Eliminating Resource Overallocations Yourself

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The first two sections of this chapter provide an overview of the possible ways to resolve resource overallocations. The preceding section shows how Microsoft Project's Leveling command can eliminate overallocations, using the sole strategy of delaying assignments. This section shows you how to use Microsoft Project's views to analyze the facts and use your own judgment to implement the strategy you think best fits the situation.

Increasing the Availability of the Overallocated Resource

One way to eliminate resource overallocations is to increase the availability of the resource that is overallocated. After negotiating with the resource, you can use the tools in this section to implement the changes.

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The best place to change the availability of a resource is in the Resource Information dialog box because many of the fields that govern availability are accessible there. To display the dialog box, you must be in a view that contains resource data fields or you must have the Assign Resources dialog box open on the workspace. The best overall view for dealing with overallocations is the Resource Allocation view, which places the Resource Usage view in the top pane and the Leveling Gantt Chart view in the bottom pane. After selecting a resource name , click the Resource Information tool on the Standard toolbar to display the Resource Information dialog box.

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If the order of task information in the lower view does not appear to be correct or you want to change it, please see "Sorting Assignments in the Resource Allocation View" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.


NOTE

Although resource names seem to appear in the Task Usage view, the records are really assignment records, not resource records, and the Information ScreenTip on the toolbar changes, depending on whether you have a task or an assignment selected. If you double-click on an assignment, the Assignment Information dialog box appears.


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You can access the Resource Information dialog box by double-clicking the resource name in most views where the resource name is displayed and in the Assign Resources dialog box. This doesn't work in the Resource Form and Resource Name Form views. Double-clicking the task name in task views displays the Task Information dialog box, and double-clicking an assignment displays the Assignment Information dialog box.


Increasing the Resource Availability Settings

To change the dates when a resource is available ( assuming that it is not available for the entire project), you need to modify the Resource Availability table on the Resource Information dialog box for the resource.

For a thorough explanation of working with the Resource Availability table, see "The Resource Availability Fields," p. 297 .


To change the units available for a resource, follow these steps:

  1. Select the resource name in a view onscreen.

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    Click the Resource Information tool (or double-click the resource name) to display the Resource Information dialog box. Choose the General tab (see Figure 11.10).

    Figure 11.10. You can use the Resource Information dialog box if you want to increase either the time periods when the resource is available or the units available during those time periods.

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  3. Select the row for the appropriate time period in the Resource Availability table and enter a new value in the Units column.

  4. Click OK to accept the changes.

To check a resource's availability or current workload in the Gantt Chart view, display the Assign Resources dialog box, select the resource name, and click the Graphs button. A graphical view of that resource's workload appears. You can change the display of work by selecting Remaining Availability or Assignment Work from the drop-down list (see Figure 11.11).

Figure 11.11. You can use the Graph option in the Assign Resources dialog box to assess workload for one or more resources.

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Scheduling Overtime for a Resource

You can schedule overtime hours for a resource to supplement the regular calendar working hours. If you enter overtime hours, Microsoft Project subtracts this number of hours from the total amount of work that was to have been scheduled during the regular working hours. The regular working hours are those that are defined as working time on the resource calendar. The total work remains the same as in the original schedule, so you should not change the total amount of work for the task when adding overtime hours; you simply enter the number of hours that should be assigned as overtime. Of course, overtime hours are frequently paid for at premium hourly rates. Using overtime to solve overallocation problems may be a costly method of solving the problem, but it's not usually as costly as hiring new resources.

Before you enter overtime hours for an assignment, all the work is scheduled as regular work. When you enter overtime hours for an assignment, Microsoft Project performs these calculations:

  • It first calculates a new value for regular working hours by subtracting the overtime hours from the total hours for the assignment.

  • It schedules the new regular working hours in the available working time on the calendar, reducing the duration of the assignment.

  • It spreads the overtime hours equally over the new time period for the assignment.

If the work assignment is contoured, the overtime hours are still evenly distributed over the duration of the regular hours, no matter which contour is applied.

Note that you cannot directly enter the number of overtime hours to be scheduled during specific time periods in the timephased grid. You can, however, manually contour the regular working hours in individual cells . In fact, as you will see, Microsoft Project's calculations almost always leave the resource overallocated, even after you apply overtime, because of the way Microsoft Project distributes the work. You need to manually contour the assignment to show Microsoft Project how to remove the Overallocation indicator when you apply overtime.

You can enter overtime in the Task Form view or the Resource Form view. In either case, you need to display the work details in order to see overtime. If you use the Task Form view, you see only one task listed at a time. If you use the Resource Form view, all tasks to which the resource is assigned are displayed in the Work field's listing, and you can assign overtime to multiple tasks from the same screen. You can also enter overtime in the Resource Usage view if you add a column to display the Overtime Work field.

Let's look at two examples of using overtime to solve a scheduling problem:

  • You need to shorten the duration of a task without reducing the work.

  • You use overtime to deal with overlapping assignments.

Figure 11.12 shows a before-and-after version of an assignment for Mel Lloyd to load trucks . The original task is represented by the first resource "Mel Lloyd (no overtime)" and is scheduled to take four days. If the task needs to be finished in two days instead of four, and if other resources are not available to help, the scheduler could ask Mel to work a lot of extra hours to complete the task earlier.

Figure 11.12. You can use the Resource Usage view to apply and fine-tune scheduled overtime.

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Figure 11.12 displays the Resource Usage view in the top pane and the Resource Form view in the bottom pane. In the Resource Form view, the Work Details table is displayed at the bottom, to make the Ovt. Work field available for entering overtime.

The timephased data in the top pane displays details for work (which is total work for the task), regular work (which is work during working times on the calendar), and overtime work. The Overtime Work field has also been added to the table, on the left, as an alternative way to schedule overtime for assignments.

The second resource, "Mel Lloyd (with overtime)," has 16 hours of overtime scheduled, and Microsoft Project has shortened the duration of the task to two days. The overtime could have been entered either in the Overtime Work column in the top pane or in the Ovt. Work column in the Resource Form view in the bottom pane.

To enter overtime hours for a task by using the Resource Form view, follow these steps:

  1. Select the pane in which to place the Resource Form view. In Figure 11.12, the bottom pane is used. With the Resource Usage view in the top pane, you can just double-click the split box to display the Resource Form view; this always works when a resource view is in the top pane.

