Individual and Team Optimization with Microsoft Project Online

Project managers and resource managers need to understand the true capacity, demand and labor costs of their organization’s resources. All of these have a direct impact on the timely delivery of projects and accurate forecasts.

Enter Resource Management in Microsoft Project Online.

Executives want to evaluate incoming projects against resource availability to ensure the optimal strategic portfolio. Assigning the right resources to the right projects at the right time improves outcomes and maximizes business value. Project Web App and the Resource Center in Microsoft Project Online enables organizations to proactively manage resource utilization, identify bottlenecks early, accurately forecast resource needs and improve project selection and timely delivery.

A team members timesheet or task page provides a one-stop shop view into the assignments a person should be concerned with f0r a given day, or week.  Filtering of the view allows a team member to hone in on specific items within specific projects.  Which sometimes may be necessary of the team member is assigned to multiple projects in the organization.

Resource Management in Microsoft Project Online and Improved Resource Visibility

Resource Management in Microsoft Project Online provides the ability to fully describe the usage of individual team members to ensure that the organization understands how roles, teams, and departments are staffed to do project work. This model can also be extended to cover skills, subject matter expertise, application knowledge and other personnel attributes typically part of the resource pool.

Team members have calendars that describe their work schedules, which helps support project planning and collaboration between teams across geographies. Managers specify the percentage of the working time that the resource is available for scheduled work to allow for the calculation of capacity for a named individual and rolled up to teams and departments.

Resources have associated labor costs that can be managed with Microsoft Project Online. Managers may assign the appropriate labor cost rate for the type of work being performed, and account for both standard and overtime labor costs. The resource manager can then view and report on capacity and all work demand across roles, teams and departments based on resource assignments across the organization.

The resource center, and additional the Availability and demand views provide visibility into resource assignments across projects.  At first the view may start out at a high-level, visualizing data using a vertical bar chart.  The bottom portion of the view details a resources overall work and availability in the organization.

Additionally, an assignments view may be used to drill into specific assignment information for a given resource/project relationship, should that level of detail be required.  The changing of columns, filtering and grouping allows an immense amount of flexibility for visualizing information.

Structured Staffing Requests

All incoming project proposals should capture high-level resource needs, typically by role, to help understand the full picture of demand on resources. Resource Requests for work resources can be formally submitted to resource managers, allowing the project manager and the resource manager to have a common understanding of resource commitment. This functionality within Office 365 Project Online is called Resource Engagements.

Project managers can also use detailed project assignments as a method of representing demand for resources. Resources can be allocated to on-going support activities for a portion of their time to reflect a real-time view of capacity for project work. Company holidays and Personal Time Off are reflected in calendars and are accounted for in project schedules. When evaluating capacity/demand, the organization is better able to determine what long-term hiring needs are and where bottlenecks exist on current projects with Resource Management in Microsoft Project Online.

One of the most important aspects of this are to gain a solid understanding of the organizations current commitments, as well as it’s ability to take on new initiatives.  Accurately forecasting resource demand, typically by role, plays a huge part in helping an organization answer these types of questions.

Furthermore, updating projects with tracking information is equally important in understanding changes to projects during execution.  Rarely do projects go exactly as according to plan.  Relying strictly on forecast information would be a huge mistake for any project and portfolio management process.

Resources Aligned to Strategic Portfolio

During the budgeting cycle and throughout the year, resource capacity and demand should be carefully managed via Portfolio Management. At the beginning of the fiscal year, all proposed initiatives can enter a formal process that validates their business value with a full business case, strategic assessment, cost estimates, and resource requirements. Not only does this process ensure that the right projects are approved into the portfolio, but it also aligns resources to the projects that will provide the greatest return on investment or provide the biggest benefit to the organization.

As the active, in-flight projects progress through the execution phase, Microsoft Project Online provides tools to handle unexpected delays and other changes by increasing transparency in resource utilization. Resource managers can closely monitor actual progress and updated forecasts on projects and resource needs throughout the year. Resource Management in Microsoft Project Online provides comprehensive reporting to allow resource managers, project managers and executives full visibility into assignments and availability of enterprise resources.

Add additional functionality to Microsoft PPM by leveraging Power Automate for powerful workflows to help streamline and automate business processes. This particular functionality is useful for progressing project requests through an organizations project management methodology and approval process.  Many organizations will also use workflows for important document approvals.  Power Automate does these things quite well.

Microsoft Teams may be added to increase collaboration between team members and other project stakeholder.

Finally, Power BI is a power business intelligence platform that is utilized to create dynamic and powerful reports and dashboards.