This week I continue my exploration of resource capacity--determining who has time available for additional work, and when. While your goal as a project manager might not be to fully utilize all resources all the time, you should be informed about what extra capacity your resources may have.
In Project, the phrase resource capacity has a pretty narrow meaning. It is not a measure of a resource's skills, abilities or qualifications to perform certain types of work. In Project, resource capacity refers just to a resource's availability to perform work within a given time period. If a resource who normally works a full-time schedule plans to work the full week, their capacity would be 40 working hours. What specifically they are able to do within those 40 hours--write code, pour concrete, operate a lathe--is an entirely different question that Project does not directly help you answer (though as a project manager you should be able to answer it).
To get a general description of how Project can help you manage resource capacity in your projects, review this previous post. Last week I looked at the fairly simple visualizations of resource capacity in the Resource Graph view. You can review it here.
This week I'll dive into a more complex way of seeing resource capacity via the Resource Usage view. This is one of the more complex views available in Project, but what information it conveys can be very useful to you as a project manager.
The Resource Usage view is one of two so-called timephased views in Project. The other is the Task Usage view. The Resource Usage view shows you task assignments grouped per resource. The Task Usage view flips this around to show resource assignments grouped per task. This information appears in the left pane of the view. In the right pane is the timephased part of the view--so-called because the assignment details are organized against a timeline. The details shown include the assignment-level field values, of which Work is the default value.
Here's a Resource Usage view example:
TIP Click the screenshot image to see a larger view.
- Lous ha 200 hours of total work assigned in this project plan.
- Of this 200 hours, 120 hours is on the task Interior Illustration, and you can see how the remaining 80 hours is split between three additional task assignments.
- For the week of 6/17, Louis has 16 hours of work assigned, and those hours are all on the his assignment to the task Interior Illustration. You can see his assigned hours on other tasks for other weeks shown in the view.
This is just the default information in the Resource Usage view. There are some other options that I can explore. For example, I may want to zero in on resource costs. I can switch the table in the left pane to the Cost table, and the detail in the right pane to Cost. Here's Louis' cost data for the same assignments:
But my focus this week is on resource capacity. Specifically, I'd like to see how much time the resource has available (that is, unassigned) that could perhaps be assigned to do additional work. To see this information, I'll switch the table in the left pane back to Usage, and I'll show the Remaining Availability detail in the right pane:
This type of focus on resource capacity can be very helpful, but it comes with some prerequisites and makes some assumptions. First the prerequisites:
- I know what the maximum capacity of a resource should be. For a specific person like Louis Sousa, if Louis is available to work on my projects full-time, and my projects have a standard 40-hour workweek schedule, then Louis' maximum capacity of 100% equals 40 hours per week.
- I need to explicitly account for the resources nonworking times such as planned days off (via their resource calendar). If I fail to do so, I will effectively overreport resource capacity.
A big assumption I make with this approach is that the resource really is available to my project for 100% of their working time. For the kinds of projects I tend to manage, this is virtually never the case with knowledge workers. Alternate strategies I can employ include:
- Use a central resource pool. In the resource pool, the Resource Usage view accounts for the resource's assignments in all project plans that use that resource pool file.
- Adjust the resource's maximum capacity down (for example to 80%), or directly edit their resource calendar (for example to work at most 6 hours per day) to indicate that the resource won't really be available for work all the time they are at work.
If you account for these prerequisites and assumptions, I think you'll find the Resource Usage view and its ability to focus on just the details you want to be a powerful view indeed.
Hands-on with Project Step by Step
To read more about this blog entry's subjects in the two most recent editions of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books, see the following cross-references.
Modifying a resource calendar
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "Adjusting Working Time for Specific Resources," pg. 63
- Project 2007 Step by Step: "Adjusting Working Time for Specific Resources," pg. 70
Viewing resource capacity via the Resource Usage view
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "Viewing Resource Capacity," pg. 200
- Project 2007 Step by Step: "Examining Resource Allocations Over Time," pg. 191 (we didn't focus on the Remaining Availability detail in the 2007 edition, but this section covers the general mechanics of the usage view).
Using a resource pool
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "Creating a Resource Pool," pg. 398
- Project 2007 Step by Step: "Creating a Resource Pool," pg. 404