As we described earlier, project resources are defined as the individuals, teams, factlities, equipment, supplies, and materials needed to complete a project. Without resources, the tasks outlined in the project could never be accomplished. Some projects may require detailed tracking of all of the resources used in the project.
A company that manufactures engine parts, for example, needs to know down to the penny what it costs to produce its parts if it wants to compete successfully as a third-tier vendor to the auto companies. A project to plan the compny picnic may not carry the same requirement that every minute of time and costs spent on the project be accounted. The amount of investment you put into tracking resources depends on the goal of the project and the expectations of the people ultimately responsible for the project.
To evaluate whether you want to include resources in your project, consider the following:
• Is it important to track the amount of work done by the people involved with the project?
• Is equipment being used in the project, and if so, is it important to know how long it takes the equipment to do its job?
• Is itimportant that responsibilities for the work of the project be clearly delineated for the people who will be completing the work?
• Do you need a high level of accuracy in scheduling when individual tasks will be completed and how long they will take to complete?
• Do you need to manage work assignments to make sure that people and other resources are not over- or underused?
• Do you need assistance from the resources in other departments, teams, or external sources and have to submit a request for their services?
• Do you need to account for the time’ and costs spent on the project? All of these questions can be answered by including resources in the project. If you answered “Yes” to anyone of them, you probably want to include some level of resource-tracking in your project.
Estimating Resource Requirements After you determine that you are going to track resources in the project, you still have a few more questions to answer:
• What kind of resources do you need?
• How much of each resource do you need?
• Where will you get the resources?
Determining Types of Resources
Resources fall into two categories for use in Project: work resources and material resources. Work resources are the people and equipment assigned to work on a project.
Work resources complete tasks by expending time (or work) on the task. Material resources, on the other hand, ate supplies, stock, or other consumable items used to complete tasks in the project. :\’ow, fo’r the first time in Project 2000, you can track material resources and assign them to tasks.
To determine the types of resources you need in the project, review the project scope and task list to see what the project requires. Think about the following questions: What type of people do you need to complete the tasks? Will individuals be assigned to the project? Are teams or departments responsible for certain tasks?
Will you be using outside vendors or contractors? Are there classes of workers (recruiters or programmers, for example) that can be used interchangeably? What facilities and equipment do you need? Does the project require that you schedule certain facilities: a computer lab, conference rooms, or factories, for example? Will equipment need to be scheduled, such as servers, computers, presses, backhoes, or other industrial machines? What consumable materials will you use during the course of the project?
Does the project require building products, a special kind of paper, parts to be assembled, or other material goods? If you are uncertain about the answers to these questions, review the project specifications, consult with others who have completed similar projects, and review old project reports. If similar projects do not exist within your organization, talk with supervisors and other leaders about specific aspects of the project and to hear educated guesses about the types of resources you will need.
Mapping Out the Necessary Resource Quantities
After you ascertain the “who” and “what” of the project, you need to consider how much of each resource you need. The quantity of resources, in most cases, is directly related to the desired duration of the task. If the task is to send out marketing materials to prospective-clients and the task is estimated to take twodays, adding resources (a second person) to the project means that it could be completed in one day. If the assigned resource is only ava·lablejO work on the task four hours a day instead of fulltime, the task will probably take ~ur days. (And maybe longer because of the “gearing up” and” gearing down” that may be associated with work period-getting all the information out, figuring out where people left off, putting everything away at the end of the time, etc.) Experience and productivity levels of a resource may also influence the duration of a task. A new or inexperienced employee may take longer just because they don’t know the computer system with which they are working, or they may be less experienced with completing mail merges used to customize the marketing materials.
In other cases, the quantity of available resources has no relationship to the completion of a task. If you need to rent a computer for the staff member to prepare the mailing materials before the rest of the office equipment is moved to the new facility, renting two computers will not generally make the job go any faster for one person. Conversely, if you have only one computer, adding a second person to the task may not impact the duration.
For the purpose of working in Project 2000, it is valuable to think of work resources in terms of time (such as minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years) and to think of material resources in terms of units of measurement (such as pounds, boxes, cubic feet, tons, and dozens). Defining Max Units In Project, work resources are assigned a percentage or number to represent the maximum units the resource has available to the project. If someone, for example, is available to work on a project full-time, then they would be assigned a maximum unit of 100%. If they were only assigned to your project on a half-time basis, you would assign them a max unit of 50%. Three full-time programmers with similar skills in Visual Basic provide 300% of a VBProgrammer resource.
Because the Max Units field is a based on a calendar, the Max Units field is not used for material resources. Material resources are measured in assignment units (for example, tons or tons per day) and are set when the assignment is made. For more about assigning assignment units to tasks, see IIAssigning Resources to Tasks,” later in this .
Mastering Max Units and Resource Calendars
1M percentage used in Max Units is based on the resource caIencIar aligned to the resource. If a resource works haN-time, you can account for this in two ways: by acoustical the resource’s work on. time Or-the units. 1’he first method is the most descriptive because it reflects a person’s act u.I schedule.· In this method, assuming that all of a resource’s hours are assigned to your project, you would adjust the resource calendar to show the resource’s actual part-time schedule.
The Max Units would show 100% because the resource has 100% of tht!ir available 20 hours to work in this project. (For more about adjusting the base calendar, see “Defining the Project Calendar” in Chapter 6, “Building a New Project” For more on setting .up custom resource calendars, see “Setting Work.lime for Resources.
In the second method, you would adjust the max units to show the percentage of the Standard (Project) calendar, which is traditionally a 4O-hour work week.
The resource calendar would reflect a full-time schedule, so the Max Units available for this resource to work on the project would be 50%. Using Consolidated Resource Names If resources are assigned to complete the same types of tasks, and they share the same working calendar and same rates, you can enter them as one resource by using a consolidated resource name rather than listing each one separately. For example, you can enter programmers, movers, Human Resources, or the name of an organization as the Resource name and then assign them an accumulated percentage for max units. If, for example, you have three full-time programmers working on a project and you list them as a consolidated resource, the max units would be 3000Al. In Project 2000, you can use consolidated resource names and assign different work availability to resources within the group. For example, suppose you have a programmer who is assigned to work on another project for the first two weeks of your project, but will then be available full-time on your project along with the other programmers. You can use the Resource Information dialog box to set dates for each resource In the consolidated group. To find out more about this feature called Contoured Resource Availability, see
“Using the Resource Information Dialog Box,” later in this chapter. Reftnln. Duration Estimates This point in the project planning is a good time to refine best TIatesfor duration of the tasks. After you have a sense of the resources required, you can adjust task durations to more closely match your newest estimate. To change a duration, follow these steps:
1. Switch to the Gantt Chart view.
2. Select the cell in the Duration field you want to change .