienced resources. Offloading work to less expensive resources can be risky, because the people may take longer to do the same work. In addition, newbies on the job may interrupt the experts to the point that no one works productively.

  • Use faster resources. Sometimes, more expensive resources are less expensive in the long run. An inexperienced backhoe operator may cost $50 an hour and take 24 hours to do the job ($1,200 total). If an expert operator costs $100 an hour but finishes the excavation in 8 hours, the cost ($800) and duration decrease.

Increasing Units to Decrease Duration

Before you ask people to work extra hours, look for resources on critical path tasks who have time available. You can assign them more work to reduce critical task duration. Project doesn’t have a dedicated view for this combination of conditions. However, you can filter a task-oriented view to show the critical path and alter the Resource Graph to show available time, as illustrated in Figure 9.

Selecting a task in the table area shows the first resource assigned to that task in the Resource Graph in the bottom pane. To see other resources assigned to the task, click the horizontal scroll bar under the resource legend (on the left).

Blue bars in the Resource Graph timescale means resources aren’t overallocated, not that they have available time. To change the Resource Graph to show available time, right-click the Resource Graph timescale, and then choose Remaining Availability from the shortcut menu.

Figure 9. Blue bars in the Resource Graph timescale means resources aren’t overallocated, not that they have available time. To change the Resource Graph to show available time, right-click the Resource Graph timescale, and then choose Remaining Availability from the shortcut menu.

To see the Tracking Gantt in the top pane of a view, and the Resource Graph in the bottom pane, do the following:

  1. Choose Task→View. Click the down arrow to the right of the view button, and then, on the drop-down menu, choose Tracking Gantt.

    Project displays the Tracking Gantt view. You can use the Detail Gantt or the Task Entry view if you’ve formatted it to show critical tasks.

  2. Choose View→Split View. Turn on the Details checkbox, and then choose Resource Graph in the Details drop-down list.

    The Resource Graph appears in the bottom pane of the view.

  3. Click the bottom pane to make it active.

    You can tell the bottom pane is active when the narrow vertical bar on the left side of the pane is dark, while the vertical bar in the top view is a lighter shade.

 
Others
 
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 5) - Project Tools for Change - Undoing Changes
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 4) - Project Tools for Change - Seeing What Changes Do
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 3) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Reviewing Project Costs
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 2) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Finding the Best Tasks to Shorten
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 1) - Evaluating the Project Schedule - Comparing Finish Dates to Deadlines
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