Microsoft Project 2010
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  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Visual Reports

    • 132 Comments

    Hello everybody.  I’m Heather O’Cull and I’m also a program manager on the Project team.  This week I decided to lock Lidiane out of her office and take over control of the blog to write about a new feature that I think is pretty cool – Visual Reports.

     

    Visual Reports is a new feature in Project Standard and Professional that allows you to report on your project’s data in Excel using PivotTables and PivotCharts, and in Visio using a new feature called PivotDiagrams (think fancy WBS charts).  Using Visual Reports you can now easily create eye-catching reports that are also informative off data from your project using formats that are familiar to your target audience.  To help get you started we are shipping Excel and Visio templates.  You can also create your own templates that you can share out to others to provide a consistency across everyone’s reports.

     

    Some background information for the technical people (non-techies feel free to scroll to the pretty pictures), Visual Reports works by first creating a local database (.mdb file) that contains data from your project.  From there we build a local cube (.cub file) and then hook the cube up to a PivotChart in Excel or a PivotDiagram in Visio.  These cubes are completely separate from the server cubes.  There are six different cubes to create reports off of – resource, task, and assignment in both summary and usage (time phased) flavors.  You can even save cubes or the database to then create reports off of in the future.

     

    And now for the pictures…
    (Click to enlarge)

     

    Pictured here is the main Visual Report dialog.  All of the templates you see listed in the dialog are templates that we are shipping to help get you started.  If I create a new template and save it in my templates folder it will also show up here.  You can even choose to include templates from another location such as a public share.  When you create or edit a template you can specify which project fields and custom fields to include in the template.

     

    Here is an example of an Excel template we’re shipping, the Resource Work Summary Report:

     


    (Click to enlarge)

     

     

    And the corresponding PivotTable:

     


    (Click to enlarge)

     

     

    Note, how using this chart you can easily see that Resource3 is over allocated and that Resource1 and Resource2 could potentially take over some of its work since they both have remaining availability.  If I wanted, I could customize this report to only show the data for a certain time period.  I’ve also customized the look of the chart a bit to help show off Excel’s new charting capabilities.  For more information on new Excel features check out the Excel 2007 blog.

     

    As I mentioned earlier Visual Reports works with a new feature in Visio called PivotDiagrams.  These diagrams are good for hierarchical data such as work breakdown structures.  You can customize the look of the nodes in the diagram by adding text fields, data bars, indicators, and background colors that are based off a value.  You can even use formulas to create calculated fields in Visio.  To learn more about this feature check out the Visio 2007 blog.  Here is an example of the task status report:

     


    (Click to enlarge)

     

     

    From here I could drill into Phase3 to see which tasks are causing it to slip.

     

    And for a little more background information, Visual Reports works with Excel 2003 or later and Visio Professional 2007.  You don't need to have .Net 2.0 installed to use this feature.  That was only a requirement for the Beta. 

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Sync to SharePoint

    • 71 Comments

    Hi everyone,

    I’m Roberto Reif and today I am excited to introduce a new feature that has been added to Project Professional 2010, the ability to: synchronize a tasks list between Project and SharePoint!!!

    A Project Manager (PM) can use all the advanced scheduling capabilities that exist in Project Professional with all the collaborative capabilities that exist in SharePoint.

    Users can now publish a project plan from Project to SharePoint and vice versa.  Any changes made in Project / SharePoint can be easily updated into SharePoint / Project with the click of a button.

    So how does this work?  Let’s assume a PM creates a simple project plan in Project Professional, as shown below. 

    clip_image001

    The PM would like to share the plan with his/her team members via SharePoint.  To do this, the PM clicks on the File tab and drills on to Save & Send > Sync with Tasks List (see image below).  After filling out the required fields, the user clicks on Sync, and in a matter of seconds the project plan has been published to SharePoint.

    image

     

    The SharePoint list will look as follows:

    clip_image001[6]

    Now the team members can view and modify the data in SharePoint, and the PM can synchronize the updates by clicking on the Sync button.  Tip: After the first sync, the Sync button also appears in the Info tab shown below.

    image

     

    If the same data is modified both in SharePoint and Project, the PM will be prompted with a conflict resolution dialog next time there is a Sync operation. 

    image

    A few important things to notice are:

    · Summary tasks are supported in the synchronization

    · Most custom fields can be synchronized, and can be added via the Manage Fields dialog (click on Manage Fields button shown on the image above in the Info tab)

    · This feature only works with SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server 2010

    · This feature only works when Project Professional is not connected to the server

    We encourage you to try it out and let us know what you think.  Be amongst the first to download the Project 2010 Beta . Sign up now at www.microsoft.com/project/2010 and be notified when it’s available!

    Update on 5/19/11 - with Project 2010 SP1 you will now be able to synchronize auto scheduled tasks too - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/project/archive/2011/05/18/project-2010-sp1-enhancements-to-sync-to-sharepoint-task-list.aspx

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing the Timeline View

    • 60 Comments

    In Project 2010, we’ve added a new view called the Timeline view which allows you to easily create a high level view of your project plan that you can then share through other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook.

    The default view for Project 2010 is the Gantt with Timeline so you’ll see the Timeline view at the top of your window the first time you boot Project 2010 but it if isn’t there, you can display it by going to the View tab and checking Timeline in the Split View group.

    Here is the Timeline view when you create a new project. I’ve also selected the Timeline view’s Format tab to show off the commands that go along with the Timeline view.

    image 

    I will demonstrate how in 4 simple steps you can create Timeline view that looks good enough for any status meeting or mail to executives, customers, partners, etc.

    Step 1: Add Tasks to the Timeline

    Simply right-click the tasks you want on the Timeline and select "Add to Timeline”.

    image

    Step 2: Arrange the Tasks

    Now that you have tasks on your the timeline, you can easily re-arrange them so it looks even better. You can drag tasks above or below the gray bar which represents the project to display the tasks as callouts or drag tasks up or down within the gray bar to display the tasks on different rows.

    image

    Step 3: Format the Tasks

    Now that the tasks are arranged nicely, you can make a few tweaks to make the timeline more readable. Through the Timeline’s Format tab, I’ve updated the date format to be more concise, set more text lines to show so you can read the tasks names, and highlighted some tasks with different colors to make them stand out (did I mention Project 2010 now has 32-bit color – yes that means we now have orange).

    image

    Step 4: Share the Timeline

    Finally, you can paste the Timeline into other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook by clicking Copy Timeline on the Format tab and selecting the proper size. When you paste the Timeline view, the items are pasted as individual Office Art shapes, so you can do an optional step 5 like I have and further format the shapes using the graphics power of those applications. Here I have added reflection, a 3-d effect, and further edited the colors.

    image

    That’s not all the Timeline view can do but I’ll have to save the rest for a video…

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Talk Amongst Yourselves

    • 52 Comments

    I've been getting a lot of email lately with some great questions.  Rather than attempting to answer individually, I thought it best to give you a forum to ask these questions.

    So, to facilitate knowledge sharing, please post your questions as a comment to this post.  Assuming it is information we can discuss publicly, we'll give you answers.  Also, we can all benefit from the knowledge gained in this dialog.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project Server - Outlook Integration

    • 46 Comments

    The Program Manager in Outlook (Melissa) and one of our Program Managers here in Project (Jon) collaborated on a post explaining the integration between Project Server and Outlook in this release. These posts go into nice detail about how you can manage your tasks directly from Outlook. This is an especially important feature for team members, whom most likely don't have access to Project Professional. The post is broken down into 2 parts:

    Hope this will help you understand the integration between the 2 applications.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Backup and Restore Project Server 2007

    • 43 Comments

    This post comes to us courtesy of Mark Shea of our Office Assistance area.

