Skip to main content

Quick Resource Levelling with Microsoft project

This tip is for those times when you are messing about with your MS project plan, with tasks already allocated to resources, and you are trying to resolve resource conflicts.

I currently maintain a resource plan of 45 resources in MS project so I have become quite practiced at doing this exercise, below is the fastest way I have found to tackle it.

First tip is, I would never leave it up to MS Project to resolve resource conflicts for you, it will not optimise the use of people’s time as it can't swap resources on tasks and so will push your date out too far – to the horror of your business sponsor. It’s usually better to attempt to level resources yourself.

Perform these steps to "set-up"

  1. If you are levelling resources you will need to flick back and forth between the resource usage and Gantt chart view several times, easiest way to do this is to select View > View Bar. This gives you the view icons down the left pane (see pic), and moving between views is one button click.

  2. Resolving resource conflicts is best dealt with one resource at a time, to make this easier you can filter by resource, using the Resource Names column filter. To get filters to appear on all columns (which is useful anyway) select Project >Filtered For : All Tasks > Autofilter.

  3. Arrange your Gantt view so you have Task, Resource Name, Start, Finish columns next to your view icons in the middle and about half the screen dedicated to Task Bars on the right. (see pic)

Now you are ready to start resource levelling:

  1. First click on ‘Resource Useage’ view and identify which resource is in conflict. Conflicted resources appear in Bold red when a resource is allocated more than one day of work per defined day, you can scroll across on the calendar to see on which days/weeks they are conflicted, but more important at this stage is to identify who it is that is conflicted.

  2. Click on Gantt Chart view and filter on your overallocated resource only, let’s say the resource is called Jimmy. You will see all of the tasks Jimmy is allocated to. If your subtasks are rolled up expand them, you might need to select filter on Jimmy again. What you are trying to achieve is a view of Jimmy’s (and no one else’s) activities and so focus on resolving his conflict only.

  3. When you have your conflicted resources tasks shown in the middle pane and their task bars shown in the right pane, use CTRL> and the mouse wheel (if you are lucky enough to have one) or the zoom in/out buttons, to adjust the bars so all of Jimmy’s tasks can be seen in the right pane. This should give you a quick visual clue about which tasks are overlapping and causing the conflict. I find this is easier than staring at start and finish dates for ages and working through the numbers.

  4. You can now adjust Jimmy’s tasks by making his tasks dependant on each other, or assigning them to other resources. Your choices depend on whether your project is resource constrained or date constrained.

  5. Now flick back to the Resource Useage view and confirm Jimmy’s allocation is happy, i.e. the red should be gone. If Jimmy is still red identify which date and which task is problematic by drilling down on the useage view and flick back to Gantt view to see if you can work out why, i.e which dependency hasn't been added.

  6. When you have completed Jimmy’s levelling move on to your next overallocated (red) resource.

Rattle through all of your conflicted resources in this fashion until you have removed all the red from your resource usage view.

It’s a good discipline to keep all resources black in the resource usage view so you can see at a glance during updates if a resource becomes overallocated and you can decide what action to take.

See my next installment to find out how to 'grow your own resources' on a kitchen ledge, for those times when you just don't seem to have enough to satisfy your project plan :-)


Popular posts from this blog

Business Requirement Documents are just no good and should be abolished from the world of creating software

I had hoped the world could have wholeheartedly rejected Business Requirement documents by now. For too long I’ve seen the repeated scenario of only commencing the creation of a new initiative with a requirements document.Unfortunately most organisations that have teams developing software still use these flawed anathemas to creativity as the status quo. Despite agile approaches maturing and customer-centric modes of design emerging, requirements documents still persist. 
If you work in an organisation that doesn’t use business requirement documents any more, read no further. You are lucky; sense has prevailed at your place however in my experience, you are still the minority.
Let's face it; addressing this issue is not always the point you want to start your improvement work when there's much that could be dysfunctional with how a team is delivering software. But now, I find myself as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take business requirement documents anymore. I want to …

Gamify your children

Inspired by James Ross’s LAST conference talk on The Shamification of Lamification and the Reclaimification of Gamification I was motivated to try and “Gamify” the school holidays for my three children, Leo aged 8, Chloe 9 and Max 10.
Buy-in is everything, so the first thing we did was a quick workshop to extract the kids ideas. I asked them to write their ideas for good rewards on sticky notes, with a few examples for context, such as ‘trip to the movies or ‘play date with a friend’ . They had 5 minutes to come up with their ideas – one idea per sticky note (as always).
They then read out their ideas for all of us to hear, there were a few duplicates and also a few comedy suggestions. Even though we had ruled out crazy stuff, such as rewards of a million dollars, Leo had written down ‘A unicorn for the back yard’ reading it out with gleeful giggles.
Then they spent 5 minutes writing down tasks that they could do to earn rewards. By now they had the hang of it and quickly came up with t…

Agile Australia 2011 Series - Agile Governance

If you are in an industry that is heavily into governance you need some structure and process around your projects or you could find your Agile projects getting usurped by the culture of command and control. So it’s important not to shy away from the topic but to work with the entities that enforce and monitor governance. In this way you can create something that is fast and easy and not laborious to work with.I work for an Apra regulated organisation and we made keenly aware of our obligation under Apra to evidence documented change when audited. However in all organisations I’ve ever worked in, there are boundaries that bend quite a bit, ways to change things and ways to get by that satisfy governance process without crippling your agile process.There’s almost two alternating schools of thought here which are ‘work within process’ and ‘decide to change the process’. It’s actually pretty easy for my team to work within process. Project approvals, mandates and PIDs that are important …