Dear PM advisor. Aug 19, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, Do you need dedicated resources to be successful on a project?

Lonely in Maryland. 

Dear Lonely,

To quote Groucho Marx: I doesn't huit!

But back in the real world, you almost never get dedicated resources so you would almost never succeed if the above statement were true. (By dedicated, I assume you mean people fully committed 100% of their time to your project.)

For one thing, even if your resources were 100% committed to your project, they may still have two tasks taking up all their time at the same time so this doesn't guarantee success. More likely, though, is that they are working many tasks some percentage of their time over the course of your project. Your job is to ensure that they are not a bottleneck. How do you do this?

When you plan your project, determine how much time they are dedicating to each task, not just the duration of the task. Plug this number into the work column of your Gantt chart. MS-Project will calculate the %time required by your resource over that period. Do this on all tasks and it will nicely add it up for you on a daily basis.

Now you have to look over the View Resource Graph to see where people exceed the % allocated to your project and do something about it. You can set this allocation % in the View Resource Sheet view. Whenever the resource exceeds the allocated %, the bar graph will show red. You need to deal with that.

Before you get too excited, make sure your timescale is correct. Notice in the above graph, it looks like I'm 100% required for a whole week in July while I'm available only 50%. But when I zero in to this week, you see it is only one day that I'm overloaded. Project will show the worst case for each time period, not average.

If you zoomed out I would appear to be 100% loaded for the entire month or year. So look instead for the details.

Next step is to do something about it. You could increase the duration of all activities on that day so that the resource is back within their availability. But be more specific. Look at the tasks using up that time and only increase the duration of tasks not on the critical path. Or delay those tasks to when that resource has availability. Look at the View Resource Usage view to see what is going on:

Here you see it is me drafting the project plan in one day. An activity that is off the critical path. I can do it in two days, or do it in one and spend all the next day on my other project.

But do this manually. Project can do it for you automatically but it cares nothing for the nuances of your project. It will simply increase all durations until everyone is properly resourced with the result being that your one year project will now take ten years. Seriously!

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send your questions to Bruce@RoundTablePM.com