Using MS Project for Resource Management: Best Practices and Techniques

Have you been using Microsoft Project (MS Project)  for your resource management? If not, start today as you are missing out on some fantastic and very helpful features. .

Using MS Project for Resource Management is an effective way to maximize efficiency and accuracy in resource management. MS Project provides powerful tools to define, plan, assign, and manage resources, giving you the ability to quickly adjust to any changes or unexpected issues. 

Best practices in resource management include allocating resources in advance, developing a comprehensive understanding of the project timeline, as well as setting realistic and achievable goals. 

Additionally, techniques such as resource leveling and resource smoothing can help further optimize resource utilization and provide more accurate estimates. Utilizing MS Project’s resource management capabilities can help ensure that your project is completed on time and within budget.

But the resource manager’s job continues beyond there. Monitoring and tracking of performance are critical. MS Project has useful features like Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and project calendars.

Microsoft Project has been in the market for over 30 years. Yet, it continues to be a popular resource and project management solution. In a 2021 popularity score, MS Project managed to get 1859 scores. The second closest competitor was Jira at 943.

The reasons why it continues to remain relevant are many. The most significant is the reputation of its developer, Microsoft.

Microsoft project management software already has the trust factor from the market. Microsoft, as a company, has a solid reputation for quality products. MS project also has features that will meet your project management needs. And the support ecosystem is excellent.

Let’s explore best practices and techniques when using MS projects for resource management.

Start By Learning the Various Microsoft Project Features

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Many people will say that learning Microsoft Projects is easy. But that may not be true. It depends on your experience with project management tools, practices, and methodologies. Skill in other Microsoft Office programs also helps.

So if you want to get the best out of this nifty resource management software, sign up for an MS project training. There is the option of two-day online courses that will teach you critical skills like:

  • The basics of project management
  • Project calendars and plans
  • Creating and expanding resources
  • Editing projects
  • Generating reports and Gantt charts

The basic training is ideal for MS project beginners. If you have MS project knowledge, brush up on your skills with more advanced classes. You will learn things like:

  • Resource pooling and sharing
  • Creating and editing project templates
  • Making and managing many projects
  • Using Microsoft project viewer and custom reports

A lot of top online education portals provide these courses and are a great addition to resource management skills.

Define and Organize Resources in Microsoft Project

Using Microsoft Project is a great way to define and organize resources required for a project. Resources could range from people, materials, equipment, and other aspects that are needed to complete the task.

Microsoft Project is a comprehensive tool which allows you to track and monitor resource availability, usage, and costs in real-time. It allows you to easily assign resources to tasks so you can ensure resource availability and performance. 

Additionally, Microsoft Project can help you manage resource scheduling conflicts, communicate project changes quickly and efficiently, and report on resource activity for better decision making.

Some steps you must take include:-

  • Developing a comprehensive list of the resources you will need for the project. These include equipment, labor, or any other material.
  • Organizing the resources into categories or groups as per the project needs. The categories could include factors like skill sets and location.

With clarity on the above, you will find it easy to assign tasks and resources. The same applies to resource allocation for efficient management of the project.

One valuable tool available for this purpose is the Resource Sheet view. It becomes easy to see resource allocation for each task. The result is the optimal use of whatever you have, thus reducing wastage.

Task Management with the Resource Calendars

Three different MS project calendars will help make your work so much easier.

  • The project calendar defines default work hours and days
  • The task calendar gives more flexibility than the project calendar. You can assign a task whose timing does not fall within the default days and hours
  • The resource calendar lets you know which resources are available

Let’s say you are managing a large team in separate areas. It can be hard to divide work if you’re unsure of each member’s availability. 

And therein lies the strength of the MS project resource calendars. It gives an overview of team member availability, thus allowing for task allocation. 

You can also use the task calendar to allocate work over weekends or public holidays. Such days will not fall in the project calendar’s default setting.

Use Resource Leveling For Better Resource Management

A sign of successful resource management is what you do with the available resources. Can you meet project resource demands with what is available? If there is a shortfall, what is the cause? Could it be that you over-allocated resources to a specific area? Do you know, according to a report from Teodesk, for every $ 1 billion put towards projects, $122 million goes to waste?

The level resources feature in Microsoft Project will help avoid such scenarios. Its power lies in its ability to adjust the available resources’ allocation automatically.

Remember, you organize resources in two categories depending on the project. The level resources feature will analyze these entries. It will then make relevant adjustments for the most efficient resource allocation.

Make sure you customize the level resource to suit the specific projects. Do you, for example, need some people to work overtime? If yes, decide the amount of overtime that the team members can work. 

Next, prioritize the tasks that you need to complete. The resource level will automatically adjust the allocation. That ensures project completion with minimal wastage.

Remember to keep on adjusting the resource leveling within the project cycle.

Keep a Handle on Resource Use with MS Project

As mentioned above, efficient resource use is critical in resource management. And that touches on every aspect of the project. Do you, for example, track how much time each team member spends on a task? The same applies to under-utilizing or over-allocating resources?

Well, various MS Project features will give you the correct answers.

  • The resource usage view gives a breakdown of resource allocation on all tasks. You get critical insights on how much work each resource does and what needs completion.
  • The resource graph view gives a graphical representation of resource allocation.
  • Reporting features in MS Project will be a big help in report generation.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft Project is an excellent tool for resource managers. You have everything you need to plan and optimize resource allocation. 

Further, you can track progress and better manage costs. The latter is critical because it has a huge role in successful project completion. Higher efficiency in resource use stops wastage.

The only way to get optimal use of Microsoft Project is to know how to use it well. And that is why we recommend signing up for Microsoft Project training online. You get the necessary skills training to use the excellent MS Project features.

By utilizing its best practices and techniques, you can gain insights about your resources, assign appropriate project roles and responsibilities, and achieve optimal cost-efficiency. 

With these capabilities in hand, you can rest assured that your projects are in good hands and better prepared for a successful delivery!