Microsoft Project 2010
The official blog of the Microsoft Office product development group. Learn how to manage your work effectively

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Video Walkthrough of the Out of the Box Sample Proposal Workflow

    • 17 Comments

    Out of the box, Project Server 2010 comes with a “Sample Workflow” which highlights many of the new features found within Project Server 2010 Workflows. The Sample Workflow was designed to help our customers not only just understand what our new workflows can do, but also give customers and partners the initial building blocks to create their customized workflows.

    The below videos is a step by step walk through of our Sample Proposal. It will show the end user experience, and highlight the different areas an admin must setup in order for this workflow to fully function.

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/showcase/details.aspx?uuid=d2edf819-8e66-43fe-81cd-14a83a83cde3

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/showcase/details.aspx?uuid=d8231d5c-bd22-4c8a-a951-590c0a92895a

    In addition to the posted videos, attached to this blog you will also find the Visio Diagram of the workflow. Please feel free to use this diagram to assist in traversing the workflow, and as a template for when you are creating your own custom workflow Visio diagrams.

    The source code for the Sample Proposal Workflow has been posted within our SDKs.  Please download the SDK to get access to the source code.  Once you have downloaded the source code, you should be able to modify the workflow logic and upload your own modified version of this sample proposal.

    If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments of this blog.

    Thank you,

    Sam Chung

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Announcing Microsoft Project 2010 Technical Preview

    • 17 Comments

    Today, we’re announcing that Microsoft Project 2010 has reached the Technical Preview engineering milestone.  The Project team is running a limited, invitation only Technical Preview program. While we’re not sharing Project 2010 details at this point, we did want to give our customers and partners a sneak peek of Project 2010!

    What is Project 2010?Project 2010 Investment Areas

    Project 2010 builds on the Project 2007 foundation to provide an end-to-end work management platform. The key investment areas are targeted at letting you choose the right tools that can evolve with you:

    • Enhance user experience and appeal
      • Fluent user interface
      • User controlled scheduling
      • Powerful new views
      • Web-based project editing
    • Improve execution with effective collaboration
      • Integration with SharePoint Server 2010
      • Richer workgroup collaboration
      • Enhanced time/status tracking
    • Unify project and portfolio management
      • Common user experience through full PPM lifecycle
      • Improved demand management
      • Better reporting and BI
    • Simplify deployment and extend interoperability
      • Microsoft Exchange integration
      • 64-bit compatibility of client and server
      • No ActiveX dependency

    How can I learn more about Project 2010?

    Attend the Project Conference on September 14-17 in Phoenix, AZ! Project Conference 2009 is the biggest public worldwide disclosure event and the best conference to attend to get in-depth, hands-on technical knowledge and training with Project 2010. Learn how the investment in Project 2010 will continue to move your business forward tomorrow and get the most out of your current investment with Project 2007 today.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Copy and Paste

    • 16 Comments

    In this post I’ll cover improvements to an everyday command in Project: copying and pasting data.

    Though paste likes to keep a low profile, in fact it’s the fourth most commonly used feature in Project. And while Project and Project Server offer many advanced reporting features, a very common form of “reporting” is pasting data into an email, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. And countless surveys and guidelines show that communication is a critical component of good project management.

    In Project 2010, we’ve gone “back to basics” in an effort to bring you the output you want with minimum effort on your part. We’ve improved the copy/paste experience when going from Project into the Office apps, and also going from the Office apps into Project.

    To illustrate some of the improvements, let’s imagine you get this email from your manager:

    clip_image001

    As in this example, our customers tell us that many of their projects start outside of Microsoft Project.

    To start fleshing this out in Project, you could do the following:

    • Highlight the bulleted text in the email
    • Copy (press CTRL+C or chose Copy from the right-click context menu)
    • Switch to Project 2010
    • Paste (press CTRL+V or chose Paste from the Task tab in the ribbon or from the right-click context menu)

    In Project, you’ll then get:

    clip_image003

    So without any further manual steps, you now have:

    • The list of tasks as in the email
    • Task hierarchy preserved based on the bulleted list
    • Font and formatting (like bold and the red color) preserved. When you paste in Project, you’ll also see a smart tag which lets you match destination formatting, in case you prefer not to carry over this formatting.

    And now you’re ready to start fleshing out your project, perhaps breaking down the work and collecting estimates. After some more work, your project might look like this:

    clip_image005

    Say you want to reply to your manager, or send a summary to team members. To do this, you can simply highlight the relevant columns. In this case I’ll drag to select a range of cells, leaving off the “TBD” tasks and also the “Resource Names” column since that is already shown in the group headings:

    clip_image007

    From Project, you can now choose Copy (via the Ribbon, context menu, or CTRL+C), and then switch to ­­another application and then paste. If you paste into a new email, you’ll get the table shown here:

    Pasted into email - cropped2

    So with just a few clicks, you have an email with your table including the grouping, indenting, and formatting you specified. The column headings are automatically carried over. And since this is a standard table, you can use all of the power of Office’s table tools to further modify formatting.

    Note that the above focused on working with tabular data, but keep in mind:

    • Project’s Timeline view also has its own special paste experience
    • You can copy a picture by using the Copy Picture command in the ribbon:

    clip_image009

    We hope these changes save you time and make it easier to share information with your team—in the tools they prefer.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Assignment Units in Project 2010

    • 16 Comments

    If you are an experienced project manager then it’s likely that you are familiar with the Assignment Units field. For those who aren’t, Assignment Units determines the rate at which a resource is assigned to work on a task. This field is set to 100% or the Resource’s Max Units (whichever is the lesser of the two) by default, although it can be less or more depending on the needs of the project manager. In Project 2007, and previous versions, when this value differs from 100% we show it next to the resource name in the Gantt chart. For Project 2010 we’ve made some changes to the way that the Assignment Units field is calculated. Primarily, these changes were made in response to customer feedback about the way calculations were impacted when resources entered overtime work. For this release we’ve clarified the definition of the Peak field and the Assignment Units field which previously had some functional overlap but now fill more defined, separate, roles. As a result of these changes the Assignment Units field is no longer automatically modified to be greater or less than default value of 100%; as a consequence the field does not show up in the Gantt chart as often as it used to. This has led to some confusion which I’m hoping to clear up with this post.

    For an example of this, see the two screen shots below in which all the three day, fixed duration tasks were increased to 30 hours of work (up from the initial 24 hours of work) after the resource had been assigned to the task:

    Project 2007 SP2:

    clip_image002

    Project 2010 (Auto Scheduled task and Manually Scheduled task):

    clip_image004

    In Project 2010 we still show Assignment Units in the Gantt when the value is directly altered from 100%, but we have changed the product behavior so that changing scalar work after making an assignment on a task will no longer automatically alter the Assignment Units field as it did in previous versions.

    To understand the new behavior let’s have a short look at the intent and purpose of Assignment Units. When a resource is initially assigned to a task in Project there are three important values that characterize the assignment: duration, assignment units, and total work. The equation that governs the relationship between these three values is one of the core project scheduling functions, sometimes called the “iron equation of scheduling.” It’s defined:

    image

    In this way a resource with the standard 8 hour/day calendar assigned at 100% to a 3-day task would be calculated:

    image

    Thus, the assignment would have 24 hours of total work.

    But as it turns out, in previous versions of Project we were using the Assignment Units field to track two slightly different aspects of the resource assignments on each task:

    · Keep track of the workload initially assigned to the resource as detailed above.

    · Show the maximum workload experienced by or assigned to the resource.

    Because the field was being asked to do two different things users could experience inconsistent behavior around the extending of task duration in versions of the product prior to 2010. To help resolve this inconsistency we’ve leveraged the Peak field which already handles the second function leaving the Assignment Units field free to track the workload as initially assigned. Here’s an illustrative example:

    Let’s say that we have a three day, fixed duration task and let’s assign this task to Steven who’s working with the standard 8 hour/day calendar. When we make the assignment we see that Steven has 24 hours of total work for the assignment. This is how it will appear in Project 2007:

    clip_image010

    And now in Project 2010:

    clip_image012

    So far, things are about the same.

    Now let’s increase the scalar work on the task to 30 hours, that is, change the value for Work in the table on the left from 24 to 30 hours. In both versions we see that the work is distributed evenly (according to the default flat contour) across the three day assignment. Remember, the task is fixed duration not fixed units, so the work assigned will change to accommodate the new increased workload. In Project 2007 the value for Assignment Units increases to 125% to accommodate the change in total work on the assignment:

    clip_image014

    In this example, any increase in the duration of the task would result in work being defined according to the Assignment Units value consistent with 10 hours/day. This is not consistent with the desired behavior for Assignment Units which is to maintain the value at which the resource was initially assigned to the task. According to our iron equation, and customer feedback, the subsequent edit of scalar work should not have caused the Assignment Units value to be altered.

    In Project 2010 we see that the Assignment Units field has remained at 100% which was the workload initially assigned to the resource while the Peak field has changed to reflect the maximum workload on the resource of 10 hours/day:

    clip_image016

    There are two assertions that we have made in the conceptual framework around the scheduling engine that are now better served by the new differentiation between the Peak field and the Assignment Units field:

    · Overallocation should only be indicated when the resource is directly assigned more work than a can be completed at the Max Units allocation. Many users used the Assignment Units field as displayed in the Gantt chart as an indicator of overallocation. This was not always accurate.

    · Increases in task duration should maintain the initial assignment allocation.

    Here are a couple examples that demonstrate these points:

    Overallocation

    Take the previous example’s three day task. Let’s say that Steven worked on the task and entered actuals as shown below. For the first two days he worked 8 hours per day, but on the last day he worked 10 hours to ensure that all work on the task was completed. Here in Project 2007:

    clip_image018

    Note two things here. First, the value for Assignment Units is calculated based on the maximum effort expended by the resource on the task, which in this case is 10 hours on the last day of the assignment. Because of the increase in the value for Assignment Units the relationship between assigned work, duration, and assignment units is not valid for the first two days of the assignment. Additionally, this Assignment Units value will now appear in the Gantt chart seeming to indicate an overallocation even though the Project Manager did not assign Steven to more than 8 hours/day initially. This violates our first scheduling assertion.

    Now let’s examine how Project 2010 handles the scenario:

    clip_image020

    Here we see the Peak field is still 125% which is consistent with the additional actual work on the last day of the assignment. However, the Assignment Units field remains 100% and will not show an apparent overallocation for the resource consistent with the initial allocation. The scheduling assertion that overallocation only be shown when created by the Project Manager is maintained.

    Additionally in Project 2010 we’ve added new UI elements that help users more easily identify when a task contains a resource overallocation. The primary element to demonstrate this condition is the red “overallocation indicator” shown next to the task name in the grid:

    clip_image022

    We’ve also provided the Task Inspector which provides more information regarding issues with the assignment, and guides the user to possible solutions:

    clip_image024

    Increased Duration

    Continuing with the previous example Steven enters 10 hours for the last day of the assignment as previously described and then the Task Duration is extended by two days, the new work would be determined based on the Assignment Units. While this is the correct conceptual behavior we see the following in versions leading up to and including Project 2007:

    clip_image026

    The two new days are assigned at 10 hours per day. It’s unlikely that the Project Manager expects Steven to work at the same rate as he did on Wednesday, so extending the assignment at the rate of 10 hours/day is not expected given the Project Manager’s initial assignment of 8 hours per day. Additionally, the new work has been assigned in a way that will make it impossible for the built-in tools, like resource leveling, to resolve the overallocation and difficult for new/novice users to correct the issue. Simply changing the Assignment Units field back to 100% will not fix the problem; it will just scale the work contour.

    In Project 2010, we see the following behavior:

    clip_image028

    This is more in line with what the Project Manager might expect and consistent with our conceptual framework. New work should be assigned at the original workload, and the resource should not appear over allocated. In this case we see how we are not more consistently following the Iron Equation when it comes to assigning new work to the resource. Here’s the breakdown:

    image

    Where the Peak field captures the max (or “Peak”) assignment value of 10 hr/day for the Wednesday of the assignment.

    Common Questions

    A couple common questions have cropped up around our new behavior in this area, and I’ll try to address them here.

    “Allocation units no longer display in the Gantt!”

    Actually it does. You can still set it manually and it will show up in the Gantt. As previously mentioned some users were relying on the appearance of the Assignment Units field in the Gantt to indicate overallocation on a task but this was not the intended use of the Allocation Units field and was potentially inaccurate way to determine overallocation. Instead we’ve provided the overallocation indicator and the task inspector for this purpose.

    “Why not show the peak field in the Gantt instead of assignment units?”

    The display of the Allocation Units in the Gantt chart was meant to inform the user when they have a resource assigned to a task at a value other than 100%. If we show the Peak field in the Gantt there is potential that it would show up even when the user had initially assigned the resource at 100%. One example would be when accepting actual work updates from my tasks.

    “How is VBA based on the old behavior impacted?”

    Any script that relied on the Assignment Units field showing the maximum value for the assignment on a task should be altered to reference the Peak field for this information instead. Also, note that edits to the duration or timephased work or actual work for the assignment will no longer impact the Assignment Units field. If you want that field to change when any of these values are altered you must now explicitly set the Assignment Units field directly but also note that changes to the Assignment Units field directly will impact the assignment work (fixed duration) or task duration (fixed units) the same way they did in Project 2007.

    “What about fixed units tasks?”

    The only difference between the fixed duration tasks as described in this post and tasks that are defined as fixed units is that when the scalar work on a fixed units task is changed the duration of the task will change to accommodate the additional work. Here’s a demonstration of the “increase scalar work on the task to 30 hours” example from above but using fixed units tasks instead of fixed duration. First Project 2007:

    clip_image032

    And now Project 2010:

    clip_image034

    Because we are working with fixed units tasks, edits to the scalar value for work will not impact either the Assignment Units field or the Peak field. However, if timephased work entry will behave consistent with the behavior observed in the examples for fixed duration tasks.

    Hopefully this clears up some of the questions around the changes made to the Assignment Units behavior in Project 2010. We feel that the end result is more in line with what users expect from the product, and will resolve some longstanding complaints around overallocation and task extension.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Early Project 2010 Feedback and Issues

    • 15 Comments

    It’s been great to see how many people have downloaded the Project 2010 Beta so far! Keep the feedback coming in the forums and through Send a Smile. I wanted to post to clarify a few of the most common issues people have been hitting so far.

    Connecting Project 2010 client to Project 2007 Server – This is not supported. Project 2010 client can only connect to Project 2010 Server. You can connect the Project 2007 client to a Project 2010 server if the server is running in Compatibility Mode.

    Unable to connect Project 2007 client to a 2007 server after installing Project 2010 client – This is an issue in the Beta. To fix this issue, go to the Control Panel – Add/Remove Programs and repair your installation of Project 2007.

