I recently came across a FAQ for software similar to MS Project, but lacking much of the rich feature set. In particular, it does not have individual resource calendars, and thus no way to schedule vacations as it is done in Project. The recommended workaround was to create a Vacation project. I thought that this may actually work well for in MS Project, and wanted to find out if anyone has ever taken this approach.
Some things this may solve/improve are:
– Setting vacation time in Project is a bit cumbersome (number of windows you need to drill into, etc.). This approach should be easier – just create a fixed duration task and assign the resource.
– Vacation time looks like unallocated time in Project when looking at Work. In my experience, upper management and other observers don’t think to look at Remaining Availability, so I’m always explaining that someone is not booked for a stretch due to PTO. With this alternate approach, the Vacation task should show up very clearly for the resource.
– It would be easy to see all team members’ vacation time relative to each other by simply viewing the Gantt of the Vacation project.
– When leveling a project, you won’t have to fight with tasks that end one hour into a vacation, and thus get pushed out for weeks.
The only downside I could think of is that you would have to level the resource around vacations, rather than Project automatically keeping this time clear. But I imagine there are more side-effects of this approach than I am considering. So, I would like to find out from people with more experience if there is benefit to this approach, or if there are other problems hiding below the surface.
Yes I have used this approach, especially in working in an EPM environment where vacations are not entered or planned out using Project Server. PMs can create a local vacation project that identifies time off for their team.
You seem to have it covered pretty well below. Make sure the vacation project has a higher priority than your other projects so that the vacation takes precedence, and then level your projects using Priority, Standard order. Should work like a charm.
This all assumes that you are using Microsoft Leveling feature as part of your schedule management methodology…