Delaying tasks by leveling resource workloads

If you have scheduled several tasks to run concurrently and you now find resource conflicts in your project, you can delay some of these tasks to level — or, spread out — the demands that you're making on your resources. Leveling is the process of resolving resource conflicts by delaying or splitting tasks to accommodate the schedules of assigned resources. You can ask Project to select the tasks to delay or split by using its leveling feature, or you can control the process manually by examining the project to identify tasks that you are willing to delay or split.

Automatic leveling

When Project does the leveling for you, it redistributes a resource's assignments and reschedules them according to the resource's working capacity, assignment units, and calendar. Project also considers the task's duration, constraints, and priority.

What is a task's priority? Well, in some circumstances, you want Project to level some tasks before it levels other tasks. You can do so by assigning different priority levels to tasks. By default, Project assigns all tasks a priority of 500. When you assign different priorities to tasks, Project considers the priorities of each task when you level and attempts to avoid delaying tasks in order of their priority, from highest to lowest. Effectively, Project delays tasks with lower priorities before delaying tasks with higher priorities; if everything else is equal, Project will delay a task with a priority of 5 before it will delay a task with a priority of 15. So, before you start to use the automatic-leveling feature, consider how you want to prioritize tasks.

Tip The priority of 1000 is treated in a special way; Project will not consider delaying

% any task to which you assign a priority of 1000.

To set a priority, follow these steps:

1. Choose ViewOGantt Chart.

2. Double-click the task for which you want to set a priority, or select the task and click the Task Information button on the Standard toolbar. Project displays the Task Information dialog box.

3. Use the General tab to set a priority, as shown in Figure 10-12.

Tip You might prefer to set priorities from the table portion of the Gantt Chart view or

% the Task Usage, where you can easily see the priorities of neighboring tasks.

Figure 10-12: Set a priority for the task.

Tip After you prioritize tasks — but before you level — you can sort tasks by priority to

% view the tasks that Project is most likely to level.

To level tasks automatically, follow these steps:

1. Choose ToolsOLevel Resources to open the Resource Leveling dialog box, as shown in Figure 10-13.

2. Select the Automatic option button to have Project automatically level resources, if necessary, whenever you make a change to your schedule. Select Manual to perform leveling only when you click the Level Now button in this dialog box.

3. Use the Look for overallocations on a . . . basis list box to select a basis.

The basis is a time frame, such as Day by Day or Week by Week. (The Indicator box in the Resource Usage view may contain a note that suggests the appropriate basis.)

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Figure 10-13: From the Resource Leveling dialog box, you can set resource leveling options.

4. Select the Clear leveling values before leveling check box to make Project 2003 behave like Project 98 when leveling — that is, Project resets all leveling delay values to 0 before leveling. If you deselect this box, Project 2003 does not reset leveling values but builds upon the values. During leveling, the scheduling for previously leveled tasks will probably not change.

5. In the Leveling range for panel, select either to level the entire project or to level only for specified dates.

6. In the Leveling order list box, select the order that you want Project to consider when leveling your project. If you choose ID Only, Project delays or splits the task with the highest ID number. If you choose Standard, Project looks at predecessor dependencies, slack, dates, and priorities when selecting the best task to split or delay. If you choose Priority, Standard, Project looks first at task priority and then at all the items that are listed for the Standard leveling order.

7. Select any of the following options:

• Level only within available slack: This avoids changing the end date of your project.

• Leveling can adjust individual assignments on a task: In this case, leveling adjusts one resource's work schedule on a task independent of other resources that are working on the same task.

• Leveling can create splits in remaining work: This allows leveling to split tasks to resolve resource conflicts.

• Level resources with the proposed booking type: Check this box to have Project include tasks containing proposed resources during the leveling process.

8. Click Level Now to apply leveling.

You can review the effects of leveling from the Leveling Gantt Chart view, as shown in Figure 10-14. Choose ViewsOMore ViewsOLeveling Gantt, and then click Apply. Project adds green bars to your Gantt Chart, which represent the duration of tasks before leveling. Depending on the nature of your project, Project may build more slack into your tasks.

Figure 10-14: The Leveling Gantt Chart view shows how leveling affects your project.

To remove the effects of leveling, reopen the Resource Leveling dialog box (choose ToolsOLevel Resources) and click the Clear Leveling button. A subsequent dialog box enables you to clear leveling for the entire project or for selected tasks only.

Note |f you are scheduling from a finish date, you still can level to resolve resource con

"" flicts. Project calculates the delay by subtracting it from a task's or assignment's finish date, causing the finish date to occur earlier.

Manual leveling

Manual leveling is especially handy when automatic leveling doesn't provide acceptable results. Manual leveling is also useful when you have just a few resource conflicts to resolve. To manually level resources in Project, use the Resource Allocation view and follow these steps:

1. Choose ViewOMore Views. From the More Views dialog box, highlight Resource Allocation and click Apply.

2. Highlight the task that you want to delay in the top pane.

3. In the bottom pane, enter an amount in the Leveling Delay field. Project delays the task accordingly and reduces the resource's conflict.

Figures 10-15 and 10-16 show before and after pictures for manual leveling. I used a simple situation to demonstrate the effects of manual leveling: I set up a project with only two tasks and one resource, and I assigned the same resource full-time to both tasks. Notice that manually leveling the second task delays the second task so that it starts when the first task finishes.

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Figure 10-15: The Resource Allocation view before manual leveling.

Figure 10-16: The Resource Allocation view after manually leveling the second task.
Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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.

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    Which of the following task priorities will never be delayed by leveling?
    4 months ago

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