    Where is the Pert Add-in – This was removed from Project. Brian Kennemer has blogged about a macro he wrote to replace this functionality. Check that post out here.

    Where is Copy Picture – It is on the Home tab – Copy dropdown. clip_image001

    Remember, if you are using Send a Smile, please include your email address and put the text “Project” in your comments. This way we can find your feedback and follow up.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Want to be a part of Project 2010 Technical Preview?

    • 15 Comments

    If so, now is your chance to see what we've been working for the next release. We are taking nominations to participate in the Office 2010 Technical Beta program. We expect availability of our first beta release, known as Technical Preview, in the month of July. The team is excited to get feedback from our community that will help us make this a great release. Here is your opportunity to nominate yourself to participate in the program (space is limited). If you are interested in beta testing Project, please complete the following nomination form (you will need to log into Microsoft Connect with a Live ID).

     Update - Thanks for all the interest in the Project 2010 Technical Preview! We only have a certain number of slots avialable and are starting to run out so sorry if you don't make it in. If you are having issues or have questions you can follow up with proj2010@microsoft.com

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project Server 2007 My Schedule View

    • 15 Comments

    Are there times where you wish you could just see all of your time commitments in a calendar view?  If so, the My Schedule view in Project Web Access is for you.  The My Schedule view was designed to help you plan by displaying your Project tasks and your Administrative time commitments together in a calendar view.  This view enables you to focus on what's important for today, this week or this month, in a format this is familiar and easy to use.

    Navigation

    In Project Server 2007, you can navigate to this view by doing the following.

    • From PWA, click the My Work header in the left navigation (All headers are clickable in PWA)
    • Click the Schedule link in the upper right hand corner of the screen

    My Schedule View

    Customization

    Add to Home Page.  If you installed Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can dynamically display this web part, based on the user using MOSS Personalization via the Audience targeting feature. 

    In this scenario, you may add this web part to the Project Web Access home page so that the data is front and center.  If you choose to do so, it is advised that you use the MOSS Personalization Audience Targeting feature to control which users will see this web part.  More information can be found on configuring the MOSS Personalization Audience Targeting feature in this article.

    As this web part is targeted to Team Members, Audience enables you to dynamically display web parts on a page, for just those individuals in that role.  Note, this assumes your audience group membership matches your Team Member group membership. 

    Add as a New Quick Launch Option.  If you want to add this page as a separate option under My Work, you can create a new Web Part page and add the My Schedule Web part to it.  You would then create a new link in the Quick Launch in Project Server 2007 to call the Web Part page.

    Details

    The My Schedule view allows you to show your tasks and administrative time by day, week or month.  Regardless of the time frame viewed, a simple click on the task name or administrative time item name will take you directly to the details view for that item.  Below is an example of a task detail view.

     Task Details

    Using the My Schedule View with Time Tracking

    This view can also be used to help with Time tracking.  At Microsoft, many users use this view to enter their task updates on a daily basis.  Each day, they click on each task and enter the updates.  This makes task updates easier as you can clearly see what you were working on for a given day.

    At the end of the week, two actions are performed to close out the reporting period. 

    Submit Task Updates. 

    The team members go to My Tasks and do the following to submit all task updates

    • Select all tasks by selecting the topmost check box at the top of the grid. 
    • Select the Submit Selected button to submit any changed tasks. 
      • Please note, even though all tasks are selected, only the tasks with changes are submitted to the Project Manager for approval.
    Submit Timesheet. 

    Once tasks are submitted, the team members go to My Timesheet to initialize and submit their weekly timesheet. 

    • Team members click the "Click to Create" link for the appropriate timesheet period. 
    • When the timesheet is initialized, all of the team member's task updates are loaded into the timesheet (see below). 
      • This assumes the timesheet initialization default is set to create with tasks
    • Team members enter any additional time
    • Team members select the Save and Submit button to submit the timesheet.

    image

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Opportunities in the Project team

    • 14 Comments

    Many of you know that we have acquired UMT (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/dec05/12-15PortfolioManagementToolsPR.mspx). Many of the members of the UMT development team have moved out here to Redmond to join the Project team. It has been very exciting to welcome everyone as they arrive from Romania. We are really looking forward to the work we’ll be able to do together.

     

    Since our team is growing, we have a number of new openings and an SDET Lead opening on the Project test team.  If you're looking for a new opportunity, we're looking for several Software Design Engineers in Test.

     

    Full Description:

    Come join the Microsoft Office Project Team to help make Microsoft live Project Management, make global Fortune 500 companies rely on it, and make 100 million people love it.

     

    Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor.  We have a number of both senior and entry level openings on the team and are looking for the best and brightest.  If you know Win32, C#, ASP.Net or other web-based technologies, if you're a team player, if you can rattle off the bugs you see in the software products you use, and want to do something about it.

     

    Successful candidates will need to be well-rounded; both technically competent and a strong tester in their own right.  The candidate will be a part of a highly trained team of application and server testers.  Project or Portfolio Management skills are a plus. If you know what a work breakdown structure is, or have working knowledge of the PMBOK scheduling field definitions and want to explore a new opportunity, I'd like to talk with you.

     

    If you have experience with software testing methodologies – If you understand and can describe in detail how to approach testing software at the unit, function, and feature level, if you can write test automation, if you can test a server technology and understand the complexities of server scalability, if you're always thinking of a better more efficient way to do what you do, I'd like to talk with you.

    -----

     

    Our Test Manager, Andy Seres, has done an excellent job with our test team. We have a group of very talented people who are making a huge impact in marking Project "12" a very high quality product. If you are interested in applying feel free to send me a message and I'll get you in touch with him. Thanks!

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Tweak the Timescale

    • 14 Comments

    You may not be able to speed up time in your project, but you can speed up the timescale-that is, how you use the timescale in views like the Gantt chart. If you've spent any time in Project, you may have wasted a lot of effort either scrolling the timescale or changing its time units. Fiddling with dialog boxes and scroll bars to get the timescale perfect gets old in a hurry.

    Fortunately, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that will dramatically speed up your timescale tweaking.

    Here is a list of my favorites:

    Scroll the timescale left or right              

    ALT  +  LEFT ARROW (or RIGHT ARROW)

    Show smaller time units on the timescale

    CTRL +  / (slash on the numeric keypad)

    Show larger time units on the timescale

    CTRL + * (asterisk on the numeric keypad)

    Scroll to a task's Gantt bar

    CTRL + SHIFT + F5

    . . . And if you like these tips, let us know in the Comments section. We'll start posting more of them.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Millions of Colors

    • 14 Comments

    image While Shakespeare said “Truth needs no colour”, we decided this wasn’t true for Project 2010. With Project 2010, no longer are you limited to 16 colors. We now support 32-bit color which simply put means you have millions of colors to choose between. How many million you ask – 16,777,216 colors. The human eye can only distinguish roughly 7-10 million colors so you’ll have to trust us on that number. Just know that orange, citrine, ultramarine blue, hot pink, etc. are all possible now.

     

    With this functionality we have updated the look of all of the visual elements in Project 2010 but we image have also made it easier for you to update the look of various elements. For example, to set the look of a Gantt bar, just right-click it and select the Bar Color command on the mini toolbar. The same is true for cells in the sheets, and bars in both the Timeline and Team Planner views.

