Project management goal: Manage resources

Add resources graphic

The people on your team include not only those individuals assigned work to your project.

Within project management, people are part of a large category of resources that can also include anything used to complete a project, such as equipment or materials.

This overview walks you through how to add and manage people and other resources to help you end your project on time and in good shape.

This article is one of many project management goals on the Project Road Map.

In this article

Add resources

Manage resources


Example One: The accidental project manager   : You’ve been pretty good with Microsoft Project. You’re tasks are organized, linked up, and have the correct durations. Now you want to take the next big leap and assign people to the tasks. Suddenly, you’re worried about the extra views you need to master. Not only that, you realize that you need to add people to your schedule before you can assign them. And you’re also worried that too much personal information is going to be displayed about these people, such as salary, phone numbers, email addresses, and so forth.

However, adding people to a project and assigning them to tasks is fairly straightforward—as long as you start with easy steps and slowly build your skills.

Here a few things to get you started.

  • Consider how the resource numbers affect durations     The number of resources assigned to a task often influences the duration of the task. In most cases, particularly for manual labor tasks, two resources can complete a task in half the time it takes a single resource to do it. In many cases, however, simply throwing people at a task can have the opposite effect. In project management, adding more people to tasks in an attempt to shorten the project’s duration is called "crashing" the project. It can be risky way to complete a project because of the extra costs, extra communication, and other inefficiencies that can result.
    For example, the design for a new toll bridge probably isn’t going to go faster if you double the number of architects on the project.

  • Use social media to keep in touch with your team    There is more to ensuring the success of a project than collecting actuals and checking for resource over allocations. Putting faces on the people assigned to the tasks in your project is often forgotten in the maze of software functionality. This is where social media like Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube can come in handy, especially for small companies, or for projects during the initiation phase of their development.

  • Identify the resource types and quantities needed     After you gather all of the information that you need about the tasks in your project, identify the types of resources (people, equipment, and materials) and the quantities needed for each resource. Also identify any specifics and assumptions that you use about each resource's job title, skill set, experience, capability, quality, or grade.

  • Consider how the resource capability and quality affect durations     The capabilities and experience of the resources assigned to a task can significantly affect the duration of the task. For example, a team member with five years of experience can typically be expected to complete a task in less time than a team member with two years of experience.

Here are three easy steps to get you started feeling comfortable about assigning people to project tasks.

  1. Add people to your project and assign them in one step. On the Gantt chart, scroll over to the Resources column, and begin typing the names of people you want to assign to those tasks. You can also type generic names, like “Team,” “Consultant,” or “Caterer.”
    When you do this, notice that people’s names will appear next to the Gantt bars.

  2. Add details to people’s work on these tasks. Click the Views tab, and then in the Resource Views group, click the Resource Sheet view.

  3. View all these assigned tasks from the perspective of the Team Planner in Project 2010. Click the View tab, and then click Team Planer.

    Tip:  Hide columns that you don’t want everyone to see. Right click a column header, and then click Hide Column.
    Don’t worry. The information in the column won’t be deleted when you hide the column. You can always display the column again by clicking Insert column.

Example Two: The seasoned project manager   : You’ve been at this a long time. But now a new sponsor shows up at your door inquiring about a new contract that the company won that involves a project more complicated than you’re comfortable with, with vendor assignments, borrowed resources from other department, and advanced tracking, such as earned value. Now you’re worried. And the weekend is just about to start.

Fortunately, Microsoft Project has the tools you need.

Keep in mind, though, that the bigger and more complicated your organization, the more things you have to worry about when it comes to entering, analyzing, and controlling the people in your project.

Here are a few best practices to think about.

  • Review the project scope and task list      Identify the project's requirements for people, equipment, material resources, and cost resources by reviewing the project scope and task list.

  • Track resource progress    The most effective way to gauge the progress of people’s work on a project is to balance their workloads and track progress on tasks.