    Introduction

    This post will guide you through the Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 backup and restore process by using the the SharePoint Central Administration Web site.

    Set up a file share

    If you do not already have a remote file share to store the backup files, you must set one up before backing up your environment.

    Set up a remote file share

    1. (Recommended) Make sure SQL 'Setup server account' is using a domain account; see SQL Server books online on how to do it.
    2. Verify that the remote file share can be accessed from both the SQL Server computer and the computer that is hosting Central Administration.
    3. On the remote file server, create a directory and share it out. Be sure to give it access permissions for the account you will be using to backup and restore.
    4. On the Share Permissions tab of file share properties, grant the accounts listed below, Change and Read rights.
    5. On the Security tab of the file share Properties, grant the accounts listed below all the rights except Full Control.

    Create required accounts

    Accounts needed:

    • SQL server account (if “Local system” is the SQL service account, you must grant permission to the SQL server computer.).
    • Login account (required to do backup and restore using the command prompt).
    • The Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 front-end server account, such as <domain>\<server name>$ (required to do backup and restore using the user interface).
    • The central administrator pool account (required to do backup and restore using the user interface).
    • The Timer service account (requested by UI).

    Note The central administrator pool and the Timer service use the same user account.

    Note If you receive any errors during the backup or restore process, you must delete the failed “Backup/Restore” timer job before you can run the next backup or restore process. The URL for the Timer service jobs is:

    http://<adminsite:port>/_admin/ServiceJobDefinitions.aspx.

    Note You do not have to delete the Timer service job if you did the Project Server 2007 backup or restore by using the stsadm.exe command-line tool.

    Note The server farm should be taken offline prior to backup.

    Back up your environment

    To back up your Project Server 2007 installation, do the following:

    1. Navigate to Central Administration; the URL looks like http://<server_name>:port/default.aspx.
    2. Click Operations on the top navigation bar.


    3. In the Backup and Restore section of the Operations page, click Perform a Backup.


    4. On the Select Component to Backup page, choose the components you want to back up, such as Farm or an individual site. You can select any one component and all components under it.


    5. When you have selected all the components you want to back up, click Start Backup Process.

      On the Start Backup page, under Backup File Location, enter the UNC path to the backup folder.


    6. Click OK
    7. You can view the backup job status on the backup status page, by clicking Refresh. The page will also refresh every 30 seconds automatically. Backup and Restore is a Timer service job, so it may take few seconds for the backup to start




    8. If you receive any errors, you can find more information by looking in spbackup.log at the UNC path you specified above

    Restoring a Project Server 2007 deployment

    This section guides you through the Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 restoration process using Central Administration. It describes how to restore over the original server farm. This document does not describe a migration of Project Server 2007 data.

    Restore to the original farm
    1. Navigate to Central Administration; the URL looks like http://<server_name>:port/default.aspx.

       
    2. Operations on the top navigation bar.
    3. In the Backup and Restore section of the Operations page, click Restore from backup.


    4. On the Restore from Backup: Step 1: Select Backup File page, under Backup File Location, enter the UNC path to the backup folder.


    5. On the Restore from Backup: Step 2: Select Backup Package to Restore page, choose the target backup package and click Start Restore Process.


    6. On the Restore from Backup: Step 3: Select Component to Restore page, choose the restore level (Farm, Service, Database or SSP) and click Start Restore Process.


    7. On the Restore from Backup: Step 4: Select Restore Options page, select Overwrite (Create new is the default value) and click OK in the pop-up dialog.


    8. Under New Names, enter the user name and password for the Web applications listed on the page.


    9. Click OK.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Publishing – Made Simple

    • 41 Comments

    “What happened to my publishing options?” is one of the frequently asked questions from sharp-eyed project managers who have just upgraded from Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007. The answer is complex enough to deserve this blog entry.

    My design needed to deliver in two areas:

    - Simplicity, our research showed that very few customers understood the nuances of each publish option, especially when combined with the even more hidden Tools/Customize/Published Fields options

    - Scalability, our larger customers were hitting bottlenecks because of the serialized nature of project publish.

    Simplicity

    To address the simplicity I decided to strip project publish to its bare bones, changing from the two dialogs below:

    To the single option, placed next to the Save command:

    It doesn’t get much simpler than that - this should make the publish option much less of a dice throw for most of our customers – however “power publishers” will be asking for more functionality, you should read on to the Power Publishing section for more information.

    Scalability

    History Lesson: Project Server 2003 used a background service called “Views Notification” that was responsible for moving data from the Project client sql tables to the Project Server and Views sql tables in the database. This process was serialized on a single project and the whole process was single threaded, using a single cpu (although later service packs allowed it to be run on multiple servers), as you might expect publishing rapidly became a bottleneck on larger systems. It also had other issues in terms of manageability, capacity planning and availability but more on that in other blog entries.

    The new server architecture has radically changed how publishing works. Publish requests are placed on the Project Queue and are handled by a queue processor that:

    • Is multithreaded and multi-server and serializes per project rather than across all projects
    • Pulls data from the Draft database into the Published database through the MSP_*_WORKING_VIEW sql views
    • Invokes the corresponding Report Publish that handles the transformation of the data into a report friendly format into the reporting database
    • Optimizes (“folds”) multiple publish requests against the same project into a single request

    Even with all the additional work done by publishing (such as moving all custom fields, and serializing data from our internal binary formats) internal tests have shown sustained publishing rates of around 1,400 projects per hour for non-trivial projects on a farm infrastructure.

    And the Project Server 2007 queue infrastructure allows for much improved capacity planning and remote management as it exposes performance counters that the Windows System Monitor (fancy name for perfmon) and MOM can catch and track.

    Power Publishing

    The Project Server 2003 dialogs reflected the relative underlying complexity of the publishing process - much of that complexity was driven by the need to cope with the shared schema (now split across distinct databases) and the need to avoid the performance hit of a full publish. The server now publishes all changed information each time you request a publish operation.

    Changes are tracked using revision counters on our primary entities and their children (for instance Projects own {tasks, assignments, specific custom field values, calendars and local resources} – these counters increment each time the project is saved, deleted rows are tracked in our _SHADOW tables.

    The two main operations a power publisher wants to control are:

    • When a team member sees a specific task assignment (aka “Phasing”)
    • Who approves task progress (especially when the primary project manager is on vacation)

    Both these actions are now controlled through the task sheet where the settings are now visible and editable (Yay!).

    If you add the “Status Manager” and “Publish” fields to the sheet (as seen above) you can control the publishing process. Note that both these fields can be set as a group by filtering then using the mouse to drag the value down to more cells.

    Firstly – use the Publish Yes/No flag to control whether a task assignment is placed in the Statusing (“My Work”) system – this flag can be toggled at any time & the project republished to make it active. This empowers you to publish a project a phase at a time, allowing you to avoid bombarding your team members with future assignments.

    I made the flag at the task level because statusing is all about gauging progress against the whole task - assignment progressing is best managed in the Timesheet sub-system where work can be approved by resource managers rather than the project manager.

    In the reporting database the flag is actually stored on the assignment:

     msp_epmassignments_userview.AssignmentIsPublished

    There isn't a sinister reason for this, it just reflects the order in which we did the development work against a changing schema.

    Note that if you toggle Yes-->No then the assignment disappears from the Team Members My Work (any approved work doesn't get lost though!) so use this power carefully! Also be aware that if the line is already in a timesheet it won't be pulled back.

    Secondly - the Status Manager field has some strange rules (that echo those of project Server 2003) - it can be set to another pre-existing Status Manager on a task in the current project or the current user (ie the person with the project checked out and open) - this allows the value to be set even when the project is off line, and ensures that the Status Manager hhas (at least had) the ability to edit the project so that status data from team members can be applied once approved.