     

     

     

    Project 2007 image
    Project 2010 image
    Project 2010 + Customization image(Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should)

    Additionally, we’ve added a gallery with several new Gantt chart styles to choose from:

    image

    With a simple click of the image you like, these take your Gantt chart from this:

    image

    To this:

    image

    Or this:

    image

    Or even this:

    image

    Additionally, we’ve considered the scenario where you are in a team meeting presenting your plan and no one is listening since they’re just trying to figure out why their task is light orange and someone else’s is dark orange. This is because some tasks are auto scheduled and some are manually scheduled (the ones with the black brackets on the ends are manually scheduled – for more info see this post). Well, your team members don’t need to know this so to simplify your meetings, you can apply a presentation style. Then auto scheduled and manually scheduled tasks will have the same look.

    image

    Note, if you are using the new colors and saving to Project 2007 or 2003 format, Project will map the millions of possible colors to the 16 ones that are available in those versions so the results may not be what you expected.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Announcing The Release Of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Microsoft Project and Project Server 2010

    • 13 Comments

    Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Microsoft Project Standard 2010, Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and Microsoft Project Server 2010 has been released to the Microsoft Download Center. SP1 contains a number of products updates based on customer feedback, as described in this announcement last May:  Announcing Service Pack 1 for Microsoft Project & Project Server 2010.

    Before you install SP1 it is essential that you understand its content described in the links below, and thoroughly read the guidance documented on TechNet and test out SP1 in a separate environment prior to a production rollout.

    The following TechNet article provides information on how to deploy Microsoft Project and Project Server 2010 SP1: Deploy Service Pack 1 for Project Server 2010.

    We strongly recommend that you deploy the June 2011 Cumulative Update for Microsoft Project and Project Server 2010 when you install SP1. You can download the June 2011 Cumulative Update from the KB Articles from the links below:

    The following TechNet article provides information on how to deploy Project Server Cumulative Updates: Updates for Project Server 2010

    There will be a webcast on July 6th, 2011 at 8:00 am Pacific Time to give an overview of this Service Pack (which will be recorded for later viewing): TechNet Webcast: Information about Project 2010 and Project Server 2010 Service Pack 1 (Level 200). Please check out these posts for additional SP1 production information: Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1 Availability and Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2010 Products is Now Available for Download.

    Finally,  our Microsoft Support Team is available to assist should you run into any problems installing these updates; feel free to follow your internal support guidelines to use Premier Support or open up a case directly at http://support.microsoft.com.

    Christophe Fiessinger
    Senior Technical Product Manager, Microsoft Project
    Blog | Twitter

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Administrative Time Explained

    • 13 Comments

    It’s time again for another posting from me, David Ducolon, on some best practice use of Project Server.  This time I will go in depth about the Administrative Time feature in Project Server 2007.

    Before I tell you about what 2007 has to offer and how best to implement and use it, I feel I must first tell you about the history of this feature area. 

    • In 2002, we introduced a server feature for tracking time on other commitments than just project assignments.  This was implemented with “Project Calendar Exceptions” through a process where the team member sent a request to another individual, who had the permissions to edit resource details.  This individual then applied the calendar exception to the checked out resource pool.   The enterprise resource pool would then be opened and saved from Project Professional before it would be reflected back on the servers’ resource availability information.  This addressed the need for customers but for some it was slightly cumbersome.  An additional request from customers was to be able to report on this data.  That was seen as a must do item for the next version of Project Server.
    • In 2003, the next version after 2002 was released.  In 2003 we altered this feature and called it “Non Project Time”.  The change was significant in that resources needed to be assigned to a special type of project called an “Administrative” project.  Calendar exceptions were not an object customers can report on.  This allowed full reporting on the time commitments for resources assigned to other non project work.  The process was more streamlined with the removal of the enterprise resource pool update.  However a publish of the administrative project was still necessary before the time request would be available for viewing in Project Server.

    So with the experiences of 2002 and 2003, we took a long hard look at this feature for 2007.  I am happy and proud to announce that in 2007, the process was further streamlined, the architecture was extremely scalable, performance out does previous versions and the category type and behavior is fully customizable to meet your needs for planning, tracking and reporting on work other than project assignments.

    The functionality is so dramatically different that we changed the name to “Administrative Time”.  The setup work requires:

      1. Customers to create Administrative Categories
      2. Each category must be marked as “Work” or “Non Work”

           i) Non Working Time – Time scheduled as project calendar exceptions directly from the user without the need to involve Project Professional.  While it still blocks the Project scheduling engine from assigning work to the individual during that time.

            ii) Working Time – Time scheduled as virtual task assignments.  These are virtual, since they do not reside in any true project file, instead they are simple records in the SQL database.  This has the effect of allowing resources to be scheduled in excess of 100%.

      1. Optionally categories can be set to require a manager’s approval
      2. Optionally categories may be marked for “Always Display” which places a copy of that category on every timesheet that is used

    Customers may create as many “categories” as they want without any impact on performance or scalability.

    Simple Example for Managing Administrative Time Categories

    Simple View for managing Administrative Categores 

    Categories may be renamed, but they cannot be deleted once they have been saved to the database.  This preserves the integrity of timesheets.  If the category is no longer applicable you must close the category’s status and it will no longer be available to users without disrupting the integrity of the historical timesheets.

    HOW TO USE

    Let’s now talk about how best to implement and use these options.  To begin with I would like you to consider the term “Non Working” and “Working” as terms that mean “Block Scheduling” and “Allow Over Allocation” respectively.  With that understood, the first rule to consider is:

    Non Working work type should only be used on administrative categories that will be used to plan time off. 

    This is important since Project does not like to move actual work once established and calendar exceptions cannot allow work to exist during time periods which they are set to occupy.  An example of what you should NOT do is as follows: 

         i) You create a category called “Sick time” and make that non working. 

         ii) A member of your team comes to work on Monday and works on a task that begins on Monday and goes for two days. 

         iii) The team member reports that the task is 50% complete.  But then the employee goes home sick. 

         iv) At the end of the week the team member fills in his timesheet and reports 4 hours of sick time on Monday. 

    Result: Project took the 16 hour task and assigned 50% of the work as actual work reported by the team member on Monday.  But the timesheet also wants to place a calendar exception for that day.  The team member should only have been able to logically complete 25% of the work on the task.  Below are screen shots of what happens:

    16 hours of work on Wednesday and Thursday, auto imported from My Tasks, with 8 hours of “Dr. Appointment” (non working time) entered into the timesheet.

    image

    After the timesheet is saved, the calendar exception is created.  As you can see the assignment to task “Plan 1”  seems to have lost the 8 hours of work on Wednesday (2/4).  But the total work is still at 2 days with only 8 hours of actual work.  This presents a difficult situation for Project to understand.

    image

    If all of your calendars and time settings are set to 8 hours for the definition of a day, after a round trip through project all will be fine.  However if either the project or resource calendar or PWA setting of a day is not 8 hours, the results will be to reduce the work and to apply 8 hours of non working time.

    Solution:

    To avoid this situation I strongly encourage all customers to be very careful when creating an Administrative time category with a Working Type setting of “non working”.   Personally I set my server to break “sick” time into two categories. 

    1. I re-label the standard “Sick” category to “Dr. Appointment” and

    2. I create a new category called “Illness” and set the working type option to “working”.

    I would expect employees to plan for Doctor related absences in the future or before submitting actual work; which is really the problem.  And Illnesses would conversely be submitted after returning to work when it would be reasonable and somewhat common to report the hours away from work after entering actual work possibly on the same day.

    This will allow the resource to be overscheduled for Illnesses which will not automatically slip the project schedule and allow planned absences to be entered while not allowing the resource to be overscheduled and if initially planned then the task will slip accordingly.

