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Using resource skills feature

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Evgeny Z.
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I now have finally found some  time to look at Spider.  I mostly look at features, which are not available  in MS Project. One of the really cool ones (based on my understanding) is resource skills, however I just can’t make it work. I must say, I did not read the manuals from A to Z, so may be I just missed the description.

I did mage to create resource skills and make a relation between skills and resources.

Then I assigned to all of my activities skills.  I assigned only skills without assigning resources directly.

Now, I understand, there should be some magic button, which I need to press and Spider will go and assign real resources to activities. After that I should be able to go and check the assignments, which have been done for me by Spader.

However I just seem not to be able to find that button.   It is also possible, that I am missing something on conceptual level

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Evgeny Z.
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I can see, that in the version 11.01.04 , as Vladimir promised, it is now possible to show Skill, Team and Multi Resource Name, under which  the resource is assigned to activity!

So, this information is now extractable!

This is how it is implemented now

 photo Whoisdoingwhat_zpsefd203cd.png

 

P.S. I must say, I thought that Vladimir was going to add possibility to add Skill, Team and Multi Resource Name as a column to the Resource Gantt, but probably there are reasons to implement it for reports only. 

 

Regards.

Evgeny

Rafael Davila
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Having access to the fields might be good also for creating Formulas and Filters.

The Name Field on the Activity Gantt View is a multi-level field [multi-valued field], at the moment we have access only to the activity-name level rows for filters and formulas but at times you want to create formulas and filters based on the other levels.

Name-WBS-Level 1,2,3,4,....-Dictionary A,B,C,D,....

Name-Activities

Name-Resources

Name-Multi-Resources

Name-Teams

Name-Resource-Skills

Photobucket

Similarly at the Resource Gantt View we have that the Name Field is also a multi-level field you might want to filter and use for formulas on the different level rows.

Because Spider have unlimited WBS Dictionaries WBS might be interesting as they may be references as in Excel formulas, a WBS Dictionary would be the equivalent of a worksheet within a workbook and a level equivalent to a relative reference. In this way if you add or delete WBS levels the formulas might or might not be lost as in a worksheet formulas.

Just imagine a formula like:

A{levels/identifier}=IF(Name-WBS-Level3-DictionaryC="Concrete",1.10*C,C)

where {levels/identifier} would be optional if other than all cells at Activity Rows Level, identifier would tell about the specific row(s). Multiple rows can be identified separated by a comma while a range can be identified using a dash "-" similar to how you specify pages to print.

Just an idea as I am trying to kill 2 birds with a single bullet, now that we have row identifier it might help to simplify formulas applied to specific cells.

An interesting proposal. I did not expect that resource skills used for assinments would be required at the reports.

It is not hard to add, so it will appear in one of Spider updates soon.

Thank you,

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
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From your own figure I can see Resources A & B are assigned to Activity 1 as Skill 1, same for Activity 3 but for Activity 5 Resources A & B are assigned as Skill 2. For Activity 7 Resource B is assigned as a regular resource, if B available quantity is 1 it  can be called a named resource. This you we see on the Gantt View as you said.

I tried to get a tabular report with a similar organization of rows as in Gantt but could not, at the moment the way that is working for me is by creating a user defined field for roles as illustrated on the following figure.

Photobucket

When you assign more than one team to an activity as when using different work shifts on a single activity you add another hierarchical level and this again complicates reporting. Again my work around solution would be with another user defined field.

Maybe Vladimir will be able to help us here on how best to populate the user defined fields for each resource assignment for identifying to what skills and teams hierarchy they belong. 

Evgeny Z.
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Rafael,

as far as I can see, it is not possible to produce a report, which would show as a part of which skill is resource assigned to a task.. This information seems only to be available in Activity Gantt view.

Is my understanding correct?

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res.jpg

Rafael Davila
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Suggest you use a user defined field for roles as a single named resource can be assigned as a regular resource as well as to many skills, in this way you will be able to get your reports as needed.

If John can be either a regular [named resource - John] or a Systems Engineer or Field Engineer and the activity requires the three assignments then if you assign it as a regular resource it can be any skill, the software will not know on which role you assigned it, it is a management decision not a unique software computation.

