Assignments and Allocations Overview
This article serves as an introduction to labor and financial assignments in ResourceFirst, including the Allocation Algorithm that is used for allocating resources to work.
There are two primary types of assignments in ResourceFirst: Labor and Financial.
Labor Assignments specify forecasted demand by time period for a specific project. This demand can be for a specific person (resource) or for a skill needed from a specified organization in the OBS Node (Organizational Breakdown Structure).
Financial Assignments specify forecasted dollars by time period for a specific project at the financial item/category level.
There are two types of Labor assignments: Resource (a person by name) and Skill.
On Resource assignments, the OBS node is fixed since people are members of one and only one resource OBS node.
On Skill assignments the resource OBS node defines the range of resources from which a person with the Required skill is needed. A Skill assignment is defined by the absence of a resource name.
Labor assignments are viewed and managed on the following pages:
Assignments (global assignments, selected from the project or resource application (blue) toolbar icon)
Individual Project Workspace > Assignments (assignments for a specific project)
Individual Resource Workspace > Assignments (assignments for a specific resource)
PMO > Assignment Rollup (read only)
Home > Personal Forecast (assignments for a specific user; changes create Requests when saved)
A user with appropriate rights can add or delete assignments and can edit attributes (fields) including period demand values. Rights requirements are configured to meet the needs of each customer environment.
See the remaining articles in this series for details on the features available on the Labor Assignment pages.
The central drive train behind ResourceFirst is its unique and flexible Allocation Algorithm.
First, it is important to understand the concept of “allocation” in ResourceFirst.
When a resource is assigned to a project, the amount that the resource is actually available to fulfill is considered “Allocated” and the amount that cannot be worked on due to unavailability is considered “shortfall.” The level of shortfall is indicated by the colors in the cells (red indicates severe shortfall, orange is moderate shortfall, and yellow is mild shortfall). Allocation and Shortfall are calculated analytics and are not part of the system data. The thresholds that define which shortfall levels warrant which colors is defined in Administration > Server Settings.
When ResourceFirst calculates allocation for assignments, it allocates each assignment in sequence, according to how the Allocation Algorithm is set up in Administration > Server Settings. Named Resource Assignments are processed before Skill Assignments. The default configuration is:
- Effort State (only used if Allocate Committed First is checked on the Assignments page via the Optimization button)
- Project ID (PID)
If the Optimization > Allocate Committed First is checked on the checkbox is unchecked via the Optimization button on the Assignments page, then ResourceFirst by default allocates in order of the project’s Unit Priority and then the Project ID, referencing the above configuration (which can be tailored according to your needs). This means that once a need on the highest priority project is filled by the resource’s availability, the system then allocates the resource’s remaining availability to the next highest priority, and so on until the resource’s availability is consumed, and then shortfall colors begin to appear for subsequent assignments for that resource.
If the Optimization > Allocate Committed First checkbox is checked via the Optimization button on the Assignments page, the system will first look at the Effort State of the assignments to see which items are flagged as “Allocate First” (in the Effort State list in Administration > Lists > Effort State) before looking at Unit Priority and Project Name. The Effort States are defined in the Administration > Lists > Effort State list. There, various states can be defined, such as:
- Committed (or Hard-Booked)
- Soft booked (and/or Proposed)
Each can be defined with a sequence to appear in any drop downs and flagged as to which to allocate first. See Administering Lists for more details, under Effort State.
If using Effort States, each assignment would then have an Effort State set for it in the Effort State column.
With such a setup, for example, assuming the default Effort State list is in place and the Optimization > Allocate Committed First checkbox is checked, all the assignments designated with “Allocate First” Effort States would be allocated first, and within each group, the allocations would occur in Unit Priority, then Project ID sequence.
Put another way:
1) “Allocate Committed First” on the Assignments page options button, if checked, looks at the Effort State prior to other items in the Allocation Algorithm (specified in Server Settings), to see which items are flagged to allocate first.
2) Within the Effort State List: All items marked “Allocate First’ (in Administration > Lists > Effort State) are allocated first, in the sequence of the “Order” field. There can be multiple items flagged as “Allocate First.”
