Lesson 2: Assign Resources and Cost

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Once a project schedule is created, it will usually have to be altered to avoid overallocating a particular resource (for instance, a subcontractor), which will cause the schedule to be held up. Knowing how to allocate resources will help keep you in control of your project from start to finish.By assigning resources to tasks, you can make sure that you have enough resources to accomplish the tasks in your project. You assign people and equipment in the same way. You assign resources to tasks to clarify responsibility for getting those tasks done. Assigning resources also helps you determine how long it will take for a task to get done, and, if you track costs, how much the task will cost.

You should assign resources to tasks when your goal is to:

  - Track the amount of work done by the people and equipment assigned to the tasks.

  - Ensure high accountability and understanding of the project --- responsibilities are clear, which decreases the risk of tasks being overlooked.

  - Have greater flexibility in planning when and how long tasks take to complete.

  - Monitor resources with too little or too much work assigned.

  - Keep track of resource costs.

After creating the schedule in the Gantt chart view, you will need to specify which resource(s) is associated with each task. To do this, find the task's line in the left panel, and click the cell in the Resource Names column. A drop-down menu will appear listing all the resources you have created. Select the appropriate resource; for instance, a task called Receive notice to proceed and sign contract could be assigned the resource G.C. General Management.​

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With regard to resource assignment, there are two types of scheduling generally met in project management:

  1 Fixed deadline and unlimited resources - it is the case when adhering to a strict deadline is mandatory, and the project manager must do whatever it takes to meet the deadline;

  2 Limited resources - when the resources are limited but the deadline is flexible; in this situation the PM is not allowed to hire new persons; overallocation is allowed, corresponding to resources working more than 8 hours a day (extra-working hours), and this degenerates in a more flexible deadline.

Project Plan 365 implements the two scheduling policies above regarding resource assignment and, also, a third one.

In the first scenario described above, the PM estimates the maximum duration for each task such that the whole project will meet the deadline. Then, it assigns all the resources necessary to accomplish the activity in the given period. If you are in this situation while planning, then Project Plan 365 must use the "Fixed Duration" policy.

In the second scenario, instead estimating the duration of the task, you should estimate the total amount of work required to accomplish the task (that is the number of hours required by a single person to do the task). After setting the work field, you assign the resources you have and the duration of the task will be computed based on the assignment. In this situation, Project Plan 365 must use "Fixed Units" policy.

The current section describes resource assignment under "Fixed Units".

You can assign one resource, a part-time resource, multiple resources, or multiple units of the same resource to a task. Project Plan 365 displays the percentage of time a resource is assigned to a task, and the number of multiple resources assigned to the task, next to the resource name by the task bar on the Gantt Chart. You can remove a resource from a task at any time.

When assigning a resource of type work, this may work full time at a given task, or part time. You indicate the percent of the work day dedicated by the resource to the task in units: 1 unit (or 100%) is equivalent to full time. Project Plan 365 allows resource assignments with 0% units and resource assignments that exceed 100% units. A resource assignment with 50% units corresponds to 4hrs/day, while a resource assignment with 200% units corresponds to 16hrs/day. If two resources are allocated to the same task, the total number of Resource Units assigned to that task is 250% or simply 2.5.

The first time you add resources to a task, you will notice that a value for the work field is computed for that task. The formula used to compute work is: task work = task duration x assignment units. If you edit again the assignment (i.e. the Resources names field), you will see that duration gets modified while the value of work is kept constant. If you modify the total amount of work required for the task and edit the work field, the duration is recomputed. Changes in duration draw updates on work. This is the scheduling behavior at resource assignment under the "Fixed Units" policy.

Assign a resource

 1. by typing its name in the cell from Resource Names column in Gantt Chart view

 2. in Task Information Resource tab type the name of the resource in cell

 3. use Resource Name cell and select from a resource from the drop-down list of available resources

 4. to assign a resource part-time, type a decimal fraction in the Units field to represent the percentage of working time you want the resource to spend on the task

 5. to assign several different resources, select them

 6. to assign more than one of the same resource, such as two carpenters, type the number of units in the Units field

Units - The number of units or the quantity of a resource assigned to a task. For example, if you have a plumbing task, you could assign two units, or two plumbers, to the task. If you have one plumber, you could assign 0.5 units (half of the plumber's time) to the task.

Once a resource is assigned to a task, the resource name will be displayed in Resource Name column and in Gant panel on the right side of gantt representation.

If you do not enter resource information, Project Plan 365 calculates your schedule using just task duration and task relationships information.

Resource assignments affect the length of time it takes to complete a task. Based on your resource assignments, Project Plan 365 also calculates costs for resources and tasks, if you entered cost information, and the amount of work completed.

