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.
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!
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
When you sit down to think through a project plan, it often makes sense to group the project into several sections. For example, let's say I'm planning a software development project. First, I need to identify the scope for the project, and then write functional specifications documents that detail how the software application should work upon completion. After the specs are written, then the development team gets to work coding the application and handing off builds to the test team. The test team sends the bugs back to the development team for fixing, and eventually a finished product is ready to head out the door to customers. If I take a step back and look at this process, I can identify three distinct phases in my initial description of the work: Planning, Development, and Release. I can represent these phases in my Microsoft Office Project plan using summary tasks and subtasks.
Looking at this example, the summary tasks are "Planning," "Development," and "Release," and the subtasks are the tasks that are indented below each of the summary tasks.
How are summary task dates and durations calculated?
Subtasks determine the start and finish dates for each summary task, as well as the summary task's duration. For this section, let's look closely at the first summary task in the example above, and its subtasks.
Duration. The duration of a summary task is the total duration of its subtasks. Using the example above, we can see that the duration of the "Planning" summary task is 40 days, which is the total duration of the two subtasks (10 days + 30 days).
Start date. A summary task gets its start date from the earliest start date among its subtasks. Using the example above, we can see that the "Planning" summary task takes its start date, 6/26/08, from the "Identify scope" subtask.
Finish date. The finish date for a summary task is the latest finish date among the subtasks. So, in this example, the "Planning" summary task takes its finish date, 8/20/08, from the "Write functional specifications" subtask.
What about resource assignments?
In a typical project, resources are assigned to subtasks, not summary tasks. However, there may be some situations where assigning a resource to a summary task is appropriate. If you decide to assign a resource to a summary task, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, watch out for accidental overallocation. If you assign a resource to a summary task, don't also assign that resource to the subtasks, or the resource may appear overallocated. When dealing with resource allocations, Project treats summary tasks the same as subtasks, so if a resource is 75% allocated to a summary task, and 75% allocated to one of that summary task's subtasks, as well, the resource will appear to be 150% allocated. In actuality, the resource still has 25% availability, but it isn't represented correctly in Project because the resource is assigned to the same task twice.
Also, if a resource is assigned to a summary task, and that resource's time spent on the subtasks stays the same regardless of how the total duration of the subtasks changes, then that resource should be assigned to the individual subtasks, rather than assigned to the summary task. That is, let's say we have a resource, Ana Pavicic, assigned to the "Planning" summary task from our earlier example. Ana is a contract employee, and is required to log exactly 40 days on the subtasks associated with the "Planning" summary task. Currently, that's just fine, because the two subtasks add up to exactly 40 days. However, let's say the "Identify scope" task ends up taking 15 days instead of 10. The "Planning" summary task's duration increases to 45 days. Ana's assignment to the summary task now exceeds her required 40 day contract. Instead, it is better to assign Ana directly to the two subtasks, so that you can easily maintain control of her exact assignments.
Additionally, you should refrain from assigning resources to summary tasks if you do task status updates through Project Web Access. Since summary task dates are driven by their corresponding subtasks, this can cause issues if the resource enters actuals outside of these dates.
Where can I learn more about summary tasks and subtasks?
The following resources can help you learn more about using summary tasks and subtasks in your project:
· Goal: Define phases and tasks
· Outline tasks into subtasks and summary tasks
· Display outlined subtasks and summary tasks
· Assign a resource to a task
· Create and link tasks with Project 2007
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:
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:
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.
Consider this scenario. As a project manager you create your project and now you’re ready to let others collaborate with you and so you ask yourself “how do I let others get access to my project?” By default, users who are added as resources to the project or who have tasks in the project have some level of access to it. But, these users may only have read access to the project and what about someone who is not directly associated with work on the project? How do you change permissions so that, for example, these users can read, write and publish a project?
In Project 2007, giving access to another user who was not directly associated with your project would have likely meant making a request to the Project Server administrator to accomplish this task for you. To give access to your project, the administrator would have likely added the project to a security category and then added the category to your user account or to a group in which you belong. This was a lot of work and as the project manager you were at the mercy of the server administrator to do this work. What this typically meant was that there was usually a lag between the time when you wanted other users to help you with your project and when they actually got access to do so.
So, how has Project Server 2010 made this better?