  2. Make the Resource Form view the active pane.

  3. Choose Format, Details, Work. Or right-click in the Resource Form and choose Work from the shortcut menu. In either case, the Resource Work fields are displayed at the bottom of the form (refer to Figure 11.12).

  4. If the Resource Form was placed in the bottom pane, as it is in Figure 11.12, you can select the resource in the top pane or use the Next and Previous buttons on the Resource Form view until you find the resource. If the Resource Form view is in the top pane, you can use the Next and Previous buttons to select the resource name.

  5. Select the task for which you want overtime hours scheduled.

  6. In the Ovt. Work column, type the amount of overtime work. You must use a number, followed by a time unit. If you don't specify a time unit, Microsoft Project assumes that the time unit is hours.

    If you want to remove the overtime, you must type into the Ovt. Work field.

  7. Click OK to complete the entry.

NOTE

If the resource is paid for overtime work, be sure that the resource doesn't have a zero overtime rate in the cost fields of the Resource Form view. Some Microsoft Project users mistakenly leave the overtime rate zero if overtime is paid at the same rate as regular hours.


If you have displayed the Overtime Work column in the Resource Usage view, you can enter overtime on the rows for assignments (the rows for resources do not allow data entry) just as you do in the Ovt. Work column of the Resource Form view.

In cases in which an overallocation has resulted from overlapping assignments, you can assign overtime work to one or more of the tasks to remove the overallocation. If you have two or more tasks that are assigned to one resource and that are scheduled at the same time, the simplest method is to assign all the work of one or more of the assignments (usually the shorter assignments) to overtime. This leaves the assignments that have overtime work with zero (0) hours of regular work, and it eliminates the overallocation. However, if the resource is the only resource assigned to any of those tasks, the zero (0) hours of regular work causes Microsoft Project to treat the task as having no duration and to display it as a milestone. Although you can choose Format, Bar to give the milestone a distinctive appearance, it is nevertheless confusing to see a milestone graphic on the Gantt Chart view when the task will really be ongoing until the overtime work is completed.

A better solution is to assign some overtime to both (or all) the tasks that are competing for the resource's work. For example, suppose that Mel Lloyd has two task assignments, Process Orders and Organize Shipments, which are competing for his time. Figure 11.13 shows two versions of the assignments, without and with overtime. The top resource, "Mel Lloyd (no overtime)," shows the original situation. The Process Orders task will take 1 week or 40 hours and the Organize Shipments task will take 3 days or 24 hours. The total work for the week is 64 hours, which is 24 hours more than Mel has available per week. During the time that Organize Shipments is scheduled to occur, Mel is overallocated by 8 hours per day for 3 days (that is, a total of 24 hours of overallocation).

Figure 11.13. You can split an overtime assignment between the competing tasks.

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The second resource listing in Figure 11.13, "Mel Lloyd (with overtime)," shows how Microsoft Project calculates the assignments if you assign 12 hours of overtime to both tasks. With 24 hours of overtime assigned, the regular work for the week is just 40 hours for the week, but the regular work for Monday and Tuesday is still excessive, at 16 and 12 hours, respectively, because Microsoft Project still schedules 8 hours of regular work for both tasks until the task is completed. The Leveling indicator is still displayed because the sensitivity setting is Day by Day.

To get Microsoft Project to remove the Leveling indicator, you must reduce the units assigned to each task to 50% so that the total units value is 100% (the units available) and no more than 4 hours of regular work is scheduled per day for each task. Figure 11.14 shows this change. The top resource repeats the bottom resource in Figure 11.14. The bottom resource shows what happens when the units assigned are reduced to 50% for each task. The Leveling indicator is gone, but the duration of the longer task, Process Orders, has been increased and work is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of the following week. With the 50% units assignment, the scheduling calculations keep the regular hours down to 4 hours per day, even on Thursday and Friday, when the Organize Shipments task is completed and Mel could work 8 hours a day instead of just 4. That lost time is scheduled the following week.

Figure 11.14. You can change the units assigned to simultaneous tasks to be no more than the units available.

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The final adjustment that is needed is to compact the regular work for the Process Orders task at the end of the task, where the reduced units have resulted in unused available hours. On both Thursday and Friday, the 50% units assignment causes only 4 hours to be scheduled, but 8 hours are available when the Organize Shipments task is finished. The reduced hours make it necessary to schedule work on Monday and Tuesday of the following week. Figure 11.15 shows the effect of manually adjusting the regular work schedule for those days. The top resource is a copy of the bottom resource in Figure 11.14, and the bottom resource shows the edited schedule. The regular work cells for Thursday and Friday for the Process Orders assignment were selected and 8h was typed in to replace the 4h that Microsoft Project scheduled. Then the regular work cells for the following Monday and Tuesday were selected and the Delete key was pressed to remove work for those days. Because of the editing, the Contour indicator is displayed for the Process Orders task. The final result shows the two tasks with the same duration and total work as in the original schedule, but the Leveling indicator is gone.

Figure 11.15. Manually contouring the schedule is required to keep the task durations at the same length as before assigning overtime.

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Extending the Available Hours on the Resource Calendar

If you want resources to work extra hours, you can adjust the calendar for the resource to add extra hours on specific days instead of assigning overtime. Unlike with assigning overtime, you can specify precisely when the extra work will take place. However, you cannot specify which task assignments will be scheduled during the extra time unless you manually contour the assignments. Microsoft Project uses the extra hours for any assignment that has started at that point in time, and you may have to edit the assigned work for tasks it has scheduled but that you don't want scheduled during those extra hours.

NOTE

Remember that all working hours on the calendar are charged at the standard rate for the resource. Therefore, if these hours are really overtime hours and there is a premium rate for overtime, you should assign overtime rather than add hours to the calendar.


If only certain resources work the added hours, you need to make the changes on the individual resource calendars. If the added hours are to be worked by all resources, you can make the changes on the base calendar (or calendars) for resources in the project.

To extend the normal working hours for one or all resources, follow these steps:

  1. From the Gantt Chart View choose Tools, Change Working Time to display the Change Working Time dialog box (see Figure 11.16).

    Figure 11.16. You can increase the working hours on the calendar to extend a resource's availability.

