Incorporating Material Resources with Microsoft Project 2000

Microsoft Project 2000 now allows you to identify and assign material resources to tasks in your projects. Material resources are supplies, stock, or other consumable items used to complete tasks in a project. Examples of material resources include concrete, steel, pipe, wood, and glass. Material resources are different from work resources, such as people and equipment, which use time rather than material to complete tasks.

When you set up a material resource, you establish that it is a material rather than work resource. You also define the material label, or unit of measurement, for the material. Label examples include cubic yards, tons, and boxes.

When you assign a material resource to a task, you specify the material consumption for the assignment, for example, 10 tons of steel for a specific assignment. You can also establish whether the material usage is based on time (variable material consumption) or not (fixed material consumption).

Material resources are different from work resources in a number of ways:

  • The overtime rate and workgroup fields are disabled.
  • Unit availability cannot be specified.
  • Material resources are not leveled.
  • Material resources don't use resource calendars.
  • The cost per use works differently than it does for work resources.

Using assignment units for material resources

For material resources, the Units (or Assignment Units) field indicates the material consumption rate; that is, the number or rate of units of material being used for the assignment. There are two types of material assignment units: fixed and variable.

A fixed material consumption indicates that regardless of the task duration, the quantity of materials used will always be the same.

A variable material consumption indicates that as the task duration changes, the quantity of materials used changes proportionally. Variable consumption is indicated with a time label added to the material label in the assignment units field. While fixed consumption of steel might have an assignment units value in "tons," variable consumption might have an assignment units value in "tons/day" or "tons/d." Time labels and abbreviations are indicated the same as other durations: minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months.

For example, if the assignment units for steel are 80 tons/day on a two-day task, the total consumption (which is the material work value) value is 160 tons.

While assignment units for work resources can be expressed as percentages or decimals, material resource consumption rates are always expressed as decimals.

Entering material costs

One way to quickly enter material resources and their costs is on the Resource sheet.

  1. On the View menu, click Resource Sheet.
  2. On the View menu, point to Table, and then click Entry.
  3. In the Resource Name field, select a material resource or type a new material resource name.
  4. For a new material resource, click Material in the Type field.
  5. For a new material resource, type a measurement unit name for the material resource in the Material Label field.
  6. To track material costs, type a rate in the Std. Rate field.

Adjusting material resource assignments

You can adjust the material usage and consumption rate of material resource assignments by adjusting work and units. You can also contour material usage and set assignment start and finish dates.

When you first assign a resource to a task, you establish the assignment units. For material resources, units are considered the amount or rate of material consumption. The units you assign for material resources indicate the quantity of the material to be consumed in the completion of the task, using the unit of measurement, or label, you enter for the material resource (for example, 20 tons or 5 cubic yards). If the material resource has variable material consumption, you indicate the rate in the Units field. For example, if 10 tons of steel will be used each week on this assignment, enter 10/week as the assignment units. However, if the resource has fixed material consumption, then simply enter the total quantity of material to be used, without a time label. For example, if 40 yards of soil will be used for the assignment whether the task duration increases or decreases, enter 40.

When you assign a material resource to a task, work is immediately calculated for the assignment. For materials, work is considered to be the total material usage. The way the total material usage is calculated depends on whether the resource's consumption is designated as fixed or variable. If its consumption is fixed, the total material usage is equal to the units value. For example, if the assignment units value on a task is 20 boxes, the work is also 20 boxes. However, if the resource's consumption is variable, the total material usage indicates the total amount of material to be used throughout the duration of the task. For example, if the assignment units value on the task is 20 boxes/day, and the task duration is 4 days, the work value is 80 boxes.

In addition to changing the amount of total work (material usage) on an assignment, you can contour the material usage; that is, you can adjust how much of the total material is to be used over the course of the assignment. With preset contours, you can ramp up, ramp down, ramp up then down, and more. The total material usage for the assignment is divided over the task duration according to the contour you choose. You can also create your own work contour.

If the material resource assignment start and finish dates are different from the task start or finish dates, you can adjust them in the Assignment Information dialog box.