    I hope this has been enlightening and useful.  If you find any particular aspect of Project Server that you wish to have explained with best practices feel free to drop a comment on this blog and you may see your suggestion in a future best practice update.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tracking changes in Project 2007

    • 13 Comments

    I apologize to readers for the delay in posting a new topic. The last few weeks have been busy for us in the product team as we start to get our Beta 2 build completed. The release will be in late spring and I’ll have a dedicated post on how that will work, for those interested in learning more. I have received a couple of questions about it but the details are still not finalized.

     

    This week I would like to show you two new features we have introduced in Project 2007 that will improve Project Managers’ productivity by giving you the ability to efficiently see how changes you make effect the rest of the project plan. In addition, Project 2007 gives you the ability to see what’s driving a task. That is, for example, if you want to understand why a task has pushed out the schedule, you easily can.

     

    Change Highlighting

    Project 2007 provides you with an option to view how the changes you make to the schedule impact the rest of the project. Change Highlighting illustrates all that is impacted by your change.

     

    In the example below, I am using one of the new Project templates we are shipping with Project 2007, “Strategic Merger or Acquisition Evaluation”.

     

    I changed task 17 ‘Define Selection Scenario…’ to have duration of ‘4 days’. After changing the duration value, everything that also changed as a result of my extension of the task duration got highlighted: the finish date for my task, the following task that dependent on task 17, the inner and outer milestone summary tasks.


    (Click to enlarge)

    This feature gives you incredible power to validate the change and helps you answer questions that were harder to answer before: Did this change cause a schedule slip? What other tasks will get impacted by the change? Should I make the change?

     

    The highlighting will persist until you make another change or save the project. Since Project 2007 offers multiple levels of undo, you can use both features combined to do many “What-if” scenario analysis with your projects.

     

    Task Drivers

    Another question you may be faced with when reviewing your project schedule may be what is causing my task to be scheduled when it is as opposed to on an ealier date? This can be especially problematic if you are managing a project with thousands of tasks. You may end up spending hours trying to trace back the dependencies, review resource availability, calendars etc. Project 2007 now does the work for you! When you select a task, you can select to view the Task Drivers pane and the information that you need to find out what is driving that task is displayed to you on a pane on the left of the project. You can easily turn on this pane by selecting the ‘Task Driver’ option on the Project menu (new in Project 2007). 

     

    I am using the same project I used above. Once I opened the ‘Task Driver’ pane for task 17, I get all the information I need to see “what are the factors causing the task to start when it is”. In addition to predecessor tasks, you also get a link to the calendar of the resource(s) assigned to the task. This is very helpful if your task is being delayed due to the resource being on vacation.


    (Click to enlarge)

    Both Change Highlighting and Task Drivers will be the first couple of new features you will immediately notice in Project 2007 and that I personally have become dependant on for my projects.

     

    The screen shots I used are from our latest build but since the product is still the Beta phase there may be some changes to the final version.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    HOWTO: Deploy Project Web Access 2007 ActiveX controls via SMS

    • 13 Comments

    One of our support engineers, Anil Kumar, created the following instructions for using SMS to remotely install these controls.

    If you are implementing Project Server 2007, your users will have to download the ActiveX controls before they can view Project Center and Resource Center.  In order to do this, you have to have the rights to perform the installation.  Many corporations have this capability locked down.  The alternative is to use a tool like SMS to deploy the controls to your user's machines.

    Deploy Active X controls of Project Server 2007 via SMS

    1. Active X controls reside in two .cab files located on your project server site in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\PWA\OBJECTS\1033.
    2. You will need the following two .cab files:
      • Pjclient.cab
      • Pjcintl.cab (in the 1033 sub folder or other language folders)
    3. Copy the .cab files and extract to a location on your SMS Server.  This is technically called as "Data Source" in SMS
    4. Create a batch file using the following script. For example, you can name the batch file activex.bat
    5.    1:  ================================================================
         2:   
         3:  CLS
         4:   
         5:  XCOPY *.* "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\ /q /r /h /y
         6:   
         7:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\pj12enuc.dll"
         8:   
         9:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\pjres12c.dll"
        10:   
        11:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJPrint12.dll"
        12:   
        13:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJTEXTCONV12.dll"
        14:   
        15:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJGRID12.ocx"
        16:   
        17:  regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJQUERY12.ocx"
        18:   
        19:  del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\pjcintl.cab" /f /q
        20:   
        21:  del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\PJClient.cab" /f /q
        22:   
        23:  del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\activex.bat" /f /q
        24:   
        25:  EXIT
        26:   
        27:  =================================================================  
        28:   
    6. Copy the batch file to the same location as mentioned in Step 3.
    7. Create a "Package" and mention "Data Source" as the location we have extracted the files as in steps 3 in SMS Console.
    8. Expand the "Package" and select "Program" and point the batch file in SMS console.
    9. Create an "Advertisement" and mention the name of the "Package" and "Program" as created in Step 7 in SMS Console.
    10. Run the "Advertisement"
    11. Once you get the message that it is successful, login to PWA of Project Server 2007 and click on "Resource Center" or "Project center" and you should see the data without prompting you to download Active X controls.

    This script is presented as is with no warranty.  Please test in your environment before running broadly.

     UPDATE:  Some of the double quotes were in the wrong place in the example above.  This has been corrected.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Announcing the Infrastructure Update for Office Servers

    • 12 Comments

    On July 15th, 2008 Microsoft announced the availability of the Infrastructure Update for Office Servers. The Infrastructure Update for Office Servers is a set of updates to improve platform performance and contain several customer driven fixes. The updates are applicable to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Microsoft Search Server 2008 & Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Project 2007.

    There are several noteworthy new features and fixes shipped in these updates for Project Server 2007 and Project 2007; specifically:

    Project Server

    • Timesheets and My Tasks stability and usability improvements
    • Queue Management user interface improvements
    • Logging Tracing improvements
    • Project Server performance improvements
    • Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 migration fixes
    • Database performance improvements to enhance the cube building process and Project Professional Save/Publish scenarios

    Project Professional

    • Cost Resources calculation fixes
    • Improved Custom Fields stability
    • Improved local Project Cache stability
    • Fixed Excel Import problem

    Please read Project 2007 Infrastructure Update Release for Server and Client to learn about its content in detail.

    The Infrastructure Updates are available as free downloads to customers via the download center on http://www.microsoft.com/download.

    Before you install the Infrastructure Update there are some very important things to understand.  In this post we'll try to provide you with the resources you need to be successful in your updates.  It is essential that you understand the appropriate links, and thoroughly read the guidance and test out the patch in a separate environment prior to a production rollout. 

    Full installation instructions and guidance is provided in the Knowledge Base articles linked from the download pages for each update along with existing TechNet guidance for patching Office Servers. The links are also included further on in this Q&A, but for reference, the following products require the following updates to be applied.

    • If you are running SharePoint Server 2007 you should install the Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB951695) first and the Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297) second.
    • If you are running Project Server 2007 you should install the Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB951695) first and the Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297) second. You should also then install the Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 (KB951547) on all Project 2007 client PC's.

    Read more about the new SharePoint features here

    Read more about the new Search features here

    Read more about the Content Deployment updates here

    Knowledge Base Articles

     

    Descriptions    
    Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 KB951695

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951695

    Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers KB951297 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951297
    Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 KB951547 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951547
    Fixes    
    Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 KB953751 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953751
    Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 KB953749 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953749

    Installation Instructions

    It is strongly recommended that you install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 1 and Office Servers Service Pack 1 before installing the Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297) and the Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB951695).