    So if you are going on vacation you'd ask your deputy to open the project, filter on an appropriate time window and set themselves as the status manager for the tasks that will be active while you are out. On your return you can easily find those tasks and reset them back.

    Phew! If you have any questions about other "mysteries of publishing", then please reply to this posting and I'll do a followup.

     

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Submit Feedback Directly to the Project Team

    • 39 Comments

    In an effort to enable more direct communication with our users, we have setup a Microsoft Connect site for Project.  You can now submit bugs that you have found in Project 2007 and suggestions for features you would like to see in future releases of Project directly to the Project team.  While we may not be able to directly respond to every submission, we do promise to read and consider every bug and feature suggestion we receive.

     

    Follow these steps to submit feedback -

    1. Go to http://connect.microsoft.com
    2. Click on “Available Connections”
    3. Select “Microsoft Office Project 2007”
    4. Click the Feedback link on the left.

     

    On the feedback page you can submit bugs and feature suggestions by clicking on the “Submit Feedback” link.  You can also search feedback submitted by other users and add comments, votes, and validations.  Vote on whether you agree with the bug/feature suggestion and use validations to indicate if you have experienced the same problem.

     

    Note, you don’t have to sign in to search existing feedback, but you must sign in with a Windows Live ID or Microsoft Passport account to submit new feedback or comments on existing feedback.  To log in, click the sign in button in the top right-hand corner of the page.

     

    If you are a part of the Office 2007 Technical Beta, you should continue to use the same bug submission tools you have been using.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    The Many Gantt Chart Views

    • 37 Comments

    Did you know that Project ships 8 Gantt chart views?  I thought I'd take today to go into what each one displays.  To get to most of these views you'll need to go to the View menu - More Views dialog.

    Gantt Chart - This is the plain Gantt chart.


    Bar Rollup - If you like to rollup subtasks bars to the summary task, this view helps you with formatting.


        To roll a task up to a summary task, double-click the task to get to the task information dialog and check "Roll up Gantt bar to summary" on the General tab.  In this view you can then specify if you want the task name shown above or below the summary bar by using the Text Above column (only available in this view).

    BarRollUp

    Detail Gantt - This shows the critical path, how far you have slipped, and how far you can slip before other tasks/the project finish date is affected.


        Red Bars - Critical tasks (tasks that must be completed on schedule for a project to finish on schedule)


        Black Line before a task - Slippage: This shows how far the task's start date has slipped compared to Baseline Start.


        Black Line after a task - Slack (specifically Free Slack): This shows the amount of time that a task can be delayed without causing its successor tasks to slip.  For a task without successors, free slack is the amount of time that the task can slip without delaying the finish date of the project. 

    Leveling Gantt - This view shows you how leveling has affected your project.  (Wondering what leveling is - check out this help article)


        Green bars - Shows you where the bar was before the last time you leveled.


        White diamond with black outline - Shows you where the milestone was before the last time you leveled.

         Black line before a task - Delay: This helps to show you how leveling has caused a task to be delayed.  The line is drawn from Early Start (the earliest date that a task could possible being, based on early start dates of predecessor and successor tasks and other constraints) to Start.


        Black line after a task - Slack (specifically Free Slack): This shows the amount of time that a task can be delayed without causing its successor tasks to slip.  For a task without successors, free slack is the amount of time that the task can slip without delaying the finish date of the project. 

    levelinggantt

    Milestone Date Rollup - When you roll up a milestone to the summary, this view displays the milestone name above the bar and the date below.  Regular tasks that are set to roll up will look like milestones on the summary bar.

    MilestoneDateRollup

    Multiple Baselines Gantt - This view displays Baseline, Baseline 1, and Baseline 2.


    Tracking Gantt - This is our second most popular Gantt chart and is best used when you want to see your critical path.


        Red Bars - Critical tasks (tasks that must be completed on schedule for a project to finish on schedule)


        Dark Gray bars - Baseline


        There is a bug in Project 2007 where regular tasks and regular task progress are both drawn with the same blue color and fill.  To fix this, when you are in the view, go to Format - Bar Styles and set either Task or Task Progress to have a different look.


    Helpful tips:
    While I don't want to get in to editing bar styles too much since that topic deserves its own post, I'll mention one helpful hint.  All the above views are customizable to meet your needs.  For example, in the Tracking Gantt, Baseline is displayed but say you want to compare Baseline 5.  To do this, just go Format - Bar Styles, and for the Baseline bar style set From to Baseline5 Start and To to Baseline5 Finish.  You can do this with other fields too.


    Additionally, to quickly set a bunch of tasks to roll up/not roll up, insert the Rollup column.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers

    • 36 Comments

    We've had a number of good questions come in.  I thought it would be helpful to share these and the answers.  Enjoy!

    --Treb

    Timesheet

    Question: Which is true? 

    Case 1:  Does the assigned timesheet manager approve all tasks in the timesheet (for example, project tasks as well as administrative time tasks) OR

    Case 2:  Does the resource manager (i.e. the assigned timesheet approver) approve administrative time AND the project manager of the project the tasks originally came from approve the project tasks? 

    SUMMARY
    The Resource manager approves all timesheet data.  If the Admin timesheet categories require approval outside of timesheets, those are also approved by the timesheet manager.

    LOOPING THE PM INTO THE APPROVAL CHAIN
    The current timesheet submitter/approver can change the value of the next person to approve the timesheet.  Using this setting, the PM can be sent the timesheet to approve.  As long as the PM doesn't have the category approval permission for that resource, the PM can send the timesheet back to the resource manager for final approval.  One manages actual work while the other manages compliance with company policies.

    Looking at Tasks

    Question:  I'm using Project Professional and I need to answer the following questions:

    • What work items/tasks are due by a given date?
    • What work items/tasks are slated for <x> milestone?
    • What work items/tasks are all assigned to <resource>?

    Items Due This Week/By this date

    In Project Professional, you can define a filter to show you this.  The filter will prompt you for a date so you can use this to see finishing by any date.

    • In Project Professionals, select Project, Filtered for, More Filters

    clip_image001

    • Select New

    clip_image002

    • Define the following Filter and click OK

    clip_image004

    • You will then see this filter in your list of filters to apply.  Project, Filtered For, More Filters, Select the filter and click apply. Once you use it, it will appear in the earlier list so the number of clicks will be reduced.
    • When you apply this filter, it will prompt you to enter the date.  You can enter any date, not just the date for the end of the week.

    What work items/tasks are slated for <x> milestone?

    The way we do this internally is to define a task level custom field.  You would then assign a milestone value to each task. 

    Add a new task custom field to the Project.

    • From Project Professional, select Tools, Customize, Fields

    clip_image005

    • Select the Task radio button,
    • Select a default task custom field that’s not used (in this case, Text 1)
    • Click Rename.  Your screen should look like this:  clip_image007
    • Name the field Milestone Group and click OK.
    • Under Custom Attributes, click the Lookup button.  This will enable you to add values to your dropdown. clip_image009
      • If you want to set a default value, you can select a Milestone value row, and click Set Default
      • If you want to change the display order, expand the display plus and select your option
      • If you want to be able to add new values on the fly, expand data entry options and select Allow additional items to be entered into the fields.
    • Click Close.
    • Your screen should look like this: clip_image011
    • If you need to see this for every assignment, then also select the Roll down unless manually entered radio button under Calculation for assignment rows.
    • Click OK.
    Insert the custom field into your Gantt view
    • You need to add the field to the view to enter the data.
    • You can either select a column header and right click, select Insert Column or you can press the Insert key.
    • You will get this dialog: clip_image013
    • Use the field dropdown to find your new custom field. You can start typing the name to find it.
    • Click OK.
    • Your screen will appear as this: clip_image014
    • You can click on the field, click the dropdown and select the value. 
    • If all of your tasks are in the correct order, you can drag down the value a la Excel style, to fill the cells below.
    Turning on Autofilter
    • To easily filter by Milestone, then select Project, Filtered For, Autofilter. 
    • Now, you can easily filter for a given milestone

    clip_image015

    What work items/tasks are all assigned to <alias>?

