Dynamics 365 Project Operations resource management for projects
Sep 28, 2020 | Matthew Lazowski

As a project manager you have plenty on your plate: murky project scope definition, aggressive timeline, limited budget, and vanishing resources. And usually other challenges follow. Managing this level of complexity may sound like a daunting task. And it is certainly a tricky one. However, when you use a software platform that is fit for purpose, this task can be simplified: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation (PSA) version 3 as well as the upcoming Dynamics 365 Project Operations provide several options for managing project resources.

Let’s look at different ways of managing resources depending on the size of your consulting organisation and projects. And yes, resource management is tightly linked to scope, budget and timeline planning.

Which option is right for you? This guide will help you to take the right decision based on your circumstances.

Local Project Teams

Scenario:

  • your firm employs 1-3 PMs/PMOs and 10-30 resources
  • runs 3-10 projects at any given time
  • a team is formed of a PM and 1-3 resources from the same location
  • teams do not vary greatly

PMs could use Dynamics 365 Project Operations/PSA assignments only (add generic/named resources on Schedule). With a limited number of projects, and small teams, it is perfectly possible for PMs to manage resources using assignments and resolve resource clashes offline by talking to or emailing other PMs and the Practice Manager.

At least two different sequences are possible depending on if we start from adding resources on Schedule or from creating Team Members. My recommendation is shown first (user tasks in light blue and automatic ones in dark blue):

Dispersed Project Teams

Scenario:

  • your company has several locations
  • it employs 5-10 PMs and/or PMOs, 50-100 resources
  • runs 10-30 projects at any given time
  • a team is formed of a PM or a PMO and 3-7 resources from various locations
  • teams vary significantly from one project to another

PMs and PMOs should use both Dynamics 365 Project Operations/PSA assignments (add generic/named resources on Schedule) and bookings (book named resources using Schedule Board). When the number of projects grows, and sharing resources becomes a norm, coordination in resource management becomes a must. The Schedule Board allows the Practice Manager to better gauge demand for resources and prioritise bookings on Project Alfa over bookings on Project Omega.

Several sequences in Dynamics 365 Project Operations/PSA are possible depending if we start from generic or named resources (with my recommended sequence presented first):

Dispersed Project Teams with centralised Resource Management

Scenario:

  • your company has several locations
  • it employs more than 10 PMs and/or PMOs and more than 100 resources
  • runs over 20 projects at any given time
  • a team is formed of a PM(O) and a number of resources (sometimes >10) from various locations (sometimes in different time zones)
  • it is a given that each project team will be different from the previous one

PMs and PMOs should use Dynamics 365 Project Operations/PSA assignments and resource requests while Resource Managers should coordinate booking, lending, and borrowing resources between teams and utilise PSA/Project Operations bookings. When number of projects grows further, and people are based in various locations, resource management can easily become a bottleneck. Resource Managers can help PMs find resources with required skills based in other locations and can help Practise Managers to find billable work for their resources when local demand for services dwindles.

At least two sequences in PSA are possible (with my recommended sequence displayed first):

How to set up Centralised or Hybrid Resource Management in Dynamics 365 Project Operations

Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation and Dynamics 365 Project Operations come up with a number of pre-defined security roles. And some roles are allowed to create bookings (check availability and book named resources using Schedule Board). When you select Centralised Resource Management option on the Parameter record, users with the standard Project Manager role will not be allowed to create bookings. With the default Hybrid option, they are allowed to.

Summary

There are various options provided in Dynamics 365 Project Operations/Project Service Automation for managing resources. Small firms could use assignments only. Companies with more staff and projects should use both assignments and bookings. Companies with dispersed teams where sharing resources between teams is very common, should opt for the whole set of features: assignments and requests used by PMs, and bookings used by Resource Managers. This is general advice though and you should always consider your particular requirements and seek the advise of your Dynamcis 365 implementation partner.

To find more resources on bookings, search for content about Schedule Board. Schedule Board is a core component of Unified Resource Scheduling that is used in both Dynamics 365 Project Operations/PSA and in Dynamics 365 Field Service.

Side note: Remember that the role on your generic or named Team Member will drive the role used in estimates and the default role in time entries. This will have knock-on effect on rates used by the system. That is why in some sequences presented above, you should check and sometimes correct the role on a named project team member record created by the system (resource’s default role is applied by the system while it may not be the desired behaviour). Microsoft Project Operations/PSA Product Team will release an update that is going to modify behaviours related to roles on Team Members as part of October 2020 release wave.

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