For Project 2013 and Project 2010 (Screenshots from Project 2013)

Assign Resources dialog box enables us to apply custom resource filters to the resource table while working on resource assignments. In this article, we will discuss how to build an interactive filter to apply to a resource list in the Assign Resources dialog box.

Consider the simple schedule below, where the resource list is categorized by a kind of hierarchical breakdown structure and some other attribute; that is, area of expertise based on location and years of experience, respectively. As shown in the picture below, a custom resource outline code field, Outline Code1 and a custom resource number field, Number1 are used to store the values.

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

 

Note that the summary codes, “LocationA” and “LocationB” are grayed out in the pick list, so they cannot be selected; this is because the checkbox, Allow only codes that have no subordinate values is selected in the Data entry options section of the Edit Lookup Table dialog box (quick path to the dialog box: click the Outline Code1 field’s column heading and then apply the commands, Custom Fields † Custom Fields dialog box | Lookup).

The picture below shows the details of the lookup table defined in the custom field Outline Code1:

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

A short description for each summary code and subcode can be added to the Description column of the lookup table. Project displays the descriptions next to the name of each item in drop-down lists.

We will now continue with creating an interactive custom resource filter; follow the steps below to define the filter:

  • Switch to the Resource Sheet view in order to set Project’s focus on the resource data.
  • On the VIEW tab, click the down arrow of the Filter box (the edit box with a funnel image, containing [No Filter] by default in the Data group) to display the drop-down menu and then select New Filter in the menu to open the Filter Definition dialog box.
  • Enter the lines representing the filtering criteria into the Filter Definition dialog box as given in the table below and click Save:
Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box
Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

Note that the And operator combines two criteria in the filter; thus, the filter will display only the resources satisfying both criteria.

The prompt texts in the Value(s) column are enclosed in double quotes and suffixed with the question marks. Using uppercase letters in the filter name helps us differentiate the custom filter from the built-in ones.

Let us now test the custom resource filter defined by applying it to the resources listed the Assign Resources dialog box. Suppose that we need to assign an “Electrical” staff to a 1-day task, Task #1 in Location A and the resource should have 5 years of experience. Follow the steps below:

  • Open a task view, e.g. the Gantt Chart view and then click Assign Resources on the RESOURCE ribbon to open the Assign Resources dialog box.
  • In the dialog box, click the plus button (+) of the Resource list options section to display the options available; select the Filter by: checkbox and then select the RESOURCES MEETING THE MULTIPLE CRITERIA filter in thedrop-down list.

In order to reapply the same filter that is already shown in the Filter by: box, click the arrow and reselect it.

  • The custom resource filter will now display a dialog box and ask for the area of the expertise information based on the location. In the entry box, we can select an item (i.e. a code) from the drop-down list, enter a partial code with wildcard characters ( * or ? ) or a full code.

Try entering these codes in the first dialog box displayed and see the results:

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

In this example, let us select “Electrical” under “LocationA”  from the drop-down list and click OK as shown below:

 Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

  • Next, the custom resource filter asks for the minimum and maximum numbers representing the range for the years of experience information in the second dialog box; enter <5> into both boxes as shown below and click OK.

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

The resource table will now show only Resource #4 as a result of filtering by the custom resource filter:

 Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

Note that the custom resource filter is applied only to the unassigned resources in the resource table. The resources already assigned to the tasks listed in the Task: section at the top of the dialog box will be displayed with a check mark on the left (in the row heading) along with the assignment data and they will not be affected by the filtering operation.

  • We can now select Resource #4 in the resource table and click Assign to complete the assignment operation.

 

The Assign Resources dialog box is a modeless dialog box. This means that the dialog box can remain open while we are working in the project plan. Therefore, we can change the task(s) currently selected, or perform an undo action while the dialog box is open. We can even use the Assign Resources dialog box to filter the resource list and then make the assignments by using the details pane with the Task Form view. On the other hand, using the Assign Resources dialog box, for example, while adding or removing resources triggers the Smart Tag help (see the related settings in the section Show indicators and Option buttons for: of the Display tab in the Project Options dialog box) but using the Task Entry view for the same purpose does not.

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

Using AutoFilter to filter the resource list

 

Suppose that we need to find out which resources meet multiple criteria, based on a task’s resource requirements; e.g. the resources in Location A and with years of experience between 10 and 15. We can use the custom AutoFilters for this purpose, in Resource Sheet view; and the steps are as follows:

  • Click the down arrow on the Outline Code1 field’s column heading to display the drop-down menu and then apply: Filters | Contains… † Custom AutoFilter dialog box | enter <LocationA> | OK.

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

 

In the Resource Sheet view, Project will now display only the resources for which the outline code contains “LocationA” as soon as we click OK in the dialog box shown above. The down arrow on the column heading will be replaced with a filter symbol (funnel) indicating that there is an AutoFilter applied to the column.

  • Next, apply the same steps as above, on the Number1 column, but this time, select the built-in custom AutoFilter, “Between…” in the Filters submenu, which opens the Custom AutoFilter dialog box with the test “is within” already selected. In the dialog box, enter <10, 15> into the second box as shown below and click OK.

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

 

The following picture shows the resulting auto-filtered resource list displayed in the Resource Sheet view:

Using Interactive Filters in the Assign Resources Dialog Box

Note that applying an AutoFilter to a column does not clear the AutoFilters applied to the other columns. In order to clear any of the filters, click the funnel symbol on the column heading, then select Clear Filter in the drop-down menu opened. You can also use Clear Filter (or [No Filter]) in the drop-down menu of the Filter command in the VIEW ribbon to clear all the filters.

Conclusion

As it is clear from the examples above, the Assign Resources dialog box allows us to do both the resource selection by using filters and the resource assignment, without switching the views. As an alternative, we can use multiple windows of the same schedule to perform the resource selection and assignment operations (e.g. a window with the Task Entry view on the left for making assignments and another window with the Resource Sheet view on the right for resource selection by auto-filtering as explained above) but it would not be a practical approach, especially when we have a long list of resources categorized by various attributes.

 

The screenshots are from Project 2013 (standalone desktop version) but the steps would also apply to Project 2010.