626874.indd Today we’d like to share an excerpt from one of our upcoming books: Microsoft Project 2010 Inside Out, by Teresa Stover. We’ll publish this book in Summer 2010. You can learn more about the book here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780735626874/.

In this excerpt, author Teresa Stover shares her insights about setting up resources in a project. Enjoy:

Resources carry out the work of your project or model the expenditure of costs or consumption of materials. However, with your tasks defined and scheduled, why is it necessary to actually specify resources in your project plan? You could just print the schedule and tell people which tasks they’re responsible for: Here are your due dates; now go make them happen.

This approach might seem like a simple way of managing a project, but if you do it this way, you’ll miss out on the tremendous scheduling, tracking, and communication capabilities provided by Microsoft Project 2010. By adding resources to your project, you can do the following:

  • Increase the accuracy of your schedule. If you use automatic scheduling, Project 2010 already takes into account the project calendar, durations, task dependencies, and constraints to build an accurate model of your project. When you assign resources, Microsoft Project takes this schedule a significant step further by adding the working times and availability of your resources into the scheduling calculations.
  • Know ahead of time whether any resources are overloaded with too much work in the allotted time. You can also see whether anyone is underallocated and shift responsibilities accordingly as you refine your schedule. Later, when work is being done and you’re getting progress information on each task, you can find bottlenecks or any new overallocations or underallocations due to shifts in the schedule.
  • Track progress according to resource work. Your resources can tell you how much time they've spent on their tasks for a given week and how much more time they will need. This tracking can help you make any necessary adjustments to keep the project moving in the right direction. Recording actual progress data also captures historical information that will be invaluable for future projects.
  • Record the use, cost, and consumption of materials in your project. These details can help you monitor your budget performance as well as give you advance notice as to when you need to reorder supplies.
  • Track some of the largest expenses in the project, including costs for labor, equipment, materials, travel, rentals, software, and so on.
  • Exchange task assignments, task updates, progress information, and status reports with your resources, via Microsoft Project Server 2010 and Microsoft Project Web App 2010. Even if you’re not set up for enterprise project management, you can still share project information using Windows SharePoint Services.
  • Make sure that all tasks are assigned to a responsible and accountable resource so nothing inadvertently slips through the cracks to be forgotten until it’s too late.