End-to-End Resource Scheduling in Dynamics 365 Project Operations (Video)

This recorded webinar provides an end-to-end overview of how you can schedule resources in Dynamics 365 Project Operations. This overview is useful to project managers, schedulers, team and practice leads, and Dynamics 365 system admins who want to learn to use their Dynamics 365 Project Operations system more efficiently.

We show you all the steps from the beginning of the process: assigning a generic resource to a Project Task and generating a Resource Requirement. We then explore how to schedule a resource using the Schedule Board. Finally, we show you how to submit and approve a time entry and review the resource’s level of utilization in the Utilization Board.

Transcript below:

– [Melissa] Hi there everyone, thanks for joining us today. My name is Melissa, and today we have Jorge Rodriguez, who’s a solution specialist here at Encore, and he’ll be talking about End-to-End Resource Scheduling in Dynamics 365 Project Operations. Just want to let you know, you can put any questions into the question pane. If we can’t get to them today, we can get back to you offline and we will be recording this and send everyone the recording later on.

And I’ll hand it over to you, Jorge.

– [Jorge] Thanks a lot, Melissa, we appreciate it. So, today we’re going to be talking about project operations and more specifically about how to perform resource scheduling, which is one of the awesome features that project operations has to offer.

So I’m very excited to be here with you today and share some of my experience with the project ops. My name is Jorge Rodriguez and I am a solution specialist at Encore. I specialize in the client engagement side of the Microsoft stack of solutions. I’ve been with the company for a couple of years, and before that, I spent time working in technology consulting elsewhere.

So, that’s a little bit about me. Here at Encore, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a few projects where we’re implementing project operations, so a lot of this is based on my experience on those projects. There’s a few things that I want to cover today, the main two things are I want to show you the schedule board and I want to show you the utilization board.

But before we jump into that, I want to go over, at a high level, what are some of the prerequisite activities or configurations/setup that you need to have performed in your system prior to really start using the schedule board and then take advantage of the utilization board.

So, we’ll spend some time on that at the beginning of the presentation. After that, I will show you how to create a resource requirement which is the way that project operations lets you put in a request for a resource to fulfill a specific task in a project based on a set number of criteria.

After that, we’ll be seeing how a project manager or a scheduler can take advantage of the schedule board to assign someone to a project. We’ll also be seeing how the schedule board can be utilized by the leadership of the company to see how busy their team are going to be in the future, so it’s a great forecasting tool. And then at the end, I’m going to show you the utilization board that works hand in hand with the schedule board.

The utilization board is…lets project leadership and company leadership know how much time someone has submitted against their goals, right? So, it’s a great way to see how busy the team has actually been.

So, if you use the schedule board and the utilization board, both of them will give you… the first one, that forecast, and the second one will tell you the actuals of how much time someone has actually spent against a forecasted project, okay? So, that is what I would like to cover today.

Let’s get it start with the prerequisite activity. So at this point, I’m going to exit my slideshow and I’m going to be going with my… the demo environment that I had set up for this purpose. So, just give me one quick second here.

All right. Okay. So, I want to first talk about some of the perquisite activities before we get into the scheduling piece. There are a few different things that you need to have done in your project operations environment before you can take advantage of this functionality.

The first thing is you need to have set up bookable resources in your environment. And what are bookable resources? Bookable resources represent employees that you’re going to be using to assign to different project, and then these resources will be able to enter timing expenses against the project.

So, as you can see in my environment, and I’m going to make this a little bit bigger for you, I have set up a handful of bookable resources that we’re going to be using for these dem. So that’s the first thing that you want to do in your environment, to have your employees/bookable resources. Now, I’m going to start drilling into these bookable resources records.

So, I’m going to use myself as an example for most of the presentations, so if I click on my bookable resource record, okay, there’s a couple of different things that are very important that we’re going to be using when scheduling someone. So, the first thing is that you need to have a schedule work hours for each of your resources or employees.

So, this is something that you can do in bulk, or something that you can do individually, depending on whether or not someone has different working hours than their colleagues. So, for my example, as you can see that I have set myself with a working schedule from nine to five, Monday to Friday, okay?

So, that is very important because time availability is one of the main criteria that we’re going to be using to schedule people on projects, okay? And, the important thing here is that the system is looking at how many workable hours I have in my day, so nine to five.

So, that goes around eight hours a day. If someone works less than eight hours, for example, it’s a part-time employee, you probably need to do this between 9:00 to 1:00 PM. So the time really is not the important thing here, the important thing is the amount of hours that a employee is able to work during a day. To my case, I’ve set up myself for eight hours, Monday through Friday.

So that’s one of the first things that we also want to do after setting a bookable resource, making sure that the work hours are set up. Now, the other thing that we want to do, and it’s another of important criteria that we’re going to be using to scheduling resources is we want to define the roles that each of our employees can perform in our company.

So, if I navigate to the Project Service tab within the bookable resource record here, I can see that there is a sub grid where I can define which roles I, as a bookable resource, can play. So, let me just open a different screen here, and then let me go to the roles section.

So for my demo, I have set up, again, a handful of roles that I’m going to be using. I have set up an architect role, designer role, project management, team member, and technician. So your company can have any number of roles that people can play during a project implementation.

So, in my case, I have associated my bookable resource record with two different roles. I can play the role of an architect and I can play the role of a designer. And again, this is another criteria that we’re going to be using when scheduling someone for a specific task that requires a specific skillset.

So, work hours and roles, two very important things that you want to have set up before you start using the scheduling capabilities. Now, the other thing that you want to do here inside the bookable resource is you want to define a target utilization for each one of your resources.

So, what is this? If your company does or delivers project-based work, then you’ll know that utilization, how much bookable time our resource charges against the project is very, very important to the bottom line of the company.

So, what project operation does is it allows you to define a target utilization of billable work that you want a resource to hit per day, per week, per month. In my case, I have set up myself with a target utilization of 80%, which means that 80% of my working hours, I should be billing chargeable or billable work.

Okay? So you can define that on the bookable resource card itself, or you can do it on the roles. So if I go back to my roles and I double-click to open my role, I can see that I have defined target utilization of 80% of this role.

Another important thing here is that you can also set up the billing type for this role, whether this is Chargeable, Non Chargeable or Complimentary. Okay? Now, you may be wondering, so what happens if I have set up a target utilization on the bookable resource specifically and also another one on the role? The system will take the target utilization on their resource as being the norm of what it looks like for some computation that it’s going to be performing later down the line.

So, targeted utilization is something else that you want to have set up for each one of your bookable resources here. Right, so those are three things that we want to have set up inside a bookable resource, but there’s also a couple of other things that you will need outside the bookable resources.

So, one of them, and I’m going to open another tab for this, is you want to have set up a sales price list and a cost price list. So, if I navigate to the sales area of my project operations environment, and then I go to Price Lists… So let me make this a little bit bigger for you again.

You can see that I have two different price lists here. So, the price lists are where you are going to define how much you are charging for specific roles. In my case, I’m using hour as my unit of measure and that is the unit of measure that you are most likely going to be using.

So, I’m going to take a look at the sales price list. Okay. Now, if I navigate to the role prices, I can see that based on the roles that I have set up in my system, I have defined how much I’m going to be charging for each role. Okay?

And there’s a few more things that you can do in the sales price list, but again, we are only covering the prerequisite activities at a high level. There’s a lot more around bookable resources and sales price lists but at this point, we’re not focusing on this. We’re just seeing what are the things that you are going to need to have done before utilizing the scheduling capabilities, okay?

So, defining a price list, both cost price list and a sales price list using the roles that you have defined in the system is also something very important that is going to come into play when your resource is going to start submitting time against a particular project and project task.

Okay. So, the next thing that you’re going to need, and we’re going to be using this quite a bit… Now, let me refresh this or navigate out of this, and you can see how I get into that. So if I navigate to the project area of my environment and then I click on the Projects section, you’re going to see that I have a couple of projects that I have set up for this demo, and the project record is something that you’re going to spend a lot of time using if you’re a project manager, because the project is the place where you’re going to define your work breakdown and structure or project schedule, and then using that project schedule, then we’re going to go ahead and perform our resource requirements.

So this is the last thing that you want to have set up. So, I’m going to open this first project that I’m going to use as an example here. We’re not going to spend too much time talking about the project. Just know that this is the place where you are going to be building your work breakdown structure or project schedule.

So, as you can see here, I have already a work breakdown structure, a very high level one, a very simple one set up for this project that we’re going to be using for this demo. But here, I can define things such as the name of the task or the phase, the start date, the finish date, and then the system is going to automatically calculate the effort and duration.

This Assigned to column, this is where our process is going to start. The first two examples, you can see that I already have a specific resource assigned to this which is myself. When we start the process, we usually don’t start with assigning someone specifically to a project task because it may be…we may still months before the specific task that we want the resource to start.