In Project Server 2010, the new Project Permissions feature allows users or groups that have been granted the “Manage Basic Project Security” category permission to grant users and groups access to the projects they own. To access the Project Permissions feature do this:
1. As a user who is a member of at least the default Project Managers group, go to the Project Center.
2. Select the project you want to add, remove or modify permissions on.
3. Click on the Project Permissions button on the ribbon.
On the permissions page, if no permissions have been granted, then the ribbon and page looks like this:
Here, you click the New button and you are taken to the Edit Project Permissions page. Now suppose your goal is to allow the following:
1. All Project Managers can access your project.
2. All Project Managers can open your project using Project Professional or Project Web App (PWA).
3. All Project Managers can Save changes to your project.
4. All Project Managers have the ability to view your project in the Project Center.
Here are the options on the Edit Project Permissions page you’d select:
As you can see, you can add either users or groups to your Project Permission and in this case, you’ve added the Project Managers group. You can also enable one or a combination of seven different permissions and you’ve enabled the three that will give your users the access they need. What do these permissions do and how do things work? Let’s Talk about this.
Key Point: Project Server 2010 provides the Project Permissions feature to allow self-serve security on projects.
How do Project Permissions work and what do you need to know about them? Are there cases where they won’t give you what you want? Or, are there other things you need to consider? Let’s begin by looking at the basics of the Project Permissions feature.
At a high level, Project Permissions are like mini security categories with the differences being the following:
1. These categories can be controlled by non-security administrators (at least those in the default Project Managers group).
2. These categories cannot be controlled by server administrators nor seen by them on the Manage Categories administrative page.
3. They apply only to the given project.
4. There are only seven project level permissions you can grant access to.
5. You cannot deny any of the given permissions. You only explicitly grant access on the given permission.
For more detailed information about security categories, please see the following article: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms422445.aspx
Key Point: Project Permissions function like security categories.
Here’s is a list of the seven available permissions along with a short description of each:
Open the project within Project Professional or Project Web App
This gives the user or group read access to the project from either Project Professional or PWA. The assumption is that the user or group already has rights to connect from Project Professional or PWA.
Edit and Save the project within Project Professional or Project Web App
This gives the user or group write access (can save changes) to the project from either Project Professional or PWA.
Edit Project Summary Fields within Project Professional or Project Web App
This is a variation of the previous permission. This gives a user or group the ability to change the project level properties on a project and to save them, but it does not give them rights to edit the entire project.
Publish the project within Project Professional or Project Web App
This gives a user or group the right to publish a project. This assumes the user can also open, edit and save a project.
View the Project Summary in the Project Center
This gives a user or group the ability to see a project in the Project Center view. This assumes you already have permissions to a use at least one Project Center view
View the Project Schedule Details in Project Web App
This allows a user or group the ability to drill into a project from the Project Center so that they can see the details of the project. The assumption is that you can go to the Project Center or you know the project’s URL so that you can see Project Schedule view.
View the Project Site
If a workspace has been published for the project, then this permission allows the user to get to the workspace page in order to see documents, issues, risks and other items associated with the project. It does not imply that users will be able to edit any of the entities in the various lists.
Key Point: There are seven permissions you can set for a given project.
There’s a reason why the Project Permissions are listed in the order that they are. This is because in some cases, a given permission may be reliant on the previous permission in the list. For instance, let’s say you want to allow a user the ability to publish a project. To do this, the user also needs to be able to open, edit and save the project. Thus, the project permissions you would select for your user would be “Open the project in Project Professional or Project Web App”, “Edit and Save the project within Project Professional or Project Web App” and “Publish the project within Project Professional or Project Web App”. What if you selected just the “Publish the project within Project Professional or Project Web App” permission and not the others permissions? Well, your user wouldn’t be able to open the project in order to invoke the publish command and therefore, the permission would be dormant.
Key Point: The permissions page does not enforce relationships among the permissions. You have to set any related permission a user or group may need.
Because Project Permissions are category permissions, they are additive to other permissions a user or group may already have. It also means that if a user or group has been denied access on a given permission elsewhere, they will still be denied the permission no matter how you set up the Project Permissions on your project. An example of this is a user who has been denied the Save Project to Project Server global or category permission. In this case, even though you give your user the right to edit and save the project, they will still be denied the ability to do this because the deny permission overrides any explicit allow permission given elsewhere.
As another example, suppose your user has been denied access to the Project Center view. This deny will override your wish to allow your user to view the project summary in the Project Center and they will still be blocked.
Key Point: Project Permissions don’t override explicit Deny permissions set elsewhere.
If you consider the various Project Permissions available, you’ll notice that many of them are “Project Manager” centric. That is, they represent tasks such as saving and publishing a project that a member of the project managers group would normally perform. What this implies is that Project Permissions work well for peers who are also have similar permissions. But, Project Permissions become less effective as a user’s permissions are reduced. Here’s an extreme example to illustrate this. You have a user who only has the Log On global permission. As a project manager, you create Project Permissions for one of your projects and you specify that this user can view the project in the Project Center. This user logs on to PWA, but they still don’t have access to the project. This is because they don’t have access to any Project Center views. Now, if this same user were a member of the team members group, then by-default, they would have what they need to see the project in the Project Center. So, what’s the lesson here? Setting Project Permissions doesn’t provide an automatic path in PWA or Project Professional to projects.
