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I was having some issues with a larger project, so I went back to something simple (KISS) to test my observations. And here's the issue: Project wants to spread the work out over the duration of the task according to some contour (flat by default), rather than to optimize for resource availability.

So I set up a very simple project with one resource, 4 tasks, 24 hours of work over 3 days (for the longest task). I leveled the project (by hour,other settings being default) and for simplicity, I've mashed together the task list and the leveled resource usage in in the table below.

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The issue I'm having is that there is plainly 24 hours of work and yet it is being spread over 4 days, with no more than 6.33 hours of work done each day. As you might imagine, this issue does not get better with more tasks or resources, in fact it's more complex.

Is there some way to get MSP to break up the work in a way to maximize the time available for a resource? How do people deal with this?

  • I had not applied the calendar (I assumed MSP would use the calendar associated with the resource, standard in this case). I've tried overriding that and behavior changes slightly, but still not what I'm looking for. – Justin Muratore Dec 20 '19 at 23:01
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Through the given information not sure if you're looking for just a way to change your schedule and/or to change the type of the task, so I'll address both points here.

First thing to check is how are you defining the working calendar. As stated in the documentation, Project includes a few different base calendars, by default:

  • Standard: 8AM to 5PM, with a one-hour lunch break at 12PM.
  • 24 Hours: 12AM to 12AM, every day.
  • Night Shift: 11PM to 8AM, with a one-hour break at 3AM.

but there's space to create your own. This sets the base routine.

Once you've agreed on the previous setting and established one calendar that suits your needs, then there's another setting to consider. Again from the documentation,

Project uses a scheduling formula that relates the three values of work, duration, and assignment units:

Work = Duration x Units

Setting a task’s type allows you to “fix” (or make unchangeable) one of these values. Fixing one of the values places a priority on that value by telling Project not to change it when the other two values change. This applies to both automatically and manually scheduled tasks.

By default, Project uses tasks of type fixed units (it's possible to change that setting). If you decide that the reality of work on a specific task is that its hours need to be spread over X days on the calendar, you can change the duration to X (being X a positive integer) days—without changing the number of people assigned to the task. The same principle applies other way around, for the case you want to reduce the duration.

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