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  2. Select the resource calendar or the base calendar whose hours you want to extend in the For drop-down list.

  3. Select the date or dates on which you want the extra hours worked. Use click-and-drag to select adjacent dates. Use the Ctrl key to add nonadjacent dates to the selection.

  4. Enter the extra time in the From and To text boxes.

  5. Click OK to close the dialog box and execute the changed hours.

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If the Change Working Time command on the Tools menu is grayed out (unavailable), you probably have the bottom pane of a combination view active. Activate the top pane, and this command should be available. As an alternative, you can click in any resource field that is visible, in either the top or bottom pane, and click the Resource Information tool on the Standard toolbar to view the Resource Information dialog box for that resource. Then, click the Working Time tab to modify that resource's calendar.


In Figure 11.16, Mel Lloyd's resource calendar is being modified to extend his hours during the week of November 25, 2002, by adding 5 hours of work for each of those days, from 18:00 to 23:00. Figure 11.17 shows the before-and-after effects of extending Mel's regular hours in the same situation that is used to illustrate overtime in Figure 11.13. Resource 1, labeled "Mel Lloyd," has 8 available hours per day (that is, 40 hours per week), as shown in the Work Availability detail row. The total work required for the two tasks is 64 hours, which is 24 hours more than the hours available. Mel is overallocated, and the Leveling indicator is displayed next to his name.

Figure 11.17. Increasing the working hours on the calendar makes it possible for the resource to do more workbut that by itself won't remove the overallocation.

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Resource 2, labeled "Mel Lloyd (more working time hours)," shows that Mel's availability after adding the extra hours has risen to 13 hours per day (or 65 hours for the week). With the extended hours, Microsoft Project is able to schedule all 64 hours of the work during regular hours. And because the Leveling indicator sensitivity setting is Week by Week, the Leveling indicator is not displayed. However, the schedule is totally unrealistic , for Mel is assigned to both tasks at 100% and is scheduled for 26 hours of work on Monday and 24 hours on Tuesday. To make the schedule realistic, and to remove the overallocation highlight, the units must be reduced so that they total no more than 100%.

Figure 11.18 shows the before-and-after effect of reducing the units assigned to 50% for each task. Resource 1, labeled "Mel Lloyd (more working time hours)," is the same resource schedule shown in Figure 11.17. Resource 2, labeled "Mel Lloyd (adjusted units)," shows the schedule that Microsoft Project calculates when the unit assignments are changed to 50%. The resource name is no longer highlighted as an overallocated resource because the daily work is no greater than the work availability.

Figure 11.18. You can reduce the units to match the resource availability to resolve the overallocation.

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However, due to the reduced units, Microsoft Project's new schedule has increased the duration of the Organize Shipments task (assigning only 6.5 hours per day instead of 13 hours as before), and Microsoft Project doesn't use all the available hours for the Process Orders task when it is the only task that needs work. The Remaining Availability detail row shows that 2 hours are not used on Thursday and 6.5 hours go unused on Friday. Because the Process Orders task is not finished, the remaining work has been pushed back to the following week. As with scheduling overtime, the final step to make the schedule reflect your real intentions is to manually edit the assignment contour to take advantage of all the available hours at the end of the longer task.

Resource 3 in Figure 11.18, labeled "Mel Lloyd (contoured)," shows the results of editing the timephased work assignments to take advantage of all available hours. The Work cells for the Organize Shipments task have been restored to 8 hours per day, and that task still finishes in three days, as it did in the original schedule. During those three days, the remaining 5 available hours are assigned to the Process Orders task. The Remaining Availability details calculate how many hours can be assigned to the Process Orders task on Thursday and Friday, and those cells are edited to finish the task by Friday. Editing the work values on the Process Orders task for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as 5 hours each day reduces the total work value for the assignment to 30 hours. But you originally wanted Mel to work 40 hours on this task. So now you can adjust the working hours on Friday to compensate because Mel appears to have 13 hours of work availability. Increasing the working hours on Friday to 12h (instead of 2h) brings the total work for this assignment back up to 40 hours.

Reducing the Workload of the Overallocated Resource

Instead of increasing the availability of the resource that is overallocated, you can look for ways to reduce the demands on the resource during the overallocated period. You can cancel nonessential tasks, reassign tasks to other resources, or delay one or more assignments until the resource has time to work on them. The Resource Allocation view is an efficient view to use for these strategies.

Using the Resource Allocation View
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The Resource Allocation view (see Figure 11.19) provides a good starting point for tackling the problem of reducing the demand for an overallocated resource. To access this view, you can click the Resource Allocation View tool on the Resource Management toolbar or choose View, More Views and then select Resource Allocation from the Views list. Then, click the Apply button to display the view.

Figure 11.19. The Resource Allocation view is specifically designed to help reassign resources and redefine assignments when overallocations occur.

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The combination view in Figure 11.19 shows the names and task assignments of all resources in the Resource Usage view in the top pane. This view highlights overallocated resources and displays the Leveling indicator for resources that need your attention. Timephased assignment details in the grid on the right let you edit assignment schedules down to the hour or the minute. The bottom pane displays the Leveling Gantt Chart view, which shows, for the resource name you have selected in the top pane, all the tasks to which the resource is assigned. The Leveling Gantt Chart view has special formatting that is especially helpful in leveling resource assignments.

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You can use the Go to Next Overallocation tool in either pane to pinpoint overallocated resource assignments. In the top pane, which is a resource view, the Go to Next Overallocation tool scrolls the timescale to the next date when an overallocation begins and selects the resource that is associated with the overallocation. Clicking the tool again finds the next overallocation in the timescale and selects its associated resource.

The bottom pane is a task view that shows only the set of tasks that are assigned to the resource that is selected in the top pane. When the bottom pane is active, the Go to Next Overallocation tool finds the next overallocation associated with one of the tasks in the restricted set. Clicking the tool again causes Microsoft Project to select the next task associated with that same overallocation or to find the next overallocation in the timescale that is associated with one of the tasks in the restricted set.

NOTE

If you are trying to locate the overallocations for a particular resource, you will find that using the Go to Next Overallocation tool in the top pane can be pretty tedious because it finds overallocations for all resources. Selecting the resource in the top pane, activating the bottom pane, and using the tool there narrows the search considerably. However, the overallocation that Microsoft Project finds may be for a different resource that is also assigned to one of the tasks in the restricted set. To confirm that the overallocation is for the selected resource, check the grid in the top pane to see if there is highlighting in the timephased data for that resource.