  • Identify resource allocation problems    By reviewing resource information, such as assignments, over allocations or underallocations, resource costs, and variances between planned and actual work, you can verify that resources are optimally assigned to tasks to get the results you want

  • Manage shared resources    After you've added enterprise resources, review or change shared resource information to make sure your project is as flexible and cost effective as possible.

  • Review and refine the duration estimates     Use the information that you collect about this project and similar projects to refine your duration estimates for the project’s tasks. The accuracy of your estimates for resource requirements (and ultimately project costs) depends largely the accuracy of your task duration estimates.

  • Expect resistance    If you plan to track work on your project, expect some resistance. Negative reactions to formal tracking of project management data is normal.

  • Obtain historical resource and duration information     Collect information from earlier project files, from databases, and from people who worked on similar projects. Look especially for information about the types and numbers of resources that were used, as well as the actual duration of tasks.

  • Use an expert to review your resource requirements     Use an experienced and knowledgeable team member to review the estimates for task duration and resource requirements. Large companies working on complex projects sometimes hire outside estimators to help.

  • Export project data to Excel for further analysis   . For example, you can export information from earned value tables to Excel, and then display the information using sparklines in Excel 2010. Earned value gives you information about how costs are being spent and how work is being performed.
    EVM in Excel using sparklines

    You can also use Visual Reports in Project to create a more sophisticated PivotChart of earned value (commonly known as an S curve).
    Earned Value table in Excel

  • Learn a few new things about human behavior    Be like the larger organizations. They often invest large sums of money to train their employees how to work in diverse environments. Convince your management to train key staff on leadership and communication skills. There are numerous training formats, but they all center around understanding and working with the difference personalities and work styles encountered in the workforce. Some examples of approaches include: Myers-Brigg and the numerous methods that grew from their work, one-day seminars on cross-group communication, and so on.

Add resources

Add resources to your project


First things first — you need to add some people or other resources to your project. The other resources could include material resources (like cement or paint), or cost resources (like airfare and dining).

Add resources to the enterprise resource pool

If you have Project Professional and you are connected to Project Server, you can add people and other resources to the collection of resources across your organization (or enterprise resource pool).

Export or import data to Excel or Visio

Sometimes you need more than Project to analyze project data. Excel's powerful mathematical and statistical capabilities can help you further analyze and report on resource information.

Remove or replace a resource assignment

If the person or other resource isn't the right one for the job, replace (or remove) the resource.

Enter or change enterprise resource information

Once an enterprise resource has been added to the collection of resource for your organization, you can modify information about the resource, such as pay rate, work calendar, or e-mail address.

Manage resources

Resource planning: A study guide for Project 2010

Learn from Project MVP Gary Chefetz about the details of managing and optimizing people and other resources in your project

Use the Team Planner

The new Team Planner view will help you assign work to resources, and move work around by dragging and dropping. Managing your team's work has become much easier in Project 2010.

Print a view or report of resource information

One of the most common activities in project management is printing project information. Printing project information has become much easier in Project 2010.

Update work on a project

Tracking the work on a project is not only critical to ensuring your project ends on time. It is also allows you to learn from mistakes that were made in a project by providing a history of project risks, issues, and successes.

Distribute project work evenly (level resource assignments)

People can get overworked, especially if they are working on two things at the same time. Leveling resource assignments is one way to even out the load.

Set working times, vacations, and holidays for your project

We all need vacations. We all get sick. And we all like our holidays. Learn how to account for this unscheduled time by adding it to the schedule.

Change the default unit format for assignments

You can display assignments for people and other resources either as a percentage or as a decimal value.

Use social media sites to help manage your team

There is more to ensuring the success of a project than collecting actuals and checking for resource overallocations. Putting faces on the people assigned to the tasks in your project is often forgotten in the maze of software functionality.

Overcome resistance to tracking

Organizational resistance to tracking project management data is normal. Learn a few methods for dealing with it.

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