Hello, I am trying to set up a multitude of projects that utilize the same enterprise resources and use the project priority to have the resources leveled appropriately but I do not see the option or any way to use the leveling feature of Microsoft Project? Is it not possible with PWA and enterprise resources? What a shortcoming if so. Thanks for any help in advance. Happy holidays.
I can’t answer for PWA however I do this on my desktop using a master plan / sub-plans with a resource pool, I did a blog on my approach which may help you.
Its been a few yrs since I’ve used MS Project, but when I did, it was in a large enterprise PWA project environment with over 300 PMs. We looked at this issue for a while and basically concluded that while Project CAN do enterprise leveling, the logistics of trying to make it work added too much complexity and in the end were not worth it. Let me explain a bit.
Consider a tree ring, or target as a visual model. The center ring represents you and the projects you directly manage. It’s easy for you to make adjustments with things like project resource allocations (50% of Joes time on project A, 20% on B, and 30% on C) and enforce them. The next ring out is your peer group. The people you work with day to day who may be part of your specific PM team. At this level, you have some influence on these projects, because you can lean back and directly talk with another PM to resolve any enterprise resource issue. But the third ring out represents the entire organization. While you may have a small influence at this level, you’re often simply feeling the impacts of what those PMs do with their schedule. So this model shows you that the further away you are from schedule ownership, the less influence you have and the more impacts you feel. The more “rings” you add the worse it gets.
The second thing to consider is expertise of ALL PMs in the enterprise. We had everything from beginner MSP users to experts. But enterprise level resource leveling is a very complicated issue and the slightest goof by only one PM can easily destroy your schedules and send you chasing down a rabbit hole for days. Consider this example. I had a well structured project schedule utilizing about 30 resources. It leveled great until one week a PM in another part of the organization (the outer ring so to speak) created a new schedule and had several of my resources 100% allocated for two years. One day my project was on track, the next day my schedule showed it running 2+yrs late. It took me the better part of a week to track down what happened and help that PM fix their schedule. So the bottom line here is that higher levels of complexity, mandate/require much higher levels of competency and diligence from ALL PMs. Unless all enterprise PMs are MSP experts, this is a large problem.
The third problem we encountered was the project team members Resource Managers. These were the department IT managers to whom the developers/analysts reported. These were the folks who allocated resources from their group to projects. For example, Bob’s already allocated to Project A at 40% so you can use him at 60% on your project. The problem was the vast majority of these managers didn’t think in terms of 100% allocation. Instead, they’d tell projects A-D that each could use Bob at 100%. So the problem wasn’t the PMs, it was actually in enterprise resource management over committing their resources. Bottom line here is that the more complicated the project environment is, the more resource managers must be in tune and aligned with their roles and responsibilities in that environment to help make it work.
The fourth issue we encountered was enterprise project priorities. We had steering committees that met monthly to set priorities and often times the result was shifted priorities. In May, Project priorities were A, B, C. In June, it was C, B, A. As a result, PMs would change their project level priorities and all heck would break loose on project schedules. After everything was balanced right for the original priorities, switching project level priorities would often result in lots of rebalancing work because, for example, Bob’s 800 hrs of work on Project C was now higher priority than his 100 hours of work on Project A. As a result, Project A was now delayed for months. This was not something the Project A sponsors liked and it triggered lots of political “discussions” and put the PM in the middle of it all trying to explain to the sponsors what had happened and triggered tons of PM effort to “see what could be done to correct it” (short of re-shifting priorities back). Bottom line again, enterprise steering teams needed to understand the impacts that they would have in the enterprise management environment.
So bottom bottom line, we abandoned any attempts to utilize enterprise level project priority resource leveling and instituted a very simple 2 level process.
1) PMs have direct ownership to ensure that their projects never utilize any resource above what that resource manager allocated them to the project. Meaning if Bob was allocated to Project A at 50%, the Project A PM had to ensure that the Project A schedule never had Bob allocated on any task beyond 50%.
2) The project team resource managers had ownership to ensure that none of their resources were over committed. Meaning, between all of Bob’s projects and overhead department work, he couldn’t exceed 100%.
Now, there was some training and awareness that went with this approach, but it was simple and it ended up working very well.
Hope that helps.