Analyze a Microsoft Project 2007 resource management model

In this Microsoft Project 2007 tutorial, Andy Makar shares several approaches to interpreting a resource management model and answers questions that a resource manager might have about a resource pool.

In my previous Microsoft Project 2007 tutorial, I demonstrated how to build a resource management model to track the ramp down of resources for an army base. You can build the same model and apply it to a PMO or a resource manager who can benefit from managing the pool of resources in Microsoft Project (this could be a project manager, an analyst, an architect, etc.).

In this tutorial, I share several approaches to interpreting a resource management model and answer these questions that a resource manager might have about a resource pool:

  • At any given date, what is our current head count?
  • What is the head count of all the engineers in the organization?
  • What are the resource head count costs?

A key differentiator in this model is that the Start and Finish dates are intentionally not linked to other project schedules; this allows the resource manager to manage the end dates rather than the detailed project schedule that may not fully account for 100% of the resource's activities. To follow along with this article, please download the MPP file on my website.

What is our current head count by date range?

By accessing the resource model, you can view the total head count at any point in time.

In Figure A, the numbers at the bottom of the graph indicate the head count. By clicking the magnifying glass in the Standard Toolbar, the head count numbers will change to provide weekly or day-to-day head count detail. By zooming in and out of the resource graph, you can quickly develop a staffing level report by any date range. Figure A

Ramp down resource model. (Click the image to enlarge.)

What is the current head count of engineers?

Another useful feature is the ability to drill down by resource category. Each of the resources can be assigned to a group or a specific skill set. Once the resources are assigned to a group and a skill set, you can filter the resource pool to allow detailed planning for each resource.

To assign a group to a resource, follow these steps:

1. Click the Resource Sheet.

2. Go to Insert | Column.

3. Go to the Group field.

4. Assign a Group name to each resource.

To assign a skill set to a resource, follow these steps:

1. Click the Resource Sheet.

2. Go to Insert | Column.

3. Go to the Text1 field.

4. Rename the Text1 field to Skill Set (Figure B).

5. Enter a skill for each resource.

Figure B

Column Definition dialog box
In this example, a team name is assigned in the Group column, and a skill is set to each resource; additional skills can be assigned by adding text fields. In this example, engineering, project management, security, and architecture are assigned to various resources. By activating the filter on the resource sheet and selecting the filter options, the resource pool can now be refined by group and skill set. Figure C displays the resource curve for all the engineering skills in the Beta Company. Remember that you'll need to highlight all the resources in the filtered resource sheet; otherwise, you'll get only the single selected resource. Figure C

Beta Company engineer skills resource model. (Click the image to enlarge.)

What are the resource head count costs?

Organizations frequently track head count and their associated resource costs. The resource model can be used to track head count costs and future head count forecasts. To track the resource cost data, the Standard Rate column and the Cost column needs to be entered into the resource sheet as follows:

1. Click the resource sheet.

2. Select Insert | Column.

3. Select the Standard Rate field.

4. Click OK.

5. Repeat the same process to add the Cost field.

For each resource, assign an hourly cost rate. The cost field will be automatically populated based on the allocation of resources with the specific date ranges. Once the rates have been assigned, you will need to click the Resource graph and switch from the Peak Units graph to the Cost graph.

1. Click the Resource graph.

2. Right-click the Resource graph and select the Cost graph.

3. In the lower window pane, right-click the Resource Graph and select the Bar Styles menu.

4. Change the options per Figure D.

5. Click OK.

Figure D

Bar chart styles
By highlighting all the resources in the sheet, the cost resource graph is created (Figure E). The bottom axis indicates the cost by date range as the model changes over time. Figure E

Cost resource graph. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Final notes

Although this example uses a military base that is decommissioning, the model applies to all resources in a given organization, team, or project. Download the sample file, replace the names and assignments to build your own model, and play with the various filters and graph views.