Remember once you assign a regular named resource you shall deduct it from the skill quantity that he will assume or the software will fill the skill quantity assignments with other available resource on the skill set in addition to the named resource you assigned as a regular named resource.

You shall try yourself various simple scenarios, the worst that can happen is that you assign more resources that will ever be available but the software will tell you.

Evgeny Z.
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I have the following requirement on my schedule. This is nothing directly to do with scheduling engine. But I think that potentially resource skills feature may help. I found, that I can first assign s Skill to Activity and then manually assign resource to it, without this resource having this skill in resource record.

My situation:

When I make the project schedule, I first assign generic roles to project (e.g. Systems Engineer, Field Engineer). Based on this schedule I make estimation on how many resources and of what type I require. After that I request them from organization.

When resources get committed to me, I assign them to specific tasks instead of generic resources.

What I require is to be able to show on which role specific resource is assigned. E.g. if  I assign John and Peter to the same Activity I want to be able to show, that   John is assigned and Systems Engineer and Peter as Field Engineer.

I also want to be able to generate “who is doing what” report, where it is clear seen, that Jon is doing role of a Systems Engineer and Peter the one of a Field Engineer on this specific task. When I make this report I shall be able to show for how many roles I have already committed resources for (spesific names assigned) and how many roles are still not filled in.

So, is it possible to use Spider here? 

Evgeny,

in construction projects named resources are rarely used. But it is not rare when there are machines with different costs and capacity that can do the same work, like trucks, excavators, etc. These trucks and excavators may have different capacity (productivity) but may do the same work. So skill scheduling is usually applied for machines. This is where the number of assigned resources is usually defined by required productivity of assigned crew.

In design work, software development and other areas where planning the work of named resources is usual, skill scheduling is applied for human resources. This is where fixing resource assignments inside phases is needed (when the programmer started to work with some module it is not reasonable to replace him with another programmer in the middle of development).

In manufacturing the same work may be done using different processing centers.

So skill scheduling is practical and is used in many projects. It helps to optimize resource assignments and minimize project duration and cost.

Rafael Davila
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Sometimes you have different resources that share some skill. Say level 1 engineer [named AAA,BBB,CCC ...], level 2 engineer[named HHH,KKK .., whatever "level" means to you.

For some work you can assign engineer skill that will include all levels and depending on the particular activity you assign priorities as to target the best available distribution. You can even make the activity duration to be driven by the selected available resource production rate.

If your skill resources do not need to work together at the same time just assign them to different teams on the same activity.

If they are assigned different hours or have different productivity then the volume of work each produce can be different but will add to total activity volume of work, just display the column for volume of work.

Photobucket

Latter on you shall explore variable workload and assignments great functionality to reduce idle resources.

The use of each functionality or a combination will depend on your particular needs.

Real needs can be complicated, their solution can be complicated but we cannot cover our eyes and pretend they do not exist, we must use tools that can help us deal with such difficult scenarios. I am very happy to have you on board as your questions go further than mere curiosities, they showcase real needs.

Evgeny Z.
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Rafael, thanks.

I guess “resource skills” is a feature, which one can write a book about.

But what is the general strategy of using this feature in real life as an opposite to manual resource assignments?

I can imagine, there can be several scenarios:

  • At the early stage use Spider to assign resources and then adjust them manually.
  • Use rolling wave planning, where for short future outlook resources are assigned manually and for distant future Spider does it for you, just to show where the schedule ends with the current resources.
  • I guess for that for building-like projects where a lot of people involved with approximately similar skills (e.g. brick layers), you can just make Spider to do all assignments automatically for you.
Rafael Davila
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With the use of priorities you can have some control, of course if highest priority resource is being used and a lower priority resource is available it will be assigned. Also individual resource calendars or assignments to other jobs if using Portfolios will be considered by the software.

Note I set up Gantt options to display idle resources, those whose assigned quantity is 0 or "blank".

Activity 1 requires 2 bricklayers while Activity 2 requires 3.

Photobucket

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

Thanks, it is working now for me. Not quite sure, what I did wrong initially. 

I played around with this feature and it looks like it is producing logical results.