Key Point: Project Permissions are great for users or groups who are peers but are less effective for users or groups who have fewer rights.
There are a couple of points to understand about what you may see on the Permissions page. Here’s an example of what this page may look like after you’ve created and saved several permission sets: So how do you interpret what you see here? Well, this means that there are at least three different unique permission sets. On the first one, the Project Managers security group has been given the Open Project, and Save Project to Project Server permissions. On the second one, team members 11 – 14 have the View Project Summary in Project Center and the View Project Site permissions. On the last one, team member 5 has been given the View Project Summary in Project Center permission. When you edit and existing or create a new permission, you can add multiple users, but when you’re finished, each user and group will appear as a separate row in the list and each appears with their own permission set.
If you edit multiple users or groups, and if they don’t have the same permissions, then all permissions for those users are reset and you have to select new ones. As an example, suppose you select TM11 and TM5 from the list and click Edit. On the Edit Project Permissions page, you’ll see both users, but in the permissions section, no permissions will be selected. Before you Save, you will have to select at least one permission for these two users.
Key Point: The Permissions page shows you each individual user or group and shows the permissions for that entity. Editing users or groups with dissimilar permissions resets the permissions.
Project Permissions in Project 2010 make it so that project managers and others can easily grant users or groups the right to perform specific actions on the projects they own. This feature reduces the Project Server administrative burden and makes it much easier for project managers to manage this chore by themselves.
[I am updating this post with more specific information - including webcast tomorrow]
How to install Project Server 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh (Beta 2 TR) ?
Important: Read this message carefully and completely before you apply the Beta 2 TR Update/Patch
The Beta 2 Technical Refresh release is an incremental revision to Beta 2 – it is applied as an “Update” or a “Patch” on top of a Beta 2 installation. So, there is no “full installation” of Project Server 2007 Beta 2 TR. To install Beta 2 TR, you need to first install Project Server 2007 Beta 2 and then install the Beta 2 TR Update/Patch. If you already have a Beta 2 installation, you can just install the Beta 2 TR Update/Patch. There are 3 main installation scenarios:
Important things to note:
“Data upgrade” from Project Server 2007 Beta 2 to Beta 2 TR is a manual process. Detailed step-by-step instructions, sample code, macros are available in the detailed documentation to help make your data upgrade a success. Read the documentation carefully before you attempt the data upgrade.
Detailed step-by-step deployment instructions can be found at: http://technet2.microsoft.com/Office/en-us/library/32a18803-52d2-4967-ab9d-0e199c9bf0041033.mspx (content would be available around Beta 2 TR general availability). Meanwhile, ask your Microsoft contact to get a draft copy of the detailed instructions.
Sep 13th, Wednesday, 9 AM to 10 AM PST (Pacific Standard Time)
How to install Project Server 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh
https://www.livemeeting.com/rm/microsoft/join?id=PublicWebcast&role=attend&pw=736410. If you cannot click the meeting link above, or it does not work, please do the following:
Browse to: http://www.placeware.com/rm/microsoft/attend
Type your name
Type the Meeting ID as: PublicWebcast
Type the Password as: 736410
1-866-500-6738 or 203-480-8000. Participant code: 852710#
Who will present ?
Microsoft Project Group members from Redmond, USA.
To give an overview of how to install Project Server 2007 Beta2 TR and answer any questions you may have.
Can I attend ?
Yes. This is a Public Webcast – anyone can attend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
Have you ever wanted to make edits to a project plan far away from your desktop installation of Project? Perhaps you were in a meeting and pulled up Project Web Access to show project status but hoped to capture updates directly in PWA as the meeting progressed. Maybe you have multiple stakeholders on a plan who want the ability to add tasks even if they aren’t responsible for the entire project schedule and don’t have Project on their desktop.
Hi, I’m Pat Malatack and today I’ll be introducing you to a new feature in Project Server 2010, web based project editing in Project Web Access (PWA). With this feature, these requests and many others will become a distant memory. Project Server 2010 enables the ability to create projects, edit the plan, assign resources to tasks, and publish the plan, all from the comfort and convenience of your browser. In Project Server 2010 you can expect to edit projects large and small on the server. Additionally, you can move effortlessly back and forth between editing projects in the browser and in the desktop client. This allows users to have the convenience of a browser based project editing solution together with the power of the desktop client.
Now I know what you’re thinking “Do I need some fancy plugin for this?”, “How does it work?”, “How well does it scale?”, and “How does it differ from Project Professional?” Let’s answer each one of these questions and hopefully many more today.
How does it work? Performing edits to projects in your browser is simple and easy to use. In PWA you can expect to find many of the same great features you are familiar with in the Project desktop. Although we don’t have time in this blog post to walk through each and every feature, I will walk you through a few by starting off with a brand new project plan that I have just created in the web as shown below.
