What are the differences among the optimization options? When should I use one rather than another?

Optimization is an analysis feature; it is used to highlight gaps and to create reports and charts. It never changes any values entered by users. The Optimize Allocation menu presents three options:

Use Unused for Skills,

Use Unused for All, and

Use Lower Priority Allocations.

PDWare Portfolio always does resource supply vs. demand analysis in project priority order on assignments with named resources (resources defined on the Resource Data sheet). When that is complete we have remaining capacity of resources and demand shortfall on assignments. All demand on skill assignments is shortfall as is any demand that exceeds remaining resource capacity on resource assignments. Shortfall is also called “unsatisfied demand”.

The optimization options apply remaining capacity to unsatisfied demand as specified by the selected option.

Use Unused for Skills  -  apply remaining capacity to skill assignments only This option shows where there is skill demand that should be converted to named resource assignments at some point AND shows where you have overallocated named resources. It can be considered a resource centered view of supply and demand.

Use Unused for All  -  apply remaining capacity to skill assignments and to resource assignment shortfall This option shows the extent to which you have people with the right skills to meet all demand. It can be considered a portfolio centered view of supply and demand.

Use Lower Priority Allocations  -  if shortfall remains after Use Unused for All, take satisfied demand from resource assignments on lower priority projects This option shows “better than the best”* you can do to satisfy demand in the current portfolio if you move resources from lower priority projects to higher priority projects with shortfall.

* “better than the best” because even very small, scattered amounts of remaining capacity are applied to unsatisfied demand, i.e. some of these allocations may be unrealistic. But the whole analysis is very useful as a first approximation to a solution.