Project Online: Resource Engagements–Working with Time phased Resource Plans


*** Quick update - all my screenshots are Project Server 2016 - looks like currently the recalculated flat contour is slightly different in this build and uses the average units - Project Online uses the expected Max units - so if you are following along at home your numbers may be different ***

Today’s blog post deals with a behavior of time phased resource requests in Project Online and Project Server 2016 – or edits to requests that change the time-phasing.  It isn’t immediately obvious what’s going on here – so I hope to explain the numbers and the limitations.  To set the scene, this issue was raised by one of our field solution specialists where it looked like we had a rounding problem when replacing generic resources with real resources in a resource request response.  Stepping back, for those who may not be familiar with Resource Engagements, a Project Manager can make a request for a resource for a specified period of time at a specified % unit or hours of work.

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Behind the scenes the hours are converted to units anyway – so the 200h over 3 months is seen as a 38% units request.

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You will also notice – as I added Proposed work to this view – that the number of hours per month varies.  This is because the working days per month varies from month to month – nothing unexpected there.  I have two requested engagements for my Generic 1 resource – 100% for 4 months and then 38% for 3 months.

I am also able to edit the time phased work in the request before submitting the request.  So for example I could start with a request for 50% for December 2016 to February 2017 – which would be 88h for December and January – but just 80h for February – but decide that we won’t need 88h in December – but back-load time into February.  I’ve changed to 60h, 88h and 108h – and my Proposed Max Units now shows 68% rather than the 50% (even though total hours are the same.  Max units are 68% in February (108/160 = 67.5% – then rounded).  This is all as you’d expect too (hopefully!).

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The important thing to note is that our request just has a single % – and if I re-open the request I made for the Winter work – where I have edited the time phased data – I see the % greyed out (67.5).

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Now we will go over to the Resource Manager’s view of these requests (I submitted them all – so the two draft ones above now say proposed too) and see what they see.

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My sheet view looks good – I do see more decimal places than in the Resource Plan view – but the numbers are really the same.  Lets see what the time phased view looks like:

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Again, nothing odd here – all stacks up with the initial requests.  As the Resource Manager I can edit the requests and change the resource or numbers if the request cannot be fulfilled.  The first thing I’ll change is on the first 4 months – and I’m going to reply that only 100h are available each month.

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This works fine – I also get an information entry in the info column telling me the time phased data has been edited.  Next I will change the resource, and this is where it can cause confusion:

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Hmm – what happened there???  Remember, our design is we only have one % value that we hold for the request – and there are different working hours in each month.  If I move my slider on the grid I can see that changing to 100h set my % to 59.52% – then changing the resource re-sets the time phased data – but it actually is using a percentage units calculated from the first month and then applying that % across the duration of the request.  100h of a 176h month is 56.82% 0 then the 95.4h is 56.82% of the full month’s working time of 168h.

In this quite simple example I have no calendar differences between the resources.  As you can imagine if one resource has a different number of working days then this will also introduce other variations when switching resources.

Let’s looks at a different example – and I’ll highlight a workaround if you want to re-set the same time-phased hours.  In the Winter work I see my committed units as 67.5% – and I have time phased hours of 60h, 88h and 108h.  The final one is driving the Committed Units – and you may have noticed that in Project Professional this is labelled as “Proposed Max Units” for the initial request (and yes, there is also a field for Committed Max Units).  This isn’t the field that drive the percentage used when flattening the contour of the request,

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Before changing my resource I am going to copy the three selected cells.  Once I change my resource I initially see the following:

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The total working hours for December to February are 176h, 176h and 160h.  So the re-set hours are all based on 50% in this case (The average of the units across the months).  If I select the first cell (88h) and paste back in my values I can return to the 60h, 88h, 108h that I may want to keep with the new resource.

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Bottom line (or penultimate line anyway) – changing the resource in an engagement request will flatten the contour – with a units value that is an average of the current set units.

We’d certainly welcome feedback on this behavior if it isn’t what you’d expect – either via this blog or to the UserVoice page https://microsoftproject.uservoice.com/forums/218133-office-365-project-portfolio-management-ppm.


Comments (3)

  1. Alexander Kraijenoord says:

    Thank you for your post! It surprises me that there are no comments on your blog post. The described behaviour is counterintuitive and could lead to some surprises in a production environment. Which leads me to the question: how many organisations use the Resource Engagements functionality in a production environment?

    1. There are plenty of customers using resource engagements Alexander – but like you I am surprised that I haven’t had more ‘feedback’.
      Best regards,
      Brian

  2. John Watkins says:

    I found this very helpful. It answered several questions that I had before reading your post. Thank you!

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