My goal for the last couple of posts has been to introduce the features of the Project Server Resource Analysis component of the Portfolio Analysis module with the help of an Excel mockup. Why Excel? Because as a project manager, that’s the closest I can get to coding without feeling like I’ve gone over to the Dark Side.
In the last post, I started talking about the baseline calculation heuristics within the Resource Analysis functionality. In this post, I wrap that up and set the stage for reviewing some of the resource reports and then assessing how specific what-if scenarios are calculated.
Just to get you caught up on previous posts in this series:
1) Introducing the Resource Analysis Worksheet
2) Configuring the Resource Pool
3) Configuring the Resource Analysis Parameters
4) Organizational Capacity Planning
5) The Baseline Calculation (Part 1)
See that first post in the series to download the Excel workbook I will be using to illustrate this discussion.
Static and Dynamic Elements
When reviewing the baseline calculation, it’s important to understand what elements are dynamic and which are static. For the most part, the elements are static. This means that the resource capacity and requirements are a snapshot of the resource pool and the project resource load when the analysis is created.
After the analysis is created, changing elements within Microsoft Project Professional or the project resource plan will not have an effect on the the analysis. Similarly, changing items in the analysis won’t change your projects..
The two possible exceptions to that rule are the Reload and the Commit buttons. The Reload button is found in the Options Toolbar.
The Reload button essentially “reloads” all of the resource availability data from each of the projects included in the analysis and from the resource pool. Note that using the Reload button may invalidate previously saved analyses developed based on initial resource numbers.
Thus, overall role-based resource capacity is locked down when the analysis is created. After adding a resource to the resource pool, I would need to create a new analysis – or hit the Reload button to refresh the current analysis. Fair enough. Otherwise, we would have to continuously adjust our analysis in a volatile resource environment where administrators may be adding resources to the resource pool in midstream.
The Reload button as well as most of the available options are grayed out when the Requirements Details view is displayed. To access these features, you’ll have to first select the Gantt Chart view.
Note that if you add another Role to the Lookup Table after creating the Analysis, that role will be added to the analysis upon the screen being refreshed (i.e. no need to reload). It doesn’t appear to be populated with data though. In the following example, I added Role4 to the Lookup Table to see if it would show up in the Resource Availability view. (It does.)
The Baseline Start dates are locked in when the analysis is created. The user has the option of toggling the New Start field to optimize the portfolio – but note that any change to that field does not actually get mapped back to the project. A new analysis created with the same projects will revert back to the original New Start values.
Once the scenario is acceptable to the organization, the end user may click on the Commit button to move the New Start field to the Committed Planned Start Date field. But that’s a topic for another post.
Zen and the Art of Portfolio Analysis
This brings us to the point I’ve mentioned before, that the analysis by default includes all projects to which a given resource or resource role has been assigned – sort of.
Projects that have tasks assigned to roles included in the analysis, but that have not been selected as part of the analysis, will by default be decremented from the overall resource availability. For all intents and purposes, projects using resources but excluded from the analysis should be considered to have “Forced In” status.
Take a look at the following example. In this example, I have created three projects, assigned resources, and then only included two of the projects in the Portfolio Analysis. The result is what you see below. It appears that I have a deficit in Role1 and Role2 in the September-November time frame. Yet, I should have two resources in the pool. What you’re seeing here is what I term a “phantom project” that has already been excluded from the analysis (thereby including the resource calculations).
This demonstrates why it’s important to include all unstarted projects using a specific resource pool in the analysis. In fact, I’d like to see an option to pick resources, and then have the projects automatically selected, as otherwise, you run the risk of missing some of the projects using the shared resource pool and thus skewing your availability calculations.
What’s interesting to me is that by excluding projects from the analysis, we are effectively forcing them in, and making the other projects calculate based on the remaining resource capacity. So we have the interesting situation of having to include the projects so that we may exclude them. And if we exclude them, we’re actually including them in the calculations. Got it?
This actually may answer the question of whether or not to include in flight projects in the Portfolio Analysis. There is no perfect answer to that, but note that if you don’t plan on reassessing those projects at periodic dates, you can always leave them out of your analysis. Thus, their resource requirements are already decremented against capacity, and you can evaluate potential projects against the remaining bandwidth.
Last but not least, I wanted to drop a quick note to address the use of the Has Resources field.
Has Resources indicates whether or not there is a resource plan connected to the specific project plan. A plan may not have resources if the tasks are manual and have not had two of the following three fields configured: start, finish, or duration – or if not tasks have been assigned to resources.
If you include a project without resources in the analysis, you’ll get a message as follows in the project prioritization interface.
Projects without resources do not show up in the Requirements Detail view.
…and that’s it for the the baseline scenario calculation. Next up: calculating various what-if scenarios.