    • If you have set up your resource names using the alias, you can use the default filter “Using Resource”. 
    • Select Project, Filtered For, Using Resource
    • Select the resource from the dropdown
    • If you want to filter on another aspect of the resource record, a custom filter can be easily developed.

    Added Bonus – Cumulative Filters

    By the way, all of these filters can be used together.  So, by applying all three filters, I can see for a given milestone, within Milestone 1, which tasks will be completed by X date.

     

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  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Welcome to P12!

    • 36 Comments

    Welcome to the first office Project “12” blog entry! I am a Program Manager in the Microsoft Office Project team and will be coordinating this blog as a space for the entire product team in Project to communicate with anyone who is interested in Project.

     

    We are going to focus our blog discussions on the new version of Project, currently code named Project “12”. Our goal is to be able to share what’s new in Project “12” and hear your feedback and questions. There will a new posting at least once a week but I’ll try to regularly respond to comments and questions.

     

    I would like to get started by telling you how amazing the Project Conference 2006 was! For those who are not familiar with the conference, it is an annual event where we hold multiple sessions discussing how to solve some project management challenges using Project. This year, we also had a number of partners presenting on their solutions as well as best practices. It was the biggest conference ever for Project with about 1,600 attendees!

     

    Project “12” has some incredible areas of improvements in both the client as well as in the server. I hope to, over time, have some in depths discussions on separate features. For now, I would like to highlight a couple of client features that received a lot of applauses or “Oh my God” reactions from the conference:

     

    Multiple Levels of Undo: There was a post from Dieter’s Project blog about this feature. As he explained, it was an incredibly hard to implement feature but amazingly rewarding to see customers reaction! Project “12” will support multiple level of undo but we have gone beyond that and also support custom batching of VB code. What that means is that you can wrap any VB code with new functions that will become an undoable action. This is great if you have custom Add Ins or have extended applications running with Project.

     

    Task Drivers: Many of our customers had some problems finding out what happened to the schedule, so Project “12” has this new feature called Task Drives. A common question you may have when looking at your project schedule would be “why has a task moved to a certain date?” Now, you are able to select that task and see what is driving that task to be at the state it’s currently in.

     

    There is a very long list of really great client and server features in Project “12” but this is just to get us started.

     

    Dieter, the former Project Group Program Manager, has a Project blog containing a lot of great posts on new features as well as the conference. I highly recommend it if you would like to get more information now: http://blogs.msdn.com/dieterz/. Mostly, new posts will be added to this blog.

     

    Hopefully we’ll be able to build a good community on this blog.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Please Send Us Error Reports

    • 32 Comments

    Send Error Report message

    Before I came to Microsoft, I always cancelled the "Send error reporting to Microsoft".  I didn't know what was being captured or how it was being used.  Brief feelings of being spied upon would come over me.  So, my choice was always to cancel.

    Now that I work for Microsoft, I wanted to pass on the two major points I have learned about error reporting.

    First, it's very important information.  Whenever a Microsoft Office application encounters an error, the Watson error reporting application captures what was happening with the PC at the time of the error and what error was encountered.  It will then prompt you to send this information to Microsoft. 

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send this data to us.  Basically, we capture the program call stack data for debugging purposes and the error description.  The data sent to us allows us to analyze which errors are occurring, how often and why. 

    Errors follow the Pareto principle where a small number of issues create most of the errors.  We use the frequency and severity as one of the inputs in deciding what goes into future service packs and product versions.  This data was instrumental in selecting fixes for the Project 2003 service packs.

    Secondly, we are not spying on you.  We do not capture personally identifiable information in this process.  So, you won't start getting marketing material as a result of submitting this information. 

    I recently watched a user get an error, saw Watson do it's job and then saw the user cancel the send process.  I asked why they cancelled it and basically, they didn't want to take the time to submit the info.  I also asked how often had they seen the issue and they said enough to notice. 

    As a result, we both lose as the user will continue to experience the problem and we will continue to not know about it.

    Sending in the data is the easiest way to make sure your issue is reported.  In the end, we will all benefit from a better product. 

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing the Team Planner

    • 32 Comments

    Hello--I’m Jon Kaufthal, Program Manager on the Project team. A key focus of mine for our upcoming Project Professional 2010 release is the new Team Planner, and I’m excited to introduce you to Team Planner today.

    The main idea behind Team Planner is combining the power of the Gantt chart with the simplicity and familiarity of the Outlook calendar. Team Planner lets you:

    1. Easily see your team’s work laid out over time

    2. Quickly spot problems

    3. Drag and drop to resolve those problems

    So, what does this look like in practice? Let’s imagine you start with this in Gantt:

    clip_image002

    To switch to Team Planner, you can click the View tab in the ribbon and then choose Team Planner. At that point, you’ll see this:

    clip_image004

    A few things to notice here:

    1. Each team member’s work is represented in a single row, making it easy to glance across the timescale and see who does what when

    2. Overallocations are highlighted in red

    In the example above, you can see that Jon is double-booked for part of that first week of October. Luckily, we seem to have at least two good options for how to deal with it.

    First, we could move the task in time. In this case, it’s OK for the “confirm speakers” task to happen two days later, so I can simply drag it over to the right a bit. Once I do that, I see:

    clip_image006

    Notice that the row has shrunk down, and the red is now gone. The work remains assigned to Jon, but moves out to happen two days later.

    Alternatively, Brian has some free time and is equipped to do this task as well. It looks like he’s out from Wednesday through Friday of that week, but he has two days open at the beginning of the week. Since that’s all that’s needed for this task, we can simply drag it down one row and a few days to the left. Once I do that, I see:

    clip_image008

    So we’ve now reassigned the task to Brian, and it’s beginning a few days earlier.

    These are just a few basic examples to illustrate the power and simplicity of Team Planner. Making these sorts of schedule adjustments in Team Planner is a simple visual process, letting you focus your attention on keeping your plans on track.

    There’s much more to cover in Team Planner, including:

    · The unassigned and unscheduled zones

    · Automatically resolving overallocations

    · Updating your status directly in the view

    · Customizing the look and feel of the view: colors, sizing, hiding sections, filtering, grouping

    · Seeing/editing more details through tooltips, right-click, double click, and split views

    …but I wanted to stick to the basics for this first post. Let us know what you think!

    Jon

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project Server Data Migration - Cheat Sheet

    • 30 Comments

    Data Migration can be a long difficult progress. In Project 2007 we made a lot of investiments to make this process a lot smoother for users.

     

    This post provides a list of quick steps to migrate your Project Server 2003 data into Project Server 2007. I've done it several times and it works well. If there are any failures, the log gives you detailed information for troubleshooting the issue.

     

    This list doesn't provide a detailed documentation of the process or all the detailed steps or how to troubleshoot problems. For that, refer to the Beta 2 documentation.