You can use the top pane to remove a task assignment from an overallocated resource, either by reassigning the task to another resource or by leaving the task unassigned for the time being. If you want to remove an assignment from a resource without designating another resource to take its place, you can simply select the assignment and choose Edit, Delete Assignment (or press the Delete key). The assignment disappears from under the resource and reappears in the Unassigned category at the top of the Resource Usage view. You can move the assignment to another resource later. You can also select the row for the assignment and drag the assignment to the Unassigned group .

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If you want to redefine a taskfor example, by reducing its duration to help deal with an overallocationyou can select the overallocated resource in the top pane and then select the task in the bottom pane. You can either double-click the task or use the Task Information tool to display the Task Information dialog box, where you can modify the task definition.

By using the Assign Resources dialog box, you can quickly and graphically get an idea of the workload of a single resource or a group of resources by selecting the resource names and selecting Graphs. This enables you to view work, remaining availability, or assignment work in a graph-type view. If you're viewing a group of resources, any one of the resources can be removed from the graph by clicking the check mark to the left of the resource name listed on the right side of the dialog box.

When dealing with a large number of resources and using the Assign Resources dialog box to assign resources to tasks in a project, it is useful to be able to filter resources so that you can focus on a particular group of resources. You can use the new Filter By option in the Assign Resources dialog box to filter the resources displayed in the resource list.

Substituting Underused Resources for Overallocated Resources

Probably the most conventional method of dealing with the problem of overallocated resources is to find substitute resources to take some of the load off the overallocated resources. To use this approach in a cost-effective manner, you need to consider a number of things, including the following:

  • The list of overallocated resources and their current workloads per time period This tells you when overallocations occur. The overallocated resources are identified in the Resource Usage view, the top pane of the Resource Allocation view. You can use the Go to Next Overallocation tool to identify overallocations.

  • The tasks that each overallocated resource is currently assigned to work on during the periods of overallocation This identifies the tasks for which you might want to seek substitutes. These tasks are identified in the top pane by the timephased data in the grid and in the bottom pane by the taskbars.

  • The total work commitment for each of the tasks for which resources may be substituted This helps you decide which of two tasks to give to a substitute and which to keep for the overallocated resource. You can give the task that involves the most total work to the lower-cost resource to keep costs low. The total work for each assignment is displayed by default in the Usage table's Work column, which displays on the left of the top pane.

  • The availability of other resources during the overallocated time periods This helps you find resources that can be used as substitutes. Although not displayed by default in the Resource Usage view, the Remaining Availability detail is one of the details you can choose to display in the timescale grid (see Figure 11.21).

    Figure 11.21. This modified Resource Allocation view displays the cost and availability of potential substitute resources.

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  • The standard-rate cost for using each of the resources This tells you the cost of resources for those that are currently assigned to the tasks. Although it is not in the default display of the table in the Resource Usage view, the Standard Rate field can be added as a column in the table. In Figure 11.20, later in this section, it is being added to the right of the Work field. By comparing the cost rates of resources you can identify whether a cheaper resource has suitable availability and could be reassigned to another task for which a more expensive resource is already assigned. This allows you to reduce overall resource costs on a project by utilizing cheaper resources where it is practical to do so.

    Figure 11.20. You can insert columns in your tables to show field values that help you make decisions.

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  • The skill level of other resources available to do the work and the time it may take them to learn the tasks that need to be done The comparative skill levels of resource substitutes can be used to estimate how many units of the substitute resource should be assigned and to reassess how long the assignment will take. This is not a standard field in Microsoft Office Project, but you can use one of the custom resource text or number fields to hold this data and then display it in the table on the Resource Usage view for reference when reassigning tasks.

It is certainly not required that you add the information suggested in this list, but the additional information promotes more cost-effective assignments.

Because the default table for the Resource Usage view is the Usage table, you can add the Standard Rate field to that table. The following steps show the quickest method of adding this column:

For more options about customizing tables, see "Using and Creating Tables," p. 840 .


  1. Click the column heading for the Work column. For example, you can insert a column to the left for the Standard Rate field.

  2. Choose Insert, Column to display the Column Definition dialog box (see Figure 11.20).

  3. Type s in the Field Name field to jump to the field names in the list that start with s . Standard Rate appears because it is the first s field in the list. Click Standard Rate or press Enter.

  4. Select the Title text box and type a shorter name, such as Std.Rate .

  5. Click the Best Fit button to insert the column with the width adjusted to the widest entry.

  6. If necessary, adjust the column widths and the vertical divider bar so that you can see both the Std. Rate and Work columns.

Displaying details in the Resource Usage timescale is described earlier in this chapter, in the section "Working with the Resource Usage View." See that section for instructions on displaying and formatting the Remaining Availability field in the timescale. The resulting view should be similar to the one shown in Figure 11.21.

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In substituting resources, you might consider using a strategy whereby you assign only generic resources to tasks that are scheduled more than three months ahead. This provides valuable information regarding resource-loading requirements for the future and therefore an indication of what possible human resources, recruitment, or retraining implications there might be in the future. Replacing any generic resources with real named resources within a rolling three-month window (and on an ongoing basis) can form a useful strategy for dealing with resources. In the Standard version of Microsoft Project you can use a text or flag field to indicate which of your resources are generic or nongeneric. However, for more detailed requirements or automated replacement of generic resources based on required skills, you may want to consider using the Professional version of Microsoft Project in which generic resources are fully supported. Details on these features are covered in Chapter 26, "Enterprise Project Management."


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To substitute another resource for one of the assignments of an overallocated resource, select the overallocated resource in the top pane and scroll the timescale to the start of the project. (In Figure 11.21 Scott Adams is selected in the top pane.) Then activate the bottom pane and use the Go to Next Overallocation tool to find the next time period when the selected resource is overallocated. In Figure 11.21, the first overallocation for Scott is in the week of January 12, 2003, when he is scheduled to work on the Setup Assembly Line task and the Hire Assemblers task at the same time. The Zoom Out tool was used to compress the minor timescale in Figure 11.21 to weeks in order to get a better perspective on the length of the tasks. You need to decide which task will be reassigned to another resource. The task that requires the least work and takes the least time in this example is Setup Assembly Line; therefore, you can look for a suitable substitute resource for that task.

