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  • Sebastian Sieber

#16 - D365 Project Operations Advent Calendar: Beyond the Basics - unveil Resource Planning Secrets

Day number 16 of the Project Operations Advent Calendar 🎅🏼 Only a few days left till Christmas and in our little series here.

Day 16 of Advent Calendar

Plan Resources in full detail

After all the Task Planning, Estimation, and Quotation topics in the last days, lets kick off the Project and staff the Resources.

The Project Manager has the option to directly assign named Resources or block the period via a generic Resource. The generic Resource can be replaced e.g. via Schedule Board with a named Resource later in the process.

But why even use generic Resources?

Especially for future planning it's not always clear which Team Member could be available or what changes till the project starts. The generic Resource holds all required information like start and end date, overall effort on the Project level, and - most importantly - the Resource Role.

With this data, it's always transparent what kind of roles are required to execute a project - even though that kind of employee is not (yet) part of the company or is not available at the moment to plan them directly.

Project Team Members Grid of a Project

Important note: When assigning named and generic Resources the system creates Resource Assignments (your connection between Project Task and Bookable Resource) and Project Team Members.

The Project Team Member is the summary of multiple Resource Assignments on the Project Level by Resource. But e.g. without direct connection to Project Tasks.

When replacing a generic Resource in the Schedule Board with a real / named Resource this will generate Bookings in the system - like you may know it from Field Service.

This results in two different data for reporting - Bookings and Assignments. There should be a conceptual idea before starting any kind of process or even customizations.

Data should be always in a good and healthy shape and not mixed or separated between multiple tables.

Detail Plan Resources

The Project Manager has more options to plan out the perfect balance when a resource should be available on the Project and when they not.

In the Assignments tab of the Project Task Planning, the responsible user is able to find all assigned team members, no matter if generic or named Resources with their detailed planned pattern.

Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

Grouped by either Resources or Project Tasks the contribution across the whole Project can be planned in this view.

Switch group by Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

The system provides the first initial setup and usually distributes the efforts from the Project Task evenly between the Resources and the run time.

The hours per day will be based on the Work Hours calendar of each individual Resource, including the generic ones. With the Work Hours available the Project Manager has here as well access to absences.

In our example, Patrick is not available on the Weekends, Tuesdays, and Thursdays:

Absences Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

All these Absences are greyed out and locked for data input. The white cells in the views are available for changes by the Project Manager.

Assigned hours can be changed, restructured, shrunk, and expanded.

Important note: Adding more hours to a Resource in this view than initially planned, will increase the total hours and consequently the cost of the Project.

Currently, there is no validation to stay within a certain budget or time frame. All staffed Tasks from the Project are available in this view, no matter if they only start in a few weeks or are already closed. They will be all shown.

Personally, I would like to see some more filter options.

Maybe the Project Manager only wants to review the current week, but first needs to go through the whole timeline basically to figure out who is planning this week and when.

Also adding multiple hours to a single day to massively exceed the capacity of the Resource will not be prevented - also note that my task in that example already was supposed to end on the 1st of December.

Updates in Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

After saving the task got extended to the 15th where I just put in additional 12 hours for myself.

A validation has to happen infront of the computer.

Validation in Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

The whole Project plan shifts with the planning in this tab - of course, this could be as well a chance for the Project Manager to plan from the bottom up to the top to see where the Project efforts might go.

The Tasks won't shift by the way if they're connected with dependencies. In this case, you won't be able to perform changes for the assigned Resource.

In case it's preferred to work in Weeks instead of Days, for the mentioned bottom-up planning or just don't want to plan every single day, it's possible to switch between Day and Week anytime.

Day and Week Update Assignments grid in Project for the web and Project Operations

Overall the Assignments grid offers a transparent and individual experience for the Project Manager to plan the Project to their full desire.

I still see some room for improvements but the grid was just introduced a few weeks back. Also be aware the view is driven on Project level - allocation on other Projects are not visible here.

I hope there is more to come here, especially to filter past / future tasks or staff unassigned tasks with the pattern up front.

I hope you enjoyed today's episode, many thanks from my side for stopping by 😊🎅🏼


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