So far in this series I’ve illustrated two very powerful features of Project 2007: Multiple Undo / Redo and Change Highlighting. In this article I examine cost and budget resources and how they might be used. What these new types of resources give you is a cost analysis tool to use in controlling and reporting project status in terms of cost and budget. In fact, you now can compare the baseline costs to actual costs and your budget! You’ll have to do a little work to get the benefit of these new tools. I’ll go through the set-up of each, starting with cost resources.
The Cost Resource
In previous versions of Project only two types of resources were available: work and material. There was no way to capture other types of costs such as lodging or airfare other than as a fixed cost for a task. With the new cost resource you now have a way to capture these types of expense and to account for them in your project plan. Here’s how you do it:
1. Create the Resource.
2. Choose “Cost” for the type of resource. See Figure 1.
Figure 1: Creating the Cost resource.
3. Assign the cost resource to a task and enter the resource cost for the task. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Assigning the resource and its cost.
There are two considerations in using the cost resource. First, cost resources can’t be associated with a calendar and so don’t affect the schedule. Second, the cost of this type of resource is entered at its assignment and isn’t the result of work/schedule calculations. Naturally, the cost may be edited later if it’s unknown or incorrect at the time of resource assignment.
The Budget Resource
Project Help describes a budget resource thus: “A budget resource captures the maximum capacity for a project to consume money, work or material units for a project. Budgets can only be applied at the project level by assigning a budget resource to the project summary task.” Budget resource capacities quoted aren’t calculated; they are manually entered for comparisons with other data. It takes a little work, but the result is worth it! Setting up a budget resource takes five steps:
Step 1: Create budget resources for your project
What differentiates a budget resource from other resources is that it’s identified as a “Budget” type in resource Information. In Figure 3, note that the budget resource is also a cost resource.
Figure 3: Create the budget resource.
Step 2: Assign the budget resources to the project summary task.
The Project Summary Task isn’t visible by default. The first step is to make it visible for use. Choose Tools | Options from the Menu. Then select the View tab and ensure “Show project summary task” is checked. See Figure 4.
Figure 4: Ensuring the project summary task is visible.
Next, assign the Budget resources to the project summary task for the purpose of visibility and reporting. To bring up the Assign Resources dialog box for your use, click on the project summary task and select the shortcut keys Alt/F10 or just double click on the project summary task. Figure 5 is an example of the project summary task assignment.
Figure 5: Assign the budget resources to the project summary task.
Step 3: Enter values for the budget resources
I like to enter these values in the task Usage View. Just insert the columns “Budget Cost” and “Budget Work” into the default Usage table and enter the budget values as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: The task Usage View with the Budget Cost and Work fields inserted into the Usage Table.
Each of the Budget resources was assigned its value directly in its corresponding budget field. The budget for travel was entered into the Budget Cost field and the work (amount of labor) budget was entered into the Budget Work field. Note that the Budget-Materials resource is used to capture the units budgeted for a material resource, in this case student manuals. The costs for this resource are established at the time of task assignment and are included in a task’s total cost. I have included a few other examples of how a budget resource might be used, such as the budget for the cost of labor associated with training.
Step 4: Categorize resource costs according to budget type
The goal of this step is to have all of the pieces in place so we may eventually group and compare our resources by budget type. This begins on the Resource Sheet. First, insert a custom text field to identify the type of budget that the resource belongs to. See Figure 7 for examples.
Figure 7: Insert a text field and enter the budget or category that each resource belongs to.
Next, rename the inserted Text field to indicate the budget type that will eventually be grouped. Choose Tools | Customize | Fields… Click on the Rename… button and enter the name for your Budget Category. Ensure that the “Roll down unless manually entered” option is selected under the “Calculation for assignment roles setting.” See Figure 8.
Figure 8: Rename the inserted Text field.
Your new field is now populated with information and the title reflects that information. It’s now ready to be Grouped.
Step 5: Group resources to view how they compare against the budget
This step can be made on the Resource Sheet or Resource Usage Views. Once created, the Resource Usage View gives you the ability to analyze the information in a timescale. Any Group made in the Resource Sheet will be available in the Resource Usage View.
From the menu choose Project | Group By and then click on Customize Groups By…
The Customize Groups By Dialog will be offered so that you may create a new Group. An example of Group definition is seen in Figure 9.
Figure 9: An example of Group Definition.
You can now use the new Group to view how budgets, costs and work compare in your project. Figure 10 illustrates the new Group as seen in the Resource Sheet. Figure 11 illustrates the Group as seen in the Resource Usage View.
Figure 10: The Budget category Group in the Resource Sheet.
Figure 11: The Budget category Group in the Resource Usage View
Experiment with cost and budget resources and how to group them. You will see the effects of Budget Resources on task views as well as resource views. Check out Figures 12 and 13 for examples of task views formatted to show budget, cost and work information. Finally you can see it all!
Figure 12: Task Usage showing budgets, current scheduled costs and work.
Figure 13: The Gantt Chart displaying budgets at the project summary task level along with current scheduled costs and work.
You can see there are many uses for the Cost and Budget Resources. We are only limited by our imagination. I’d like to hear about any uses you have for these new resources in Project 2007.
Next time: Project task drivers.