The first thing to take note of here is the user interface. There are 4 core interface elements that should capture your eye. First, you will see the Fluent User Interface at the top of the page (expanded in the screenshot below). Here you can manipulate the project plan. You are able to perform actions like linking, indenting and marking tasks as complete.
Second, you will see a blue information bar. This “status bar” displays information about the current project plan you are working on. In the example below you will see the project was checked out on 10/28 and that I am viewing a “Draft” of the current project plan.
Next you will see a grid. The grid is composed of two panes (our final two core UI elements). The left-most pane we will refer to as the “grid pane”. The grid pane is where the end users will complete actions on task level information. Users will be able to edit task names, assign resources and enter various project fields like start date & end date from this pane. As task information is entered we will begin to see a Gantt chart taking shape in the right half of the grid, we will refer to this as the “Gantt pane”. The grid, complete with both panes, is pictured below.
For this particular example I will build a project plan for the launch of a new product. I will begin by defining some high level phases. In order to create each task I will start by typing a task name in the empty row on screen with the indicator.
When I press ENTER on the keyboard or move to another cell the “new row”, as indicated with the icon, will move down one row, giving me another location with which to enter a new task.
After a few more edits I begin to see the high-level structure of the plan taking shape. Unfortunately, I have made a mistake while entering the start date of one of my phases. Thankfully PWA has detected this typo and informed me of this error while continuing to allow me to make edits.
Once I get a free moment I can click on the error. PWA will do its best to inform me of the problem and allow me to resolve the issue. In this particular case I have entered a value that is not a date for a date field.
After resolving the typo I hope to insert some sub tasks in Phase 1. At this stage in the project, Phase 1 is the only phase I have sufficient information for which to plan. All this takes is a simple press on the “Insert” Button in the ribbon or the “Insert” key on my keyboard.
After inserting each of my tasks I have a plan that looks something like this.
Next I want to indent the newly inserted tasks under Phase 1. To do this I will click in the “row header” region on the far left of the grid pane. I will select each of the rows and press indent in the ribbon (or Alt+Shift+Right on my keyboard if I prefer to use the Keyboard Shortcut Support). This demonstrates the use of full Task Hierarchy and Indent/Outdent support in the browser.
Now that I have created a summary task I want to establish dependencies on each of the subtasks. To do this I will select all of the subtasks and link them. In the screen shot below you will note that the tasks have been linked (which can be seen visually in the Gantt chart) but they have not been scheduled. The behavior is similar to that of Project Desktop if “calculate project after each edit” is turned off.
Finally we will press calculate which is located in the ribbon and the tasks dates will be updated. You should also note in this picture that the items that were changed as a result of the calculate operation are highlighted in blue. This demonstrates the use of Change Highlighting in the browser.
Some other notable features to call out here are support for Multi-Level Undo as well as Cut/Copy & Paste right in your browser (both are shown in the ribbon screen shot earlier in this post). If I had made a mistake in anyone of these edits and wanted to undo it or I wanted add a list of work items copied somewhere like Excel, I would effortlessly be able to do this in PWA.
Now that I have some tasks created and scheduled I want to go ahead and make some resource assignments, before I do this though I want the resource column to be placed right next to the task name to make assignments easier to see visually. To do this in PWA I simply drag the resource column by clicking down on the column header and dragging with my mouse. A “ghost image” will appear so that a user can see where my column will be positioned, demonstrating the intuitiveness of Flexible View Manipulation in PWA.
Together with my colleague Heather I will be “Identifying the Launch Team” as well as “Defining Launch Goals”. This demonstrates browser based support for Multi-Resource Assignment. Heather will be responsible for “Determining Sales Objectives” and I will be handling the other tasks defined. Making the assignments is depicted below.
A few more items of interest to mention in PWA are high-fidelity (and colorful) Gantt charts, support for Grouping (as you would expect from Project’s desktop client), and support for User Controlled Scheduling in the browser.
How well does is scale? Editing projects from small to the very large is supported in Project Server 2010. There are no explicit size limits for browser based editing. Coming soon – a video with a 6,000+ line project.
How does it differ from Project Professional?
Project Professional will continue to be your one stop shop for great project planning/tracking features like baselining, leveling and task warnings and suggestions as well as some of the new 2010 features like Timeline View and Team Planner. Features like defining work breakdown structures will only be available in the desktop client, which will continue to be the premium project editing experience. For basic project plan editing and manipulation though PWA will serve as a great compliment to Project Professional for traditional Project Managers and help to expand the use of Project to people within your organization whom traditionally did not use Project Professional.
To recap here are just some of the features you can expect with web based editing in Project Server 2010.
