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Microsoft Project 2010 : Using the Resource Fields to Define Resource Details (part 1) - Using the Group Field to Categorize Resources

8/22/2012 3:35:05 PM
The Resource Sheet view is the simplest, most convenient view for entering and reviewing resource information because it resembles an Excel sheet. To access the Resource Sheet view, select the Resource tab, and in the View group drop-down control, select Resource Sheet. Alternately, the Resource Sheet view can be selected directly from the Quick Launch toolbar. You can use this view in combination with the Resource Information dialog box to enter all the important fields of information that define a resource. Double-click on the resource name to bring up the Resource Information dialog box.

When defining a resource, you should provide a resource name and information about the availability and cost of the resource. The following sections list the fields that are commonly used in defining resources.

Using the Resource ID Field

The ID numbers for the resources are the row numbers listed all the way to the left side of the screen in the Resource Sheet view. The ID number does not appear in the Resource Information dialog box. These numbers are fixed; if you move a resource on the list, it automatically acquires the ID number for the row that you moved it to. Like the task ID numbers, you cannot edit this field.


Be cautious when entering resource names to avoid duplicate ones. If you add a resource name that is a duplicate of another name on the list, Project accepts it and does not warn you that you have duplicate names. Additionally, if you assign a non-unique resource name to a task, Project uses the first resource it finds with that name from the resource list.

Interpreting the Indicator Field

Indicator icons are helpful in pointing your attention to additional information about the resource. The Indicator field displays icons that show the status of critical fields that might not normally be displayed. The Overallocation indicators mean that those resources have been overallocated at some point in the project; they may have been assigned to work on two different tasks at the same time, violating the amount of time they were available to work. The Note indicators show that there is text in the Notes field for those resources. Resource Indicators appear only on resource table views such as the Resource Sheet view.


It is helpful to come up with a standard naming convention for resources. Two approaches are commonly used: full first name space full last name (John Smith), and full last name space full first name (Smith John). The format last name comma first name (Smith, John) is not allowed in many language versions because Project uses the comma to separate the resource names when assigning multiple resources to a task. Also with cost or budget resources, it is helpful to prefix or suffix the resource name—for example, Budget Expense, Travel Costs.

Specifying Resource Names Using the Name Field

You can define a descriptive name for a resource in the Resource Name field. The name can contain any characters except for the square brackets ([ ]) and the Windows separator character, which is, by default, the comma (,) in the United States. Resource names can be up to 255 characters in length. The resource name can be a specific name, such as John Smith, or it can describe a group of resources, such as Movers.

Using Resource Type to Categorize Resources

As stated previously, Project distinguishes between work resources (resources that are not consumed after contributing their work to tasks), material resources (resources that are consumed by their assignments), and cost resources (resources that represent additional costs on a project). The cost of work resources is based on the number of hours the resource works on a task and the hourly cost for the resource. The cost of material resources is based on the cost of a unit of the resource and how many units are consumed. The cost of cost resources is an assigned one-time charge. The default resource type is Work, but you can select either Work, Material, or Cost with the drop-down arrow in the Type field.

Work resources units can be formatted as a percentage (the default) or decimal values. Material resources are formatted only as decimal values.


Be cautious about changing resource types after they are assigned to tasks. When you assign a resource to a task, its type determines how the assignment affects the schedule for the task. For instance, if it is a work resource, the resource calendar determines when the work can take place. If it is a material or cost resource, there is no resource calendar to consider. Project warns you with a dialog box that the schedule will be affected and that the changes cannot be undone if you try to change the type of resource after it has been assigned.

A material resource is said to have a fixed consumption if the amount of the material that is consumed does not depend on the duration of the task. For example, the amount of metal used to build a car’s body does not depend on the duration of the task.

A material resource is said to have a variable consumption rate if the amount of the resource consumed varies with the duration of the task. For example, the amount of film consumed when shooting a movie depends on the number of takes a director chooses to shoot the scenes. Project factors the duration of the task when calculating the cost of using a variable-consumption-rate resource. In order to tell Project that it should factor duration into the calculated cost for a material resource, you have to attach a time unit abbreviation when you enter the assignment units. For example, to assign five reels of film per hour to a task, you would enter the units as 5/h.

Using the Material Label to Specify Units of Resource Measure

You use the Material Label field to define the unit of measure for material resources. For example, lbs for pounds, ea for each, bx for box, and gals for gallons are all measuring units. You define the unit cost of the resource using the measuring unit. This field is not available for work or cost resources.

Using the Initials Column to Shorten Resource Names

Sometimes using full names creates clutter and takes up unnecessary space. The Initials field provides a place for a shortened form of the resource name. The abbreviated name can be used in views such as the Gantt Chart and Network Diagram views. After you enter the resource name in a new row, Project automatically provides the first character of the name as the default initial but makes no attempt to keep it unique. If you intend to use the initial to identify resources in any view, be sure to edit the initial to make it uniquely identify the resource and be meaningful to you.


Some users of Project find it helpful to put the name of the department that manages a resource in the Group field.

Using the Group Field to Categorize Resources

The Group field enables you to enter an identifying label or keyword that you can use for organizing (sorting, grouping, or filtering) resources. For example, you could identify all packing materials, such as boxes, tape, wrapping paper, and so on, by entering Packing Materials, all moving personnel by entering Movers, or all pieces of equipment by entering Equipment. You can then use the Resource Group filter to view only the resources that have one of those values in this field.


When applying a filter to locate one keyword in a list in the Group field, you should use the logical test “contains” rather than “equals.” 

Many users put skills in a custom text field so they can filter the resource list for resources that have comparable skills. It is also useful to identify the skill level. The most effective method is to combine the skill category with the skill level.

For example, if you adopt the scale 1=Trainee, 2=Semi-Skilled, 3=Skilled, and 4=Expert, any semi-skilled technician could be identified with Technician2. Use commas to separate entries for people who have multiple skills.


“Group” has a special meaning when Project Professional is associated with an instance of Project Server. Even though this is a default field, in an enterprise environment, it is probably best to use a completely new custom field with a different name.


In Project Server, skills are defined using enterprise custom fields. Even when you are not using Project Server, you can use resource custom fields to define skill sets. Figure 1 illustrates a skill implemented in a custom field. Note that each level of the outline gets more specific about the skill of the resource. This enables you to find an engineer, a mechanical engineer, or specifically an advanced mechanical engineer based on the level of specificity you request when searching the Skill field.

Figure 1. You can define resource skill sets using the Custom Fields Lookup Table option.

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