So at that point, we start by adding a generic resource. That is really where the processes start. Before I jump into that, I want to mention one last thing that you need to have in conjunction for your project before you are ready to start submitting time and expenses, which is a very important piece if you want to get those billings out to your clients, okay?

So, each project should be associated to a contract. So again, I’m going to my contract by navigating to the Sales tab on the project record. As you can see here, my project has been associated with one contract, and just to show you really quickly why a contract is important, the contract is the place in the project operations system functionality where we define what type of billing we are doing for specific projects.

So in my case, you can see that my billing method is time and materials. It could also be fixed price. So the contract is the place where that is defined, okay? And then again, there’s a lot more to chat about contracts and projects, but I’m just giving you the high level view of what is needed before we start with our resourcing process. Okay?

So now, let’s get to it. So, how do I perform a resource requirement? So for that, you will navigate to the Task tab here, and I’m going to use my Phase 3 task as an example. Okay? So, let’s start by defining start and end date. Let’s say that this task needs to start tomorrow, on the 12th, and I know that it’s only going to take the resource a couple of days, so it should end on the 13th, okay?

I always like to save every time I make change. So now, I, as a project manager, maybe it’s not my role to assign a resource for this. Maybe there’s another person in the company that does that. Maybe it is a resource, another project manager or a project scheduler that does that. So, I would want to send a request for this other person to find me the right resource who is available between the 12th and the 13th to fulfill this task.

For this, I need to provide some more information, for example, what type of role I’m looking for this, okay? So, to do that, I click on this icon, Assign this task, then I click on the ellipsis here, and click Add generic resource. Okay?

So, this is going to allow me to let the scheduler what else I’m looking for in this resource besides the start and finish date. In this example, I’m going to focus on the role, okay? So, by default, this always is going to be default to team member. If you remember the role that I show you at the beginning, I’ll get to choose from those role.

So, in my case, I think I need an architect. That’s what I added, the architect piece here. That’s just to show you that you can select the role depending on the task that you want to get fulfilled. So, I’m going to select Architect.

I’m not going to change anything else. If you’re using a resourcing unit which are if your company has different locations, you could change this. I’m not going to change that. In my case, really just focus on getting an architect that is available from the 12th to the 13th. At this point, I’ll click Save and Close, and as you can see here, this Assigned to will have been updated to say Architect 1, which means that a generic resource is now associated to this task, so no specific individual, okay?

So, I’m going to save this, and then now, to generate the actual resource requirement, you will need to go to the Team task, okay? I always like refresh this, okay? And, you will need to find the line that matches the information that you added. Okay?

It’s usually going to be at the bottom here, so in this case, I can see that this is for the architect role that needs to be available from the 12th to the 13th. So this is enough information for my scheduler to send me someone that fulfills this criteria, but to make it available for them, I need to select this line and then click on Generate Requirement.

Okay? I can see that the resource requirement for the selected team member has been generated. All right? So at this point, if I’m a project manager, I’m just now waiting for the scheduler to send me back someone that fulfills my criteria. In some companies, the job of the project manager and the scheduler may be the same, so maybe the same person doing this.

It may be two separate people. So, then the next piece is using the schedule board to fulfill the requirement that was sent. Okay? So, the schedule board is located under the resource area. If I click on the Schedule Board here and refresh it.

I like to use the Gantt view. There’s also a List view, and I would like to use the Daily view. You can view this by week, by month. I like to use the daily view. You can define the start date of the information that is shown, then select the start of this week.

And what you see here are all of the employees in my organization. This schedule board offers a way for me to see, to forecast the work that they have coming up. So, as you can see, in this week at least, I am the only resource that’s already fully booked. So, 40 hours for this project.

I can see that there’s other resources that are available, okay? So, this tool can be used by team leadership to determine how busy their team is. You can change it from days to weeks to months to really see what the pipeline looks like in terms of how busy your team is going to be.

So this can be very powerful if you’re looking to make decisions in terms of bringing on new talent or maybe reshuffling some of the workload for some people, if you see that Jorge here is booked for the next months, but maybe Eric is not, you can maybe think about reshuffling some of his work. So, this is a very great way to visually see how busy your team is forecasted to be. Okay?

So, going back, for example, I’m going to change this to my daily view. Start time of nine, and okay. So, I had sent my resource requirement to the scheduler and now, the scheduler, when they navigate to the schedule board, they’re going to see all of the open requirements here at the bottom. You can see Open Requirements.

