It’s very common that you have weekly status meetings and that the time and cost of those meetings is not immaterial? If this is the case then Microsoft Project has a great feature that allows you to schedule recurring tasks.
Microsoft Project’s recurring task feature allows you to schedule all your meetings, such as project status meetings, all at once. Further you can determine the cost of those meetings by assigning the attending personnel as resources to those meetings. After insertion of the meetings into the schedule use the various leveling features in Microsoft Project to resolve any resource over allocations between the meetings and the other schedule tasks.
This article describes how to use the Microsoft Project recurring task feature to model project status meetings, and also how to use resource leveling to make appropriate resource adjustments for any over allocation issues. We are using Microsoft Project 2013 for these examples, however the features described are available in most versions of Microsoft Project.
Pipe Repair Project
The schedule for our meeting demonstration is the simple Repair Pipe project displayed in Figure 1.
The project consists of three tasks, and a Foreman and Pipe Fitter resource are assigned to each task. Note the cost column, which provides the labor cost of each task and the entire project.
Now we want to model the project weekly status meetings, and assign the attendees as resources to these meetings. To insert the weekly status meetings we highlighted the Demolition summary task, and selected the Task tab, Insert ribbon group, Task drop down menu, and Recurring Task, Figure 2.
In the resulting Recurring Task Information dialog, Figure 3, we’ve entered the Task Name, Weekly Status Meetings.
Next we’ve set the duration to 2h (two hours). The recurrence pattern is weekly, every one week, and on Wednesday. The Range of recurrence encompasses the entire project. Click OK, and your Weekly Status Meetings will be as displayed in Figure 4.
Assign the Project Manager, Foreman, and Pipe Fitter as attendees to these meetings, Figure 5.
Yes, assign the resources to each separate meeting and not the Weekly Status Meetings summary task. Your project should now look similar to Figure 6.
Note the red resource over allocation symbols on the project tasks and Weekly Status Meetings. Because our Foreman and Pipe Fitter are scheduled to perform the project tasks at the same time they are to attend the Weekly Status Meetings they are over allocated.
To begin the process of leveling the resources select the Resource tab, Level ribbon group, and Leveling Options, Figure 7.
Set the Leveling calculations to Manual, Figure 8.
The Automatic setting will cause project to make leveling changes as you enter schedule tasks, which is typically undesirable. We also want to look for over allocations on a Day by Day basis, so any over allocations that occur throughout the day will be adjusted accordingly.
Toggle to clear leveling values before leveling. Toggle Level entire project to set the leveling range for the whole schedule. The resolving over allocations leveling order should be set to ID Only or Standard. The ID Only considers the task ID number in the leveling process. Tasks further down in the schedule will be delayed first.
The Standard leveling order considers task dependencies, dates, and other factors to level the resources. Uncheck the ‘Level only within available stack’ toggle. We therefore are allowing the leveling feature to extend tasks beyond the length of the project, if necessary, to resolve the resource over allocation issues.
Toggle on ‘Leveling can adjust individual assignments of a task’. This option allows you to adjust a task resource independent of the other resources assigned to that task. Last, set the ‘Leveling can create splits in remaining work’ toggle on. As the option name indicates you can split a task in two in order to remove a resource over allocation.
Select the Level All button, and the leveling feature will split the tasks, as displayed in Figure 9, to resolve the Weekly Status Meetings and project tasks over allocation issues for the Foreman and Pipe Fitter.
Let’s say we do not want to split our schedule tasks. First, to remove the current resource levels, select the Resource tab, Level ribbon group, and Clear Leveling. You may also select Clear Leveling in the Resource Leveling dialog, Figure 10.
Second, toggle off ‘Leveling can create splits in remaining work’ toggle, Figure 11.
Select Level All, Figure 11, and the leveling feature will move the project tasks, Figure 12, so that there is no allocation issue with the Weekly Status Meetings and the Foreman and Pipe Fitter resources.
We can display a leveling Gantt chart to view the effects the leveling feature has on the schedule. Select the Resource tab, Resource Sheet drop down menu, more views, and Leveling Gantt from the corresponding More Views menu. The resulting Leveling Gantt, Figure 13, displays the schedule before and after leveling.
The green bars are before and blue bars after. Note the Leveling Delay column that provides the task delay in elapsed days, which is 24-hour “round the clock” time. Each project task in Figure 13 is delayed by 1.08 elapsed days to remove the resource over allocation.
Microsoft Project has a recurring task feature to support the insertion of meetings in the schedule. You may assign resources to your meetings to account for the labor cost incurred by resources attending the meetings. Make sure you assign resources to each individual meeting and not the meeting summary task.
Be mindful that these meetings can create resource over allocation issues when resources are assigned full time on other tasks. Microsoft Project has leveling features that allow you to either split tasks or shift tasks to resolve the over allocation of resources. The leveling Gantt chart provides a before and after summary of the schedule resource leveling.