Timeline view - Resource allocation
  • 25 Aug 2022
  • 6 Minutes to read
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Timeline view - Resource allocation

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Timeline views allow you to organize tasks, projects, or other trackable events in an easy-to-understand and visually pleasing way. The Utilization function in Timeline view summaries allows you to track resource allocation across teams. Below we will walk you through a common use-case example of how to leverage this functionality.

NOTE

This Timeline view is only available on Pro and Enterprise workspaces. For more information on Airtable plans visit our pricing page.

Overview

Take a moment and think of the various resources that go into project completion for your organization or team. Perhaps, you thought about:

  • Individual employee weekly working hours
  • Total team working hours per week
  • Holidays/Time-off
  • Average task completion durations
  • External contracting needs
  • Headcount planning

If any of the elements above revealed themselves, then the workflow we outline below that leverages the Utilization function in the summary bar will likely help you and your team to have a better understanding and control over task and project deadlines.

Base schema

To help demonstrate the setup process for the Utilization feature we will be using this base as an example. Click the link above to make a copy of the base to your own workspace (click the “Copy base” button at the top right) and follow along. You might also already have a base that is set up in a similar way, with different table and field names. In that case, try to identify concepts that match the workflow in your current base or ways in which your base could be adjusted to mirror the schema of our example base.

The base schema below is the structure of our example base. You can see there are 3 distinct tables (Projects, Assignee, and Days off). Also, there are some important Date, Linked record, and Lookup fields that give us everything we need in order to configure our Timeline view and Utilization summary function. The fields in the green box correspond to the Utilization setup. The pink arrow lines represent linked or looked-up information.

viewsTimelineUtilizationSchema04082022

In general, there are three parts that are needed in order to fully leverage the Utilization function in the timeline view’s summary bar:

  • Allocation (Number value) - How much of “x” does this event require? Also, is that allocation a total for the whole event or does it repeat daily, weekly, or monthly? For a task it could be the number of hours needed each week to complete the task.
  • Resources (Linked record field preferred) - Which employees or teams are associated with the event? When this value is connected to a linked record, you are able to bring in dynamic information for availability.
  • Availability(Number value) - This can be a static or dynamic number. As mentioned, when a linked record field is added you can reference dynamic Availability and Unavailability data via Lookup fields associated with that linked record.
    • Unavailability (Date value) - This option will only appear when a linked record is being used in the “Resources” portion of the configuration process.

NOTE

It’s possible to set up Utilization functions in a Timeline view with only the “Allocation” and “Availability” fields filled out. This creates a less complex way of viewing total utilization over a given time period. However, if an employee takes time off, then there would not be a way of tracking their "Availability" and "Unavailability" without setting up those portions of the Utilization function as well.

Setup

Hopefully, the previous sections helped you to understand the idea of what we will be building out, but if not, don’t fear! Now you will get some hands-on practice setting the feature up. Open up the base you copied to follow along.

Step 1: Create a Timeline view

In the “Projects” table click the “+” button next to the “Timeline” option. You’ll want to match the “Start” and “End” values to the appropriate fields, but you can skip any groups or labels for now.

viewsTimelineCreate04112022

Step 2: Add a Utilization summary

Clicking in the space at the bottom of the timeline view will open up the various function options. Click on “Utilization” to open the configuration window.

viewsTimelineAddUtilizationFunction04112022

NOTE

If you’ve already grouped your Timeline view by a field that allows multiple values, then the Utilization function will be unavailable. At this time, the Utilization function can only perform calculations based on single-value resources.

Step 3: Configure the Utilization function

Next, we want to configure the various fields that our Utilization function will use to output utilization percentages. The fields chosen map to the base schema shared above. Below you can see that we match:

  • Allocation” to the “Hours” field from our “Project” table. Note that we set the “Rate” to “Per week” since the project requires “x” hours each week.
  • Resources” to the “Assignee” field. For our example, the project assignees are the resource we are using to work towards completion of the project.
  • Availability” to the “Availability” lookup field. Again, the rate is set to “Per week” since we are tracking available hours on a per week basis for those assignees.
  • Unavailability” to the “Days off” lookup field. This allows the function to remove any days that are unavailable from the utilization calculation.

viewsTimelineUtilizationSetFields04112022

NOTE

It’s important to note that the “Resources” portion of the calculation relies on our grouping functionality. If the grouping attached to “Resources” is later removed, it will disable the summary bar Utilization function.

Step 4: Other options

After setting the fields for the utilization function, you’ll likely want to adjust where the summary bar shows. In our example, the bottom summary bar doesn’t make much sense to show, since we are looking at utilization on a per assignee basis. In this case, we will toggle the “Bottom summary bar” off and the “Assignee groups” on.

viewsTimelineUtilizationOptions04112022

TIP

If the utilization percentages seem off, it may be that you need to [adjust the Date settings](/docs/adding-and-customizing-the-timeline-view) for your Timeline view.

Next, it’s helpful to set up one or more color conditions to help identify when an assignee may be over-utilized. In this case, we set the following conditions:

  • Color the summary bar red when utilization is over 100%
  • Color the summary bar orange when utilization is at or over 75%
  • Otherwise, color the summary bar green (Default color)

viewsTimelineUtilizationColors04112022

Now, we can see our fully configured timeline view by clicking out of the configuration windows. While scrolling, notice that the utilization numbers change depending upon the assignee and project. This is because different projects require different time allocations and assignees have varying availability.

viewsTimelineUtilizationComplete04112022

TIP

You may want to [adjust the timescale](/docs/timeline-view-summary-bar) of your timeline view depending upon the rate values you set during the configuration process or just to “zoom in/out.”

FAQs

What does “Infinity%” mean in the summary bar?

Infinity essentially means that the resource that you’ve allocated is unavailable for the time you are looking at. So the calculation is attempting to divide by zero which equals infinity.

Can I create a shared view for a Timeline view that contains a utilization summary?

Yes, however, if you used the "Unavailability" portion of the Utilization function, then there are some technical limitations that will cause the shared view to error out. If your utilization function has "No unavailability," then the shared view should work normally. You can also use the workaround outlined below to fix the issue so that the shared view appears correctly.

Workaround walkthrough

One way to work around this limitation is by adding a Lookup field in the “Assignee” table and referencing that field in a lookup in the "Projects" table. Essentially, a lookup of a lookup field.

In the example base we provide in this article that process would look like this:

  1. Add a new "Unavailability" lookup field (Green) next to the "Days off" linked record field (Red) in the "Assignee" table.
  2. Configure the lookup to reference the "Days off" linked record field and the "Day" field in that table.
    Image 2022-05-12 at 9.59.52 AM
  3. After clicking "Save," go back to the "Projects" table and open up the timeline view you've created.
  4. Then, open up the configuration window for the summary bar utilization function.
  5. You'll then click into the "Unavailability" field's drop-down and select the "+ Create a new lookup field" option.
    timelineUtilizationCreateNewLookup05122022
  6. This will bring up a new configuration window where you'll create a new lookup field that references the "Unavailability" lookup field you just created. Click "Create field" and a new field will be create in your "Projects" table. Be sure to adjust the field name if you'd like.
    timelineUtilizationNewLookupConfig05122022
  7. The lookup field you just created will automatically be referenced in the utilization function's configuration. Your shared view should now function properly without error.

Where can I provide feedback on this feature?

Feedback for this feature can be provided in this form.


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