First off, a heuristic is a fancy way of saying "rule of thumb." A resource-leveling heuristic is a method to flatten the schedule when resources are over-allocated. Resource leveling can be applied using different methods to accomplish different goals. One of the most common methods is to ensure that workers are not overextended on activities.
For example, Sarah is assigned to Task C and Task H, which are planned to happen concurrently. Sarah cannot be in two places at once, so resource leveling changes the timing of the activities so that Sarah can complete Task C and then move on to Task H. As expected, however, resource leveling often extends the project end date.
Another method for resource leveling is to take resources off of noncritical path activities and apply them to critical path activities to ensure that the project end date is met. This method takes advantage of available slack and balances the expected duration of the noncritical path with the expected duration of the critical path.
Resource leveling also provides for changing the project schedule to allow for long work hours to complete the project work, such as weekends, evenings, or even adding a second or third shift to bring the project back in alignment. Another approach, also part of resource leveling, is to change the resources, tools, or equipment used to complete the project work faster. For example, a project manager could request the printer to use a different, faster printing press to complete the printing activity than what was originally planned for. Of course, these approaches often increase cost.
Finally, some resources may be scarce to the project. Consider a highly skilled technician or consultant who is only available on a particular date to contribute to the project. These resources are scheduled from the project end date, rather than the start date. This is known as reverse resource allocation scheduling.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.