In my TechRepublic series about resource leveling with Microsoft Project 2010, we've reviewed how to resource level a project schedule using built-in algorithms and how to manage resource leveling by hand. If those methods don't suit your style, Microsoft Project 2010's Team Planner view provides a simple and graphical approach to resource leveling.
The Team Planner view is a useful utility to identify resource overallocations, adjust dates, and reassign work. Tasks can be reassigned by dragging them over to an available resource, and tasks can be shifted within the resource's work timeline. The resource leveling process is a simple drag and drop graphical leveling.To access the Team Planner view, select the View tab and click the Team Planner icon (Figure A).
Team Planner view (Click the image to enlarge.)In Figure A, each resource name appears in red and indicates all are overallocated. Starting with Pete, the first task that is overallocated is the Schedule Status Meeting, which should follow Scheduling Weekly Issue Review task. By clicking the individual tasks, you can learn more about the specific tasks that need to be adjusted (Figure B). Figure B
Schedule Status Meeting task (Click the image to enlarge.)By clicking the Schedule Status Meeting task and dragging it after the Schedule Weekly Issue Review task, Pete will become properly resource leveled. Pete's name has returned to black, which indicates the resource is no longer overallocated (Figure C). Figure C
Resource Pete is correctly leveled. (Click the image to enlarge.)You can also select multiple tasks by clicking and dragging the mouse over multiple tasks, similar to how you group objects in PowerPoint or Visio. The process of dragging, dropping, and moving tasks between resources continues until the project is manually leveled in the Team Planner view (Figure D).
Resource leveled plan with Team Planner (Click the image to enlarge.)
Graphically resource leveling resources is easy to do; the only issue with this approach is readjusting the resources creates Start No Earlier Than task constraints on the leveled tasks. By adjusting dates in the project schedule with the Team Planner, Microsoft Project 2010 assumes certain tasks can't start any earlier than the date calculated by the Team Planner. In practice, these constraints make sense, as they are set based on the resource availability; however, I prefer to avoid constraint-based tasks because dynamic schedules will adjust easier as dates are updated in the project schedule. For smaller schedules, this approach works fine for leveling. If you are managing larger schedules, I prefer to use one of the methods I outlined in previous installments of my resource leveling series.
What method is best?
I am often asked to recommend the best approach for resource leveling. This is how I rank the various methods:
- Resource level by hand
- Rule Based Resource Level
- Resource Level with Team Planner for smaller schedules with less complexity
Resource leveling by hand is more time intensive, but it provides better insight into task and resource dependencies. The rule based resource leveling is effective as long as the options are set correctly. The Team Planner view is useful for smaller schedules that can be managed with constraint-based tasks.
I hope you enjoyed this series on resource leveling and that the various approaches I outlined helped you realize that resource leveling is not too difficult. If you have questions about resource leveling, please post them in the comments or contact me at andy at projectmangement dot com.