A quick guide to working with a resource pool across multiple files in a program plan where the plans are distributed across drives or project managers.
When working across multiple plans we are unable to compare total resource loading. To be able to do this we need to use a Resource Pool which gathers all the resources into one 'pool' which is shared across these files.
When working with a Resource Pool there are a few things to bear in mind.:
- Resource pool should be in the same location as the plans.
- If you save a new version of a plan it will also be linked to the pool - doubling the draw on resources.
- Resources which are subtly different (for instance an extra space) will be counted as two separate resources.
- It is useful to have the plans inserted into a “master plan” so that they are all visible in one place.
If you want to have version controlled files or distribute plans to different locations or project managers I have found the following structure useful:
Purpose and comments
Record the file received, with version control information in the file name.
Where the resource pool is applied. The files have no version control information. I open the file in "input" and file save to over write the version in the working space. The resource pool is then applied. I also tend to have a master plan into which all the sub plans are inserted so that they are all visible in one place.
Save out the file from the working area, remove the resource pool and then apply new version control information to the file. This is the file that is then sent back out to the owner or saved into the project file system.
MS Project Server allows you to have all the files in one location with version control etc so this method is geared towards non Server situation or when you want to be able to distribute the project files.
- The resource pool is effectively built each time we run the process.
- If a new version of a plan isn't received the old version in the working space will be used.
- Unless a standard set of resources are used in each file we may need to run a health check on each incoming file to make sure not issues exist with the resource names. A simple excel file with a VLOOKUP expression can be used.
Receive all files and update the working area
- Save last week's input into the archive folder - this allows you to have an audit trail of how each week's report is build.
- Receive all the version controlled files into the newly blank input area.
- Open the resource pool in the working area
- For each file:
- Open each one, save into the Working area without the version information (replacing the existing file).
- Link each file to the resource pool and re-save.
- Close the file.
Carry out analysis, reporting and modifications in the working area
- Open the resource pool and the master plan in the working area.
- Carry out what ever resource analysis, plan modifications, reporting etc which is needed.
- Once all work is completed and it is time to return the plans of the owners or specific locations save and close the master plan and the resource pool.
Save the updated files and return to owners / project areas
- Save the contents of the "return" folder into an archive so that you have a record of what was issued last week.
- Re-open the resource pool
- For each project
- Open the plan in the working area and save into the Output folder with version control information in the file name.
- De-link from the resource pool and save and close the project file.
- Issue to the plan owner / save into the project area.
- Save and close the resource pool.
- Double check that you have de-linked everything by opening the resource pool and making sure that all linked files contain no version information in their names
The whole process is shown in the video below: