Are you still using Microsoft Project resource management?

Are you still using Microsoft Project resource management?

Microsoft Project is one of the world’s leading project management solutions. Its approach to Gantt charts, project timing, and rich feature set make it an indispensable platform for project management. However, in effective it isn’t Microsoft Project resource management tool. Nonetheless, many resource managers struggle by with Project when deciding how to allocate resources to programs of work. This is largely because Project includes certain features which help you manage resources, but these are limited. For anything but the most basic resource allocation, MS Project just doesn’t provide the power resource managers need.

Sometimes, if you want to fix a couple of screws into place, a Swiss Army Knife will do the trick. However, if you’re building something bigger, you’re going to want specialized tools or face a lot of frustration. In the same way, while it is just about possible to manage resources with Microsoft Project, you’ll find it laborious, confusing and very, very time-consuming. A specialized tool, that connects with your plans in MS Project, will provide so much more leverage.

What can I do with resources in MS Project?

If you only have a small, one-off project or a limited number of employees on your team, MS Project isn’t necessarily a bad option for resource management. See this guide for an overview of resource portfolio management with a small team of resources.

Once you’ve designed the project’s workflow, you then create resources for that project in a different tab. It’s possible to add resources by ‘work’ (i.e. individual employees), ‘material’ (i.e. any tools, materials or equipment your project will require) and costs (i.e. accounts). You can also define how many resources will be required by percentage (five workers would equal 500%) and their average cost per hour.

Resources aren’t individualized in MS Project. If you had five software engineers working on a project, these would all be assigned the label ‘software engineer’ and be represented as 500%. Back on your Gantt chart, you then click on a project phase and can add X percent of that resource.

To reiterate, while you can add resources to small projects in Microsoft Project, it’s an inflexible option that hardly corresponds with the real world of resource management. What resource management capabilities is MS Project missing?

Real world resource management

“Strategy execution most often fails, because like everything else, ‘the devil is in the details’”.

The problem with attempting resource portfolio management in MS project is that it simply doesn’t give you the fine-grained view you need. In the example above, you might be able to allocate 500% of resources to a step in your Gantt chart. However, this isn’t what the real world is like; some of those workers will get sick from time to time. Some will be working on other projects. The project might be put on hold. Microsoft Project resource management tools can’t give you anywhere near this level of detail. You are straitjacketed into unrealistic resource allocations and this leads to unrealistic resource allocation.

More importantly, however; Microsoft Project isn’t a Resource Management tool because of the things it simply cannot do:
  • See how resource allocation interacts across projects

Tempus Resource, ProSymmetry’s resource management tool allows you to visualize how resources are allocated across your project portfolio. It’s not uncommon that you will have individual resources working on two or three different projects at one time. Tempus Resource’s heat map helps you visualize how over or under-allocated individual employees are. This helps users discover better resource allocation, and avoids the kind of overly general resource allocation MS Project provides.

  • Explore alternative resource deployment scenarios

In Microsoft Project, a resource manager would find it extremely tricky to see what would happen to their resources if they changed project timing and vice versa. You simply have to ‘know’ that you’ll need X number of resources for Y amount of time. Visualizing what would happen if you made changes is crucial for real world resource management as situations change. Tempus Resource, by contrast, does let you explore the impact of changing resource deployment – and helps you discover more efficient and less risky allocations.

  • Adapt proactively

Microsoft Project resource management needs to focus on proactive adaptability. In today’s competitive market, organizations are constantly under pressure to adapt their strategy according to a changing market. Because Microsoft Project restricts your ability to change resource allocation flexibly, your capability to adapt resource allocation to changing circumstances is seriously hindered. This isn’t the case with Tempus Resource. Not only are you able to explore changes in resource deployment very easily, you can also test these proactively in advance. If you notice a potential threat on the horizon, you’re able to very quickly create and test resource portfolio contingency plans.

If you need more than the most basic resource allocation, Microsoft Project just doesn’t suffice for resource capacity management. Using a specialized tool such as Tempus Resource gives you so much more power and control over how resources are deployed. Crucially, because it configures automatically with MS Project, Tempus Resource can keep your projects up to date.

Get in touch today to learn more about Tempus Resource can help you manage your resource portfolio.

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