     

    1)    Install Project Server 2007 and provision a Project Web Access site

     

    2)    Backup your clean Project databases (all 4 of them). If you run into problems you can restore the databases and start over

      

    3)     Get your Project 2003 database ready. Restore an existing Project 2003 database onto the same SQL server as the Project Server 2007. Or create a linked server on the Project Server 2007 SQL Server (SQL Server instance->Security->Linked Servers). Link it to the Project Server 2003 SQL Server. In the security tab choose ‘be made with this security context’ and give a SQL Auth account (Eg. user: sa   password:<whatever>)

     

    4)    Install Project 2007 Professional and choose the “install migration tool” advanced option in setup

     

    5)    Change the default Migration ini file that gets installed with Project Professional (you can find it at \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\ P12MIGRATION.INI.SAMPLE)  Add in the right values for Project Server 2003 databases, Project Server 2003 Linked SQL Server, Project Server 2007 PWA etc. ***Spend some time to make sure all your parameters are valid. There are detailed explanation of each parameter***

      

    6)     Run the migration tool from the command line:   "<drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE12\p12migrationtool.exe" -c "<location>\p12migration.ini"

     

    7)     Look at the command line/migration log to make sure everything is fine. If not, do corrections and re-run migration tool - it should start from where it stopped last.  If there is a irrecoverable problem, make changes in Project Server 2003, restore the clean Project Server 2007 databases and retry migration.

     

    8)     If you have any local windows accounts (eg. <Machine\Brad Sutton>), make sure you use PWA->edit user functionality to edit those accounts so that they are valid.

     

    9)     Go to the migrated PWA site as an admin, edit each migrated security category, go to the “Views – add to category” section and add the ‘My Work’ set of views to the category. If you don’t add these views, migrated users will not be able to see any views when they navigate to the ‘My work’ page.

     

    10)  Go to PWA->Server Settings->Operational policies->project workspace provisioning settings and choose ‘Automatically create a project workspace…” option. This is the more common option.  If you don’t want workspaces to be created automatically, you need not do this.

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    We're Back (and with instructions on creating a Burndown Report)!

    • 30 Comments

    Hi, I'm Heather O'Cull, another program manager on the Project team.  In case you're wondering what happened to Treb, he is still here but has decided to pass the blog on to give more variety to it.  Big thanks to Treb for all the great posts and hopefully he'll still be up for doing some guest posts.

    I work more on the client and client reporting so I'll be giving the blog more of a spin in that direction.  If there is anything you would like to see posts about, please let me know.

    At the Project Conference I presented on client reporting and promised to post instructions on creating a burndown report through Visual Reports.  Something like:

    image

    And here are the steps...

    How to Create a Burndown Report:

    1. Have the project you want to report on open.

    1. Go to Reports - Visual Reports

    2. Select New Template, Excel, Assignment Usage, and click OK.

    Your report is now being created in Excel.  Switch over to Excel.

    3. Add Time Weekly Calendar to the Row Labels section.

    4. Check Cumulative Work, Actual Work and Baseline Work.

    5. Move Values to the Column Labels box.  Your fields should be setup like this:

    image

    6. Expand the time dimension out to the weekly level (you can really choose to any time level you'd like).

    7. Make sure subtotals aren't showing (to remove in Excel 2007 go to the Design tab, Subtotals dropdown).

    8. In the cell to the right of Baseline Work, type Remaining Actual Work, to the right of that type Remaining Planned Work, then Cumulative Actual Work, and Cumulative Baseline Work so you have the picture below.  You now need to calculate all of these values.

    image

    10. For Cumulative Baseline Work, in J3 type =Sum($F$3:F3) and fill down the column for the number of weeks in your Project.  You nave now calculated Cumulative Baseline Work for your project.

    11. For Cumulative Actual Work, in I3 type =Sum($E$3:E3) and fill down the column like you did in the last step.

    12. For Remaining Planned Work, in H3 type =(x-J3) where x is the total for the Cumulative Baseline Work column.  Fill down the column.

    13. For Remaining Actual Work, in G3 type =(y-I3) where y is the total from the Cumulative Actual Work column.  Fill down the column.  You've now calculate all the data that you need.  If I switch to show formulas, you should have something that looks like this:

    image

    14.  You're almost there.  You now just need to graph your data.  To do this, insert a column to the left of remaining actual work.  This is the week column.  Now paste the week numbers there so you'll have them in your graph. 

    15.  Now just select the week column you just added, remaining actual work, remaining planned work, and choose to graph them as a line graph.  You should have something like the picture at the top of the entry.

    To make this look even better you can draw a status line to help demonstrate where you are in the plan.  I also prefer to delete the values in Remaining Actual Work that are in the future to make the graph more compelling.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Cube Building Services Overview

    • 26 Comments

    For our first feature discussion, I will introduce you to Project “12” Cube Building Services that represent a part of our offerings for Enterprise Project Management Reporting. It also happens to be the feature I own, so I am very excited to share with you the work we have done.

     

    Project Server 2003 ships a foundation to enterprise reporting and data analysis with the Portfolio Analyzer cube. In Project Server “12” we have expanded the idea to offer a rich set of data ready to consume, out of the box. The Cube Building Services offers an environment to truly provide business intelligence and insight to businesses using Project.  

     

    We have increased the number of cubes offered to 11 cubes and 3 virtual cubes. The cubes are built using the Project Server “12” Reporting infrastructure. This infrastructure includes a dedicated Reporting SQL database that contains all Project Server “12” data that has been published. This data is incrementally update at real time as data gets published, tremendously improving the performance for the cubes as well.

     

    The list of cubes offered are the following (this may be subject to change):

    1.    Project Non Timephased

    2.    Task Non Timephased

    3.    Assignment Non Timephased

    4.    Assignment Timephased

    5.    Resource Non Timephased

    6.    Resource Timephased

    7.    EPM Timesheet

    8.    Timesheet

    9.    Issues

    10. Risks

    11. Deliverables

     

    The virtual cubes offered are the following (also subject to change):

    1.    Portfolio Analyzer – backwards compatible with Project Server 2003

    2.    Project Timesheet

    3.    Project WSS

     

    During the Project Conference, one of the top questions I was asked regarding the cube schema was whether the Time dimension has a Week level and the answer is YES! In addition to the Time dimension, we’ll also offer a Fiscal Time dimension that will map to fiscal periods defined in the Project Server though it will not follow the traditional Time dimension hierarchy (Year > Quarter > Month…).

     

    The Cube Building Services in the Project Web Access interface provides a very centralized set of cube administrator pages.

     

    Cube Building Settings

    Similarly to Project Server 2003, this page helps administrator setup the cube builds and define the cube settings:

    ·         Analysis Services server name

    ·         Data range to be included on the cubes

    ·         Frequency to which the cubes should be updated

     

    Cube Customization

    The Cube Building Services in Project Server “12” has an easy to use interface to allow customization of the cubes by using Enterprise Custom Fields. For example, you can add Location custom field to your Assignment Timephased cube as a dimension.  That would allow you to analyze Actual Cost sliced on Location over a period of time. This is very simple example, but you can get the idea of the powerful analysis you will be able to do with this.

     

    We also offer an interface to add calculated members without having to write any custom code just the appropriate MDX formula. For example, for Profit, the formula would be something like [Revenue] – [Cost]

     

    Once the customizations are save, they will be added to the cubes the next time the cube is built.

     

    Cube Building Status

    This page has been added to help administrators verify the status of the building process and troubleshoot if there are any errors, such as the Analysis Services server name is invalid.

     

    Note: Project Server “12” also has an amazing Queue feature that allows great job management on the server side but I’ll save the details for a future post.

     

    The Cube Building Services has been built primarily in Analysis Services 2000 though it successfully builds in Analysis Services 2005 as well. For those of you who did have a chance to use these cubes in the Beta 1 release, this was not working at that point but it has been fixed. We will also support mixed configurations, the final support configuration document has not yet been finalized but our test team has been making good progress validating many of the scenarios we want to support.

