Resource Management Using Microsoft Project

By: Suzanne Mullett

Resource Management using Microsoft Project
Management of resources is a key aspect of project management. Microsoft Project is able to assist in the complex issue of managing resources by tracking their progress, highlighting allocation issues and relating all this information to the overall status of the project.

Defining resources

In simple terms, resources can be separated into three groups: work, material and cost. A work resource is anyone or anything that works on a task and is tracked according to time spent. A material resource refers to things that are consumed by a task. Microsoft Project assumes that material resources are available in unlimited supplies. Cost resources refer to ancillary costs that are not directly associated with work and materials, such as expenses. When inputting resource data into Microsoft Project, there are several other resource categories to consider. Enterprise resources refer to those resources at the disposal of an organisation and can therefore be used in multiple projects. Non-enterprise resources, or local resources, are only available for use within a specific project. Generic resources are used to identify specific skills that are required for a project when the specific details of the resource are as yet unknown.

Assigning Resources

Microsoft Project offers two methods for entering resource data directly: the Resource Sheet or the Resource Information dialog box. The next step is to assign resources to a specific task. The benefit of this step is that it is possible to see how long it will take to complete a task, how much it will cost and who is responsible for completing that task. One resource can be assigned to several different tasks and one task can be assigned several different resources. Microsoft Project is able to estimate the duration of a task based on the availability of each resource. If additional resources are assigned to a particular task, Microsoft Project can calculate how much less time is required for task completion. This is referred to as effort-driven scheduling and is the default option. There are occasions where it is not appropriate to use effort-driven scheduling for a task. For example, a meeting will take the same amount of time to complete (as long as it stays focussed) regardless of the number of individuals attending.

Resource Allocation Problems

It is important to ensure that all resources have been appropriately assigned to tasks to ensure a successful outcome. Microsoft Project provides several ways of doing this. By looking at the Resource Sheet it is possible to identify whether resources have been under allocated or over allocated for a specific time period. An alternative way of seeing the same information but in a graphical format is to select the Resource Graph option.

By attending Microsoft Project training it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of resource allocation and how best to use this software to achieve successful outcomes.

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