Resource leveling (leveling: Resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain tasks. When Project levels a resource, its selected assignments are distributed and rescheduled.) is a way to fix resource overallocation (overallocation: The result of assigning more tasks to a resource than the resource can accomplish in the working time available.). Generally, resources are leveled in two ways:
You can delay or split tasks yourself, or you can have Microsoft Office Project 2003 do it for you, using the Resource Leveling feature. In addition, there are other methods you can use to balance the resource workload. The methods you choose to reduce overallocations depend on the limitations of your project, including budget, resource availability, finish date, and the amount of flexibility available for scheduling tasks.
How does a resource become overallocated?
An overallocated (overallocation: The result of assigning more tasks to a resource than the resource can accomplish in the working time available.) resource (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.) has more work assigned than can be done in the resource's available time. When Project schedules tasks, it calculates the schedule based on the requirements of the task, not the availability of resources assigned. For example, Susan's availability (availability: Indicates when and how much of a resource's time can be scheduled for assigned work. Availability is determined by project and resource calendars, resource start and finish dates, or the level at which the resource is available for work.) is eight hours a day; however, Project might still schedule two eight-hour tasks assigned to her for the same day. It's not until you level (leveling: Resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain tasks. When Project levels a resource, its selected assignments are distributed and rescheduled.) Susan's overallocation that this conflict is resolved.
Overallocations can result from the following:
- A resource assigned to work full-time on more than one task at the same time For example, if you assign a resource to two tasks of eight hours each on the same day, then the resource is overallocated because only one eight-hour task can be accomplished on that day. To view a resource's workload, on the View menu, click Resource Usage. Look at the number of tasks assigned during times of overallocation.
- Increased duration of tasks If you increase a task's duration (duration: The total span of active working time that is required to complete a task. This is generally the amount of working time from the start to finish of a task, as defined by the project and resource calendar.), then the amount of work assigned to the resource also increases and may cause the resource to have too much work at one time. To view a resource's workload, on the View menu, click Resource Usage. Look at the number of hours of work assigned each day.
- Decreased unit availability for resources For example, a resource's availability is reduced from 100% units to 50% units because it is working part-time. Or, more specific nonworking time is entered on the resource calendar, such as Monday through Friday, 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. To find out if the resource has decreased unit availability (unit availability: Amount of time, expressed as a percentage or a decimal number, that a resource can be scheduled for assigned work. It refers to the availability of a resource; for example, a resource may be available 50%, 100%, or 300% of full time.), on the View menu, click Resource Sheet. Look at the Max. Units field for the resource. If the Max. Units field shows 100%, on the View menu, click Resource Usage. On the Format menu, click Details, and then click Remaining Availability. Look at the remaining availability on each day the resource is assigned work. To see if nonworking time is entered on the resource calendar, click the resource name, click Resource Information , and then click the Working Time tab. Look for decreased working time on the resource's calendar.
- Restricted availability after entering dates for the resource To find out if the resource is only available between certain dates, on the View menu, click Resource Sheet. Click the resource name, click Resource Information , and then click the General tab. See if the dates entered in the Available From and Available To boxes do not coincide with the dates the task is scheduled.
- A work contour applied to the assignment For example, a resource is assigned to a task with a one-day duration and a front-loaded work contour (contour: The shape of how scheduled work for an assignment is distributed across time. Use a contour to control how Project schedules the work of a resource. Contour examples include flat, back-loaded, front-loaded, bell, turtle, and more.). The work on the task is scheduled in increments that match the pattern of the work contour beginning at the task's start date (start date: The date when a task is scheduled to begin. This date is based on the duration, calendars, and constraints of predecessor and successor tasks. A task's start date is also based on its own calendars and constraints.), or the assignment (assignment: A specific resource that is assigned to a particular task.) has been edited to create a custom work contour. To see if a work contour is applied, on the View menu, click Task Usage. Click the resource assigned to the task, click Assignment Information , and then click the General tab. Look at the Work contour box. If an assignment has no work contour, Flat is selected in the Work contour box.
- A resource assigned to a summary task, as well as one or more subtasks If you assign a resource full-time to a summary task (summary task: A task that is made up of subtasks and summarizes those subtasks. Use outlining to create summary tasks. Project automatically determines summary task information [such as duration and cost] by using information from the subtasks.) and then assign the same resource full-time to individual subtasks (subtask: A task that is part of a summary task. The subtask information is consolidated into the summary task. You can designate subtasks by using the Project outlining feature.) under that summary task, the resource is unnecessarily overallocated because it is assigned the summary of all the subtasks, as well as the work of one or more subtasks.
