MS Project set-up advice

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    • #412360

      Hello Everyone,
      Quick question about scheduling and resources I am small general contractor. When I do my labor estimates or scheduling I base the day on a 4 person crew(32 person hours). So what I am trying to do in project is set the schedule up by using days but I would like to be able to have that day equal to 32 hours of work. Then I would like to be able to apply resources of 1 person=8 hours to the schedule. I would like the duration to be altered based on the amount of people I assign to the task. I would also like to be able to set up different resources such as if I sub out work to a 4 man crew I can add to resource (Handyman contracting=32 hours) and apply the resource like one person. Hope this makes sense and thanks in advance.

    • #412362

      Good Morning R.E.
      What you’re asking can easily be done in Project. First, in a Resource Sheet view, add each of your resources. These could be names or more aligned to roles (carpenter1, carpenter2, plumber1, etc.). By default each resource will be provided an 8 hour resource calendar, meaning they are available to work (generally) from 8-12 and 1-5. Don’t worry if your team actually works different hours such as 9-6 because the important part is that they are available 8 hours per day.

      In view such as the Gantt view, create your tasks. Double click on each task to display the Task Information Window. Click on the Advanced tab and set the Task Type to Fixed Work. This locks the work value so that MS Project doesn’t change that value.
      Side note: Project has a background formula that must stay in balance on every task. Generally, its Duration = Work / Availability (total hours per day). Setting the Task Type to Fixed work locks the Duration aspect of the formula. Meaning, if you physically change the Work value, project changes Duration. If you change the Duration, project changes the Resource Assignment Units (availability), and if you change the Resource Assignment Units, project will change the Duration aspect of the formula.

      On each task, assign the appropriate resources. Assigning 4 resources at 8 hours per day, will result in total work of 32 hours per day. If you add to, or remove resources from the task, the task Duration will change.

      Hope that helps.

    • #412367

      Hi Daryl,
      Thank you for taking the time to respond. I think I understand what you are saying and how the resource types work but I am not understanding how I can use what you are saying in the method That I would like. I understand the concept of the fixed work and yes I agree I am looking to use that. When I read your answer I still see that the duration = 1 day=8 hours of work, and a carpenter = 8 hours. I seem to be able to go in manually after the fact and hard code the duration to 1 day and have 4 men assigned but that is not really what I am looking to do. What I would like to do is set task value Day = 32 hours. Meaning If I assign one man to the task it will shift duration to 4 days, assign 4 men duration stays at 1 day. As far as I can tell the schedule is based as 1:1 (1 day of work = 1 day worth of man hours. I guess what I am not understanding I how you apply this to a large scale job. How would I build the project If I had a job that was due in 5 days no one person could work over 8 hours a day but it was going to need 500 man hours to complete. By design of the task the easiest way to plan it was to do about 100 man hours a day. But I also would want to know what would happen if I did a little more on day 2 and a little less on day 5. To my thinking the best way to set up would be to give the value day= 100 and then add or subtract men=8 hours as need. Make sense?
      Thanks Again

    • #412372

      You’ve got a lot of topics in that question… 🙂
      When you mention setting a task value Day = 32 hours, assigning 1 resource extends the task to 4 days, and 4 resources brings duration into 1 day, this is exactly how Project works. Your value day of 32 hours is the Work field value on the task level. If you indicate the Task Work value is 32 hours and assign 1 resource available hours per day, Project will change the task duration to 4 days.
      In your second scenario, you’re asking about how to configure a task needing 500 hours of work but having only 5 days to accomplish it with resources only available 8 hours per day. To your point, you need 100 hours per day of labor, and with 8 hour per day resources, the only way that can be accomplished is with 12.5 resources assigned to the task (100/8).
      Project WILL allow you to change the duration and if you do that on a Fixed Work task, project will change the resource assignment units to keep that Duration = Work / Availability formula in balance. However, it does it in a somewhat sneaky manner. Assume you had your 500 hour fixed work task with 4 resources assigned each with assignment units = 100%. Initially the task duration will be about 15+ days (500/32). If you manually change the duration to 5 days, you’ve now overridden the formula and since work is locked (fixed work), and you changed the duration, the only thing project can do to keep the formula in balance is to change the assignment units. This is the sneaky part. Project doesn’t actually change the resource assignment units values. It leaves them at 100%. What it actually does is to change the value in a field named “Peak”. Peak is the actual units required to complete the work in the duration. So the assignment units will show 100%, but the Peak field will now show a value of over 300%, meaning the resource will need to do the work of over 3 resources to accomplish the 500 hours of work in 5 days. The only way to fix this is to add additional resources until the Peak value on each assigned resource is at or below 100%.

      Finally, you mention contouring the work on a task. As in 50 hours on day 1, 100 hours on days 2-4, etc. Project has a task level field named Work Contour. This field allows you to specify how project should “arrange” the work on the task. For example, in a bell curve model, front loaded, back loaded, or a flat model. There’s about 6 different contour patterns, including custom, which means you manually enter the planned work for each day. The only time this feature really works is if you have a Fixed Duration task and a small amount of work. Meaning for example, you have 5 days to complete 16 hours of work.

      Some of these are rather complicated topics and hard to discuss thoroughly in a written forum such as this. If this doesn’t help, we could arrange an offline discussion if you would like.

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