Challenge:

A resource on my project is scheduled to work 5 hours on one particular day. MS Project is showing them as being over allocated for that day. Isn’t 8 hours a “normal” workday? Why would the resource be over allocated?

Solution:

Microsoft Project reports over allocations if a resource has to work for more than 60 seconds during any one minute of a project (or projects if you have a pool). For example, if a resource is booked for a 3-hour task which begins at 8am and a 2-hour task also at 8am the same day, the resource will be over allocated, and the fact that the two together do not add up to an 8-hour day has no bearing. To be fair to the software, it is correct that you would be over allocated if you attempted both tasks at the same time, but it can still be confusing (or annoying depending on your perspective).

One reason why this is easy to misunderstand as to why it is happening is because people have Start and Finish times of a task to show only the date since it takes up less screen real estate. If you go to Tools > Options > View tab and clicking on the Date format dropdown, you can change the format to show time also. I don’t recommend having the time always display, but it is useful in situations such as this.

Some ways of resolving such over allocations are:

· Tools > Level Resources, though it will need a fine granularity (hour-by-hour in this case).

· View > Task Usage and change the minor time scale to hours, then manually edit the working hours so there is no overlap.

· Set the Resource Units of the two tasks to be 50% on both so when there is an overlap the maximum is 100%. Make this edit by selecting Window > Split and change the units in the Task Entry form that appears in the lower window. The person-hours of work can be edited here as well to more realistic amounts if appropriate.

You can also just ignore the over allocation. Now, while this may not seem like the “best” way, it actually is a pretty viable option. Sometimes it just makes sense for the project manager to let over allocations like that work themselves out. If you try and resolve every single over allocation, you will spend a lot more time in MS Project than you care to and for relatively little benefit.

A useful strategy to assist in evaluating over allocations on a project is to utilize the Resource Usage view (View > Resource Usage) and look at the assigned work for resources at monthly glance.

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Analyze the work and then drill down to a weekly view for a particular month.

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If you still have over allocations you are concerned about, you can then drill down to a particular day and resolve them as appropriate. Feel free to change to a different view to aid in the resolution.

As with multiple items in MS Project, over allocations are a judgment call on the part of the project manager. Sometimes it makes sense to resolve the conflicts and sometimes it just isn’t worth it. Remember to focus on making MS Project work for you.