Project Management…in a box.

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Assigning Resources

How many different ways are there to assign resources?  As usual, there are at least a few.

What are the benefits of using resources?  First, it allows you to assign work to specific people which can help you keep track of who is doing what on your project.  Secondly, if you have rates or some idea of how much each resource costs then you can calculate the cost of the project.

Here’s a short schedule of activities that the team needs to support.

2013-06-16 Assign gantt layout

Let’s go ahead and assign resources.  Here’s our team and their associated rates.

2013-06-16 Assign resource sheet

The entire team will work the booth setup and booth breakdown and then will be split up for the remaining activities.  Once we’ve assigned everyone to their tasks we can go back to the gantt chart and see the cost of the project.

For now, double click on the the Booth Setup task and let’s assign the whole team.  Go to the Resources tab in the Task Information window that pops up and select the pull-down menu to reveal the resource options.  Assign all members to this task and click ok.

2013-06-16 Assign resource tab


2013-06-16 Assign resource costs

Notice how the costs are automatically calculated by resource under the Cost column in the window above.  If you want to see the total cost for that task we can add a new column called Cost in the gantt view.

2013-06-16 Assign task cost

This is the resulting view.

2013-06-16 Assign task see cost

After we assign the resources to the remaining tasks and add the project summary task  (which I’ll cover in a future post) we can see the total cost of the project.  How many other ways to assign resources do you know of?

2013-06-16 Assign task total cost


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Networking According to Tech Cocktail

A few days after I attended the Ladies DC professional networking event, Tech Cocktail posted a great article on networking entitled 12 Tips for Networking Like a Pro.

Networking is what you make it but it can help to have a strategy.  If you’re attending an event, have an idea of what you want to get out of it.  Here are a few tips that you might want to leverage…

2. Give of yourself – Find something that you’re good at or know something about and help someone out.  It could go a long way.  This could be something like making an introduction for someone or doing business.  Make yourself valuable and make something happen.

5. Have multiple touchpoints with your top 20% – You want to have connections but you also want to have quality connections.  Things change and your top 20% will change.  Create enough opportunities but make them count.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of the market or area you work in.  Cross-domain collaboration could open a whole new set of doors.  Be flexible.

8. Follow up – Stay current with people but don’t force things.

To see the remaining tips, check out the article.

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Professional Networking with Ladies DC


Earlier this week I attended my first Ladies DC event at A Bar in DC.  That evening, Susan Smith Blakely, author of  Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know About a Career in Law was speaking to Ladies DC about striking a meaningful and satisfactory work life balance.

Susan’s advice may have been very gender specific and very relevant to her law career but she made it applicable to everyone by conveying that having balance is a personal thing.  If I had to sum up the night in a few lines it would be when Susan said this:

You can have some of it some of the time, all of it some of the time but you can never have all of it all of the time.  

While it’s not earth-shattering, it is true.  Any way you slice it, you can’t be Marissa Mayer and have it all unless you’re well, Marissa Mayer.  The important thing here is to make sure you know what your personal priorities are in your career and in your personal life and to adjust accordingly.

The best take away from the night was a mantra from a colleague of mine.  We may have been talking about personal growth and networking when she said she likes to do things that put her outside her comfort zone.  That could mean any number of things to a number of people but make it personal and you will grow.  Do one thing a day that scares you.  You won’t regret it.

In closing, networking is very important.  No, you don’t have to do it every day but it is a good idea to nurture the concept and get out every once in a while.  You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.

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Need some PDUs? Volunteer With PMI…

Need some PDUs and still have some time until your PMP certification cycle is up?  Have you thought about volunteering with PMI?  There are lots of different and exciting opportunities.  You can be a forum moderator to a committee planner and build your resume at the same time.  Search for an opportunity and/or update your volunteer profile today!

2013-05-23 PMI Volunteer

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Resources, Continued

Let’s capture some rates for the USMNT, shall we?  The more experience a player has, the higher their rate.  If they have international experience then they can have an even higher rate.  Let’s plug these into our Resource Sheet in MS Project.  I also created a labor category based on their group (Mid3 is higher paid than a Mid2).

2013-05-21 labor cats

At this point, you would be able to assign these resources to a task (with their associated amount of work) and see what the total budget would be.  Notice anything different about the USMNT bus type compared to the rest of the team resources?

2013-05-21 Resource Sheet comp

We’re not using the Material column b/c in this case…well, we can’t (b/c we’re using cost and work type resources instead of material).  If you try to enter something into that column you’re not able to type anything.  Why not?  Well, b/c the resource types that we’re using are Work and Cost.  If we were using a Material type then we could enter the measurement of how that material type is consumed.  If I had to think of something relevant we could probably use Team Uniform as a material type resource and then enter a measurement of an arbitrary number of shirts needed for each game.

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Capturing Resources in MS Project

Alright…back to resources.

Let’s start off by talking about how we can capture resources.  Say you have a project coming up and you want to list all of the people that are going to be contributing to your project.  You might have a list of names, rates and other relevant information.  Where do you capture this in MS Project?

From the main screen, select the pull down menu from the Team Planner icon in the ribbon and select Resource Sheet.

2013-05-20 Resource Sheet Menu

Once you do that you get this blank view with what looks like a lot of information to fill in:

2013-05-20 Resource Sheet blank

From here we can start to fill out the Resource Name column with resources that will be supporting our project.  Why don’t we make things more fun and have the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) do all the work on this project.  At least, in this early state of planning, this is who we’re recommending to do the work.

2013-05-20 Resource Sheet filled out partial

Here’s the complete list.  All we’ve done is filled out the Resource Name column with our starting 11 (and a travel resource which we’ll talk about in the next post) as well as designated what group they’re associated with (forward, midfield, defense, goalkeeper or travel).  The remainder of the columns are auto-populated with this information below.

2013-05-20 Resource Sheet complete

Now, if you already had a few tasks in the project, you could start assigning resources to those tasks by going to the Resource menu in the ribbon and  selecting the Assign Resources button (Alt + F10).

2013-05-20 Resource Sheet Assign Resources

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Using Resources On Your Project

How detailed do you normally get when you use MS Project to plan work?  Well, it depends…(were you expecting a different answer?).

Sometimes it comes down to what is required by the contract.  Other times, you can get by with planning out high level generic tasks.  What type of user (or planner) are you?

Another point to consider is where are you in the lifecycle of the project?  Are you in the initiating phase or are you planning or executing work already?  All good things to warrant some critical thinking and plan to an appropriate level of detail.

Next week I want to talk about resources.  How to add them, how to assign them, how to track them and all those other things you should (want to?) be able to do.

2013-05-17 Resources