Remember everything demonstrated in today’s post was done in a browser and is included as part of Project Server 2010. We hope you are as excited for web based project editing as we are and be sure to download the beta when it is made available in November.
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:
And here are the steps...
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:
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.
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:
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 Office Project uses constraints to build a project's schedule. That is, each task has a certain rule applied that helps the scheduling engine figure out when the task should start or finish. There are three types of constraints: flexible, semi-flexible, and inflexible.
· Flexible constraints don't tie a task to a specific date. They simply identify that you want the task to start as soon as possible, or as late as possible.
· Semi-flexible constraints have a date associated with them, but they don't require the task to start or finish on the exact date. That is, you can set a task to start no earlier or later than a specific date, or finish no earlier or later than a specific date. This way, depending on the constraint you choose, the task's start or finish date can be any date, as long as it falls before or after the date you choose as part of the constraint.
· Inflexible constraints tie a task's start or finish date to a specific date. Depending on the constraint you choose, the task must start on a specific date, or it must finish on a specific date.
When should I set a constraint type for my tasks?
When it comes to scheduling, the more flexibility you have in your project's dates, the better. Given that, it is often best to leave the constraints set to As Soon As Possible, if you are scheduling from the project start date, or As Late As Possible, if you are scheduling from the project finish date.
However, there may be times when you need a certain task started or finished by a certain date, or you know that a certain task can't begin or end before a certain date. In this case, you may want to use semi-flexible constraints. For example, let's say you're planning a construction project, and you know that the lot has to be prepped for the foundation by July 21, because the concrete truck is only available to pour the foundation on July 22. It's fine if the lot is prepped prior to July 21, but it has to be completed by that date. In Project, you can set a Finish No Later Than constraint for the "Prepare lot" task, and set the date to July 21.
Keeping with this same example, there may be times when you need to set an inflexible constraint, such as when the concrete truck is available. In this case, you can set a Must Start On constraint for the "Pour foundation" task, and set the date to July 22.
How do constraints impact scheduling?
Flexible constraints are ideal for project scheduling, because they enable Project to schedule tasks as closely together as possible, resulting in the project getting finished on the most efficient schedule. For example, let's say you're in the wedding cake business, and you're planning for an upcoming cake order. You have three tasks: Bake cake, Decorate cake, and Deliver cake. Each task has a duration of 1 day, and the dependencies between them are set up so that when the "Bake cake" task finishes, the "Decorate cake" task begins, and then when the "Decorate cake" task finishes, the "Deliver cake" task begins. If all three tasks use the As Soon As Possible constraint, the project is scheduled to be completed in a total of 3 days.
Now, let's say you were out of one of the colors you'll be using to decorate the cake, so you've placed an order, but it isn't being delivered until Thursday, June 26, at the earliest. You can set a Start No Earlier Than constraint for that task, and set the date to June 26.
You'll notice the project is now set to finish on June 27, rather than June 25. This is because of that constraint set for the "Decorate cake" task. The "Bake cake" task is still set to begin As Soon As Possible, so it begins at the project start date, June 23. However, the "Decorate cake" task can't begin until June 26, so there are a couple of days when work isn't happening on the project. In some cases, this may be just fine, but in others, that downtime may be too valuable to pass up.
Next, let's look at how inflexible constraints impact scheduling. In this example, the couple who ordered the cake is getting married on Wednesday, June 25, so the cake has to be delivered that day. With the "Deliver cake" task set to a Must Finish On constraint of June 25, Project warns us of the scheduling conflict, and then overlaps the tasks.
Obviously, you can't deliver an undecorated cake, so the schedule indicates that you'll need to select a different color in order to complete the project on time. Once you've selected a different color, you can set the "Decorate cake" task back to the As Soon As Possible constraint, and the schedule is back on track for an on-time finish.
How do I set constraint types for my tasks?
There are two common ways to set a constraint type for a task. First, you can simply select a start or finish date for your task in the Gantt Chart view, or on the Task Information dialog box. To open the Task Information dialog box, click the Project menu, and then click Task Information.
When you manually set the start or finish date for the task, Project automatically chooses the Start No Earlier Than or Finish No Earlier Than constraint type. This way, your selected date is met, but some flexibility is maintained to make scheduling the rest of your project a little easier.
You can also set the constraint type on the Advanced tab of the Task Information dialog box.
You can use the Constraint type list and the Constraint date box to set a specific constraint type for your task, and tie it to a date.
Where can I learn more about constraints?
The following resources can help you learn more about using constraints in your project:
· Set a start date or finish date (constraint) for a task
· How scheduling works in Project
· Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects
· View and track scheduling factors
· Definition of Microsoft Project constraints
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.
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.
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.
I get questions on templates fairly often so I wanted to do a quick post pointing to a previous post we did on this topic.
