Project 2013 – Microsoft Project for Professionals
3 Simple & Practical Steps to Mastering Resource Basics in under 20 Minutes
An assignment is the matching of a resource to a task to do work. From the perspective of a task, you might call the process of assigning a resource a task assignment; from the perspective of a resource, you might call it a resource assignment. It is the same thing in either case: a task plus a resource equals an assignment.
Let’s look at our project.
Step 1. Open Project 2013 and open the project that we created the in the previous part of this series Task context from the Commercial Construction project template.
NOTE: Alternatively, you can follow along with a new Project created from the Commercial Construction Project Template, choosing other tasks than the ones shown in this tutorial.
Right now, no resources are assigned to work on this task. We consider that General Management will be working on this task.
Step 2. In the outline pane navigate to the task Resource allocation.
Step 3. Click in the Resource Names column and select C. General Management.
Assign Resource in Outline pane
NOTE: You can also allocate resources through the task form, which gives you more options to adjust parameters for the resource working.
In the Task Form, right-click on a free spot –> Work –> Select the Resource in the dropdown.
NOTE: G.C. General Management is a work resource. Throughout this post we will use work resources and resources interchangeably.
Microsoft Project knows three types of resources:
- Work resources include the people and equipment needed to complete the tasks in a project’s plan.
- Cost resources represent a financial cost associated with a task you need to account for in the plan. Examples include categories of expenses like travel, entertainment, and so on.
- Material resources are consumables you use up as the project proceeds. For example, a construction project might need to track steel or concrete as it is used throughout the project.
We will work with other types of resources in the Microsoft Project for Advanced Professionals series later.
Set project calendar
The time that work resources work on the tasks of a project is based on the calendar. A project calendar defines the working and non-working time for the entire project. We can also set up additional calendars to define other work schedules like part-time, work shifts or different hours on different days. In fact, every resource can have its individual calendar, which is i.e. useful for capturing vacation.
For now it is important to set up a project-wide calendar.
Step 4. Click the Project tab –> Change Working time.
Project tab: Change Working Time
Project comes with a calendar that is called standard and it’s set up from Mon-Fri from 8am to 5pm with an hour for lunch. This is shown on the right side. We can also tell that Standard is the project calendar because it says so in the For Calendar box.
Change Working Time
The Work Weeks tab has a default work week.
Step 5. To see what the hours are click Details.
Default work week
Step 6. Select Mon-Fri to view working hours in the light and click OK, after you made sure that the standard hours are set as desired.
Default work week details
The best approach for calendars is to copy the Standard Calendar. That way we can keep the one that came with Project and create one specific to the organization.
Step 7. Click Create new Calendar and name it Commercial Construction.
Create New Calendar…
Step 8. Select Make a copy of Standard and click OK.
Create New Base Calendar options
Project asks us if we want to Save changes to the Standard Calendar. We didn’t do any changes to it, but just in case we click No.
Deny changes to standard calendar
Let’s add exceptions for Thanksgiving and Christmas to the calendar as we will not expect work on these days.
Step 9. In the calendar scroll to the month of Thanksgiving and select the date, here: 11/23/2015.
Change Working Time: Select Thanksgiving date
Step 10. In the table below type Thanksgiving and press Enter.
Change Working Time: Add Thanksgiving exception
Note that the date turns red, indicating nonworking time. This can also be seen to the right of the calendar.
Step 11. In the calendar scroll to Christmas, here: 12/24/2015.
Change Working Time: Choose Christmas date
Step 12. In the table below type Christmas and press Enter.
Change Working Time: Add Christmas exception
Step 13. Confirm the changes with OK.
Now that we created the new calendar we want to apply it to the project.
Step 14. On the Project Tab click on Project Information.
Project tab: Project Information
Step 15. In the calendar box choose the new calendar Commercial Construction and click OK.
Project Information: Change Standard Project Calendar
Step 16. To see that it was applied, on the Project tab click Change Working Time and see that the new calendar is selected in the For Calendar dropdown.
Project tab: Change Working Time
Changed standard project calendar
Adjust task types
Let’s take a look at the Task Types. They are of utmost importance to every project.
Work is the number of hours of real work effort spent performing the task.
Duration is the amount of working time between the start and finish dates of the task.
Assignment Units is the percentage of the resource’s typical workday spent on the task.
To calculate the dates of a task, Project needs two of these parameters. Task values are calculated in the order of Duration, Work and then Units. The base formula is
Work = Duration x Units
In the standard setting, new tasks are created as Fixed Units tasks. Project attempts to hold the units fixed. It will calculate
Units = Work / Duration
Let’s look at the example of the task Pour concrete elevator walls.
Step 17. Select it, right-click in the task form and choose Work.
Task Form: Work
Here, the task type is fixed and the G.C. Concrete Crew works at 100% to cover 8h of work, which equals 1 day in duration.
Step 18. Increase the Duration to 2 days and click OK.
Because it is a Fixed Unit task, the 100% of assignment units don’t change. Instead, the end date gets pushed out and work is added.
Another type is Fixed Duration. Let’s assume that we know that installing pneumatic tube in elevator pit should not take longer than three days.
Step 19. Let’s select the task Install pneumatic tube in elevator pit, change the Task type to Fixed Duration and click OK.
Task Form: Fixed duration
Now the situation can occur where more resources are necessary to complete the task in the given timeframe.
Step 20. Increase the Units to 200% and click OK.
Because the duration needs to stay constant, Project recalculates the work to 48h.
Finally, a Task Type can be Fixed Work.
Step 21. Select the task Prepare and pour concrete floor in elevator pit, change the Task type to Fixed Work and click OK.
Task Form: Fixed Work
Note that Fixed Work tasks are by nature effort-driven.
It happens to be, that half of the members of the Concrete Crew will be on vacation on this day.
Step 22. Decrease the Units to 50% and click OK.
Change units on task
Because work is fixed, the duration expands to 2 days.
NOTE: To gain the most control over the schedule and minimize calculations that the Project Scheduling engine will perform, you can set tasks to Fixed Duration and uncheck Effort-driven.
Condensed version (Clickthrough):
Next weeks’ post will explore the reporting tools of Project 2013 by showing how to create and modify a dashboard, as well as working working with views and tables.