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Leveling Your Resources to Avoid Overtime

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/8/2009

This article by Ronda Roberts discusses the importance of leveling resources, who benefits from leveling resources and manual vs. automatic leveling of resources.

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    What is Resource Leveling?

    Image provided by Claudia1967 via Flickr Resource leveling examines projects for potential unbalance in allocation of resources. It ensures that resource availability never falls below resource demand. Resource leveling is considered within time frameworks. Resource requirements can be improved by delaying or fast tracking the beginning of tasks or extending the time activities take to lower the demand for resources. By doing this, overtime can be avoided and it insures that resources are not over allocated. Microsoft Project 2007 is a useful tool for project leveling. Hand calculations can quickly become complicated.

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    When does Overallocation Occur?

    When does Overallocation Occur?

    Resource overallocation occurs when a resource is assigned more work than it can do in time available. Resource overallocation leads to overtime. When using MS Project, the schedule is calculated based upon task requirements rather than resource availability. For example, Josh works eight hours a day. He is assigned one eight hour task and one six hour task for the same day. In order to resolve this conflict, this overallocation must be leveled. Other ways resources gain overallocations include:

    · Increased duration of tasks

    · Decreased availability of resource units

    · Restricted availability after dates have been entered for a resource

    · The assignment has a work contour applied to it

    · A summary task and one or more sub-tasks have been assigned to a resource

    · The project is not accounting for additional time utilized by a resource for a task.

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    Who Benefits from Resource Leveling?

    Resources benefit from resource leveling because they can avoid problems like over allocation and becoming overwhelmed. Resources are not the only benefactors. The project manager can avoid delays that come from bad allocations, and it assists the project manager to identify and take advantage of unused times. Moreover, it prevents overtime by preventing resources from drowning in work and the company benefits.

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    Manual vs. Automatic Leveling

    When leveling resources using MS Project, you can choose between Automatic calculations and Manual calculations. Automatic leveling will level resources as a continual process – updating all the time. Manual leveling requires the user to click the “Level Now" button. It is recommended that automatic allocations are not used unless there is familiarity with the leveling function in MS Project. Otherwise, what may happen is that MS Project will adjust all the tasks when one change is made in MS Project, throwing the project off its expected course. For more insight in resource allocation using MS Project, see Deana’s article.