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Tasks for resource are all concurrent, not sequential

Posted on 2006-06-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Configuration: Win XP Pro; Project 2003 Standard

Project parameters: Using standard calendar customized with 6-hour workdays. Each (human) resource has a custom calendar with vactation days. All tasks are set up to be completed "as soon as possible" and are "Fixed Units" and "Effort Driven."

Problem: Each resource's tasks should be automatically arranged sequentially so that the person is not tasked for more than 6 hours per work day. Instead, Project left all tasks for each resource on the same day, resulting in hundreds of hours of work associated with a single person on a single day.

Attempted resolution: I used resource leveling. This worked for one person's tasks, but not for anothers. One person's tasks are still concurrent (all on the same day). Project recognizes this as over-allocation of work to that resource, but provides no effective hints for how to resolve it.

Additional information: I don't want to set up explicit dependencies for each resource's tasks because task assignments are subject to change. Project is supposed to be able to do the task sequencing automatically (The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management with Microsoft Project 2003, p. 149).
Question by:harrismarkc
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 16944303

the right way to get tasks flowing in a sequence is to have task dependencies defined. Since you do not want dependencies and your task assignments are subject to change, you will have a floating schedule all through the project that you will fix throughout the course of the project. To do so you can define, constraints to tasks (or fixed start dates) that you change according to what you mentioned as "task assignments are subject to change".

You can also create links between project task dates. Copy the Finish field of a task and click PASTE and select special. Now paste to the Start field by selecting paste link. The end of a task will then define the start of the next task automatically.

It will be better to define the dependencies and change the dependencies when the assignments change. This way project will keep updating the task sequnces and parallel tasks.

you will define dependencies among the tasks so that Task B starts when Task A is finished and so on. This will allow the resource to complete one task and move to the other without causing overallocation.

You can also use the resource levelling feature of MS Project that will remove the overallocation by ajusting the task's resource allocation.

Follow this link see a demo on creating task dependencies.

To link tasks (make dependent):
On the View menu, click Gantt Chart.
In the Task Name field, select two or more tasks you want to link in the order you want to link them.
To select nonadjacent tasks, hold down CTRL, and then click the tasks you want to link.
To select adjacent tasks, hold down SHIFT, and then click the first and last tasks you want to link.
Click Link Tasks .

Resource leveling is a way to fix resource overallocation. Generally, resources are leveled in two ways:

1. By delaying a task until the assigned resource has time to work on it.
2. By splitting a task so that part of a task is done when planned and the rest of it is done later when the assigned resource has time.

You can delay or split tasks yourself, or you can have Microsoft Office Project 2003 do it for you, using the Resource Leveling feature. In addition, there are other methods you can use to balance the resource workload. The methods you choose to reduce overallocations depend on the limitations of your project, including budget, resource availability, finish date, and the amount of flexibility available for scheduling tasks.



Author Comment

ID: 16948464
Haris, thanks for your suggestions. I was aware of them (except for the copy and paste idea for finish and start dates). What I am looking for specifically is whether I am missing some detail required to get Project to properly use the information in the project calendar and resource calendar. If Project is not going to make use of the fact that the resource is available for only 6 hours per day, what is the point of setting up that resource's daily availability? I assume that since Project provides "working time" calendars for each resource, Project must be capable of using that information to spread a resource's work over the available days and hours.

I see the value of explicit dependencies when one task truly depends on another having been completed. In my case, there are no such natural dependencies. There are simply a number of discrete tasks that the resource must complete, in any order. Project is supposed to be able to sort this out on its own. Lastly, as I mentioned in the original post, resource leveling had no impact on this particular resource's work allocation.

I will wait to see if you (or others) have further ideas. Thanks again.

LVL 10

Accepted Solution

harisrashid earned 750 total points
ID: 16949638

You can control how much a work resource is available to work throughout the life of the project. Availability is reflected by a resource's working time, starting and ending availability dates, and any varying unit availability at different time periods. Microsoft Project uses this information to determine whether a resource is overallocated. To make changes to schedule information for a resource:
On the View menu, click the Resource Sheet. In the Resource Name field, click the resource whose working time you want to change.  Click Resource Information , and then click the Working Time tab. In the Base calendar box, click the base calendar you want to assign to the selected resource. On the calendar, select the days you want to change.

Using calendars, you can set up project and resource working times to accurately reflect resource availability information that uses when scheduling tasks, examining whether resources are overallocated, and when leveling resources.

On the Tools menu, click Change Working Time. In the For box, click the resource whose calendar you want to change.
On the calendar, select the days you want to change. To change a day of the week for the entire calendar, click the abbreviation for the day at the top of the calendar. To change all the working days, click the abbreviation at the top of the first day, and then hold down SHIFT and click the abbreviation at the top of the last day.



Author Comment

ID: 16954986

Thanks again. I had already established the calendar settings (for the project and for each resource). For now I have set up the explicit dependencies. I still think there is another way to meet my original objective, but it is elusive. I'm going to hold off a while longer to permit other entries.


Author Comment

ID: 17014967

Since no one has provided a better response, I concede that your answers deserve the points. Apparently MS Project does not support the functionality I thought it would. Thank you for your replies. After completing the current project, I will look for a more intelligent application for future project management needs.


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