Friday, April 1, 2016

Do’s and Don’ts: Use Resource Labels

A problem and question sent to me frequently is: “I don’t have the need for full resource management in Project. I have simple projects and manage few people. I don’t need to worry about over allocation and leveling resources. I don’t track resource cost or work by the individual.What I do need is a label on tasks that tells me who is working on them so I can see task assignments at a glance. How can I accomplish that?”

When projects are few, small and simple this is a reasonable request and need.

It takes only a little configuration to go from this:
Figure 1: Typical Gantt Chart

To this:
Figure 2: Gantt Chart with Resource Labels

Notice that Resources are identified in the Task Sheet and in the Gantt Chart. These are Resource Labels. There are no resources defined in the project displayed above. A Resource Label is the result of selecting text from a customized text field and associated Lookup table. This is done for each task in a simple list such as those tasks in Figure 1. They are then Grouped, resulting in Figure 2 and answering the user need for simplicity.

I’ll walk you through the steps to create Resource Labels:
1. Create the custom field and Lookup table:
a. Click on the “Project” tab
b. Click on the “Custom Fields” button
c. Configure your custom field and Lookup table as shown in the figure below (use your own resource list):

Figure 3: Custom Fields and Lookup table dialogs

Make sure you “Close” the Lookup table definition and “OK” the “Custom Fields” dialog.

2. Insert the new custom field into the Sheet (to the left of the Gantt Chart) and pick a Resource label for each task which is available from the new field.

3. Create the Resource Label Group and apply it for visibility:
a. Click on the “View” tab
b. In the “Group” dropdown, click on “New Group By…” and configure a custom Group as defined in the figure below:

Figure 4: New Group Definition dialog

4. Select your new Custom Group from the Group dropdown. It will be listed at the top of the list under “Custom”.

Figure 5: Custom Group dropdown list

You can go back to the original look and feel by selecting the “Group” dropdown and choose “[No Group]” from the built in Groups.

You’re done!

One last thing: Resource Labels are a first step into resource management. It will not take the place of scheduling and managing resources at the level many of us need in order to report labor cost and effort. It is a great technique if your needs are simple and you aren’t bombarded with projects.

Thanks for reading this blog entry and good luck on your projects!