In resource constrained projects the end date of the schedule is driven by the availability and assignment of resources. Level these resource constrained projects manually to achieve the tightest schedule possible. Here’s a look at a few different ways to achieve this.
Microsoft Project has a ‘level all’ feature that will automatically level all your schedule resources, and remove any resource over allocations. This leveling resource feature, however, is limited. And the process of leveling resources requires a level of sophistication not possible in scheduling software.
It is better, therefore, to level resources manually. Manual resource leveling puts the scheduler in the driver’s seat, and enables the consideration of all the many factors affecting resource allocation in your schedule.
This article discusses the many different ways to manually level resources in a schedule to achieve the tightest schedule possible.
It is important to note in this workload leveling process the definition of a critical resource. When all resources have been leveled; a critical resource is a resource that drives the project duration or drives the finish date of a resource-critical task. With this critical resource definition in mind let’s discuss helpful ways to manually level workloads.
Assign the Best Resources to Critical Tasks
Resources come at many different skill levels. It makes sense to assign the most experienced and talented resources to the most critical tasks. This way the scheduler ensures these critical tasks are performed in the shortest possible time. Matching workers to the task is one of the rare methods for improving both time and workloads.
Reassign Critical-Resource Workload
Once the best resources are assigned to critical tasks help concentrate their focus on critical tasks by reassigning non-critical tasks to other resources. As mentioned above, critical resources drive project duration. Reducing their workload may shorten the project duration. Reassign critical resource tasks to noncritical resources. This levels the critical resource workload, and, perhaps, shortens the schedule.
In another effort, hire similarly skilled resources, and reassign tasks from critical resources to these new resources. You may also want to contract work out to subcontractors. Further, investigate splitting long duration tasks, which significantly increases scheduling possibilities. Split long duration tasks and reassign shortened non-critical elements to non-critical resources. Again, you want to reassign critical resource workload to lighten the load of critical resources and concentrate their focus on critical tasks.
Reduce Daily Effort
Adjust the daily effort of resources working on parallel tasks. Reducing resource effort on a task may require negotiation with the team members doing the work. Maintain critical task working levels at 100% to keep the schedule duration as short as possible.
Adjust Tasks within Total Float
Investigate delaying tasks with significant total float in the hopes of reducing work load over allocations. In this effort consider changing the task constraint from as soon as possible (ASAP) to as late as possible (ALAP). Delaying tasks within total float may or may not help reduce simultaneous workloads of critical resources. Explore total float delays to see the possibilities.
Resource Schedule Adjustments
Adjust the schedule/calendar of individual resources. Delay personal vacations of critical resources until after the deadline. Approve overtime and ask critical resources to either work some additional hours over the weekend or lengthened hours during the weekday. Do not make unreasonable demands of your team members, because they may burn out or leave.
Reduce unnecessary “bells and whistles” scope requirements and associated workloads without significantly jeopardizing the final product. Reducing scope is least desirable. But sometimes project pruning is required to bring the requirements in line with realistic resource efforts.
Achieving the tightest possible schedule requires manual resource leveling. Strategic placement of your best resources on critical tasks is key. Reduce critical resource workload by reassigning efforts. Fine-tune the daily effort of resources. Shift a task within its total float to possibly reduce workloads. Delay vacations and/or approve overtime. Reduce scope to reign in the requirements and align quality standards with required resource efforts.