By double-clicking the Setup Assembly Line task in the bottom pane to display the Task Information Form view, you can tell that the task is scheduled from January 2, 2003, to January 23, 2003. To see what other resources might have available hours during that period, you can scroll down the list of resources and look at the Remaining Availability values for other resources. You need to find a resource with at least as many hours available during each week as the work that the task requires: 12 hours the first week, 40 hours in each of the next two weeks, and 28 hours the final week.

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If the list of resources in the top pane is long, you can highlight the time periods when the substitute must have available hours. Then, click and drag across the time units in the minor scale of the timescale to highlight those weeks for all resources (see Figure 11.22). Finally, scroll down the list, looking for available hours in the highlighted range.

Figure 11.22. Highlighting the time periods in question and hiding the assignments make it easier to find available substitutes.

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You might find it helpful to hide the assignments in the top pane so that you only see the rows for resources (see Figure 11.22). To hide all assignments, click one of the column headings to select all rows and then click the Hide Subtasks button. If you want to continue to view the working hours for the assignment for which you're looking for a substitute, click the plus-sign outline symbol next to the resource that is currently assigned to the task.

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If you have placed in the Group field, or in any text field, labels that identify resources that are qualified substitutes for Scott, you can filter the resource list in the top pane to focus on those resources. For example, the Setup Assembly Line task might require a Manager resource. If managers are identified in the Group field, you could filter the list for managers, to shorten the list of potential substitutes.


Both Mel Lloyd and Mary Logan have enough available time during the period shown, and Mary's standard rate is greater than Mel's. However, we will assume that the task is better suited to Mary's abilities and assign her to the task. Mary's standard rate is also higher than Scott's; therefore, the substitution is going to increase the cost of the task.

After a task and resource combination is selected, you can use the Resource Assignment dialog box to replace one resource with another:

  1. Select the task for the substitution in the bottom pane. As shown in Figure 11.23, the task is Setup Assembly Line.

    Figure 11.23. You can substitute Mary Logan for Scott Adams on the Setup Assembly Line task to relieve Scott's overallocation during this period.

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    Click the Assign Resources tool (or press Alt+F8) to display the Assign Resources dialog box.

  3. Select the resource you want to replace (Scott Adams) and click the Replace button to display the Replace Resource dialog box.

  4. Select the name of the resource that you want to assign as a substitute in the With list box.

  5. Change the units assigned if necessary. By default, Microsoft Project assigns the same number of units for the new resource as were assigned for the original resource.

  6. Click OK to complete the substitution.

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If the new resource is more or less efficient or skilled at the task than the original resource, you should manually adjust the assignment after the replacement to show how many hours it will take the new resource to complete the task.


Figure 11.24 shows the schedule after you substitute Mary Logan for Scott Adams. Scott's workload is reduced, and he is no longer overallocated in this period.

Figure 11.24. The schedule after substituting Mary Logan for Scott Adams shows that Scott's overallocation has been fixed.

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After the new assignment has been added to the replacement resource, you can modify the assignment in the Assignment Information dialog box. To do so, you select the assignment row in the top pane and click the Assignment Information tool or simply double-click the assignment.

Resolving Overallocations by Delaying Assignments

If resource overallocation is the result of scheduling multiple tasks at the same time, you can delay one or more task assignments to a later date to spread out the demands on the resource over a longer period of time and thereby reduce the demand in the overallocated period. You can delay assignments yourself by examining the schedule and selecting the assignments to delay, or you can have Microsoft Office Project choose the assignments to delayeither on your command or automatically as task assignments are added to the schedule. This section shows you how to level assignments yourself, on a case-by-case basis.

NOTE

This discussion is built around the case of forward-scheduled projects. Delaying overallocations means offsetting one or more tasks that would otherwise be scheduled at the same time. In forward-scheduled projects, you add a delay to a task's start date to push it back to a later date. In projects that are scheduled from a fixed finish date, however, you insert an offset at the finish of the task to cause it to be scheduled for earlier dates. Delay values are entered as positive numbers in forward-scheduled projects and as negative numbers in projects that are scheduled from a fixed finish date.


There are several ways to delay assignments yourself:

  • You can use the Delay field of the task database to enter a delay in the start date for a task, thus delaying all assignments to that task.

  • You can use the Assignment Delay field to delay the start of the assignment for just the resource that is overallocated, leaving other resources' assignments for the task unchanged.

  • If work on a task is scheduled to have started already when the overallocation begins, you can split the task at that point and resume the task when the overallocated resource is available again. Of course, other resources assigned to the task will have their assignments split also.

  • Instead of splitting the task, and all assignments, you can split just the assignment for the overallocated resource, leaving other resource assignments unchanged.

  • Instead of delaying all the work on the overallocated resource's assignment, you can merely reduce the hours assigned during the period of overallocation and increase the hours later. This is called contouring the assignment and can be done by manually editing the assigned work in each period or by choosing one of the predefined contour patterns to apply to the assignment.

Delaying A Task

You use the Resource Allocation view when leveling resource work loads manually. With the Resource Usage view in the top pane to help you select the overallocated resources, the bottom pane displays the Leveling Gantt Chart view, with the Leveling Delay field in the table next to the task name (see Figure 11.25). The Leveling Delay field is zero by default, but if you enter an amount of time in the field, Microsoft Project delays the start of the taskand therefore all assignments to the taskby the amount of that delay value.

Figure 11.25. The Leveling Gantt Chart view is especially helpful for delaying tasks to level resource assignments.

graphics/11fig25.jpg

For forward-scheduled projects, the delay value is a positive number that, when added to the task's original start date, makes it a later start date. For projects with fixed finish dates, the delay value is a negative number that makes Microsoft Project push the task finish date back to an earlier date.

Delay amounts are shown in elapsed time. Elapsed time ignores the distinction between working time and nonworking time on calendars. Using elapsed time makes it easier for you to estimate the amount of time you should enter in the Leveling Delay field. You can count the time units in the timescale of the Gantt Chart view and enter that number without having to check to see if any of those units fall on nonworking days.

For more information about using elapsed duration, see "Entering Task Duration," p. 132 .


The Delay table also includes the Successors field, to give you information about what tasks are directly affected if you delay the selected task. You must scroll the columns in the table to see the Successors field. The taskbars display the names of assigned resources to the right of the bar.

The Leveling Gantt Chart view shows the amount of any free slack (that is, the amount of time between the end of a task and the start of a successor task) as a thin teal-colored Slack bar that extends to the right, beyond the bottom edge of the taskbar. You can delay a task by as much as the free slack without affecting the scheduling of other tasks. Of course, if you delay tasks beyond the free slack, the start and finish of successor tasks will also be delayed; if you delay a task beyond the total slack (not shown in the Leveling Gantt Chart view), the finish of the whole project is delayed.

NOTE

Free slack is the amount of time that a task can be delayed without delaying successor tasks. Total slack is the amount of time that a task can be delayed without delaying the project.


graphics/tip_icon.jpg

The term slack is synonymous with the accepted project management term float . Microsoft Project uses the term slack to illustrate float time within a project.


NOTE

ScreenTips identify any taskbars that appear in the view. In Figure 11.25, the pointer rests over the Slack bar, and the ScreenTip shows the name of the bar and gives information about the task


graphics/view_icon.gif

As shown in Figure 11.25, Mel Lloyd is an overallocated resource in the week of November 24, 2002. Selecting his name in the top pane causes the tasks to which he is assigned to appear in the bottom pane. After using the horizontal scrollbar in the timescale to move to the beginning of the project, you can click the Go to Next Overallocation tool to locate the first time period during which Mel is overallocated. The overallocation is due to the overlapping assignments for the Process Orders and Organize Shipments tasks. You could delay either of these tasks to remove the overallocation for Mel.

Scott Adams is also assigned to the Process Orders task, and if you delayed the task, both Mel's and Scott's assignments would be delayed. However, the existence of the Slack bar to the right of the Process Orders task shows that delaying the task will not delay any other tasks or the project as a whole. If you were to delay the Organize Shipments task to resolve Mel's overallocation, the absence of a Slack bar for the task would show that other tasks and the overall project would be delayed as a result. You can safely delay the Process Orders task.

To delay the task, select the Leveling Delay field for the task and estimate the amount of delay. You can see from the Duration field in the bottom pane that Organize Shipments is a three-day task, so entering 3 days for the Process Orders task should remove the overallocation.

Figure 11.26 shows the results of entering the delay. The Leveling Gantt Chart view displays the amount of the delay in the Leveling Delay field on the left, and it displays the Delay bar to the left of the taskbar to show the amount of the delay graphically. The tasks no longer overlap, and Mel's initial overallocation period is now free of overallocation. However, Mel now has a three-day conflict with his Load Trucks assignment. If that conflict is resolved by delaying the Load Trucks assignment, it will mean a three-day delay in the completion of the project. Also, because the entire task was delayed, the assignment for Scott Adams had to be delayed also, and that could possibly create an overallocation for Scott.

Figure 11.26. The Leveling Gantt Chart view shows the amount of the delay as a thin bar to the left of the main taskbar.

graphics/11fig26.jpg

You can use Undo (Ctrl+Z) immediately after entering a delay amount to restore the previous values to the Delay field entries. You also can remove a delay by entering in the Delay field. Note that you can't leave the Leveling Delay field blank. If there are many delay values to be cleared, you might want to use the Clear Leveling command. To use the menu to return the delay values to zero for a single task or group of tasks, follow these steps:

  1. Select the tasks for which you want to reset the delay to zero. Click and drag to select adjacent tasks. Press Ctrl while clicking to select nonadjacent tasks.

  2. Choose Tools, Resource Leveling. The Resource Leveling dialog box appears.

  3. At the bottom of the Resource Leveling dialog box, click the Clear Leveling tool to display the Clear Leveling dialog box.

  4. Choose the Selected Tasks option to change the values for only the tasks that you selected. If you want to remove all delay values for all tasks, use the Entire Project option.

  5. Click OK. All tasks with nonzero delay values are reset to zero delay.

Delaying Individual Assignments

When tasks have multiple resources assigned to them, it can be better to resolve an overallocation for just one of the resources by delaying the assignment for just that resource, leaving the other resources unaffected. Of course, if the delayed assignment then has a finish date that is later than the task finish date before the delay, the task duration is increased. This section shows how to delay individual assignments for tasks.

Returning to the previous example, you can delay Mel Lloyd's assignment on the Process Orders task instead of delaying the task and Scott's assignment with it. In the Resource Allocation view, you can delay an assignment in one of four ways:

  • You can add the Leveling Delay field to the Usage table in the top pane and enter the amount of the delay in that column.

  • You can manually edit the timephased work data in the top pane to shift working hours to the right to later dates and times.

  • You can change the assignment's start date in the Assignment Information dialog box.

  • You can add the Assignment Delay field to the Usage table in the top pane and enter the amount of the delay in that column.

If the purpose for delaying an assignment is to avoid an overallocation, you should use the Leveling Delay field, which is specifically designed to show delays due to overallocations. If you later want to remove all the leveling delays that you or Microsoft Project have inserted, you can use the Clear Leveling command to remove the delay if it's in this field.

The Leveling Delay field is not included in the standard Usage table, but you can easily add it to the table by clicking the column heading where you want the field to go and choosing Insert, Column. In the Column Definition dialog box, choose Leveling Delay in the Field Name box and click the Best Fit button to adjust the column width to the widest entry. You might need to adjust the vertical divider bar so that you can see the new column.

NOTE

Unlike task delay values, which are elapsed time periods, leveling delay values are regular, nonelapsed, time periods.


Figure 11.27 shows the Leveling Delay field added to the table in the top pane. Note the delay in Mel's Process Orders assignment.

Figure 11.27. You can use the Leveling Delay field in a Usage table to enter and remove assignment-leveling delays.

graphics/11fig27.jpg

To remove the delay, type or use the spinner control to select zero.

NOTE

The Leveling Delay field only accepts zero or positive numbers for projects that are scheduled from a start date. It only accepts zero or negative numbers for projects that are scheduled from a finish date.


To edit the timephased data, select the cells that contain work that is to be delayed and press the Insert key. The cells you selected shift to the right, also pushing to the right all later work cells for the assignment. The Contoured indicator then appears in the Indicators column for the assignment.