In general, it seems to be a great feature with some sophisticated algorithm behind it!

In our situation I have been often asked to produce a “what if analysis” for the situation of running projects portfolio with reduced set of resources. (e.g. “what happens if we take these 2 engineers from you?”). Performing such analysis with MS Project is a formidable task, so I just had to cry and ask management to believe my judgment that it would have significant impact. However resource skills seems to be something which can make such analysis very easy.

 

What options do you have to adjust the resource assignment algorithm?  

So far I can see the following:

1) "Fix resource skills" option in resource constrained scheduling setting. If this option is selected Spider will prefer to keep an assignment of the same resources inside the project phase.

2) Skills priorities at a resource

 

Is there option, for instance, to do something like load balancing between resources?  Just to make sure, that one brick layer does not always get assigned, whilst others are just sitting doing nothing? This is of cause if we have more resources, then work, which happens sometimes.

Evgeny,

in your screen resource assignments are hidden. Just press an icon with a picture of man in the toolbar or select show assignments in the Gannt Chart options. To hide assignments it is sufficient to press an icon with the picture of man striked through.

This way you will see assignments in the Activity Gantt. Besides you may analyze resource assignments in the Resource Gantt where assignments are shown not for activities but for resources.

This is how it may look if in the Gantt Chart options unclick Hide idle assignments: Photobucket

If to hide idle assignments only selected resources will be shown: Photobucket And this is how the same looks if to select Hide multi-reources and skills in the Gantt Chart options: Photobucket Be sure that your skills have participants!

It looks like you assigned skills that do not contain resources.

By the way it is one of the methods to create initial schedule - assign skills and suggest people responsible for different works to fill them with participants.

Evgeny Z.
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Vladimir,

Once I have done the resource constrained schedule, where do I see the results of assignment, done by Spider, where will it appear?

Also, I can see that the skills assignment, unlike direct resource assignments, is not visible in the Activity Gantt. What is the reason for such behavior?

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Evgeny,

after assigning skills run resource constrained scheduling and Spider will select what resources to use on each activity.

Assigning skills you can also define resource priorities (if you prefer some concrete resources to be assigned) manually and define the rules Spider will use to assign resources automatically (Priorities / Assignment Priorities) in resource constrained scheduling setting. By default Spider selects those available resources that minimize the cost of work but you may define for examle that resources with higher productivity are prefereable.

Another feature that may be useful is "Fix resource skills" option in resource constrained scheduling setting. If this option is selected Spider will prefer to keep an assignment of the same resources inside the project phase.

Let us know if this feature works as you expected. You may check what resource is assigned where in the Resource Gantt Chart and also fix resource assignments after skill scheduling if you don't want assignment changes in future.

Best Regards,

Vladimir

Rafael Davila
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You define skills at the Skills Table. You can assign Skills at the Skills Table and at the Gantt. You can access Skills Table in several ways.

You can access the Skills Table

  1. By clicking the skills icon in the vertical bar. If not available you can add the icon by right clicking the vertical bar.
  2. By clicking the skills icon on the Main Window.

You can assign Skills

  1. By clicking the desired Skill to assign on the Skills Table and then on the Assignments tab you can select the activities.
  2. By clicking on the desired activities at the Gantt Chart and then on the Assignments tab you can select the skills.

You define Resources at the Resources Table. You can assign Resources at the Resource Table and at the Gantt.

You can access the Resources Table

  1. By clicking the resources icon in the vertical bar.
  2. By clicking the resources icon on the Main Window.

You can assign Resources

  1. By clicking the desired Resource to assign on the Resource Table and then on the Assignments tab you can select the Activities.
  2. By clicking on the desired activities at the Gantt chart and then on the Assignments tab you can select the Resources.

Learn to define and use filters convenient to apply at the Assignments tab.

Resources and Skills can be assigned to different teams. Teams are group of resources that must work together; different teams represent different groups with resources on each group that must work together. This is the functionality that makes it possible for Spider to model shift work on a single activity.

You will be amazed how Spider is designed to work efficiently with large jobs, here multi-resources stand out as a very efficient way to assign multiple skills, multiple individual resources, multiple productivity, multiple workloads, multiple quantities at a single click of the mouse.