Essentially, if you are new to Project or starting a project and want to see a generic plan for how others broke down the work, check out a Project template.
To access templates in Project 2010, go to File – New – Office.com Templates section. In Project 2007, go to File – New and in the New Project pane either select On Computer or Templates on Office Online.
We are always looking to add more templates and wanted to get feedback from you. What templates should we add?
You can either post comments directly to this blog (note they won’t show up right away) or you can send me your thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And here’s some template trivia for you:
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).
Inactive Tasks is a powerful new feature in Microsoft Project 2010 Professional that allows you to cut tasks in your projects, while maintaining a record of these cut items. Inactive Tasks allows you to quickly and effectively:
· Manage Scope: As project begins to go over budget or over schedule, inactive tasks should be used to manage the scope of the project and retain a record of the tasks that you cut. Later, if there becomes additional funding or more time, you can re-activate some of the inactive tasks to fill the remainder of the budget or schedule
· Perform What-if Analysis: You may want to experiment with different combinations of adds or cuts to your project. Inactive Tasks gives you the ability to quickly test multiple options by temporarily inactivating certain parts of the project without losing the original data.
There are several ways to inactivate a task:
· In the Tasks tab of the Ribbon, click Inactivate
· Right-click and choose Inactivate Task in the context menu
· In the General tab of the Task Information dialog, click the Inactive checkbox.
· Set the Active field to “No”
You can also perform one of the steps listed above to re-activate an inactive task.
In Task Sheet views, an inactive task will appear crossed-out in semi-transparent gray text. In the Gantt Chart, the task will be outlined and filled with solid white. The task will retain its original duration, start, and finish values. If you do not want your inactive tasks to appear in the task sheet views, you can filter them out. To do this, in the Views tab of the Ribbon, select the Filter “Active Tasks”.
Inactive tasks will not appear at all in the following views:
· Team Planner
· Network Diagram
· Relationship Diagram
Inactive tasks will no longer be taken into account by the scheduling engine. Assignments to inactive tasks do not roll up to the task or resource summaries. Inactive task do not affect resource availability and will not be taken into account by Leveling. Baseline values that have already been taken are retained, but any new baselines taken will not include data for inactive tasks. Tasks with actuals cannot be inactivated.
Inactive tasks will appear in the Schedule WebPart on PWA, however they will be read-only. Inactive tasks are not published, so inactive task assignments will not appear on a team member’s task list.
Inactivating a task that is linked to other tasks has some interesting effects because it is no longer taken into account by the scheduling engine. In a schedule from start project, if you inactivate a task with successors, the successors will be scheduled as if that link does not exist.
It is important to be aware of this behavior when inactivating a task in a chain of tasks. In the example below, notice how Task 3 is re-scheduled now that Task 2 is inactive.
If you wish to retain the link between two tasks after inactivating their connecting task, you will need to add the link manually. In the example above, we would add Task 1 to Task 3’s predecessors.
Using the Created field (that existed in Microsoft Office Project 2007) and the grouping feature, you can quickly see which tasks have been added and which have been cut since the start of your project. To do this, click “Add New Column” and type “Created”. Then in the Views tab of the Ribbon, select the Group “Active v. Inactive”.
To cut large sections of a project, try inactivating a summary task, which will automatically inactivate all of its subtasks.
Later, you can re-activate the entire summary task or selected subtasks. If you activate any of the subtasks, the summary task will also automatically be re-activated.
Projects often have external dependencies that add risk to completing successfully on time. You can use inactive tasks to represent these risks. To see the effects if the risk is realized, you can activate these tasks and see the overall effect on the project. When planning, you should use inactive tasks to schedule both with and without the risks to see the range of time when the project should finish.
· The Inactive Task feature is available in Microsoft Project Professional only. Inactive tasks will appear read-only in Microsoft Project Standard 2010.
· The Inactive Tasks feature is not available while in 2007 compatibility mode.
· If you save to a previous version, the inactive tasks will be deleted completely from the project plan.
Good news for all the Visio enthusiasts out there! Did you know that you could visualize, edit and even create a new project plan in Microsoft Office Visio 2010 (Professional or Premium) and then export it to Microsoft Project?
Courtesy of the Visio product team, the Visio 2010 Add-in for WBS Modeler enables effective integration between Visio and Project by offering the ability to manage project elements in a graphical view, as well as capabilities to layout a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Visio.
The Modeling process in WBS Modeler offers a wide variety of options to manipulate the WBS data and layout. Custom ribbon elements enable intuitive import and export between Visio and Project. Sibling and Child tasks can be added to existing tasks at every level within the project plan. Shape data can be defined and assigned for every element within Visio and this data binding remains in place when exported to project.
Download the add-in today and get more out of your Visio and Project investments.
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
This post will provide an overview of the Business Intelligence (BI) investments that were made in Microsoft Project Server 2010.