     

    I would really like to hear how in depth you would like the topics to go into. I can really drill down on a few of them if there is interest. I will start new feature discussions with an overview post like this one to give you a background on the work done for the feature in P12. 

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Resource Management

    • 24 Comments
      

    Hello,

    My name is Dave Ducolon and I am a Program Manager for Microsoft Office Project/Project Server.  It is my pleasure to write about and to discuss Resource Management and other related topics for the 2007 release. 

    Resource Management is at its best a hard job.  And at the core is Capacity Management and Planning.  As most of you know, the trouble is that while people or “work resources” are not a commodity such as bricks or lumber, neither are they fixed assets (ones with unlimited capacity).  And if that doesn’t make Resource Management difficult enough, work resources can be augmented with external resources such as consultants or subcontractors.  We on the Project team at Microsoft not only understand this challenge we experience it the same as anybody else that does project based work.

    In 2007 we have taken significant steps to help mitigate the inherant difficulties of managing resources whether they are People, Material or even costs.  Today I will give you an overview of how we see the Project 2007 system being used to accomplish this.  This is a brief, yes very brief overview of some of the Resource Management features that will help you manage your resources end-to-end.  In later posts, I will dive deeper into features.

    To begin with, it is best to model organizational capacity and then to work on tactical level assignments.  Generic resources, a legacy feature, are ideal to represent your organizational capacity as it pertains to resource capabilities.  Then as work gets approved you can allocate these generic resources to a new 2007 feature in Project Server 2007 called Resource Plans. 

    Resource Plans allow you to manage resource needs for a project without requiring any task level detail.  Then as the project and work become better defined you will be able to convert these Generic Resource Plan assignments into Resource Plan assignments for real employees.  At which time you will undoubtedly need to view availability and verify that individuals do not get over scheduled.

    Resource Leveling, a legacy feature, can be used to automate the task of managing allocations of work to individuals or you may want to make use of the Resource Availability graph, a legacy feature, in Project Server.  Regardless of which method you choose, you will undoubtedly move on into the execution phase. 

    For this phase Project Server 2007 delivers functionality that allows customers to separate the effort spent on a project and its tasks from the actual work performed.  Effort is normally what team members think of when they are reporting their progress on a task.  It is not uncommon to hear people say “I am 60% complete and should finish by Friday”.  This does not mean that they will use every available minute between the statement and Friday to complete the work and it also does not mean that they spent exactly 60% of the scheduled work for that task.  Instead it means they have spent 60% of the effort they feel is needed on the task and that the other 40% should be able to be accomplished by Friday.  Team Member Task tracking in Project Server has been able to capture that information since we first released Project Server back in 2000.  In 2007 we have delivered a separate timesheet that allows team members to report their actual hours worked whether that be on a Project or on a specific Task. 

    It is through use of these features that you will be able to more accurately plan, estimate, track and manage your resources time and thereby improve your ability to manage resources.  In my next Post, I will present and review the Resoruce Plan feature.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2007 Project Resource Kit

    • 24 Comments

    Hi everyone, Phil Smail from the Project Product Group here. Just wanted to announce the news that I know a lot of you out there have been waiting for. The Project Resource Kit for Project 2007 has released!! It’s available for x86 and x64 in English only

    The PRK consists of the following tools:

    • Portfolio Analyzer Views Migration: Allows an administrator to bulk edit the location of an analysis server for multiple data analysis views.
    • Project Server Settings Backup and Restore (Playbooks): Allows an administrator to backup Project Server settings and restore those settings to another Project Server.
    • Project Server Data Populator: Allows an administrator to populate Project Server with projects, resources and other objects. Useful for helping capacity and performance testing.
    • Project Workspace Site Relinker: Allows an administrator to relink the connection between Project Server and Project Workspace sites.
    • View Effective Rights: Allows an administrator to query the Project Server to determine the effective permissions of users against projects or resources.

    Full documentation on the tools is expected shortly. In the meantime try them out and feel free to post comments

    URL:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=A33D253C-6424-48E4-B87E-0861D1977BB7&displaylang=en

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Managing Cross Project Dependencies with Deliverables

    • 23 Comments

    Deliverables is a new feature that shipped in Project Professional 2007. Deliverables provides the ability to publish key dates to a SharePoint site and for others to consume these keys dates within their project plan. This feature helps you to manage cross project dependencies. A project manager can define deliverables within their project plan using Project Professional and have the dates automatically published to a Deliverable SharePoint list within the Project’s workspace. This allows other project manager to take dependencies on the published deliverables within their own Project Plans. When there is a change with a deliverable, such as a change in the finish date, all the project managers who have taken a dependency on the deliverable get informed of the change with the deliverable when they open their project plan. Deliverables provide a way to loosely tie projects together.

    This diagram illustrates deliverables at a high level:

    When a project manager creates a deliverable or a dependency on a deliverable they have the option to link it to a task. When a deliverable or dependency is linked to a task, it shows an icon beside the task name and displays bars on the Gantt chart. It is important to note that the dates of the task are not tightly coupled with the dates of the deliverable. This is to allow the project manager to work with his/her schedule without altering the dates of the deliverable. It is by design that the project manager needs to explicitly update the deliverable dates. The below screen shot is a project plan with deliverables and dependencies:

    So know that you have an idea what Deliverables are, let’s work through an example. The example that I like to use is the release schedule of large software development project, such as Microsoft Office, which has several beta releases before the actual shipment of the product. The overall schedule is managed in a single project plan, but there are many teams, such as Project, Excel, etc, that adheres to the overall schedule, but requires their own detailed schedule that is specific to them. An Office schedule that is just an example that I made up and has no meaning what so ever, may look like this:

    Product teams are very interested in the Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM dates and they want to be able to easily keep track of these dates. In order for this to happen, the project manager for the Office schedule must create deliverables for these tasks. Before the PM creates deliverables, they are going have to publish the project to Project Server and create a workspace for the project. To do this:

    1. Click File à Publish…
    2. On the “Publish Project” dialog make sure the “Create a workspace for this project is selected”:

    3. Click Publish

    Once the project is published and the workspace is created for the project, the PM ready to create deliverables. To create a deliverable the PM will have to follow these steps:

    1. Click on Collaborate à Manage Deliverables:


    2. Click on Add Deliverable:


    3. First, Select the task you want to link to the Deliverable, then click on “Link to selected task” and click done:


       
      Note: The PM can change the start and finish dates for the deliverables without affecting the dates for the tasks. The deliverable name and dates are loosely coupled with the task name and dates. This allows the PM to publish different names and dates from what is in their project plan giving them greater control.

    The PM for the Office schedule would repeat these steps for each deliverable they want to create. Once they have completed creating the deliverables for Beta 2 and RTM the schedule should look like this:

    As you can see from the schedule, there are red bars on the Gantt chart that represent each deliverable. There are also informational icons beside each task indicating that there is a deliverable linked to the task. Now that the PM has created these deliverables, other PMs can view these deliverables from the workspace for the project:

    Since the deliverables are published to a SharePoint list, there are many built in benefits. Users can easily setup alerts, create RSS feeds, add additional columns, etc. It is important to note that if you change a deliverable from the SharePoint List, it will give the PM the option to sync the change next time they open their project in Project Professional.