As a general rule, you should avoid assigning resources to summary tasks. But you can do so if the resource's time on the group of tasks increases as the total duration of the subtasks increases. Assigning a resource to a summary task is an efficient way to give the resource responsibility for all the subtasks. However, if the resource's time on the group of tasks stays the same regardless of how the total duration of the subtasks change, then the resource should be assigned to the individual subtasks, and not to the summary task. To see if a resource is assigned to both the summary task and one or more of its subtasks, on the View menu, click Resource Usage. Look in the Resource Name field for the summary tasks and subtasks.
Find overallocated resources in the project
You can find overallocated resources by:
When to level resources
How Project levels resources
Using the Project resource leveling function is the quickest way to level your resources. When Project levels your resources, it goes through a series of decisions about each of the tasks in your schedule to determine whether they can be delayed or split in order to alleviate the resource overallocations. The following factors are examined to determine which tasks should be delayed or split:
Resource information is also examined in the leveling process:
When Project levels resources, it only delays or splits tasks. It does not:
You can have Project level only selected resources. You can also have Project level resources shared across multiple projects.
When you're ready to have Project level resources, on the Tools menu, click Level Resources. To accept all the defaults, click Level Now.
The effect of priorities on leveling
There are two types of priorities (priority: An indication of a task's importance and availability for leveling [that is, resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain tasks]. Tasks with the lowest priority are delayed or split first.) you can set to control the order in which Project levels tasks: task and project priorities.
Priorities range from 0–1000, the highest priority being 1000 and the lowest 0. This wide range allows for the greatest flexibility when leveling. The default task priority is 500.
Set task priorities when you want to set priorities on specific tasks to control how they are leveled in relation to one another. The highest priority, 1000, has the effect of saying "Do not level," meaning that Project never delays (delay: The amount of time between the scheduled start of a task and the time when work should actually begin on the task; it is often used to resolve resource overallocations. There are two types of delay: assignment delay and leveling delay.) or splits (split task: A task whose schedule is interrupted. For example, a two-day task that does not require contiguous work might be split so that the first day of work is scheduled for Monday, and the second day is scheduled for Thursday.) this task when leveling, nor does it remove existing leveling delays or splits. You can set task priorities on the General tab in the Task Information dialog box.
Set project priorities when you want to set priorities on specific projects in a multiple-project plan (multiple projects: Several project plans that may or may not be linked or consolidated. If you are working on several projects at one time, you can compare information about critical paths, resource sharing, or priorities among all of the projects.) or when you're sharing resources among different projects. Project-level priorities control how the tasks in the project are leveled in relation to other projects and tasks in a multiple-project plan. The highest priority, 1000, has the effect of saying "Do not level," meaning that Project never delays or splits the tasks in this project when leveling, nor does it remove existing leveling delays or splits. You can set project priorities in the Project Information dialog box.
There is no overlap of priorities between projects. For example, if Project A has a priority of 500 and Project B a priority of 400, the tasks within Project A will always have a higher priority for leveling than those in Project B. So a priority 1000 task in Project B will have a lower priority than a priority 0 task in Project A.
The results of leveling
After Project finishes leveling an overallocated resource, certain tasks assigned to that resource are split or delayed. The split or delayed tasks are then scheduled for when the resource has time to work on them. You can see the results of leveling in the Leveling Gantt view, which graphically shows preleveled values compared with postleveled values, including newly added task delays and splits.
The leveling order chosen in the Resource Leveling dialog box (standard, ID only, or priority and standard) determines which tasks are delayed or split first. With the standard leveling order, Project examines predecessor dependencies, slack time, dates, constraints, and priorities. When leveling by ID, Project simply goes down the task list in order by task ID. When leveling by priority and standard, Project first examines any set task, summary task, or project priorities (priority: An indication of a task's importance and availability for leveling [that is, resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain tasks]. Tasks with the lowest priority are delayed or split first.), and then examines the standard factors.
The effect of delay on leveling and scheduling
Resolve resource overallocations yourself
You might prefer to resolve resource overallocations yourself, even though this can be more time-consuming than having Project level them. This is especially useful when leveling in Project doesn't result in the schedule or assignment (assignment: A specific resource that is assigned to a particular task.) adjustments you want, or when you want more control over exactly how overallocations are alleviated.
Although the following methods might extend the finish date, you can resolve overallocations by:
The following four methods involve adjusting your resources to resolve overallocations:
- Adjusting the resources assigned to a task.
- Assigning more resources to a task.
- Replacing an overallocated resource with an underallocated one or removing a resource.
- Adjusting or contouring the amount of work assigned to a resource.