    The installation process will incur server and farm downtime that you will need to plan for - the updates should be installed on all servers in a farm.

    Downloads

      x64 x86
    Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB951695) http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=3A74E566-CB4A-4DB9-851C-E3FBBE5E6D6E&displaylang=en http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=256CE3C3-6A42-4953-8E1B-E0BF27FD465B&displaylang=en
    Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297) http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=6E4F31AB-AF25-47DF-9BF1-423E248FA6FC&displaylang=en http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=3811C371-0E83-47C8-976B-0B7F26A3B3C4&displaylang=en
    Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 (KB951547)   http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=F385ADB8-0425-4BA4-BECE-7664B8F49D12&displaylang=en

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Is Office Servers Service Pack 1 (SP1) a prerequisite or installed as part of this fix?
    A: No. Our supportability commitments to customers include providing the ability to install hotfixes on the two most recent versions of a product, in this case RTM and SP1. So installing these updates directly onto an RTM server is not blocked and will install some of the fixes shipped in Office Servers Service Pack 1, but only those that are contained in files that are changed by the Infrastructure updates.

    Q: Can I uninstall the server updates?
    A: No. The Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297) and the Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB951695) cannot be uninstalled. Both updates make database schema changes.

    Q: Can I install the "Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 (KB951547)" Project 2007 client update without installing the "Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers (KB951297)" on the server?
    A: Yes, the "Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Project 2007 (KB951547)" includes fixes for both client/server communication and local client features, so if you don't have Office Project Server 2007 but use Office Project 2007 client this update can be safely installed and you will be able to take advantage of all the client updates.

    Q: Where can I find information on Service Pack 1 for Project Server and Project Professional 2007?

    A: Please check the following: http://blogs.msdn.com/chrisfie/archive/2007/12/12/announcing-the-release-of-epm-2007-service-pack-1.aspx 

    Q: What if I have an issue that isn't addressed by this update?
    A: If your customer has a specific issue that these updates do not address you should follow the Microsoft Support process to log the issue and request a hotfix.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Back to Basics: Understanding task dependencies

    • 12 Comments

    In most cases, the tasks in a project are related to each other, and the relationships between them drive the schedule for the project. The relationships between the tasks are called "dependencies." In Microsoft Office Project, you can create dependencies between tasks in the same project, and between tasks in different projects.

    What kinds of task dependencies are available?

    Project offers four kinds of task dependencies: finish-to-start, start-to-start, finish-to-finish, and start-to-finish.

    First, let's talk about finish-to-start (FS) dependencies. This is the most common type of dependency and is the default type of dependency that Project uses. In a finish-to-start dependency, the second task in the relationship can't begin until the first task finishes. So, for example, if you were planning a project to make a wedding cake, you might use a finish-to-start dependency between the "Bake cake" and "Decorate cake" tasks. When the "Bake cake" task is finished, the "Decorate cake" task begins.

    FS

    Start-to-start (SS) dependencies are used when the second task in the relationship can't begin until after the first task in the relationship begins. Start-to-start dependencies don't require that both tasks start at the same time. They simply require that the first task has begun, in order for the second task to begin. Going back to the wedding cake example, let's say you had planned to make the icing for the cake while the cake is baking in the oven. You can't start making the icing until the cake has started baking, so you might use a start-to-start dependency between the "Bake cake" and "Make icing" tasks.

    SS

    If one of your tasks can't finish until another one finishes, you can use a finish-to-finish (FF) dependency between them. Finish-to-finish dependencies don't require that both tasks be completed simultaneously. They simply require that the first task be finished, in order for the second task to finish. The second task can finish any time after the first task finishes. In our wedding cake example, let's say there are some finishing touches to the decorations that you can't finish until the cake is delivered. You can use a finish-to-finish dependency between the "Decorate cake" and "Deliver cake" tasks. When the "Decorate cake" task is finished, then the "Deliver cake" task can be completed.

    FF

    Finally, the start-to-finish (SF) dependency is a little tricky. When you use this type of dependency, you are saying that the second task in the relationship can't finish until the first task starts. However, the second task can finish any time after the first task starts. Going back to our wedding cake example, let's say you have a task for billing the customer. It begins when the customer requests the cake, but it can't be completed until after the cake delivery has begun. You can use a start-to-finish dependency between the "Deliver cake" and "Bill customer" tasks, so that when the "Deliver cake" task has begun, it is okay for the "Bill customer" task to finish.

    SF

    So when you put the entire plan together, with these dependencies intact, the plan might look something like this:

    AllLinks

    How do I create dependencies?

    First, you need to determine whether you want to create a dependency between two tasks in the same project, or between a task in one project and a task in another project.

    If you want to create a dependency between two tasks in the same project, review Create task dependencies (links) within your project.

    If you want to create a dependency between a task in one project and a task in another project, review Create task dependencies (links) across projects.

    Where can I learn more?

    Learn more about task dependencies in the following articles:

    · View and update task dependencies (links) across projects

    · Create and link tasks with Project 2007

    · Watch this: Create a cross-project link

    · Watch this: Link tasks in your project

    · Change or remove task dependencies (links)

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Time Tracking in Project Server 2010

    • 12 Comments

    As you might imagine we are all very excited to be able to talk about the new features coming in Project Server 2010. One of the areas where we’ve made huge investments is in Time Tracking where we’ve had a huge amount of feedback from our customers. The feedback has been immensely valuable in helping us deliver a richer experience and I hope that you’ll be as excited by the upcoming features as we are.

    Given the size of the investment we’ve made it’s is going to be hard to squeeze a full description into a single blog entry so I’m going to point out the highlights and then we’ll follow up with some more detailed posts over the next few weeks, specifically:

    1. Task Statusing and the new Grid (Pat Malatack will do the honors)

    2. Timesheets and Single Entry Mode (my next article)

    3. Approval Center for integrated approvals (Pat Malatack and Nicolae Rusan)

    4. Exchange and Outlook Integration (Chris Boyd)

    5. Why Track Time? (my final (planned) article in this series)

    We’ll also be posting on the new Administration Blog, with a deep dive into the rich Time Tracking configuration options (my 4th article); and on the Programmability Blog, with two posts: one on extending the UI (Pat’s 3rd) and the other on reading/writing data in single entry mode (my 5th).

    As we post each article I’ll update this entry with links so you can quickly navigate around all of the posts

    Finally, as ever, if you have time tracking questions feel free to post them in response to our blog entries and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.

    Overview

    I’m going to talk briefly about each of the areas above to give you a taste of what is coming over the next few weeks. Before I start with the new grid I just want to point out that we’ve deliberately minimized the changes we’ve made to our back end api (the Timesheet and Statusing Web Services), so those of you with customizations can relax!

    The screenshots below are from a post Beta2 build, so you may notice one or two differences from the Beta – let us know if you can spot them!

    Task Statusing and the Grid

    One of the areas of feedback was that the move away from Project Server 2003’s ActiveX grid was a good thing (no install on to Team Member’s desktops) but that the replacement grid had some missing functionality. The good news is that we have a spiffy new grid that makes the Team Member experience richer than ever, here is a screen shot:

    clip_image001

    Figure 1 - Tasks Page

    Pat will talk more about this in the next post but first notice the client-like ribbon, we’ve done a lot of work to make the experience more document-centric than in the past, it tested well in the usability labs and I hope you’ll find it easy as well.

