I want to use Project…I really do

I’m trying to come up with a solution for resource planning for my team. I’m thinking that Project is probably going to be a good tool for me to use, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to morph it into my actual needs.

Here’s the background of what I’ve got and what I’m trying to accomplish:

My team consists of three people – one manager (who is also hands-on), one senior sysadmin, and one sysadmin. Generally speaking, all team members have the same responsibilities (listed below), with the exception of me (manager) who is only about 50% dedicated to these responsibilities, but can be assigned to any of them.

Team members split time (theoretically 50/50) between project work and operations

One sysadmin is assigned specifically to a project

What I want to be able to do is book 50% of time to ops, and then using the remainder of the available time for the person, assign them to the projects. I don’t need a lot of detail on the projects – for example, I know I am working on the Widget Upgrade project, which will start on March 1 and finish up April 15. I would like to be able to adjust the amount of hours per week (for example, the first week of the project I might have 8 hours of work, but other weeks I might only have 2 hours per week, with the last week being 12 hours, or something like that).

I can’t quite muddle out how to get this to work in Project. I know how to use Project for, well, projects, but this kind of on-going thing is really messing with my heads. Any MS Project gurus out there that can point me in the right direction?

(I’m using Project 2007, if it makes a difference).

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~ by Matt Stratton on February 28, 2008.

4 Responses to “I want to use Project…I really do”

  1. …using Excel as a resourcing tool.

    Also, when you talk about adjusting the hours/week, do you mean in advance or as actuals?

  2. Yup. Excel is what I’m actually using, but since I’m running into issues where I fear “feature-creep” for my Excel sheet, I was hoping that Project might help. The biggest problem I have is that Project seems to only understand “days”, not “hours per week”. I keep wanting to make a “task” (i.e., an assigned project) have a specific duration, but when I allocate resources less than 100%, it moves the duration of the task out.

    when you talk about adjusting the hours/week, do you mean in advance or as actuals?

    Definitely from a forecasting perspective – we have a web-based tool (Replicon) that we use for time reporting and tracking. This is mostly so I can know which SA to assign to a given project – the adjusting would be if a project gets re-prioritized, and now instead of Oct 1 it starts on June 1, etc.

  3. Yeah, that’s kind of the way Project is supposed to work. You tell it how much time you want to spend total, then how much effort you put into it (percent of your time), and it figures out how long the thing will take. Working back from a deadline is a no-no (in its philoshophy.) So if there’s a way to make it do that, I don’t know it.* If you think you’ll spend 8 hours/week on something, and it will be finished in 3 weeks, then you tell project it’s a 3 day job, and you’ll be on it 12.5%.

    *I haven’t used it in years, and was never the project manager, but as a lead developer, I was the one who make those calculations, to get the numbers we gave the PM so she could put them into Project. It was very Dilbertesque.

  4. Yeah, that’s kind of the way Project is supposed to work. You tell it how much time you want to spend total, then how much effort you put into it (percent of your time), and it figures out how long the thing will take. Working back from a deadline is a no-no (in its philoshophy.) So if there’s a way to make it do that, I don’t know it.* If you think you’ll spend 8 hours/week on something, and it will be finished in 3 weeks, then you tell project it’s a 3 day job, and you’ll be on it 12.5%.

    *I haven’t used it in years, and was never the project manager, but as a lead developer, I was the one who make those calculations, to get the numbers we gave the PM so she could put them into Project. It was very Dilbertesque.

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