A word about Resource Leveling – a useful tool?

Let’s face it, resource leveling could get an award for the “most underestimated functionality of project” … or the most hated one. But it is definitely not a No Go.

During my work as a consultant I found resource leveling to be a useful tool especially for resource management in larger project management environments. I would like to share some best practices with you in the following. Please feel free to comment questions or suggestions in the comment-section below.

A word about Resource Leveling – a useful tool!

Resource Leveling is a standard functionality of Microsoft Project 2010 and 2013. Its aim –as the name suggests – is to automatically level resources in a project plan by set preferences.

If you respect some basic rules and have a good level of maturity in your project planning then resource leveling can really help you. In all other cases it just leads to a high level of frustration because it can also really mess your plan up. I’ll come back to the point of maturity later on.

Resource management  – Automatic Resource Leveling or by hand

To avoid some confusion: We are talking about an automatic algorithm provided by Project 2010 that automatically levels resources of one or several projects. The question whether you should use it automatic or manually regards to the question whether you let Project fulfill that task frequently (automatic) or only on command (by hand). Altogether there are five options to choose from.

  • Manual calculation
  • Frequent calculation
  • Entire Project
  • By Priority and Standard
  • Only within slack

A manual calculation is recommended as long as you don’t see the concrete need

So what is my best practice like?

Here I have to answer a clear “it depends”.  It is not possible to determine an overall best solution. As mentioned it first depends on the maturity of your project planning in general.

For Projects leveling algorithm is capable of conducting vast changes in your project plan you have to keep in mind:

  • Don’t give away the control over your schedule! Use resource leveling only within the available slack
  • Prioritize your tasks! Higher prioritized tasks are not delayed and you keep control over the levelings
  • Use deadlines! The leveling algorithm respects your deadlines and the critical path if you level only within available slack
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