Estimating Resource Requirements using Microsoft Project

This post will help you in Estimating the Resources needed to complete a given task with in a prescribed Schedule using MS Project..

I assume, Human resources here. One Full-Time-Effort(FTE) is taken as 8hrs / Day. If the Effort for 1 FTE is different in your case, for eg:9hrs/Day then change “Hours Per Day” option under “Schedule” in Tools –> Options on MS Project. On Project 2010 this option is available under File –> Options –> Schedule.

Let’s have a scenario first.

Here is the schedule given

Task Duration
Technical Design 20 Days
Code/Build/Test 18 Days

Listed below are the efforts arrived by your team for the above tasks in the Project.

Task Effort(Hours)</td>
Technical Design 600 Hours
Code/Build/Test 500 Hours

Now let us see using MS Project, how many Full Time resources(FTE) do we need to fit our efforts within the schedule given.

Steps required on MS Project

1) Set up MS Project

  • Go to “Tools” –> “Options”. On Project 2010, you need to go to File –> Options
    • Select tab “Schedule”
    • On the “Default task type” drop down select “Fixed Duration”
    • Select tab “View”. On Project 2010, Go to File–> Options. Select “Advanced” tab
    • On the “Outline Options for <projectname>” check the Option “Show project summary task”. This option is available under “Display Options for Project” in Project 2010
    • Click “Ok” to finish the Definition
  • Open a new Project in MS Project
  • If the default Gant Chart View doesn’t have the “Work Column”, do the following steps to insert the same
    • Right Click on the Column heading
    • Select the “Insert Column” menu item
    • On the “Column Definition” dialog opened, select “Work” from the “Field Name” drop down.
    • Click “Ok” to finish the Definition

2) Task Definition

  • Add a milestone task to denote our start date , On Row 2 enter the following
    • Enter “Start” on the “Task Definition Column”
    • “0 days” on the “Duration Column”
    • “0 hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now set the anticipated start date for our “Technical Design”, by entering the date on the “Start” column(either enter the date in the default date format or select the drop down to view the calendar)
  • Add our first task in the Project – i.e., “Technical Design”. Go to the next row(3rd) enter the following
    • “Technical Design” on the Task Definition Column
    • “20 Days” on the “Duration” Column
    • “600 Hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now MS Project will populate the “Start” and “Finish” column based on our effort and duration.
    • Go to the “Predecessors” column of our “Technical Design” Task and set the dependency to our “Start” milestone
    • Enter the id displayed on the “Id” column of our “Start” task in this column. You can see that MS Project updates the Start date based on the date set for our “Start” milestone
  • Add our third task – i.e. ,”Code/Build/Test”. Go to the next row(4th) enter the following
    • “Code/Build/Test” on the Task Definition Column
    • “18 Days” on the “Duration” Column
    • “500 Hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now MS Project will populate the “Start” and “Finish” column based on our effort and duration.
    • Go to the “Predecessors” column of our “Code/Build/Test” Task and set the dependency, “Technical Design” finish to start “Code/Build/Test”
    • Enter the id displayed on the “Id” column of our “Technical Design” task in this column. You can see that MS Project updates the Start date based on the finish  date displayed for our “Code/Build/Test” Task

3) Arrive at the Full Time Effort(FTE)

  • Enter a value, for eg: Developer on the “Resource Names” column for all of our non-milestone tasks. I.e., “Technical Design” & “Code/Build/Test”
  • You can see that MS Project appends a % value to the value we entered. The “Technical Design” task, “Resource Names” will display “Developer[375%], means you need 3.75 FTEs to complete 600hrs of Technical Design in 20 Days.
  • After completing the “Resource Names” entry on all our tasks – Technical Design and Code/Build/Test and from the values appearing on the Resource Names column, we can infer that the Technical Design task needs 3.75 FTE and Code/Build/Test  needs 3.47 FTE.

4)   Now what if, we don’t have the MS Project calculated FTE in hand?

  • Adjust the value on the “Duration” column of our tasks to arrive at the required FTE. Please note that when you change the value of the duration, MS Project adjusts the value in the work column. Please reset it to the original effort for the task (This Is the Default Behaviour For MS Project)

Once you arrive at the required FTEs, the Start and Finish columns should show the workable schedule

See Also : More articles on MS Project


9 Comments on “Estimating Resource Requirements using Microsoft Project”

  1. Thank you so much!
    This is exactly what I´m looking for. Thank you for the great help 🙂 🙂

    Martin von Microsoft Project

  2. S.Byrne says:

    If you could please help me troubleshoot:

    I follow your instructions above, I attempt to change the duration so that the FTE % adjusts to an acceptable level. However, this % does not update dynamically when viewed in the Resource Names column. But when I look at the allocation in the resource graph, I can see that the calculation is indeed updated in the background. Why does the Resource Names column not update dynamically? If I delete the resource name and add it back in, the % will be adjusted correctly.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    p.s. using MS Project 2010

    • Baiju Mohan says:

      When you adjust the duration, do you see that the effort/work also gets adjusted?. If so the resource column will not change. When you change the duration, adjust the work column to original value.
      I have noted this under step 4

      • S.Byrne says:

        Thank you. When I adjust the duration, I do see the work change. At this point the resource % does not change (and shouldn’t). I then adjust the work column back to the original value. The resource % does not change again (but should at this point). I would like to see the resource % update after I adjust the work column back to the original value. Any ideas why this isn’t working?

      • Baiju Mohan says:

        Found that, starting Project 2010, the way resource assignment value is presented has changed. Starting 2010 , MS Project will not change the assignment values when the duration of a task is changed after assigning a resource.

        To achieve our objective, we need to use the “Resource Usage”. Once you are in this view add a new column and select “Peak” from the predefined list. Now switch back to Gantt view, alter the duration or effort. Switch back to “Resource Usage” view again and look at “Peak” column to see the updated resource requirement.

  3. Nha says:

    I’m currently using MS project 2013, and have followed all your steps. But when I get to step 3 – I add Developer in the Resource Names column, I do not see MS Project append a % in the Resource Names column like so Developer[xx%], it just stays Developer. Am I missing something?

    Thank you!

    • Baiju Mohan says:

      The Task Type should be “Fixed Duration” and also Task Mode should be “Auto Scheduled”. Changing these on a task that already have a resource allocated may not force MS Project to show the %allocation. You need to remove the resource from the task and allocate again to the same task.

  4. qbonds says:

    How do we plot this over time

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