A Brief History
In Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, the focus for reporting was on infrastructure, where we provided the infrastructure to make accessible reporting data available. The new reporting database allowed you to more easily query data from Project without the need for advanced SQL skills. The OLAP Database was also enhanced to 13 new cubes to provide richer data.
Feedback indicated a need to provide further data segmentation of OLAP data. Since we only had the one OLAP database, it contained all data. Administrators wanted the ability to build more targeted and smaller OLAP databases based on a particular user audience. They also needed a way to easily customize what data was contained within the OLAP database. For example, having cost data in an OLAP database that was used by contractors made many administrators nervous.
For accessing the data, we also released two SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) Report Packs. Feedback indicated that this was a step in the right direction, but any solution that started with “Open Visual Studio” didn’t address the core data accessibility issue. Another issue was the people who typically need to create reports don’t usually have the requisite SQL skills or access to programming tools to write the reports for SSRS.
Project Server 2010: Make Data Richer and Easily Accessible
Consequently, three major investments were made in Project Server 2010 in OLAP, the Reporting Database and in Excel integration to address these needs.
Multiple OLAP Database Support
Multiple OLAP Database support enables the administrator to configure, customize and provision OLAP databases based on the particular needs of the target audience. There are two primary ways that the OLAP database can be customized.
Filtering the Data
In Project Server 2010, an OLAP database’s data can be filtered based on a combination of date range, Project Department and Resource Department. This provides a way to easily filter the OLAP data to the information relevant to a given user group. In this case, the Information Technology OLAP database will only contain project and resource data that is assigned to their department. No more having to filter out the Marketing projects to get an IT report!
Controlling The Data Elements Published
The second way of customizing an OLAP database is to specify which data elements are included in a given database. The ability to add or remove custom fields as dimensions and measures is an easy operation. For intrinsic data such as baselines and cost data, you can exclude the data from the OLAP database by merely deselecting the box for that data type. If you are using the new Inactive Tasks feature, you can also easily exclude this task type from the OLAP data. Lastly, if you like handcrafted MDX, you can add your own calculated measures to the database via the user interface.
New Data in the Reporting Database
A number of new data elements were added to the Reporting database in this release. Now it is possible to create report using Timesheet administrative time data and timesheet custom fields data. This enables the user to get a much richer view of where time has logged, as well as other uses like a list of planned vacation time or planned training time. We also added data related to the new portfolio and workflow functionality. Lastly, if you’ve used project properties in the past in Project Professional, these are now populated into the Reporting database.
Excel Based Reporting
In order to make data easily accessible, we need to use a tool that most people already have and know how to use. Since the most commonly used tool for BI data visualization is Excel, it was a natural fit for the need. Excel also made it easier for end users to extend the solution with creating new reports or assembling reports into a dashboard.
In enabling the use of Excel as our BI solution, we made the following investments:
New Business Intelligence Center
This new website is created beneath PWA to house Excel, SSRS and PerformancePoint content. This enables a one stop shop for all BI needs.
Pre-Connected Excel reports
Connecting users to their data proved to be a challenge for many. Therefore, we provide some pre-configured and pre-connected reports which can be used as dashboard components or as report starters to build your own version. The example below is the Timesheet Actuals report, which was built based on the needs of a customer who was using our time tracking solution in Project Server 2007.
Pre-Connected Reporting Database Templates
We also provide pre-connected blank templates for report creation over the Reporting database. These templates focus on key entities within Project Server. This makes it much easier to create quick reports on these specific items. The templates are:
Automatic Pre-Connected Template Creation for OLAP Databases
When an administrator builds a new OLAP database, Project Server 2010 will automatically create a pre-connected blank template for each of the 14 cubes. This makes it easy for a user to create reports quickly. These templates include:
In addition to the templates, an Office Data Connection library is created and pre-populated. These connections are used by the templates and sample reports, and these remove the need for the user to know the server name, database name and SQL. In all cases, users can copy and modify these files to extend the reporting to meet their own needs.
Lastly, multi-lingual support is now provided. For each language pack installed on the server, a folder with the requisite templates for each language will be generated.
Pulling It All Together
In the end, you can use Excel reports to share information, either by email, SharePoint or aggregating a number of reports into a dashboard.
In the dashboard example below, I’ve created a Project Dashboard which shows me a time phased look at actual work versus planned work for the project, as entered from My Tasks. Below it, I can see upcoming milestones report, which has time based conditional formatting of the Finish Date to highlight overdue milestones and upcoming milestones. With this, I can see if hours were logged against the project as planned and see what milestones are impacted if the numbers are low.
The critical path…sounds pretty intimidating doesn't it? Like some secret passageway to getting your project done on time that only highly experienced project managers could ever possibly identify. And certainly those experienced project managers are the only ones who could actually stick to the path and get things done as planned.
