For effort-driven planning, the best way to account for individual resource availability against the project standard calendar is by adjusting the resources’ availability by percent or by units as per your preference, not by applying resource calendars. This can occur at the time you make an assignment by adjusting it manually, or by taking advantage of the resource’s default value.
If you don’t care about collecting nonproject time, the simple solution is to set each resource’s individual availability to a percentage that allows for your anticipated average for nonproject work. If you want to collect nonproject work, there are both advantages and disadvantages to approaching it through a project plan rather than the nonproject time buckets provided in the system.
How you account or whether you account at all for nonproject time is important requisite information to setting the resource default value in the enterprise resource pool. In Chapter 10 when I discussed nonproject time a la Project Server, I noted that this decision had a potential impact in resource pool settings. This is it—time to make the decision.
The disadvantage of the nonproject time buckets captured by Project Server is that they escape scrutiny before updating to the database. The fact that they’re then invisible without custom coding or database modifications makes the choice of a project plan solution rather appealing. Whether you use one plan or a number of plans will depend upon who you want to approve the reported hours. Using a project plan(s) to collect nonproject hours from resources is an option if you understand the impact and manage it.
If resource managers are responsible for updating this type of information, a possible solution is to have each resource manager maintain a nonproject work plan. The point is to structure this to what works for your organization and what’s practical with the system. Remember that whoever is supposed to accept the updates must own the assignment in the plan to establish that flow. With that in mind, design accordingly.
I recommend taking a very simple approach to establishing maintenance tasks and keep these as generalized as possible. Try to limit the tasks to three or four maximum. A timesheet gets unfriendly when it scrolls too long. Consider the psychology of your users in making these decisions.
Structure the plan using fixed duration–type tasks. Make sure that your plan has an accounting-based time frame so that the start and end reflect a calendar or fiscal year—whichever is most appropriate for your situation. You can do this by using e-days for duration, which denote elapsed days in Project.
Assign the appropriate resources to the maintenance tasks in the plan so that the cumulative total of the maintenance tasks equal the percentage of resource time that you would otherwise have deducted for default availability had you chosen not to track nonproject work. In other words, if you would have normally discounted availability to 80% for the average user, make sure that your cumulative assignments sum to 20%. Of course, set resources default availability to 100% unless other factors apply. Resource assignments in this type of plan should be set to “demand” to avoid the possibility of being accidentally altered by the Resource Substitution Wizard. More on this later.