Your initial set of resource assignments might have been a thing of beauty. But, you know projects have a way of changing. And that might mean you have to change resource assignments. Project has several features to help you tweak resource assignments just the way you want. Ah, grasshopper, but first you must learn to master these features.Suppose you want to change assignments to squash a five-day task into four 10-hour days. By setting the Task Type field, you can tell Project whether to change work, duration, or units in response to your task changes.Then there’s effort-driven scheduling, which means the effort — that is, a task’s total work — stays the same. You usually add resources to a task to shorten its duration, which is why Project turns on the “Effort driven” check box for every new task. The work stays the same and with more resources pitching in, the task finishes in a shorter duration. If resources disappear, a task will take longer for the remaining resources to finish.The “Effort driven” check box appears in the Task Form and on the Advanced tab in the Task Information dialog box.Test Tip: Effort-driven scheduling doesn’t apply to changes to resources already assigned to a task. It’s triggered only when you add or remove resources from a task.Project meetings are the same duration no matter how many people attend, so the total work balloons as the attendee list expands. For tasks like these, turn off the effort-driven check box. As you add attendees, the total work increases (along with the task cost, a great reason to run efficient meetings).
What if your customer asks for enhancements or problems crop up? If you want to add resources to complete additional work, turn off the effort-driven check box. Add resources and Project increases the total work based on the units you assign. After you make the changes, turn the check box back on.
The following table summarizes the effect of the effort-driven scheduling setting when you add resources. (Removing resources has the opposite effect.)
Adding and Removing Resources
The Assign Resources dialog box is your best friend when it comes to changing assignments. You almost can’t go wrong answering “Assign Resource dialog box” to a question on Microsoft’s exam, 70-632. As you add or remove resources, Project asks what you’re trying to accomplish and changes the assignments appropriately. The Assign Resources dialog box also can stay open while you do other work.
When you open the Assign Resources dialog box (on the Standard toolbar, click Assign Resources) and select a task in a task view, the resources assigned to the task appear at the top of the list preceded by a check mark.
- To remove a resource from the task, select the resource and then click Remove. The check mark disappears, Project clears the resource’s Units cell, and the resource slinks back to its berth in the list of unassigned resources.
- To assign another resource to the task, in the Resource Name column click the name of the resource and then click Assign. To change the units for the new assignment, in the Units cell type the percentage.
- To replace one resource with another, select the resource you want to replace and click Replace. In the Replace Resource dialog box, select the new resource and click OK.
- When you’re done changing assignments, select another task in the Gantt chart table or close the Assign Resources dialog box. If a green feedback triangle appears in the upper left corner of the Task Name cell, Project needs some instruction from you about what you want to do.
Figure 1. You may see this dialog when you make a change to resources.
Click the green triangle and then click the Smart Tag indicator (a yellow diamond with an exclamation mark inside) to the left of the task name. Your choices are the three changes you’re most likely to make:
- “Reduce duration so the task ends sooner, but requires the same amount of work (person-hours)” is the right choice when you want to keep the work the same and change the duration based on the units you specified. Because shortening duration is the most common reason for adding resources, Project selects this one automatically.
- “Increase total work because the task requires more person-hours. Keep duration constant.” keeps the same duration, but changes the work based on the units you specified. If the customer has asked for a few more things that will take more time, this is the option you want.
- “Reduce the hours that resources work per day. Keep duration and work the same.” is what you want when you want to redistribute work to all the resources on a task. Project calculates the units for each resource based on the duration and work.
The three options are similar when you remove resources but move duration, work, and units in the opposite direction.
Using Task Types
When you change assignments, you might want duration, work, or units to stay the same. If a deadline looms, you probably want to reduce duration while changing resource units. Or you might want to keep the resource units the same when you add more work. The “Task type” value (Fixed Units, Fixed Work, and Fixed Duration) tells Project what variable you want to keep the same.
The Fixed Units task type holds units steady for each assigned resource as you change task duration or work. Because resources’ availability is typically limited, this is the default task type out of the box. Here’s what Project does to a Fixed Units task when you change duration, work, or units:
- Duration. Project adjusts the work based on the assigned units.
- Work. Project adjusts the duration based on the assigned units.
- Units. Project adjusts the duration and keeps the work the same. The program has a built-in predisposition toward changing duration before work.
A Fixed Work task means that you can change duration or units without affecting the amount of time a resource works on the task. For example, if a resource will be available only half the time, the work stays the same and the task duration increases. Here’s what Project does to a Fixed Work task when you change duration, work, or units:
- Duration. Project adjusts the units to keep the work the same.
- Units. Project adjusts the duration.
- Work. Project adjusts the duration, because the program is predisposed toward changing duration before work.
What if you lose a resource assigned to a task and the finish date can’t slip? You want the remaining resources to complete the work in the same amount of time. The Fixed Duration task type is the answer. Here’s what Project does to a Fixed Duration task when you change duration, work, or units:
- Work. Project adjusts the units to keep the assigned duration.
- Units. Project adjusts the work to keep the assigned duration.
- Duration. Project adjusts the amount of work, because project is predisposed to changing work before units.
When you combine these resources assignment features into one massive task modification, you have to do things in the right order:
- In a task view, select the task you want to modify.
- Change the “Task type.”
- Turn the “Effort driven” check box on or off, if necessary.
- Choose the resource you want to assign.
- Type a value in the Units field or in the Work field.
- Assign more resources, if necessary.
- Click OK. Project recalculates the appropriate task and resource assignment values.
- If you changed the “Task type” field or the “Effort driven” check box, change them back to their original values and then click OK one more time.
Think You Know How to Tweak Resource Assignment? Test Yourself!
Two resources are assigned to a Fixed Units task to interview the customer about change requests. Your project sponsor wants you to limit travel costs, so you decide to send only one person on the trip. How do you remove one of the resources from the task?
Answer A: In the Task Form, change the task type to Fixed Duration. Select the resource you want to remove and then press Delete.
Answer B: Select the task. In the Task Form, select the resource you want to remove. Press Delete.
Answer C: Select the task. In the Task Form, right-click the resource you want to remove and then choose Remove from the shortcut menu.
Answer D: Select the task and open the Assign Resources dialog box. Select the resource you want to remove and then click Remove.
No peeking! Scroll below the book ordering information to read the answer to this quiz.
To learn more about Microsoft certification, read, “Microsoft Project Management Certification: How to Get Started.”
The Answer to Test Yourself!
Answers B and D are correct.
You can delete a resource assignment in the Assign Resources dialog box or directly in the Task Form. You can also delete a resource by choosing Delete Resource from the Edit menu or on the Resources tab of the task Information dialog box.
Answer A is incorrect. Changing the task to Fixed Duration will reassign all the work hours to the remaining resource without increasing the task duration, which will probably make for painfully long work days.
Answer C is incorrect. Right-clicking the table in the Task Form displays a shortcut menu with choices for the information you want to see, such as Resources, Predecessors, Successors, and so on.