Goal: Optimize the project plan for resources

After you build your project plan, review the allocation of your resources. If some resources are unacceptably overallocated or underallocated, 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 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 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 feature in Microsoft Office Project 2007 can even out the resource workload for you. Or you can manually adjust the resource availability, assignment details, and task details to relieve any overallocations and balance the workload.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Distribute project work evenly with the Leveling feature in Project 2007. The leveling feature reschedules by using available slack time, splitting tasks, and adding delay until the overallocations are resolved. Because of this, leveling can often extend the project's finish date.

  • Specify resource availability by adjusting the resource's availability for the overall project. You can change the dates when the resource starts and finishes work. You can also change the unit availability at varying periods throughout the project. For example, you can schedule a resource to work half-time from January through March and full-time from April through June.

  • Change a duration by reducing the time that is planned for the overallocated task. Be sure that the reduced duration still reflects a minimum reality. When you change a duration, be sure to adjust the corresponding amount of work assigned.

  • Delay a task until the resource has time to work on it, that is, when the resource is no longer overallocated. Be aware that if the task is linked, delaying the task might change the scheduling of any successor tasks.

  • Interrupt work on a task by splitting a task to be finished when the overallocated resource (or even a different resource) has time to complete the remaining work. Be aware that if the task is linked, splitting the task might change the scheduling of successor tasks.

  •  Adjust an assignment to resolve overallocations

    Click all of the following that apply:

    • Assign a resource to a task to relieve some of the workload from an overallocated resource that is also assigned to the task.

    • Replace a resource assignment for an overallocated resource with a resource who has available time to help balance the workload for specific assignments.

    • Remove a resource assignment if you have other comparable resources who are already assigned to the task.

    • Schedule the remaining work on a task to help relieve an overallocated resource. You can decrease the amount of work that the resource is assigned to on one or more tasks. You can also reassign the remaining work to additional resources.

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, and the many other factors that go into scheduling a project.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • 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.

  •  Adjust an assignment to resolve underallocations

    Click all of the following that apply:

    • Assign an underallocated resource to more tasks for the period of underallocation. Doing this can be particularly helpful if the underallocated resource can relieve an overallocated one.

    • Replace a resource assignment with a comparable underallocated resource to help balance the workload for specific assignments.

    • Remove a resource assignment if a resource is so underallocated that you can actually free the person for work on other projects. Or you might be able to remove multiple comparable resources from an assignment if the underallocated resource is available to complete the task alone.

    • Reschedule the remaining work on a task to help relieve an overallocated resource. You can decrease the amount of work that the resource is assigned to on one or more tasks. You can also reassign the remaining work to additional resources.

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.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Review resource workloads in order to see that you resolved the overallocations and underallocations that you wanted to fix and to see whether any other resources are now overloaded or underutilized.

  • Determine whether the project end date has changed if you set a baseline for your project and you want to view the time difference between the baseline and the currently scheduled end date.

  • Show the critical path in order to check whether the critical path changed as a result of resolving any overallocations or underallocations. You might now see different dates, different tasks, and different resources associated with the critical path.

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, Project 2007 Standard



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