    PMs can also now consume these deliverables as dependences from within their own project plans. Going back to our example, the Excel team will want to take dependencies on the Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM deliverables from the Office schedule. This time I am only going to create a very simple project plan with three tasks that represent the Excel team’s project plan. To create a dependency on a deliverable, the PM does not have to publish the project or create a workspace. They only have to do the following steps:

    1. Click Collaborate à “Manage Dependencies on Deliverables”:


    2. Click “Add new dependency”:


    3. Select "Office Schedule" from the Drop Down
    4. Select the task to link the dependency to, click on the deliverable, check the “Link to selected task” and click done:


    Now a dependency has been created that has been linked to Task A and is dependent on the Beta 1 deliverable from the Office Schedule. These steps will have to be performed for each deliverable, which in this example is Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM. If you have a large number of deliverables to create from already existing tasks, I suggest you read my programmability post on deliverables:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/project_programmability/archive/2007/02/19/working-with-deliverables.aspx

    You will notice that the dependency dates and the task dates are not aligned. The dependency dates are also loosely coupled with the task dates. This is shown in the below image of the Excel project where the yellow Gantt bars show the dependency dates are much further out then the task dates shown by the blue Gantt bar:



    Now that we have two projects, one with published deliverables and the other with dependencies on the published deliverables, let’s work through an example where one of the deliverables change. Within the Office schedule there is a deliverable, Beta 1, which has a finish date of March 20th 2007. To change the finish date to March 30th 2007:

    1. Click Collaborate à “Manage Deliverables"
    2. Select the “Beta 1” Deliverable
    3. Click “Edit Deliverable”:


       
    4. Change the finish date to 3/30/2007 and click Done

    Now go to the Excel team Project to see how this change has affected the dependency:

    1. Click Collaborate à “Manage Dependencies on Deliverable”:



      The red exclamation mark indicates to the PM that the deliverable has change. If you hold your mouse over the dependency the follow information windows will pop up showing in red what has changed:


    2. Click on the drop down arrow and click “Accept Change from Server"

    Note that the dependency date is now 3/30/2007 and is back in sync with the Beta 1 deliverable.

    Hopefully that gives you an idea on how deliverables feature works. This feature truly provides a flexible way to loosely couple projects together that are not affected by the scheduling engine. I have only given a short overview on how to get started with deliverables. Once you start to play around with them, I am sure you will find great uses for the feature.

    Chris Boyd

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    SQL Server Reporting Services Report Pack for Project Server 2007

    • 21 Comments

    This post contains a zip file attachment which is the SQL Server Reporting Services(SSRS) 2005 report pack for Project Server 2007. 

    This attachment contains 9 items total: 

    1. One overview document describing the setup for each report as well as any new custom fields/lookup tables that are required to make these reports function. 
    2. Seven PDFs which are sample output for each report
    3. One zip file of the Visual Studio project with report source code. 

    This VS project file can be used within the SSRS Business Intelligence Development Studio to deploy and modify these reports to your own needs.

    The Project Server 2007 Report Pack provides usable reports for some common requests and illustrates some of the new functionality in Microsoft Office Project Server 2007.  The Report Pack also provides report developers with sample queries for correctly retrieving data from the Project Server Reporting database.

    The Report Pack includes the following seven reports:

    1. Cost Center Availability
    2. Project Give and Get
    3. Project Portfolio Trend
    4. Project Proposals Listing
    5. Project Review
    6. Timesheet Audit
    7. Work versus Effort Audit

    All of these reports use a shared data source, which makes it easy to direct these reports to your own instance of Project Server.  I hope you find these reports useful.  If you have questions, please post as a comment to this post.

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    New Templates in Project 2007

    • 21 Comments

    There is a vast number projects being managed in the world and many Project Managers may not be aware of how they could use Project to help them manage these projects. Templates are a way to help Project Managers get started with Project. The goal of the templates is to give you an idea of how you may want to structure your project. Each template suggests milestones, dependencies, and generic resources to give you a starting point. Obviously, you may change the proposed work breakdown structure to fit your needs.

     

    In Project 2007, we have added about 25 new templates to cover additional project scenarios.  To give you an idea, these are some of the new templates that will available in Project 2007:

     

    • Annual Report Preparation
    • Develop Skills Needs - Hiring Plan - Hiring Forecast
    • Finance and Accounting System Implementation
    • Human Resources Information System Implementation
    • Marketing Campaign Planning
    • Marketing Event Planning and Execution
    • Performance Reviews
    • Product Development Planning
    • Product Evaluation Post Launch
    • Six Sigma DMAIC Cycle
    • SOX Compliance and Technology Options
    • Strategic Merger or Acquisition Evaluation
    • Vendor Evaluation and Consolidation
    • Customer Feedback Monitoring
    • Financial Service Offering Launch
    • Internal Readiness Training
    • ISO 9001 Management Review
    • Managing Incoming Request For Quotes (RFQs)
    • Vendor Request For Proposal (RFP) Solicitation

    These templates are well structured to help you understand what tasks can occur concurrently and see what the critical path of the project is. We have also made sure that the generic resources match a skill that will help you define what type of resources you will need for the project. In addition, we added a number of notes to tasks to help you understand why a that task is needed or important related information.

     

    Here is a sneak peak at the Vendor RFP Solution template:


    (Click to enlarge)

    Note that the durations for all tasks are marked as estimates (have a question mark). We did not attempt to estimate task durations as they will widely vary for each project.

     

    If anyone has template suggestions, it would be great to hear (though new ideas would not likely make it into Project 2007).

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Material Resource Usage Illustrated

    • 20 Comments

    Dr. Ed Hanna, one of our most senior field people for EPM recently posted a great example of using material resources using Project Server.  So, I'm taking Ed's e-mail and converting into this post.  I hope you find this very useful.

    Here's an example of how you might use Project to track the pouring of the concrete for one section of a dam.

    First, create a Resource Sheet entry for the concrete.  Click the image below for more detail.

    The dam footing work we are tracking will contain 20,000 cu. meters of concrete and will be poured over a ten workday period.  The Gantt Chart task to pour this footing looks as follows.

    Next, the Resource Usage view shows the planned usage of concrete at 2,000 cu. meters per day. Note: there is no Actual Work as the task has not yet begun.

    Once progress begins, the Resource Usage view can be used to report actual usage.  In this case, only 1,000 cu. meters of concrete poured on day #1.  Consequently, work is off to a slow start.

    Here’s the full Resource Usage view showing 3,000 cu. meters of additional concrete poured on day #2.  On the left you can see totals.  For example, you can see that 20,000 cu. meters of concrete is scheduled to be poured (i.e. Work) and so far 4,000 cu. meters have been poured (i.e. Actual Work). The graph in the lower portion of the display shows Cumulative Scheduled Work (i.e. the cumulative amount of concrete scheduled to be poured).

    The display can also be changed to track the cost of the concrete. The graph in the lower portion of the display shows Cumulative Scheduled Cost (i.e. the cumulative cost of concrete scheduled to be poured).

    I hope this is helpful.  By the way, Hoover Dam contains 3.33M cu. meters of concrete. 

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Migrating from Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007

    • 18 Comments

    Project Server 2007 is a major release that involves fundamental architectural changes.  It is vital that you plan the migration carefully and meticulously - and we have a migration guide in Beta1 (and are planning on an updated one in Beta2) that would help you with that.  We strongly encourage you to migrate your Project Server 2003 with the beta version for the migration utility and report issues if you have any.

     

    Upgrade versus Migration

    Upgrade is about changing your data in place (i.e. you have Project Server 2003, run upgrade and then you have Project Server 2007) and you can't go back to Project Server 2003.  Migration is about taking data from Project Server 2003, fixing things up and then saving it to Project Server 2007. At the end of migration, you will have Project Server 2003 and Project Server 2007. Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 is a MIGRATION process, not UPGRADE! 

     

    Some more FAQs:

     

    Q:   Is cross language migration supported? That is, could I migrate from Project Server 2003 English to Project Server 2007 French?