    Now notice the clean left navigation menu, again we’ve reworked the grouping a little (and this isn’t the final version, we expect the “Business Intelligence” option to move soon) to balance

    In the grid itself we’ve brought back the ‘splitter bar’ (so the right “pivot” grid can be pulled over the left grid’s fields) which will really help folks with lots of columns to add to the grid but who have smaller screen resolutions make better use of their real estate.

    The left grid is also a lot smarter, with the ability to reorder columns, hide/reveal columns and do custom sorts – and the bonus is that we remember these settings across sessions for each view that you select! There are many other improvements here that I’ll leave to Pat’s post where he’ll really exercise the grid’s capabilities for you.

    Timesheets and Single Entry Mode

    The first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve moved the old “Timesheet Center” down to “Manage Timesheets”, so when you navigate to the Timesheet page we’ll create/load the timesheet for the period for the current date, allowing you to get in and out with a minimum of clicks.

    You’ll be pleased to discover that the Timesheet page has adopted the same grid technology as the Tasks page, so you get all the benefits of efficient use of screen real estate and more. The two grids behave a little differently due to the nature of the data:

    - Timesheet shows only late tasks and tasks with work planned in the period;

    - Tasks shows all of a Team Member’s tasks plus those tasks where they are the assignment owner.

    They also behave differently due to the differences in workflow between task update approval and timesheet approval. Despite these difference we hope that they will behave closely enough for the Team Member to move easily between them.

    Here is a screenshot of the Timesheet:

    clip_image002

    Figure 2 - Timesheet Page

    Notice the Status Bar (the blue bar below the Ribbon) – this is where we tell the team Member what to do next as well as displaying some global state such as the total hours and the period range.

    The big functional change is the introduction of “Single Entry Mode” (SEM) – it can be set on or off by the Administrator and governs the integration between timesheet and project task assignment data. When SEM is on the task update data automatically flows into the Timesheet and onto the Project wherever it is edited, until such time as the timesheet is sent for final timesheet manager approval.

    If SEM is on, then changes to task assignments are sent for approval to the Task Status Manager, and you can optionally hold back timesheet approval until all task updates are approved.

    There is a lot more to talk about that I’ll cover in the Timesheet post.

    Approval Center

    We reviewed how people did approvals in Project Server 2003 and 2007 and decided that we would make the process faster if we presented all the approvals in a single dialog, this is shown below:

    clip_image003

    Figure 3 - Approval Center

    Note that there is a Timesheet approval mixed in with task updates. Again we’re using the new grid technology for a familiar look and feel as well as the splitter bar to make the page more scalable. We didn’t get round to integrating Workflow Approvals in this release, and this will be a separate menu option for those using Demand Management workflows.

    Pat will take more time to show you around the grid and to show you the history pages in a future post.

    Exchange and Outlook Integration

    In previous releases we shipped an Outlook add-in that collected timesheet data – this was nice but had limitations including the need to install client-side code as well as functional limitations that meant that Team Members had to head to PWA to do many things.

    We’ve now focused on connecting through to Microsoft Exchange™ and for our first revision we’ve targeted basic task assignment updates – using % complete or total work/remaining work – so it’s ideal for customers with basic progress tracking requirements.

    The Team Member uses an Exchange client (Outlook or Outlook Web Access) and updates their tasks – any work entered is auto-submitted to the Task Status Manager, making this the simplest of the Time Tracking options.

    Using Import or Single Entry Mode the data will arrive in the timesheet where it can be tidied up and then sent for approval.

    Chris will talk about this more in an upcoming post.

    Why Track Time?

    This will be our final post in in the initial series where I’ll take some time to guide you through the reasons for choosing each time tracking method, with the aim of helping you be successful from the get go.

    I know that the whole team is excited about sharing the new functionality in public for the first time and we are all looking forward to your feedback on what we did well (and what we may have missed)

    Patrick Conlan
    Project Development Team, Redmond.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    EPM 2007 Timesheets with Project Actual Remaining Work

    • 11 Comments

    Hello - Dave Ducolon here.  I have blogged here before and am back to talk to you about the ability to capture actual remaining work in a timesheet and have that recorded in the project task to which you are assigned.  This was a very popular user request and we were able to offer this functionality to users with the Project Server Infrastructure Update.

    image

    Now before you get too excited, this functionality is currently only available when Project Server sites are tracking time through the timesheet only.  This may change but as of this writing (12/15/08) there is no ability to add the remaining work field to views unless you have EPM set to track time from the timesheet only.

    image

    So how does one use this?  It is simple.  You enter total remaining work into your timesheet and on save the information is automatically transferred to the the database table that supports the My Tasks page.   The remaining work value is not stored in the timesheet database tables.  Furthermore, the remaining work value is only read from timesheet lines with the "Standard" billing category. 

    Scheduling Calculation Order Note: The remaining work value is always set on the task assignment before (you import) the actual work from the data in the timesheet.  If you try this emulating this change in Project Professional you’ll notice that the actual work ends up being deducted from the remaining work.  So your remaining work value should also include the sum of any actual work that you are entering.

    If you wish to automate some of these steps I encourage you to have a look at the posting on Codeplex from Christophe Fiessinger.

    In summary here are the steps to use this new feature:

    1. Turn on time entry by timesheet only - Server Settings\Task Settings and Display

    2. Add the remaining work field to your timesheet view(s) - Server Settings\Manage Views

    3. Initialize your timesheet - My Timesheet\Create

    4. Enter the actual hours worked as normal in the daily or weekly columns

    5. For each row of actuals take that total and add that to the amount of work you feel remains to complete the task and enter that into the remaining work field.

          Example: you have a 40 hr task and you work on that for 5 days at 8 hours per day but you feel that you still need 10 hours to complete.  You should enter a timesheet line with 8 hrs on each day and a remaining work value of (8x5) + 10 which is 50.

    6. Save (or Submit) the Timesheet. - remaining work will pass to the my tasks data set.

    7. Navigate to my tasks - Home\My Tasks

    8. Import timesheet - available from the Actions menu or the toolbar if you have that configured to display the actions menu options.

    I have outlined the shortest set of steps to achieve the required reporting of time for this scenario; however, this is not the only way to use this feature.  It is simply the most direct. 

    I hope this clears up any possible confusion and helps make your use of Microsoft EPM that much more enjoyable.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Create Deadline Dates

    • 11 Comments

    Deadline dates are handy way to alert you to problems in your schedule, but they are often overlooked. Project managers will often try to create a deadline for a task by setting a task's start date or finish date. But entering the start and finish date sets a date constraint (or restriction) on the task, which limits the flexibility of your schedule and prevents Project from automatically handling the scheduling of your project.

    If you want a task to start or finish on a certain date but want to retain the flexibility of the schedule, you can enter a deadline date. Double-click on a task, and on the Advanced tab, enter a date in the Deadline box. A green arrow will appear on your Gantt chart that marks the deadline date. And if the task doesn't finish by the deadline date, a nasty icon will appear in the Indicators column to warn you.

     

    clip_image002

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Ask a Project PM: Resource Leveling

    • 11 Comments

    Well this took a little longer to get up here than I had anticipated, but at long last, here’s the first video in our interview series, “Ask a Project PM.” In this interview, Bonny Lau, Program Manager for Microsoft Project, fields your questions on resource leveling. Many thanks to those who submitted questions!


    Ask a Project PM: Resource Leveling
  • Microsoft Project 2010

    How do I register to get a beta copy of Project 2007?

    • 11 Comments

    Many of you have asked me about how to get access Project 2007 Preview version. We are currently planning on releasing a Beta this Spring.  This release will be public and you can register to receive a copy at the Microsoft Office Preview site.

