A problem frequently posed to me is this: “I don’t have the need for full resource management in Microsoft Project. I have simple projects and manage few people. I don’t need to worry about over-allocation or leveling resources. I don’t track resource cost or work by individual. What I do need is a label on tasks that tells me who is working on them so I can see task assignments at a glance. How can I accomplish that?”

When projects are few, small and simple, this is a reasonable request.

It takes only a little configuration to go from this typical Gantt chart:


To this Gantt chart with labels for resources:


Notice that resources are identified in the task sheet and the Gantt chart. These are “resource labels.” There are no resources defined in the project displayed above. A resource label is the result of selecting text from a customized text field and associated Lookup table. This is done for each task in a simple list such as those tasks in that first figure. Then they’re grouped, resulting in what’s shown in the second figure, thereby answering the user need for simplicity.

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I’ll walk you through the steps to create resource labels. You start by creating the custom field and Lookup table:

1. Click on the “Project” tab and click on the “Custom Fields” button.

2. Configure your custom field and Lookup table as shown in the figure below but using your own resource list:


Make sure you “Close” the Lookup table definition and “OK” the “Custom Fields” dialog.

3. Insert the new custom field into the sheet (to the left of the Gantt chart) and pick a resource label for each task that’s available from the new field.

4. Create the Resource Label Group and apply it for visibility by clicking on the “View” tab and choosing “New Group By” in the “Group” dropdown.

5. Configure a custom Group as defined in the figure below:


6. Select your new Custom Group from the Group dropdown. It will be listed at the top of the list under “Custom,” as shown here:


You can go back to the original look and feel by selecting the “Group” dropdown and choosing “[No Group]” from the built in Groups.

You’re done!

One last thing: Resource Labels are a first step into resource management. It won’t take the place of scheduling and managing resources at the level many of us need in order to report labor cost and effort. It’s a great technique if your needs are simple and you aren’t bombarded with projects.

A version of this article first appeared on Sam Huffman’s blog.

Image courtesy of dann toliver under creative commons 2.0. Image cropped from original source.