Generic Resources and Capacity Management

This is a question that comes up pretty regularly….how do generic resources impact enterprise capacity in Project Server 2010?

Take this as an example.  Let’s say that I have 5 named developers in my resource pool.  As part of my enterprise processes, I would assign a generic developer to my projects until they get to a certain stage in the planning process.  Then, I would replace the generic resource with a named resource.

The question always comes up however, if I have 5 named developers and 1 generic developer in my resource pool, does the system show them indeed as being 6 available resources?  Or does it only show the 5 named resources?

To test this out, I fired up a blank environment (SP1, June 2011 CU) and threw in a couple of resources.

I have a generic work resource, and Bob, a named work resource.


Note that I also have my administrator account configured as a resource.

Let’s see what happens when I select the two new resources, and then review the Resource Availability screen.


I see that the generic resource does in fact contribute to the available capacity – and does in fact skew the results.  Looking at this graphic, I’d conclude that I have two developers, even though I know I only have one real developer and one placemarker.

What happens if, when I create the resource, I set the Max Units to zero?  Let’s take a look.  I change the generic resource Max Units.


….then again take a look at the Resource Availability screen…


That’s starting to look more like what I was expecting.  I see only a total of 40 hours / week for the resource pool – which means we’re counting Bob, but not our Developer.

So the moral of the story is that if you want generics to not count towards available resource capacity, you need to set their Max Units to zero.

What are the implications of setting resources to a Max Units of zero within Microsoft Project Professional though?

Microsoft Project Professional & Resources with Zero Units

So to play around with this, I create a new project, add my two resources to the pool, and assign them each to a single task.  As could be predicted, my Developer shows up as overallocated immediately.


…which may not be a big deal.  Maybe your company is ok with overallocated resources in this stage of planning and only looks to resolve overallocations once the named resources have been swapped into the plan, bring with them all of the the annoying holidays and vacation time that generic resources don’t have.

There’re a couple of tricks that you could use here if you really want to see if your generic is overallocated though.  One of the tricks is to look at the Resource Graph for the resource and see if you can’t smooth the work out a little more evenly.


That at least lets you eyeball the work allocation for obvious issues.

The other trick is to go to the Resource Sheet and modify the Max Units temporarily for the generic resource.


See how my resource is no longer highlighted in red and therefore overallocated?  That allows you to do a quick check to confirm that you haven’t really overallocated the resource in the project plan.

Since this is indeed an enterprise resource though, the change won’t last.  The next time you close and reopen the file, the generic resource will be set back to a Max Units of 0.

Next up….the generic resource in Portfolio Analysis…

Generic Resources and Capacity Management

3 thoughts on “Generic Resources and Capacity Management

  1. Just to provide an update on this post…it’s come to my attention that setting generic resources max units to zero may cause issues in the Resource Plan feature. If you’re using the Resource Plan with generic resources for demand modeling, you might not want to follow the guidance above.

  2. Normand Arsenault says:

    Hello Andrew,

    but of course, having a generic & named resource looked at in the same time period will falsify the result. But the use of a generic is intended for upcoming forecasting of workload, when no named resource is assigned. And having one generic at 300% for 3 developer will permit a better planning for let’s say a 2 + month period. So I do not catch the logic here for the use of the resource center. Putting a generic at 0% would defeat the whole use of the generic resource.

    Now I am confused on the use of generic in PPM however, even after reading your excellent paper on the subject.

  3. It depends on which problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re looking at an individual project, and trying to plan the work, then I would agree with your statement. If you’re looking at the overall organizational capacity, it’s a different story however – as the generic resource may be assigned the work….but a named resource will actually do the work – as generic resources don’t really exist anyway. Hence, if I want to look at overall demand vs. capacity, granting capacity to generic resources would skew my organizational capacity calculations.

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