    A:  Cross language migration is not supported. We only support migrating across the same language. But after migration, appropriate language packs may be applied on Project Server 2007 to get a similar effect.  

     

    Q:  Can we consolidate data from multiple Project Server 2003 instances into one Project Server 2007 instance? That is, can I consolidate http://2003PWA/Dept1 and http://2003PWA/Dept2 into a single http://2007PWA/Single?

    A:  No, you can't do this as part of Project 2007 migration. If you have 2 Project Server 2003 instances, say http://2003PWA/Dept1 and http://2003PWA/Dept2, you need to migrate them to two separate Project Server 2007 instances (i.e. http://2007PWA/Dept1 and http://2007PWA/Dept2).    

     

    Q: I migrated a subset of projects to Project Server 2007. If there are users who are on Project Server 2003 projects AND Project Server 2007 projects, how do I manage Resource availability?

    A: There is no easy answer to this. In the period when you are operating 2 servers - you won't get an updated resource availability view in either Project Server 2003 or Project Server 2007. So, we recommend that you don't have Project in a side-by-side state for an extended period of time.  Alternatively you could build a custom solution that gets resource availability from the two systems and presents a unified view.  

     

    Q: Will "linked projects" and "master projects" get migrated?

    A: Yes, they will be migrated.

     

    Q: I have Project Server authenticated users in Project Server 2003. After migration, I find no way to login as those users. Did they get migrated?

    A: Yes, they got migrated. But you need to setup forms authentication for Project Server 2007 to enable their login (Project Server 2007 relies on the SharePoint/ASP.NET forms authentication infrastructure).  

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010 Service Pack Update

    • 18 Comments

    Some of you may have seen the recent Office blog post from the Microsoft Office sustained engineering team.  In that post, the Office and SharePoint teams disclosed that Service Pack 1 (SP1) will include some minor updates and should be expected in the usual time frame of 12 to 18 months after the products launched.

    I wanted to let readers of this blog know that Project 2010 SP1 will also be a part of the same Service Pack.  In addition to some minor updates, SP1 will contain a rollup of the updates we post every two months here.  Our guidance is the same as the Office and SharePoint teams, those customers thinking of deploying Project 2010 should not wait for SP1 and should deploy now and see all the great benefits that customers like Marquette University and Amdocs are seeing.  You can see even more Project 2010 case studies here.

    To get you started on Project 2010, check out the Project Server home page.

    Arpan Shah
    Director, Microsoft Project
    http://blogs.msdn.com/arpans

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing User-Controlled Scheduling

    • 17 Comments

    In Project 2010, we have introduced a new concept called "User-Controlled Scheduling". It's a collection of features designed to make Project a more flexible planning and schedule management tool. The idea is that you, as the project manager, can have complete control over when a task should happen. If and when appropriate, you can leverage Project's powerful scheduling engine to help forecast the date of a task based on various factors like dependencies, calendar, constraints, etc. But at any time, you have the flexibility to manually override Project's automatic calculations.

    Ok, what does that really mean you ask? Let me illustrate...

    Say you are planning for a new project. You've just talked to a few key stakeholders to get an understanding of the timeframe and deliverables and now you're ready to start building out a schedule. So far, you know the project will be divided into a couple major phases and you have a rough idea of the list of tasks to be completed within each phase. You don't really have all the specific details for every single task yet though. You need to confirm with Joe over at Sales to see if he can arrange for a customer site visit, then talk to Jane from Engineering to see when they can staff up your project, email Jack from Marketing to see if they can do some market research… You get the idea: during the initial planning phase of a project, things can still be very fuzzy.

    So, how do you capture all of the high-level, possibly vague information and eventually transform it into a well structured, presentable plan?

    With the new release, you can start your planning in Project right from the get-go. Tasks are by default "Manually Scheduled", meaning that you have complete control over their dates. For example, I've just typed in the couple key phases of my project:

    clip_image002

    You'll notice that that the Start, Finish & Duration fields are blank. When tasks are in this "Manually Scheduled" mode, Project will not automatically calculate and fill in dates for you.

    Now let's capture what we do know. For example, we have specific dates for the task "Design" in mind. For "Engineering", we know we have a 2 week budget but don't know the specific date. For "QA", we know we have to be done by 12/1, but not how long it will take.  And for Marketing, we need to discuss the timeframe with Jack:

    clip_image004

    Notice that using Project 2010, tasks do not need to be fully defined - you can leave duration or dates as blank or even type text into those fields. This lets you easily capture uncertainties when planning.

    Next, let's break some of these high-level tasks into smaller work items. There are a couple design-related tasks that I want to group together under the "Design" phase, so let's insert and indent them under "Design":

    clip_image006

    Notice that the "Design" phase, which I had original given 2 weeks of duration, maintained its dates. This lets me plan using a top-down approach, where I can start from high-level dates that may be determined by management or customers, build in buffer for risk management or monitor for potential slippages (as opposed to the bottom-up where I start by defining all the specific work items then work out the roll-up total for each phase). So now I can give the subtasks some specific dates:

    clip_image008

    Note that there is a small blue bar under the summary - this is the roll-up of all of the subtasks. If I update the subtasks' dates, the blue bar will automatically update. This provides a visual way of indicating whether I still have buffer time in my schedule. I can maintain the high-level timeframe while still getting a summary roll-up of subtasks.

    If one of these tasks end up taking longer than expected, and the subtasks end up exceeding the original dates of the summary phase, the roll-up bar will turn red to indicate a slippage:

    clip_image010

    You'll also notice that there are some red squiggles under the dates. Like the spell-checker in Word highlights spelling errors, the ‘schedule-checker’ highlights potential problems with the schedule. And just like the spell- checker, I can right click on the squiggle to see some possible corrective actions. Here I am going to choose the "Fix in Task Inspector" option to bring up a side pane that will tell me why there may be an issue.

    clip_image012

    In this case, I am slipping beyond my original 2 week budget on "Design", so I may have to meet with my stakeholder to see if I can get an extension on the "Design" phase, or find a way to reduce scope. In this case, let's say they agreed to letting it slip by 2 days so I can choose the "Extend Finish":

    clip_image014

    Another example where "Manually Scheduled" mode comes into play is when a task's predecessor slips. Let's say we have underestimated the amount of time the task "Prototype" takes - it's actually 6d instead of 4d:

    clip_image016

    You'll notice that "Review", which is linked to "Prototype", did not get moved out automatically. Instead the red squiggle appears to indicate a potential problem. This gives me, the project manager, a chance to decide on a mitigation plan. If "Review" truly cannot begin unless "Prototype" is complete, I may choose to enforce the link (it's one of the corrective options on the right-click menu). But of course this means that the "Design" phase will slip again and my stakeholders won't be very happy with me. Another possible mitigation plan is to check if my team can begin reviewing parts of the design as originally scheduled on 10/28, before the prototype is fully completed. If they can, then I no longer need to worry about this warning and just like a spell-checker, you can choose to ignore the warning from the software:

    clip_image018

    At any point in time if you wish to have Project calculate your schedule for you instead of maintaining manual control, you can toggle your tasks to "Automatically Scheduled" mode. When tasks are "Auto Scheduled", Project will calculate and update their dates automatically just like it has always done in previous versions. In the above example, if I make all my "Design" tasks auto scheduled, the links will always be respected and the summary will automatically update based on its subtasks:

    clip_image020

    And lastly, if you prefer the existing way of having Project automatically schedule tasks out for you. You can easily change the default task mode to be Auto Scheduled either for the current project, or for the application as a whole:

    clip_image022

    So, that's all for now for this whirlwind tour of "User-Controlled Scheduling". There are lots more to show but I'll leave them for you to explore when Beta comes out!

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