Changing a resource assignment may change the duration of the task.

For many project managers, cost is an important aspect of project scheduling and control. For example, cost considerations can determine how quickly tasks are accomplished, and how resources --- equipment and workers --- are used. In some cases, the success of a project may be measured by how closely the final project costs match the baseline costs.

Sometimes resource assignment costs include a per-use cost for items such as equipment costs, setup charges, delivery, or rental fees, in addition to a standard rate. If you want to change the fixed amount charged each time a resource unit is assigned to a task, from the View menu, choose Resource Sheet. In the Cost/Use column for the resource name for which you want to change the per-use cost, type a new cost. Press Enter.

Assigning rates to resources can help you manage project costs accurately. Resource rates might be the hourly cost of workers or equipment needed to complete a task or the fixed cost per use for a piece of equipment. A resource cost usually includes the resource's standard rates. When a resource with a standard is assigned to a task, and the task takes more time than planned, the resource cost for the task can increase.

If you enter initial cost information for resources and tasks at the beginning of a project, you can predict the total cost of individual tasks, resources, phases, and the entire project.

When you assign costs to resources and tasks, you can also answer a variety of cost-related questions at any point in your project, such as:

 - What are the resource costs for this task?

 - What are the resource costs for the project?

 - How much will it cost to complete this task?

 - What is the total cost for this phase of the project?

 - What is the planned project cost?

By assigning costs to tasks and resources, you can use Project Plan 365 to monitor the cash flow of your project. As you create your schedule, you can develop "what-if" cost scenarios for your project by adjusting resources, and then reviewing the effect of changes on costs and your schedule. You can determine how much it will cost to complete a task, as well as develop a cost history for future projects.

The cost of completing each task includes the cost of any resource working on the task and any additional expenses, such as material costs and per-use fees.

In Project Plan 365, you can assign a rate to a resource by choosing Resource Sheet view from the Views menu and then in the Std. Rate, or Cost/Use field for the resource, type the rate. Press the Enter key.

Standard Rate field represents the "regular time" rate for a resource. It can be per hour, week, month, or year. For most projects, this is the prime driver of project cost calculations.

PerUse Cost defines a cost associated with the use of a resource. This might be a contract initiation charge, or you might use it for resources that work on a flat fee or per-job basis instead of by the hour. This value gets added to the Cost field of every task to which the resource is assigned. The "Use" in this case is not use on the project, but on each task. So if a resource with a Per Use Cost value of $100 is assigned to three tasks, the project will see a cost related to Per Use Cost of this resource in the amount of $300.

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   1. Now that we entered the list of resources from our project, let's insert some costs associated to each of these resources. We will enter costs both for work and material resources. Go to Resource Sheet view and in the Std. Rate column type the following cost values:​

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Notice that since we selected USD as currency at the beginning of creating this project plan, the inserted costs values will be displayed in USD currency. You can choose among different options for placement of value and currency name. Leave it as it is ($1).
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   2. Now it's time to assign resources to tasks in our project. Switch to Gantt Chart view and in the Resource Names column insert the following assignments (given by resource name and assignment unit following the resource name) as shown below. You may need to increase the size of Resource Names column, to look better at what you insert. To do this, place the mouse over the right margin of Resource Names cell from the header of the left grid, hold down the mouse and drag to the right to resize the Resource Names column.
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Notice that for instance, for task with ID = 4 (Submit bond and insurance documents) more than one resource is assigned. The task with ID = 41 (Excavate foundations) has assigned a part-time resource (Site Grading Contractor), since the assignment unit is 50%. Notice that for task with ID = 58 (Paint walls and woodwork) which has assigned a material resource called Painting Material, the material label (liter) of the resource appears after the number of units.

If you look on the right side panel of Gantt Chart, you will notice that the assigned resources to a task appear to the right of task bars.

   4. Select the task with ID = 48 (Pour concrete elevator walls) and from Resource menu, click on Assign option. To assign a resource, type their assignment unit and press Assign button. From this Assign Resources dialog you can also remove a resource assigned to a task if you want.
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5. After these assignments, you project plan will look like below. Look in the Work column and notice that work values were automatically computed based on assignment unit and task duration. Try to understand how the value of work for each task was computed.

 
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6. To have a more insightful understanding of what resources are assigned to which tasks and vice versa, what tasks are assigned to the resources in your project, you can switch to Task Usage, respectively Resource Usage view.

Switch to the Task Usage view and go to the task called Install ceiling tile, for which we indicated that its assigned resource to work also on Saturday. In the right side portion of this view, notice the value of 8 hrs of work that are indicated on Saturday.

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