It is preferable to level project schedules within total float. When you do this and get Microsoft Project to level resources, the leveling process does not extend the project duration. Most projects are time constrained. It makes sense, therefore, that you would want to level resources in a way that does not delay the project end date. It is possible in Microsoft Project to level resources completely and/or level resources within available total float.
Leveling resources completely provides the scheduler with the worst case schedule end date for a resource constrained project. So it is useful to know the project completion date assuming a completely resource leveled schedule. Though this provides helpful scheduling insight most projects have specified deadlines. Schedule deadlines make it ultimately preferable to level resources within total float, and not have the leveling procedure affect the end date of the project.
This article demonstrates the process using Microsoft Project to level resources within available total float.
We begin with our demonstration project, Figure 1.
This schedule models the planning stages of a project. The project manager is assigned three efforts in this schedule: ‘write statement of work’, ‘write environmental protection plan’, and ‘write safely plan’. All these tasks are scheduled in parallel. The acquire permits task has no resource. Observe from the resource graph, Figure 1, that the project manager is over allocated. Also, note the January 10th, 2018 end date of the project.
Let’s proceed and level resources. Select the resource tab, level ribbon group, and leveling options icon, Figure 2.
Our leveling options are displayed in Figure 3, resource leveling dialog.
Toggle to level manually and to level the entire project. Note the resolving over allocations options, and, in particular, ‘level only within available slack’. (Slack is another term for float.) Currently the setting ‘level only within available slack’ is not toggled. As mentioned above, it is useful to know the project completion date when all resource over allocations have been removed. This provides our worst case schedule end date for a resource constrained project.
We select OK and observe the result of our leveling effort in Figure 4.
The resource graph confirms that all resource over allocations are removed. But note now that the end date of the project is January 15th, 2018. This January 15th end date is the worst case completion date for our resource constrained project.
Now toggle on ‘level only within available slack, Figure 5.
Select OK to level the project resource allocations. The resulting schedule is in Figure 6.
Yes, the project manager resource is still over allocated. But observe that ‘write statement of work’ and ‘write safety plan’ shifted right and, in effect, removed the resource over allocation on ‘write environmental protection plan’. Although our resource level effort did not completely eliminate resource over allocations, it minimized resource over allocations and maintained the project completion date, which is what we want.
In Microsoft Project it is possible to level resources completely to determine the worst case end date of a resource constrained schedule. It is ultimately preferable though, to level resources within total slack to maintain the project end date.
Microsoft Project can shift activities, accordingly, to eliminate or reduce resource over allocations within the allotted schedule duration. This may not completely eliminate resource over allocations, but it shows what leveling is possible within the schedule’s allotted time. Project managers can consider this information input as they negotiate to adjust resource required efforts or negotiate for more resources.