A feature in Oracle Primavera P6 that generates a lot of interest is the ability to adjust a project schedule based upon resource availability.
An enterprise tool like Primavera P6 is ideally placed to do this type of capacity planning because it is working with a pool of resources that are shared by all projects in one central system. If you have just 10 engineers, and the schedules are calling for 11 engineers in a particular period, you will see an overload. Excellent. If you use the ‘Level Resources’ option, P6 will shift activities to offset the overload within selected priority and float limits to level out such overloads. Even more excellent.
However, there are caveats to this that you should be aware of before attempting to level resources. Specifically, keep in mind that Primavera P6 can only level resource overloads that occur between two or more activities. As you see in the following example, activity B has been moved to the earliest dates it can start where ENG01 is not overloaded. Initially activity A and B were both bidding for the same resource at the same time, causing an overload.
If you overload a single activity however, Primavera P6 cannot level it because moving its dates doesn’t solve the problem.
Mixing labor and non-labor on one activity
Another trap to watch out for is mixing labor and non-labor resources on activities you are attempting to level. Generally non-labor resources are massively overloaded as they represent some unlimited pool of equipment or material needed for the activity. However, when you’re leveling, you’re typically trying to sort out labor resource conflicts on activities. If you mix up overloaded non-labor resource with the labor, the leveler will ignore the activity: it can’t do anything with it.
If you need to level labor on mixed assignment activities, you can use the Select Resources… option in the Level Resources dialog. When you uncheck the ‘Level all resources’ option, you can click on the Select Resources… button and choose just the Labor resource from the list. This will allow P6 to level overloads on only the selected resources; in this example, on just the Subcontractor Labor resource.
This final screenshot shows how an activity that has a non-labor and labor overloaded resource profile has been successfully leveled by selecting only labor resources to be leveled as described above.
The final caveat is a more general statement that, if you intend to start capacity planning in this way, you’re schedules must be very accurately developed and maintained. Good scheduling practice and maturity coupled with rigid status update processes must be in place before a scheduling tool can start to help you with capacity planning.
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