TIP

You might need to zoom in to see smaller time units, to detect exactly how many days and hours the assignment needs to be delayed. To do this, zoom in until you can clearly see exactly when the task that is not being delayed finishes. Then shift the work for the delayed task one cell further to the right.


To remove the delay, select the assignment cells that have 0h in them and press the Delete key. All work cells to the right of the selection then shift to the left.

If you want to delay the assignment by modifying the start date and time for the assignment until just after a conflicting assignment is completed, you need to be able to determine exactly when the conflicting assignment finishes. To determine the finish time, you must first instruct Microsoft Project to display time along with dates. To display dates with the time of day appended, choose Tools, Options and display the View tab. In the Date Format box, select from the drop-down list one of the formats that includes the date and time of day.

In this example, we will delay Mel's Process Orders assignment so that it starts immediately after the conflicting assignment Organize Shipments finishes. You can find out when the Organize Shipments assignment finishes by double-clicking that assignment to display its Assignment Information dialog box. In Figure 11.28, the Assignment Information dialog box for Organize Shipments shows that the task finishes on November 27, 2002, at 5:00 p.m. The Process Orders task would be delayed to start on November 28, 2002, at 8:00 a.m. to resolve the conflict.

Figure 11.28. You can use the Assignment Information dialog box to find out when an assignment finishes.

graphics/11fig28.jpg

To delay the start of an assignment, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the assignment you want to delay in order to display its Assignment Information dialog box.

  2. Enter the delayed start date and time in the Start field or click the date control and select the date from the calendar and then append the time.

  3. Click OK to complete the entry.

Figure 11.29 shows the effect of delaying Mel's assignment on the Process Orders task from Monday to Thursday. The original cells for his assignment now have 0h in them, and Mel is no longer overallocated during that period. You can also see that Scott Adams' assignment on that same task continues to start on Monday.

Figure 11.29. The timephased data in the Resource Usage view shows the delayed start of the assignment with 0h entries in the delay periods.

graphics/11fig29.jpg

When you delay an assignment by editing the Start field of the Assignment Information dialog box or by editing the timephased data in the grid, Microsoft Project translates the difference between the previous start date and the new one as an assignment delay and stores that value in the Assignment Delay field. You can also delay an assignment by entering the amount of the delay directly into the Assignment Delay field. However, as pointed out earlier, if the purpose of the delay is to level resource usage, the Leveling Delay field is a better field to use.

NOTE

The Assignment Delay and Leveling Delay fields produce the same resultthey delay the start of the assignmentbut there are some differences between them. Microsoft Project uses the Leveling Delay field to enter a delay when you use the Level Now command to resolve resource overallocations. There is also a Clear Leveling command that resets all Leveling Delay values to zero.

Microsoft Project does not make entries in the Assignment Delay field, nor is there a command to clear those entries. The Assignment Delay field is intended to be used to delay one resource's assignment when there is a valid operational reason for the delay (for example, if one resource contributes finishing touches on a task and should be scheduled at the end of the task).


graphics/note_icon.jpg

If Leveling does not appear to be working, please refer to "Level Now Seems Not to Be Working" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.


The Assignment Delay field is not included in the standard Usage table, but you can easily add it to the table by clicking the column heading where you want the field to go and choosing Insert, Column. In the Column Definition dialog box, choose Assignment Delay in the Field Name box and click the Best Fit button to adjust the column width to the width of the widest entry.

The Clear Leveling command does not reset assignment delays to zero. The easiest method to use if you want to remove an assignment delay is to display the Assignment Delay field in the Resource Usage view or the Task Usage view and change delay values to zero. You can also find inserted nonworking time periods in the grid and delete them, but it's easier to identify nonzero values in the Assignment Delay field.

TIP

If you want to review all the assignment delays or leveling delays in a project, you can design a filter to display only tasks where the Assignment Delay field is not equal to zero or the Leveling Delay field is not equal to zero. Using the criterion Not Equal to Zero instead of Greater Than Zero allows the filter to find both projects with positive delay values (those scheduled from a fixed start date) and projects with negative delay values (those scheduled from a fixed finish date).


For detailed help in creating a filter, see "Creating Custom Filters," p. 859 .


Splitting a Task

Suppose that an overallocation occurs because an assignment starts while another assignment, which has already started, is still in process. You could, as in the preceding examples, delay all work on the new assignment until the already started assignment is finished. Or you could interrupt the work on the already started assignment (that is, split the assignment) until the new assignment is completed. If you introduce the split at the task level, all assignments to the task are split at the same point. If you just split the assignment itself, other resource assignments to the task are not split.

In Figure 11.30, the Create Advertising Plan task is assigned to both Howard Thompson and Mary Logan. It is scheduled to be already started when the Sales Training task starts. Howard Thompson is assigned to both tasks, and he is overallocated during the period when the tasks overlap.

Figure 11.30. When two tasks contend for the same resource, you can split one task to work around the other.

graphics/11fig30.jpg

The ongoing task, Create Advertising Plan, has slack (as evidenced by the Slack bar in the bottom pane) and its finish can be delayed without affecting the project finish date. However, the new task, Sales Training, does not have a Slack bar and should not be delayed if you want to avoid delaying the finish of the project. You could split Howard's assignment to the Create Advertising Plan task and avoid delaying the project. Splitting the task would split both Howard's and Mary's assignments. If you split just Howard's assignment, Mary would continue her work as scheduled and Howard would complete his after the Sales Training is finished. The duration for the Create Advertising Plan task would be increased to incorporate Howard's delayed work.

graphics/split_icon.gif

If you are using the Resource Allocation view, you must split tasks in the Leveling Gantt Chart view in the bottom pane because only resources and assignments (not tasks) are displayed in the top pane. You use the Split Task tool to split a taskbar in the Leveling Gantt Chart view, thus splitting the task and all its assignments.

TIP

If you were to display the Task Usage view in the top pane, you could split a task by inserting nonworking cells in the timephased data for the task. To do so, select the cell or cells for the time period when the split should occur and press the Insert key.