     

    Keep in mind that this is a Beta release and there will be no product support for it. Having said that, the product is excellent! I highly recommend signing up. You will get a great preview of what’s coming up.

     

    All versions of Project 2007 will be available through this Preview program (Standard, Professional and Server). If you have any specific questions, please feel free to send me a message.

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2007 SDK - RTM Version Now Available

    • 11 Comments

    This announcement just arrived in my inbox.

     

    The official Project 2007 SDK has been released to the web!    You can either download and install it locally or you can access it via the web.  The Project Developer Portal has also been updated to reflect new content.

     

    What’s New?

    The RTM SDK includes 72 topics. There are updates of topics from the previous beta release, plus the following new topics:

    ·         How to: Calculate Resource Availability in OLAP Cubes

    ·         Walkthrough: Creating and Using Custom Project Server Permissions

    ·         Using Security Methods in the PSI 

    ·         How to: Write a Simple Impersonation Application 

                                                                                                                        

    The PSI reference has been updated with new code samples for methods in the Project, Resource, Statusing, and Timesheet Web services, among other changes.

     

    To Download the SDK

    Go to this link:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=2672F6F9-7028-4B30-99A2-18CB1EED1ABE&displaylang=en .


    The pj12ProjectSDK.exe download includes:

    ·         pjSDK2007.chm (conceptual topics and managed code reference)

    ·         pj12ReportingDB.chm (Reporting database schema reference)

    ·         OLAPCubeSchemas.xls lists the dimensions, measures, and properties of the Project Server OLAP cubes

    ·         SDK code samples, including the updated Project Tool source and executable.

    To Access the SDK Online

    To access the Project 2007 SDK in MSDN online library, go to this link: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms512767.aspx

    Project Developer Portal  

    Project Developer Portal in the Office Developer Center on MSDN includes links to the Project 2007 SDK,  Project 2007 blogs, as well as the Project 2003 SDK. Following are the other main pages in the Project Developer Center:

    ·         What’s New for Developers in Project 2007 includes links to MSDN Webcasts.

    ·         Project Community includes an RSS feed for the Project 2007 Team Blog, and other Project blogs and sites.

                                         

    To find related content and SDKs, please check out the Office Developer Centers and the SharePoint Developer Center, which have links to the SharePoint SDKs and downloads on MSDN.  Then check out the Project Programmability blog to see how this knowledge can be put into action.

     

    --Treb

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Busy, Busy, Busy

    • 10 Comments

    In case you've noticed, which you probably have, posts have been slow as of late.  As we wrapped up Office 2007 work back at the end of October, we've been working hard on the Project 14 planning and rolling out a new service internally.

    So, why does this matter to you?  These latest activities all involve us using our own product.  We are our own users at the moment.

    Project Portfolio Server

    We are using our very own Project Portfolio Server 2007 to plan the Project 14 release.  Portfolio Server is being used to help us determine the business drivers that are important and how important are they relative to each other.  We then model which features will contribute the most to our business drivers.  It's our first opportunity as a team to use the tool for real work and for us to go through the whole optimization process. 

    Pradeep, one of our Senior PMs, is shepherding the process.  My hope is to convince him to write about it extensively in an upcoming post.  Also, expect to hear more about our experiences when Project Conference rolls around.  If you want to hear, leave a comment below.

    Project Server

    The other activity is that we are rolling out a hosted instance of Project Server 2007 internally.  This way, any team that wants to use Project Server doesn't have to set up their own hardware and software.  The challenge is that we don't have a "corporate" way to manage efforts or project related data.  So, each team wants something different.  I'm sure you are familiar with this situation.

    For those of you who have done this for yourselves or for others, we are going through what you normally go through.  We are experiencing first hand, security model design, login and desktop configuration issues, AD Sync set up and learning about the various and sundry ways that people use Project.  All of this, will provide input and impetus to improve the product further.

    As interesting experiences and observations come up, I'll discuss them.  We are currently on boarding our first two groups so the real fun is about to begin!  Same rule applies, if you want to hear more, leave a comment.

     

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Resource Plans Explained.... I Hope :-)

    • 10 Comments

    Hi, It has been a long time since my last post. Sorry for the long delay and I will try to fix this with more frequent post in the future. OK so let’s get to the topic of the day: “Resource Plans, what are they and how should you use them”.

    Resource Plans were developed in response to a number of customer requests for a way to estimate corporate resource capacity when some projects are in full execution and others are still in the proposal or planning phase. Therefore, we focused on the part of a project lifecycle where the project is still just an idea or opportunity but not yet established as a project. Yes, resource plans can be used during the execution phase as well but let’s first talk about the pre-project phase.

    To “create” a resource plan, all you need to do is add a resource to the list after clicking on the Resource Plan button on any Project page.

    Above is a sample resource plan. These resources are linked to a project via the plan but no assignments are made within the project. Simple to create and easy to use or at least I hope you see it that way. As you can see, we are using weekly granularity of assignments in the sample. The granularity can be set from days to years depending upon your own preferences. This enables the resource manager to plan how a resource would be used if the project gets the approval to begin work. This plan uses work resources but any resource type can be assigned. With this resource plan I am demonstrating is how you can mix named resources with generic resources on the same plan.

    How does this integrate with Project Professional? Well, simply stated it doesn’t. As I said earlier, these assignments are not within the project or better said they are outside of the project. The only association is through the resource plan itself. Let me guess, you want integrate the planned assignments here with other firm assignments for these same resource on other projects. Well good, capacity planning would be nothing without integration to overall resource availability. But before I dive into this topic, I think we need to see the resource plan settings pane.

    All clear? I didn’t think so but without the image it may be too hard to grasp the options representing resource availability on the plan. In the feature we call this utilization calculation but don’t let that confuse you, utilization is just the consumption of availability… right? So what options do we allow? To begin with we default to using the resource plan assignments as if they were real project assignments. This means that the hours booked to the resource plan will deduct from the availability of the resource. The second option is to use the assignments made within the project and to ignore the plan assignments, which is like turning off the resource plan assignments. And the final option is to pull the assignment data from project task assignments up through a certain date after which we will pull the resource plan assignment data.

    These options align with three use cases:

    1. The resource plan greatly simplifies the assigning of resources and no task level assignments are needed. (frequent customer request)

    2.Resource plans are used to estimate resource usage but not to actually commit resource usage; that is left to project task assignments.

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    3. So in the beginning, the resource plan will account for 100% of the resource commitments on the project. Then when Phase 1 begins and task level assignments are made, and then resource availability will be consumed by the project tasks until the end date of phase 1. And the resource plan will only account for the assignments in Phase 2 and beyond. This represents a rolling project plan.

    OK, the last thing to explain is the setting of Work Units. Resource plans offers a new level of resource time allocation, called the FTE. To begin with though, we use the familiar Hours, Days, etc. However; these are all directly associated to minutes which is a very accurate time element. Since one of the overriding design tenets for Resource Plans was to support early planning where estimating is the normal practice. We now offer a new way to specify resource allocations and that is FTE or Full Time Equivalents. FTE is a simplification where the resource manager specifies the amount of time an average full time employee would spend and they do not need to think about how many hours are in a month or year.

    Well that’s about it for today. You are probably nearing information overload if not already fully there. Therefore, I am intentionally leaving the FTE definition out of this posting. Next time I will discuss the FTE definition as this can be a full posting in itself.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2007 SP1 is here!

    • 10 Comments

    I am excited to announce that Project 2007 SP1 has been released.

    Links to downloads:

    Helpful Information:

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