The following is the first in a series of two posts from Jon Kaufthal, a program manager from the Project team.

- Melissa

Hi Outlook task fans--I’m excited to introduce you to Project Server’s integration with Outlook. Tasks are a big part of the Project/Project Server experience, and our integration is all about putting you in control and letting you see your Project Server tasks where you want them—which for many of you is good old (err…new!) Outlook. You can then report status back to Project Server from within Outlook.

If you haven’t worked with Project or Project Server before, here’s a quick overview: Project is a powerful tool for managing projects, and Project Server works with Project to centralize data about your projects—and tasks, issues, risks, your organization’s people and their time, and more. Project Web Access (PWA) is a Web interface to Project Server where team members can log in and see what’s assigned to them, report status back to the project manager, get reports, and more. Project is the tool for the project manager, while PWA is geared towards everyone on a project—project managers, team members, execs, and managers. Project and Project Server are a fairly structured way of managing work, but they can be incredibly powerful in helping you stay on track and use your resources efficiently.  For more detail, see the Office preview site on the Enterprise Project Management Solution, Project 2007 generally, and Project Web Access 2007. Also check out Erika Ehrli’s blog post on Project Resources, including links to more Project team bloggers.

Here are a few basics about Project Server-Outlook integration:

·         This feature works only with Project Server/Project Web Access, not standalone Project Standard/Pro

·         It integrates with both Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007

·         This post discusses the Project Server 2007 Outlook integration feature, though there is a similar feature for Project Server 2003

·         Though built as a COM add-in for Outlook, this feature comes “in the box” with Project Server. From the Project Web Access “My Tasks” page, you’ll see a “Set up Outlook Sync” link on the Actions menu.

OK—so once you’ve installed the add-in, you’ll see a new toolbar in Outlook:

These two buttons are the keys to understanding the Project Server add-in for Outlook. Its purpose in life is basically to sit between Project Server and Outlook, and to manage the communication/sync between the two. Note that it’s not a single “sync” action, because you may want to import fairly often but then only send updates to the project manager, say, at the end of the week. You can also schedule these actions, which basically just tells the add-in “click import/update for me every x number of hours/days.”

Assuming you have tasks assigned to you in Project Web Access, and once you’ve entered the URL, clicking Import will log you in and bring up a dialog like this:

This preview lets you know what you’re about to update into Outlook. Note that these are tasks assigned to YOU—the add-in is all about team members seeing their own tasks in Outlook, not letting a project manager see his entire team’s work—that’s what Project is for!

 Click OK, wait a few seconds, and…

<Applause!>

...these tasks will appear in Outlook, right next to your existing tasks. Other than name (“Task Name – Project Name”) and category, they’ll be indistinguishable from your existing tasks.

Actually, tasks is the default, but if you prefer you can have these show up as calendar appointments in Outlook. Either way, you get all of the extra Project Server goodness, and can maintain a 2-way updating of your info. You control this and other settings from a new tab created in Outlook’s Tools | Options named “Project Web Access”.

One more note if you’re showing imported Project tasks in the Daily Task List in the Outlook calendar: you may want to consider changing the Daily Task List to sort by Start Date, so that you don’t get caught off-guard when you have a task that spans a few days/weeks.

Once your Project tasks are in Outlook, you can treat them just like regular tasks (or appointments). More on this topic (i.e. what Project tasks look like in Outlook) to come in my next blog post…

-Jon

P.S. If you’re interested in Project Server but don’t want to set up your own server, some of our partners offer hosting.