Monday, May 25, 2009

The Power of Local Resources in Microsoft Project Server

If you haven’t understood or considered using local resources in a Microsoft Project Server environment, this is a must read. A local resource in Project is a non-enterprise resource. In other words, a local resource doesn't reside in a Project Server Enterprise Resource Pool. How is a local resource used? In certain situations, a project manager may need to account for work in a project that isn't being provided by enterprise resources. A local resource can be a contract resource, a business resource, or even a unique generic resource that doesn't exist in a Project Server environment. Using local resources can help project managers enhance their project plans when more resource options are needed than what is available in an enterprise resource list.

Setting up Local Resources

Setting up local resources is slightly different in Project Server 2003 than in Project Server 2007. In both instances, you simply create a resource by entering the resource name in any valid Project resource view such as the Resource Sheet. In Project Server 2007, that’s all you need to do, but in 2003, you have one more step to prevent conflicts when publishing your project to the server. You need to change the Workgroup setting to None on the General tab of the Resource Information dialog box. Microsoft simplified this in Project Server 2007 by removing this option altogether. Local resources are identified on the Resource Sheet by showing a local resource indicator in the Indicator column (Figure 1).

Figure 1

One final note on setting up local resources: They can't be created with the same name as an Enterprise Resource. If you do this, the system will prompt you to either rename or replace the local resource with the Enterprise Resource (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Updating Time or Progress for Local Resources vs. Enterprise Resources

Remember that hazy time before Project Server came into your life when you were able to update your project plan however you wanted, without the handcuffs of having team members controlling that function? Well, if you do, then this can be a pretty simple process. You update assignments using the % complete process or by entering actual time in a usage view; Project Server will simply ignore those entries.

Updating Local Resources Using Views

One consideration is if your organization enforces time entry from Project Web Access for enterprise resources (or managed periods in 2003). This feature prevents project managers from entering actual time directly into the project for enterprise resources, thereby requiring extra care when entering time for local resources. A simple way to accomplish this is to use a special view with a filter that only shows local resources. Creating views is out of scope for this article but the key point here is the filter for local resources. The filter in that case would look like Figure 3.

Figure 3

My suggestion is to show the filter in the menu, as identified above. This will allow you to pick the filter from the dropdown menu in Project. Of course, you can also assign the filter directly to the view, so that local resources are always shown when you first access the view.

Showing Local Resource Data on Reports

Remember that your project is still part of the enterprise and needs to conform to your enterprise standards for reporting. So when you're using local resources in an enterprise environment, here are some reporting considerations to keep in mind:

  • Project Center: Work, project costs, and baseline calculations for local resources sum up to the project level in the same manner as using enterprise resources. You'll want to make sure that these calculations are communicated and acceptable to the organization if you're using local resources.
  • Project Details: Resource and assignment views within Project Details show all resources assigned to the project whether they're enterprise or local resources.
  • Data Analysis/Portfolio Analyzer: Project totals are calculated the same as what you see in the Project Center. Unlike the project details view, local resources aren't split out separately but are grouped together into a single resource called “Local Resources.” The good news is that Data Analysis/Portfolio Analyzer can filter local resources by using the Resource Status field. Simply add this to the filter section of your view and remove the Local Resources option if you only want to report on enterprise resources.
  • Microsoft Project views and reports use and show local resources the same as they do enterprise resources. You can even use enterprise resource custom fields for your local resources when grouping and filtering views.

The Power of Local Resources

I've found local resources to be very useful in project management -- as long as that practice is acceptable to the organization. Enterprise resources have rules and limitations that don’t come into play with local resources. Combining enterprise and local resources can give you much more flexibility to plan and manage all activities on a project.

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