The one that I just submitted is here at the top. So, a scheduler can go ahead and schedule someone manually, but project operations actually offers a way, an assistant of sorts to help you find the right person on your team who fulfills the right criteria. So, in my case, I need someone that’s available 16 hours, from the 12th to the 13th, that is able to play the architect role.

So, if I click on Find Availability…. Right? And then I like to always use the Gantt view, I think it’s more visually…it’s better. So, what I can see here is now, the system is recommending two different people based on the criteria that I have, and the most important piece of my criteria is this, the start and end date, the amount of hours that are able to work and the role here.

Okay? So if I would go back to the Bookable Resources and look at Justin Timber and Roy McDonald, I would realize that, for example, Justin, if I navigate the Project Service here, I can see that Justin can play the architect role, and Roy can play the architect role as well. But also Jorge can play the architect role, and so why Jorge is not here?

Because if you remember from the board that I showed you before, I am fully booked for this week already. So the system knows that I’m fully booked, therefore it is not displaying me as one of the options, okay? So now, at this point, the scheduler would select either Justin or Roy. They’re both available.

They both can play the architecture role. So at this point, I would just select Justin Timber if I want, okay? And I’m going to book Justin for the two days, eight hours each. That should take care of my requirement. Booking Status here, Hard is if you know that for sure Justin is going to be working on this tast, Soft and Proposed are the same thing.

You’re not booking Justin for sure, but you want to put a placeholder on them. And then the Booking Method, you can book it for the Remaining Requirement. You may decide if you want to book Justin for a day, Roy for a day. In that case, you would use this, or you can book it for the Full Requirement.

So in that case, I’ll use Full Requirement and then click on Book. All right. So, as you can see here, Justin changed from being available for 8 hours to be available for 0 hours. So, if I click on Exit Schedule Assistant, you can see that these are being updated.

So now, take a look here. I can see that now, Justin has been booked for these two days, so he’s fully booked for these two days. So as you can see, this is updated right away. And then if I refresh this, you can also see that the requirement that I just fulfilled is closed because I have fulfilled the entirety of their requirement.

This view should only display the open requirements so that the scheduler know what they still need to perform. The last thing I want to show you here is that if I navigate back to my project and my tasks, I can see that the name has been replaced from that generic name with the role to the actual person that is going to be fulfilling this requirement.

This will mean that at this point, Justin is able to start entering time and expenses against this project, which takes me to my… the last thing that I want to show you is the utilization board. So you can find utilization board on the resources area as well. So, this similarly to the schedule board, the utilization board displays all of my employees here.

I can also change the view from daily to weekly to monthly. I can define the start date that is shown. But the big difference between the schedule board and the utilization board is that the schedule board is showing me a forecasted view of the amount of work that I believe my employees are going to have, whereas the utilization board is showing me the actual time that someone has submitted and has been approved.

So, we won’t have time to cover the time entry and approval process, but what you can see here, if you focus on this line for myself, Jorge Rodriguez, is that these percentages are updated as soon as I enter time against a project, and then someone approves this time.

So at this point, the system considers these entries as not closed but they’re already being approved, so they’re ready to be billed to the client. So at this point, the system can say with confidence, okay, Jorge’s submitted time was approved. That means that historically, he worked, for example, only 25% of the time that he was forecasted to work on this Monday.

And this forecasted number comes from, if you remember, my card, my target utilization is 80 hours. Sorry, 80%. And if you remember my work calendar says that I’m able to work eight hours a day. So the system is looking for me to at least be submitting six billable hours a day to fulfill that 80% utilization goal that I have.

So, if I take a look on the Wednesday, you can see the different colors here. So green means that I have to be submitted enough billable work to be above my 80% target therefore I’m green. For the Tuesday, you can see the yellow. The yellow means that I have submitted hours to be very close to that 80% target, but not quite.

And here on the Monday, you can see red, 25% because I submitted only enough time to be at 25% of my target utilization, so I’m way below my goal. So, this again is a great tool for team members to see if their employees are actually hitting that target utilization that they have set up for them, it will aid on the decision making, right?

So, that’s everything that I want to show today. Just looking at the time, we’re over time already, but we did get to cover the very important pieces of scheduling resources, so thank you very much for your time. I hope you found this valuable.

We won’t have time to do questions right now, but if there’s any other questions, we can get to you back offline. So, thank you so much for your attention today.

– Great. Thank you, Jorge, and yes, thank you everyone. Have a great rest of your day.

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