Flowing resources around a fixed contour?


Bruce McF

I haven't needed this is past efforts, but always thought there was a way to
get MSP to do this....
A resource needs to give customer support priority over development work.
His customer support load will vary over time and will be forecast over the
course of the project and then updated/adjusted periodically.

We would like to flow the work for a prioritized list of tasks around this
support contour. This is equivalent to setting an availability profile over
time (can do) and then flowing the tasks of fixed work into the availability
to define the duration for the task. Repeat with the next priority task.

Now update the availability profile (due to change in support load) and
re-flow the tasks into this availability contour to see the new durations and

Manually, this can be done, but we are trying to promote use of the
automated resource leveling. Under the setting we typically use, MSP merely
delays the tasks and leaves gaps if there is any overallocation at all. I
guess you could theoretically automate the manual process with VBA, but I
thought there was a configuration that allowed work to flow into availability
naturally. ???



Jan De Messemaeker


With the setting "Leveling can split..." it does exactly what you want.
Also, I would not enter the support work as availability profile, rather as
work on fixed dates which would show it in the Gantt Chart and Usage views
as well.

Jan De Messemaeker
Microsoft Project Most Valuable Professional
+32 495 300 620
For availability check:

Bruce McF


Thanks. I have "leveling can split" on ... but this splits the support task
and pushes the remainder beyond the end of the project at the first sign of
overallocation. I can then go manually make corrections ...but I may still
be missing something...

The support task is an on-going 5-30% work effort that spans the whole
project. We try to forecast this, give it first priority, and then complete
as many new functions as possible before a fixed date. If support levels
run higher or lower than expected, we need to negotiate which function gets
dropped off (or added) in response. (I agree it is better to show the task
on the schedule if possible. Whether one task or many, the same I think the
same comments apply.)

Suppose I set the support load (work) for a resource at 20% on the support
task and then schedule the other 80% on new functionality tasks and level ...
then mid-project it is evident that the resource will need to spend 60% of
his time in support for a month or two. I could adjust the support work
profile for the two months and then go back and adjust the work profile for
the new functionality tasks where then overallocated. Since the amount of
work hasn't changed and these are Fixed Work tasks, I would expect/like the
duration of those tasks to lengthen accordingly ... and when I relevel the
downstream schedule is all shifted. What I really want it to do is review
the time-phased assignments on the work in the overallocated region, adjust
those assignments to just fill availability, and lengthen the duration
accordingly. In the example where I said the support load temporarily jumped
from 20% to 60%, task assignments would be reduced from 80% to 40% in the
overallocation period and then back to 80% thereafter. Note that a task
spanning the end of the 60% support load period might have a 40% assignment
for the early part of the task and an 80% assignment for the latter part of
the task. I guess this is effectively asking for MSP to adjust the
assignments on the overallocated tasks (extending duration) ... rather than
just delaying tasks until there is no overallocation. I can imagine doing
something like this with TSVs, but thought there was a setting for MSP to do
this naturally. (Note that the "Adjust individual assignments ..." on
leveling doesn't seem to do the trick, but I need to understand what it does

I very much appreciate your help! I think this is asking MSP leveling to
adjust assignments rather than splitting the tasks and adding delay. I am
pretty sure I am missing something here.


(Note that I am resisting just using shorter placeholder tasks with the
resource fully assigned to them because my start and finish dates for the
other new funcationality tasks are then off ... by the duration of the
support placeholder task. The people really will keep working on the new
functionality tasks when they are not working on support and support won't
consume all of every day .. the new functionality task will just take longer
to complete. Thanks for your patience!)


Essentially, what you want Project to do is optimise your schedule.
That is, given a resource loading derived from the support activity, fit
the remaining work around it.

Unfortunately Project does not do this. Levelling does not provide this
function as levelling simply delays elements of work until they can be
fitted in with the level-of-effort that you provided.

The best you can probably do is to try to identify the average
level-of-effort available to the Project and plan accordingly.

Bruce McF

Thanks. I suspected so, but still had some recollection that it might be
possible. I didn't think of it as optimization ... in the sense that it
would find an optimal schedule ...perhaps iteratively. In the scheme
envisioned, it would always only be adding delay. it would just do the
obvious by making use of any availability ...by changing assignments and
ensuring that the total work for the task stayed the same. The leveling part
that occurs thereafter is just as noram and only delays.

What I do now is:

1. Make sure the Support task is lowest in priority for all resources. (ID
only in my case)
2. Level
3. Clear leveling on the Support tasks. This restores the overallocation
that is caused by the changes in support loading.
4. Goto Resource Usage and adjust the assignments for the overallocation days.
5. Reset the Work to the correct total work estimate .. and let MSP change
the duration.
6. Relevel .. and all the downstream tasks slip proportionately. Then see
if any further changes need to be made or not.

I thought MSP might be smart enough to do that itself.

(Perhaps this only makes sense for for Fixed Work, resource constrained


Jan De Messemaeker


Whether all this is necessary or not depends on how you use assignment
Leveling can not change those, that is like NOT.
So if your support task is 20% and your other tasks are 100% they cannot
concur because the sum is 120%.
What you could try is set support as a recurring task of say 1d/week, BUT AT


Jan De Messemaeker
Microsoft Project Most Valuable Professional
+32 495 300 620
For availability check:



Bruce McF

Thanks. I think we have a pretty clear No. :)

Your idea of have one day per week at 100% support ... versus having a week
long task at 100% for the 5-week long iteration ... is a clever way to avoid
distorting the planned start and finish dates of the New Functionality tasks.
That could be acceptable.

Note that the key issue was that the support load may change significantly
several times during the project and we wanted the "Finishes" to slip to
better reflect reality in those cases .. for hand-off to the QE/testing
resources, for example. We can do this with your suggestion by just
changing the appropriate recurring task work/duration ... without distorting
the Start/Finish dates much.


(Our initial plan would have shown 80% on the function task and 20% on
support. :)

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