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Replacing Resources on Task Assignments in Microsoft Project

In our last post, we covered several different ways to assign tasks to resources. This post will cover the factors around changing task assignments and techniques for doing it in Microsoft Project.

We will continue our use of the example project from our last post to demonstrate these changes.

Let’s say a resource has more time available and more experience for a task than a resource that has already been assigned.

  1. Select a task. In the Assign Resources dialog box, select the legacy resource and click Replace.
  2. In the Replace Resource dialog box, click the new resource (in our case Susan Smith). For our project, we replaced Frank Goren for Susan Smith on Task ID2.  The screen resembles the following:

replace-resource-dialog-box

Figure 1. Replace Resource dialog box

  1. In the Replace Resource dialog box, click OK to complete the replacement process.
  2. Let’s say a resource (Patrick Rierdon in our example) has just informed us they will be on vacation from May 20–24, 2013. He is scheduled to work on Task 4 that week, and you want to update his calendar to reflect his unavailability. Double-click Patrick Rierdon in the Assign Resources dialog box to see his Resource Information dialog box. Click the Change Working Time… button in the General tab to view a copy of Patrick’s Standard calendar, and scroll to May 2013.

resource-calendar-information

Figure 2. Resource calendar information for Patrick Rierdon

  1. In the first Exception cell, type “Vacation.” Enter “5/20/13” in the Start cell and “5/24/13” in the Finish. Click in the next open cell to complete the data entry process.

Note: If you press Enter, the Change Working Time dialog box will close and return you to the Resource Information dialog box.

resource-vacation-entered

Figure 3. Resource vacation

  1. Click OK twice to return to the Gantt Chart view. What happened to the Gantt Chart bar for Task 4? What about the duration value for Task 4? Would it be obvious to the casual observer how they are different?

Note: Generic resources are replaced by named resources in the exact same manner as named resources replace each other. So let’s say you’ve determine that John Smith is the Analyst you’d like for this project. You would use the method above to replace the Generic resource “Analyst” with the named resource “John Smith.”

Microsoft Project considers the calendar of any assigned resource when scheduling a task, but you may have to look into the details to figure out why something happened. In the preceding example, that might not be a problem (because you might remember Patrick’s vacation plans).

However, over a long project, details can get lost. When you’re in the middle of a stakeholder review with top management and someone asks, “Why does your Gantt Chart say 10 days duration but show 15 days?” it’s easy for your mind to go blank. You’d like to be able to show that the task takes 10 days of work, but there is a break in the middle.

For a comprehensive coverage of all the features and functions of the Microsoft Project suite, our training guide is available to the public on Amazon.