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Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 7) - Adjusting Resource Assignments - Assigning a Different Resource , Using Slack Time to Shorten the Schedule

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1/13/2015 2:57:59 AM

Assigning a Different Resource

Suppose a resource works on two simultaneous tasks on the critical path. You can’t delay either one without affecting the project finish date. In this situation, the Assign Resources dialog box (choose Resource→Assignments→Assign Resources) can help you find someone with similar skills who has more time available. If money is a bigger problem than time, you can replace the person with someone who costs less (assuming that the replacement can get the work done in the same amount of time).

If you use a custom field like an outline code to identify resources’ skills, in the Assign Resources dialog box, turn on the “Filter by” checkbox. Apply a filter to show resources with similar skills, like the Group filter or a custom filter that looks for job description codes. Then, turn on the “Available to work” checkbox, and then type the number of work hours you want from the new resource during the task duration. If the resource you’re replacing is assigned 80 hours over 2 weeks, type 80h to look for someone who can work full time, as Figure 10 shows. When you use the “Filter by” features, the Resources table displays the assigned resources, plus any others who have the available time you specified.

To look for expensive resources to replace, scan the Resources table’s Cost cells. For help finding less expensive resources, display the Resource Sheet (choose View→Resource Views→Resource Sheet). You can filter the Resource Sheet to find resources in the same work group (click the down arrow next the Group column heading and then choose “Group on this field”) or sort by the resource rate (click the down arrow next to the Standard Rate column heading and then choose Sort Ascending). When you find the resource you want, return to your task-oriented view to replace the resource.

Figure 10. To look for expensive resources to replace, scan the Resources table’s Cost cells. For help finding less expensive resources, display the Resource Sheet (choose View→Resource Views→Resource Sheet). You can filter the Resource Sheet to find resources in the same work group (click the down arrow next the Group column heading and then choose “Group on this field”) or sort by the resource rate (click the down arrow next to the Standard Rate column heading and then choose Sort Ascending). When you find the resource you want, return to your task-oriented view to replace the resource.

Select the resource you want to replace, and then click Replace. In the Replace Resource dialog box, type a percentage in the replacement’s Units field, and then click OK.

Tip

The Assign Resources dialog box doesn’t tell you how many hours the current resource is assigned, which makes it difficult to fill in the “Available to work” box. To see how many hours the current resource is assigned, display the Task Form in the view’s bottom pane. (Choose View→Split Views, and then, in the Details drop-down list, choose Task Form.) The Work cell shows the number of hours the resource is assigned.

Adding Resources

You can add resources to any task you want. The only special view that may help is the one that shows only the critical path . However, you must use judgment to decide whether more resources are going to help or hinder.

Using Slack Time to Shorten the Schedule

When a resource works on critical and noncritical tasks at the same time, you can shorten the critical task’s duration by assigning more of the resource’s time to it. By definition, the noncritical task has slack time, which means you can delay its finish date without delaying the project. Although the noncritical task takes longer, the increase in duration merely consumes some of the task’s slack time, as you can see in Figure 11.

To see slack time in a Gantt Chart timescale, use the Detail Gantt view. Choose View→Task Views, click the down arrow next to the view button, and then choose Detail Gantt. Task slack time appears as narrow black bars on the right end of task bars. The text at the right end of the slack bar gives you the amount of free slack.

In Figure 11, the critical “Build forms” task in the top window ends on June 7. The “Assemble frame components” task in the top window has 6.5 days of slack. The “Build forms” task in the bottom window uses more of the person’s hours, so it ends earlier, on June 2. By moving some of the person’s hours to “Build forms,” the slack time for “Assemble frame components” drops to zero (which turns this task into a critical task). This juggling of hours was successful, because the critical “Frame-in shell” task went from a start date of June 20 to starting on June 15, 5 days earlier, reducing the critical path by 5 days. 

Project has two fields for slack: Free Slack and Total Slack. Free Slack is the time you can delay a task without affecting any of its successors. Total Slack is the time you can delay a task without affecting the project finish date. The slack bars in the Detail Gantt show Free Slack, but you can customize bar styles (page 588) to show Total Slack instead.

Figure 11. Project has two fields for slack: Free Slack and Total Slack. Free Slack is the time you can delay a task without affecting any of its successors. Total Slack is the time you can delay a task without affecting the project finish date. The slack bars in the Detail Gantt show Free Slack, but you can customize bar styles to show Total Slack instead.

Troubleshooting Moment: My Schedule Has No Slack

If two tasks start at the same time and link to the same successor, the shorter task has slack time (the time between when it ends and its successor begins). Suppose you’ve applied the Detail Gantt view, and tasks like these show no slack at all. If you’ve applied deadlines to Project tasks, that’s the culprit. Project’s Deadline field affects late finish dates, which can go haywire when your tasks don’t meet their deadlines. Here’s what happens:

In Project, the Late Finish field is the latest date a task can end without affecting the project finish date; the Finish field is a task’s currently scheduled finish date. Project’s Free Slack field (which the Detail Gantt displays) is the length of time between a task’s late finish and finish. For example, if the late finish date is 10/1/2010 and the finish date is 9/1/2010, then the free slack is 30 days.

When you fill in a date in a task’s Deadline field, Project sets the late finish to the deadline date—for instance 8/1/2010. In this example, the late finish date (8/1/2010) is earlier than the finish date (9/1/2010), so the slack is gone.

These missed deadlines can foul up slack in many, if not all, of your tasks. When Project calculates Late Finish dates, it starts at the end of the project and works back toward the beginning. If the successor has a late finish of 9/30/2010 and a duration of 2 weeks, then the late finish of its predecessor is 9/16/2010.

You can see the true slack in your project by removing the deadlines you’ve set. (You can add the deadlines back in after the schedule is working.) To simplify finding all the tasks with deadlines, choose View→Data, click the filter down arrow, and then choose More Filters. In the More Filters dialog box, double-click Tasks with Deadlines. To remove a deadline from a task, double-click the task name to open the Task Information dialog box. Select the Advanced tab. Clear the value in the Deadline box, and then click OK.

 
Others
 
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Refining a Project Schedule (part 6) - Adjusting Resource Assignments - Increasing Units to Decrease Duration
- 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
- Microsoft Onenote 2010 : Using Tables to Organize Information (part 5) - Deleting a Row in a Table, Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Modify Tables
- Microsoft Onenote 2010 : Using Tables to Organize Information (part 4) - Selecting a Row in a Table,Selecting a Single Cell in a Table
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