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Leveling Resource Assignments

Leveling Resource Assignments

When all the resources ("Assigning Resources") have been allocated to the scheduled and precedence-linked ("Considering Dependencies") activities from the WBS ("Creating the Work Breakdown Structure"), and the activity-constrained schedule is prepared, the resource overloads can be identified. Generally, at this first pass of the schedule, you find an uneven distribution of resource needs, as shown in Figure 1, because they were not part of the CPM scheduling algorithm.

Uneven Resource Loading
It is generally desirable to smooth out the demand for resources over the course of a project to minimize resource idle time between the peaks of demand. Load leveling is the process of rescheduling tasks that have available slack to achieve a more balanced distribution of resource usage.

There are two basic types of algorithms for leveling: those based on linear programming techniques, and those based on enumerative math techniques.

Most project scheduling tools will do resource leveling for you, but they do not provide an optimal solution, so you must use judgment when applying them. You must think about:

●  Activity shifting - sliding start/end dates forward or backward to avoid a resource over allocation;
●  Activity splitting - breaking an activity into two or more pieces to accommodate resource availability;
●  Activity stretching - using less of a given resource continuously, making the activity duration longer;
●  Resource substitution - changing resources for higher performance, more efficiency, etc.;
●  Allocating overtime - accepting the overload, and paying for it;
●  Resource depletion - assigning a resource using something other than a flat effort distribution.

The project manager must think about the effects of fixed or imposed dates on leveling issues ("must start/finish on" dates). These are treated as project constraints and cause rigidity in the schedule, making everything difficult to work with. Certainly, some dates simply must remain fixed, like the due date for all Year2000 (Y2K) projects. Usually, when leveling is applied to an unleveled schedule, the project end date and all deliverable dates move farther out as shown in Figure 2.
Leveled Resource Loading
Most of the project management scheduling tools today (like Microsoft Project) handle the complexities of schedule representations for you, and it is unlikely that you will ever have to do network calculations by hand for even a small-sized project, but it is still important to understand what's going on inside these scheduling tools for schedule calculations.

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resource overloads, scheduling algorithm.scheduling tools
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