Project Management

Track resources using a Microsoft Project 2007 management model

In this Microsoft Project tutorial, Andy Makar explains the seven steps you need to follow to create a resource management model.

I received an e-mail from an employee in the United States Central Command inquiring about how to use Microsoft Project to track personnel on a military base and monitor resource levels as units deactivate during a base closing. The goal was to measure the total number of personnel at any given point in time and track the resources as the base downsizes.

I developed a quick resource management model in Microsoft Project 2007 that will produce this information. Since Microsoft Project supports resource assignments and resource pools, developing an ongoing model was relatively easy. This example creates a work breakdown structure (WBS) that comprises teams or units that are allocated to different tasks.

This Microsoft Project tutorial is also available as a TechRepublic gallery.

Step 1: Develop the WBS

The first step is to develop a WBS that resembles the location hierarchy. I like to think visually before detailing the work in Microsoft Project, so I used Matchware MindView to develop a hierarchical WBS (Figure A).

The base (the top-level WBS deliverable) was divided into regions. Each region was composed of specific buildings, and each building was further defined into specific floors. A general term "location" could also be used if resources were not assigned to a specific building but rather to another ambiguous sub-region. The level of detail can be extended to individual offices or cube locations.

Figure A

WBS is using Matchware MindView.
Once I had a visual breakdown of the base locations, I exported the model into Microsoft Project. I could have used MindView to assign resources and dates, but I chose to detail the WBS further in Microsoft Project (Figure B) due to the number of resources that would be added to each location or building. Figure B

WBS is running in Microsoft Project.

Step 2: Set the project start date

As each location is assigned a decommission date, you'll want to have the correct project start date in Microsoft Project. To set the project start date, go to Project | Project Information (Figure C) and select the desired Start Date from the drop-down menu. Figure C

Set the project start date.

Step 3: Define the resource pool

The next step is to define all the resources that currently occupy the base. Since this could extend to several hundred or thousand resources, you may want to import them from an Excel extract of a resource management system. Follow these steps to customize the resource sheet:

1. Go to View | Resource Sheet.

2. Right-click these columns and select Hide: Type, Material Label, Max Units, Standard Rate, Ovt. Rate, Accrue At, and Code.

3. Enter a name and a team name in the Resource Name and Group column (Figure D). Figure D

Define the resource pool.

Step 4: Assign resources to locations

Now you should switch back the Gantt Chart view and assign resource names to the specific buildings in the WBS. Resources can be assigned by selecting the names from the Resource Name column or by using the Assign Resource dialog box. Simply click the task and press [Alt][F10] to display the resource box (Figure E). Figure E

Assign resources.

Step 5: Assign location decommission dates

With your resources assigned, the next step is to either enter the duration it takes to evacuate the building or select a target Finish date. If this is a simple planning scenario where a specific building will be decommissioned, then a Finish date would be selected. If there are building dependencies for each building, then task predecessors may be used.

It is assumed that all the resources are assigned to the building at the start of the project, so all tasks should have the same Start date. By selecting the decommission date, the Finish date will be populated. Figure F depicts the completed schedule with target dates. Figure F

Set up a decommission schedule.

Step 6: Set up the resource graph

The final step in setting up the model is to change the resource graph.

1. Go to View | Resource Sheet.

2. Go to Window | Split.

3. Click the lower window pane and select View | Resource Chart.

4. Right-click the Resource Graph and select the Peak Units graph.

5. Right-click the Resource Graph and select Bar Styles.

6. Under the Selected Resources section (left side), change the Overallocated and Allocated Resources Show As options to Area.

7. Under the Resource section (right side), change the Overallocated and Allocated Resources Show As options to Don't Show.

8. Confirm the options are the same as in Figure G and click OK. Figure G

Set up your Bar Styles options.

Step 7: View the resource graph

With the resources selected and assigned to specific buildings, you can view the resource ramp down curve over time. By clicking the magnifying glass in the lower resource graph pane, you can view the resource allocation over time. By selecting multiple resources in the upper pane resource sheet, you can view the specific resource curve for each resource in the model (Figure H). Figure H

View the resource curve.

The horizontal axis of the resource curve provides the resource count over time. Over the five-month time span, the graph starts with 23 resources and gradually reduces to zero when the base closes. The horizontal line at the top of the graph represents the original resource level at the start of the project. By adding more resources and filtering on specific team names, project managers can view individual, team, and entire resource pool curves.

Download the .mpp file

If you want to download the baseShutdown.mpp file, you can access it on my site. In my next article, I'll show how to interpret the resource management model and use several views to manage the resource decommission.


Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit

DivaG, PMP
DivaG, PMP

How to I prevent my dates from flexuating; if I have a project already set up with WBS, durations, dependencies linked and the last step I have to do it enter resources assignments? Any suggestions would be helpful Thanks

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