Goal: Optimize the project plan for resources

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 within the Project Map 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.

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Optimize plan for resource goal

number 1 Identify any 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 you are faced with overallocations, although it will be costly.

Number 3 Resolve any 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 Microsoft Office Project 2007 can even out the resource workload for you. Or you can manually adjust the 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 any overallocations and balance the workload.

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Number 4 Resolve any resource underallocations     You can adjust the resource availability, assignment details, and task details to balance the workload and maximize the underallocated project resources. Note that underallocations are often valid and temporary because they are based on the resource availability and skill set, the 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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  • Calculate overtime costs if overtime is assigned during the period of a resource's underallocation. Doing this can help to resolve underallocations, because the work can now be spread across the normal work hours. Doing this can also help to reduce costs.
  • Change a task's duration to resolve any underallocations by increasing the amount of time that is planned for the underallocated task. Increasing the duration also might improve the quality of the task's outcome.
  • Show Adjust an assignment to resolve underallocations

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Number 5 Evaluate the results of resource optimization     Verify that you did indeed resolve any resource allocation problems and that the finish date, planned costs, and other projects are not adversely affected by these changes.

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Number 6 Communicate the 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.

  • Publish the latest plan and team assignments if you are using Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007 to communicate the project information.
  • Add a note about schedule changes to log information about the changes that you made to optimize the resource workload. Such notes can be helpful when you are tracking actual progress, closing the project, or collecting data for the next project.

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Applies to:
Project 2007