Goal: Optimize the project plan for resources

Applies to
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Microsoft Office Project Server 2003
Microsoft Project 2000 and 2002

After you build your project plan, review the allocation of your resources (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.). If some resources are unacceptably overallocated (overallocation: The result of assigning more tasks to a resource than the resource can accomplish in the working time available.) or underallocated (underallocation: Assigning a resource to work fewer hours than the resource has available.), you can optimize the plan to more evenly distribute the workload. As you change aspects of your plan that are related to resource allocation, however, remember that you might change the finish date (finish date: The date that a task is scheduled to be completed. This date is based on the task's start date, duration, calendars, predecessor dates, task dependencies, and constraints.) or the cost of the project.

 Tip   This article is part of a series of articles that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project. The project life cycle is outlined in The Project Map, where you can find a link to an article about each project management goal. Most of the articles include links to supporting information or procedures that you perform in Project or Project Server. These "goal" articles were designed to help you not only use Project but also better understand project management.

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Runner at the finish line

number 1 Identify overallocated or underallocated resources     Review the resource workload for the project plan that you just built. Although some overallocation or underallocation might be normal in certain circumstances, this review can help you to see whether your resources are acceptably allocated or whether you need to make further adjustments to the resource workload.

Number 2 Account for overallocations by adding overtime     You can add overtime to tasks that are assigned to overallocated resources. Although overtime (overtime: The amount of work on an assignment that is scheduled beyond the regular working hours of an assigned resource and charged at the overtime rate. Overtime work indicates the amount of the assignment's work that is specified as overtime work.) doesn't resolve overallocations, it ensures that resources have a way to work the time represented by the overallocation. This is often the best strategy when faced with overallocations, although it will be costly.

Number 3 Resolve resource overallocations     The 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.) feature in Project can even out the resource workload for you. Or, you can manually adjust resource 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.), assignment details, and task details to relieve overallocations and balance the workload.

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Click all of the following that apply:

Number 4 Resolve resource underallocations     You can adjust resource availability, assignment details, and task details to balance the workload and maximize underallocated project resources. Note that underallocations are often valid and temporary, based on resource availability and skill set, task constraints (constraint: A restriction set on the start or finish date of a task. You can specify that a task must start on or finish no later than a particular date. Constraints can be flexible [not tied to a specific date] or inflexible [tied to a specific date].), and the many other factors that go into scheduling a project.

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  • Remove overtime if overtime is assigned during the period of a resource's underallocation. This can help resolve underallocations, since the work can now be spread across the normal work hours. It will also help reduce costs.
  • Change a task's duration to resolve underallocations by increasing the amount of time planned for the underallocated task. Increasing duration might also improve the quality of the task's outcome.
  • ShowAdjust an assignment to resolve underallocations

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Number 5 Enter a note about resource, assignment, and task changes     Log information about changes you made to optimize the resource workload. Such notes can be helpful when you're tracking actual progress, closing the project, or collecting data for the next project.

Number 6 Evaluate the results of resource optimization     Check to ensure that you did indeed resolve resource allocation problems and that the finish date, planned costs, and other projects were not adversely affected by these changes.

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Number 7 Communicate assignment changes     If you assigned new tasks to resources or changed or removed existing assignments as a result of optimizing the resource workload, notify the affected resources, either electronically or by printing assignment reports.