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Substituting a Resource in the Middle of a Task

Background

There was a really interesting scheduling question posted recently in the Tech Community user forum on Microsoft Project. Although I was not the one who answered the question, I thought it was interesting enough to become my latest MPUG article. Following is the background information in the user’s post:

  • Chuck Kirkpatrick is assigned to work full-time (Units value of 100%) on a task with a Duration of 20 days.
  • On day #3, Chuck informs the project manager that he will be unable to work on the task from days #12-15.
  • The project manager has recruited a resource named Mickey Cobb, who has the necessary skills and is available to work on the task from days #12-15.

The user’s question was how to assign Mickey Cobb to the task to substitute her for Chuck Kirkpatrick during days #12-15 while he is unable to work on the task.

Solution

The solution to this problem requires two sets of action:

  • Create a break in the task schedule for Chuck Kirkpatrick so that he is not scheduled to work on days #12-15.
  • Assign Mickey Cobb to the task so that she is working full-time only on days #12-15.

Here is how to implement this solution:

  • Apply the Task Usage view.
  • Select the task to which Chuck Kirkpatrick is assigned and then click the Scroll to Task button in the Editing section of the Task ribbon. This action will scroll the Work hours into view in the timephased grid (timesheet-like grid on the right side of the view).

Figure 1 shows the first week of the task assigned to Chuck Kirkpatrick in the Task Usage view, along with the first week of work in the timephased grid on the right side of the view.

Figure 1: Task Usage view

  • Scroll the timephased grid to the third week of the task.
  • In the Work row of the timephased grid for Chuck Kirkpatrick, enter 0h on days #12, 13, 14, and 15.

Figure 2 shows the third week of the task in the Task Usage view. Notice that I entered 0h for Tuesday through Friday of that week, which is the time period during which Chuck will not be available to work on this task. Notice also that Microsoft Project reduced the Work value for Chuck from 160 hours to 128 hours accordingly.

Figure 2: Work reduced to 0h for Chuck Kirkpatrick

  • Right-click anywhere in the timephased grid and select the Show Split item in the shortcut menu.

Microsoft Project will create a temporary combination view or “split view” with the Task Usage view displayed in the top pane and the Task Form view displayed in the bottom pane, such as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Temporary combination view

  • In the Task Form pane, select Mickey Cobb in the Resource Name column, enter a Units value of 100% for her, and enter 32h in the Work column for her.
  • In the Task Form pane, click the OK button to assign Mickey as a helper on this task.

Figure 4 shows that Mickey Cobb is now assigned to this task. With her assigned to this task, notice that the total Work on this task is now back to its original value of 160 hours. By the way, Microsoft Project assigned her to begin her work on the first day of the task. I now need to move her work to start on day #12.

Figure 4: Mickey Cobb is now assigned to the task

  • Right-click anywhere in the gray part of the Task Form pane and select the Schedule set of details on the shortcut menu.
  • In the Task Form pane, enter the date of day #12 of this task in the Scheduled Start column for Mickey Cobb. In my example, March 22 is the date of day #12.
  • In the Task Form pane, click the OK button.

Figure 5 shows that Mickey Cobb is now scheduled to begin her work on the task on day #12. Notice that she is working full-time during the period that Chuck Kirkpatrick will not be available to work on this task.

Figure 5: Mickey Cobb assigned to start work on March 22

  • Right-click anywhere in the gray part of the Task Form pane and select the Resources & Predecessors set of details on the shortcut menu.
  • Right-click anywhere in the timephased grid and deselect the Show Split item on the shortcut menu.

By following the preceding process, the project manager can accurately schedule Chuck Kirkpatrick so that he is not working on the task on days #12-15, and then schedule Mickey Cobb to work in his place on those four days. This allows the project manager to know exactly “who does what, when, and how much” on this task!

Written by Dale Howard

Dale Howard is the Director of Education for Sensei Project Solutions.  He is in his 15th year of serving as a Microsoft Project MVP (Most Valuable Professional) and is currently one of only 39 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world. Dale is the co-author of 21 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He works out of his home in Ellisville, Missouri (a west suburb of St. Louis).

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