3) The Order field is also used to sequence the order in which Effort States appear in drop downs. For Effort States NOT checked as “Allocate First” this is the only use of the Order field. Effort States not marked as “Allocate First” have no impact on the allocation sequence.
4) Once all the “Allocate First” Effort State assignments are allocated, the allocation happens in sequence of the remaining Allocation Algorithm items (Unit Priority, etc.).
5) If multiple “Allocate First” assignments have the same Effort State (e.g., Committed), those items get allocated according to the remaining Allocation Algorithm items (Unit Priority, etc.)
The Allocation Algorithm by default applies to named resource assignments. Skill assignments only rely on these rules if Use Availability for Skill Assignments is checked via the Optimization button on the Assignments Page. In this case, the calculations are based on the rolled-up resources that are available (or unavailable) to meet the skill need. Otherwise, allocation is not calculated for skill assignments and the color is always in red, since the skill need is unfilled.
Understanding the Analysis Indicators (color codes)
The colors on the period values are the result of the ResourceFirst prioritized resource availability analysis, and are as follows:
- Yellow/orange/red shows the assignments that cannot be completely filled, assuming all assignments are addressed in priority order with the available capacity of the resource/skill.
- Yellow means a small amount of the assignment cannot be filled.
- Orange means a moderate amount of the assignment can’t be filled.
- Red means a large amount of the assignment can’t be filled.
- Skill assignments also show in red until they are filled with a named resource.
The color thresholds are set by the administrator for all users. See Server Settings and General Defaults for how to change the thresholds.
Note that the colors do not necessarily indicate the degree of the resource’s over-utilization (for that, you need to go to the Utilization page). Rather, they indicate how much of an assignment cannot be filled by the resource, given their availability. So if you have an assignment for the resource for a given period that is for 1 FTE (full time), then all subsequent assignments for that resource in that period will be RED, because the resource is at capacity and cannot fill any part of other assignments.
In contrast, if you have an assignment for the resource for .50 (half) of an FTE, and then you assign them to another project in the same period for .60 of an FTE, then the second project will be YELLOW because they can only fill .50 of the required .60 FTEs for that second project. In other words, the colors indicate how much of an assignment can be filled by the resource, given their other assignments and their capacity.
NOTE: With Optimization turned off (Use Availability for Skill Assignments is unchecked), skill assignments always appear in RED because they need to be filled. However, if you have Optimization turned on (Use Availability for Skill Assignments is checked), you will see the Yellow/Orange/Red colors for skill assignments based on the degree to which unused capacity with that skill is able to satisfy the demand.
Labor Assignments Screen Tour
The screenshot below shows the Labor Assignments page, accessed by Resource or Project application toolbar icons.
All assignments in the current data load are available on this page. User controlled filters determine which of the assignments are visible on the page.
From left to right across the top grey menu bar, functions are as follows:
- Add resource or skill assignment
- Copy Assignment button
- Delete Assignment button
- Add to Scenario (to add assignments to a project scenario)
- Request button (to submit assignments as a request to the resource manager)
- Convert to Skill (to convert all or part of the demand on a resource assignment back to a skill assignment)
- Candidates (to find candidate resources for a skill assignment or to replace a resource assignment)
- Allocation Options (to use Optimization, show Header Rows, or perform other features to tweak how the page performs)
- This also includes a checkbox for “Filter Drop Downs by Availability.” This means that dropdown fields will only include list items contained by resources in the current data load. Otherwise, all list items defined in the system for that field will appear in dropdown selections. See Editing Assignments for more.
- Clear Filters or Hide Zero RowsÂ
- Calculate Allocations (to recalculate and refresh the colors without saving yet)
- View Selector and Edit Views button (for selecting views or creating your own views)
- Save button (to save your data to the database)
- Import/Export (to import or export data)
- Legend (to show what the color thresholds are set at)
- Value Type Toggle (toggles between showing Forecasts, Actuals, or Costs)
List of Labor Assignment Articles
For more on Labor Assignments, see the following articles:
Creating Labor Assignments
Managing View and Columns on the Assignments Page
Showing Header Rows