You first need to determine exactly when the split should start and when it should end. You want the split to start when the new task starts and to end when the new task finishes. You can determine the start and finish of the new task by double-clicking it in the bottom pane to view the Task Information Form view. The start and finish dates are on the General tab. You could also scroll the table in the bottom pane to the right to see the Start and Finish fields for the task. In the table in Figure 11.31 you can see the start and finish dates for the Sales Training task. The task starts January 6, 2003, at 10:00 a.m. and finishes on January 10, 2003, at 3:00 p.m.

Figure 11.31. You can use the Split Task tool to split taskbars in the bottom pane of the Resource Allocation view.

graphics/11fig31.jpg

TIP

When you scroll a table horizontally and the Name field will scroll out of view, you can select the row ID to highlight the entire row (as was done previously, in Figure 11.30). Then you can easily identify the row when you get to the column you want to examine (as in Figure 11.31).


TIP

It's a good idea to have the time of day included in the date format so that you can coordinate the timing of the tasks.


graphics/zoomtool_icon.gif

If you want to split a task down to the hour, you must format the timescale to show hours. In Figure 11.31, the Zoom In tool has been used to display quarter-days, which is a format that includes hours on the minor scale.

To split a task in the Leveling Gantt Chart view, follow these steps:

  1. Activate the pane with a task viewin this case, the Leveling Gantt Chart viewin the bottom pane.

  2. Determine the exact date and time when the split should start and end. In Figure 11.31, the dates are shown in the selected task row in the bottom pane.

  3. graphics/split_icon.gif

    Click the Split Task tool to activate the Split Task ScreenTip. As you move the pointer over the taskbars, the ScreenTip shows the date and time for the pointer's position on the screen. When you click over a taskbar, you see the date and time when the split will start. Do not click anywhere until you are in position over the taskbar you want to split and the ScreenTip shows the date and time when you want the split to start.

    TIP

    If at this point you decide to abandon the split operation, simply press the Esc key to cancel the split command. If you decide to cancel the command after you have started dragging the split in the following steps, drag the pointer to an area where it is not over the taskbar and release the mouse button.

  4. When you are over the correct taskbar and the ScreenTip shows the date and hour when you want the split to start, click and hold down the mouse button to start dragging the remainder of the task to the right, to locate the date and time when work should resume.

    The Split Task ScreenTip disappears and a Task ScreenTip appears. The Start field in this ScreenTip shows the date and time where the pointer is currently located. This is the date and time when work on the task will be scheduled to resume.

  5. Drag the remainder of the task to the correct date and time (as shown in the Split Task ScreenTip) to resume work on the task. Figure 11.32 shows the pointer in position to resume work after 3:00 p.m. on January 8, 2003.

    Figure 11.32. You can drag the remaining portion of a split task to the date and time when you want work to resume.

    graphics/11fig32.jpg

TIP

When you are dragging part of the task to a new date, if the destination date is off the screen, you can drag the pointer just beyond the edge of the screen slowly; the timescale scrolls until you reach the destination.


Figure 11.33 shows the task after the split has been created, with the timescale formatted the same as in Figure 11.31. In Figure 11.33, you can see both assignments to the task that was split. Mary Logan and Howard Thompson both have a 0h cell in the middle of their assignments, during the period for which the taskbar shows the split.

Figure 11.33. Splitting a task also splits all assignments to the task.

graphics/11fig33.gif

To remove a split in a task, you use the mouse to drag the part of the task that's on the right toward the part on the left. When they touch, Project removes the split and rejoins the taskbar.

Splitting Individual Assignments

In Figure 11.32, the task was split to resolve an overallocation problem, and that split all resource assignments for the task, whether they were overallocated or not. You can also split just the assignment for the resource that is overallocated (Howard Thompson), thus leaving other assigned resources (Mary Logan, in this case) on their existing schedules. To split an assignment, you must open either the Resource Usage view or the Task Usage view and edit the timephased work cells for the assignment. Select the cells where the interruption will take place and press the Insert key to shift those work amounts to later dates.

In Figure 11.34, the Zoom In tool has been used to view quarter-days because we need to reschedule the assignment to stop at 10:00 a.m. and resume at 3:00 p.m. If those particular hours were not shown on the timescale, you would need to zoom in further until the time periods you needed to schedule appeared in the timescale.

Figure 11.34. To split an assignment, you select the cell or cells where the split should occur and press the Insert key.

graphics/11fig34.jpg

In the table on the left of the bottom pane in Figure 11.34, the columns have been rearranged so that you can see the task's duration and finish date. Before the assignment is split, the task duration is 7.5 days and the finish date is January 10, at 3:00 p.m.

The timephased work cells where the split will occur are selected in the figure. With the cells selected, you can create the split by pressing the Insert key or by choosing Insert, Cell from the menu. The contents of the selected cells are then shifted to the right, and all cells to the right of the insertion cells are shifted also.

CAUTION

If you type in an assignment work cell instead of pressing the Insert key, you create a split in the assignment, but the work scheduled for that day is lost.


Figure 11.35 shows the assignment schedule after the split has been inserted. The cells that were selected now have zero hours of work for Howard Thompson, but Mary Logan still has work scheduled in those same time periods. The taskbar in the Gantt Chart view does not show a split because Mary Logan is continuing to work during the period of the split. The total work for the assignment has not changed, but the duration of the task has increased from 7.5 days to 10.5 days, and the finish date is pushed back from January 10, 2003, to January 15, 2003. Notice the contour indicator on the assignment row, which shows that the timephased values for the assignment have been edited.

Figure 11.35. The split appears as cells with zero work in the assignment row.

graphics/11fig35.jpg

TIP

To select a series of assignment cells, drag the mouse across them or, after selecting the first cell, hold down the Shift key as you click the last cell to select. You can then press the Insert key to shift work assignments past the last selected cell.


To remove the splits in an assignment, select the cell or cells that have 0h in them and press the Delete key. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to identify the assignments that have been edited, other than to look for the existence of the Contour indicator on those assignment rows. In order to find the edited cells, you have to scroll the timescale for the contoured assignment to find cells that contain 0h.

TIP

If you select and remove 0h cells by pressing Delete, the contour indicator is still displayed. If you have deleted a delay or split and you're sure there are no other edited changes you want to preserve, you can remove the Contour indicator by double-clicking the assignment to display the Assignment Information dialog box and selecting Flat on the drop-down list in the Work Contour box.


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Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

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