It's not really as arcane as all that. The critical path is simply the series of tasks that controls the start and finish date of the project. When the last task in the critical path is complete, the project is also complete. Not too terribly complicated.
Here's an example. Let's say I have three tasks:
· Build forms (2 days)
· Pour foundation (1 day)
· Remove forms (2 days)
Each of these tasks depends on the one before it. I can't pour the foundation until the forms are built, and I can't remove the forms until I've poured the foundation. I can set these relationships up in Project using dependencies. (Want to read more about this? Check out Create task dependencies within your project.)
So now, with the dependencies set up and my project start date set to next Monday, my schedule looks like this:
[Insert drumroll here.] And there you have it, that's your critical path for this project. Nothing fancy or overly complicated, just a series of tasks that determine the start and finish date for the project.
What's that? You say you want to see something a little more complicated? Alright, let's say you have another task, Build walls, that can't start until your Build forms task is completed. (Maybe you're using the same resources on both tasks or something, I don't know, just run with me here.) The Build walls task will take two days. Let's see what this looks like in Project:
Now let's look closely at this. Has the critical path changed? There are four tasks now, but the added fourth task currently has no bearing on when the project starts or finishes. That means that those first three tasks are still the only tasks that make up the critical path. You still only need to focus on getting those three tasks done on time in order to finish your project on time.
That gives you the very basic understanding of what a critical path is, but there are a ton of resources out there to help you gain a more thorough understanding. Here are just a few:
· Manage your project's critical path
· Show the critical path
· See what's driving the project finish date (critical path)
· Change when a task becomes critical
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.
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.
Documentation for Project Server 2010 is spread across three websites: TechNet, Office.com, and MSDN. Each of these sites addresses a different audience. TechNet focuses on the IT Pro, Office.com focuses on the end user, and MSDN focuses on the developer audience. In addition to these three sites, blogs are also a great source of information.
TechNet provides Project Server 2010 documentation that focuses on the functions performed by administrators. You can find content on planning, deployment, migration/upgrade, operations, and troubleshooting, as well as technical reference material. There are two ways content is surfaced on TechNet: TechCenters and the Library.
First, let’s look at the Project Server 2010 TechCenter. The TechCenter provides links to content that we’ve identified as most commonly-used, as well as themed Resource Centers with links to content pertaining to a specific topic.
To browse to the Project Server 2010 TechCenter:
Information on the Project Server 2010 TechCenter is broken out into separate sections:
The Project Server 2010 TechCenter also includes many links to other resources, including blogs, forums, downloads, and other websites containing relevant content.
For an all-up look at Project Server 2010 content on TechNet, use the Library.
To browse to the Project Server 2010 Library:
Here, you can browse through all published Project Server 2010 articles on TechNet, broken down into categories. The Newly published content article (as mentioned earlier, also available as an RSS feed) is updated regularly with links to recently-published articles, and is helpful for staying on top of new content on TechNet. Another great resource for learning about new content published to TechNet is the Enterprise Project Management Content Publishing News blog (also available as an RSS feed). This blog helps to surface broader updates to content on TechNet, as well as links to individual articles.
To provide feedback on TechNet articles, first determine which view you are using: Classic, Lightweight, or ScriptFree.
If you are using the Classic view, in the bar just above the article, you can use a five-star rating system. When you click to provide a star rating, a box appears where you can type in comments specific to the current article.
If you are using the Lightweight view, scroll to the bottom of the article and click Feedback. From there, you can type comments specific to the article you are viewing.
If you are using the ScriptFree view, click Feedback in the top-right portion of the article. This takes you to the MSDN, TechNet, and Expression Library Feedback Forum, where you can provide feedback on the script-free version of an article.
Office.com provides documentation for Project Web App users. You can find content on creating and working with projects, managing portfolios, submitting and approving time and status, reporting on projects, setting up Project Web App, and more.
To browse to Project Server 2010 content on Office.com:
Here, you can see links to content in the main graphic at the top of the page, as well as in the lists below the graphic. These lists help to surface some of the more commonly-used topics within the Project Server 2010 content on Office.com.
For the full Project Server 2010 content set on Office.com, click through the categories listed in the Project Server 2010 box, on the top right portion of the page. Within a category, use the links on the left navigation list to browse through subcategories, or click Show all categories to return to the full list of top-level categories.
To provide feedback on Office.com articles, scroll to the bottom of the article, and then use the buttons to answer “Did this article help you?”
Once you’ve clicked the Yes, No, or Not what I was looking for button, you can provide comments specific to the article you’re viewing.
Developer content for Project Server 2010, including the Project 2010 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) Developer Reference, is available on MSDN. You can find API documentation, sample code, and other supporting information. Much like TechNet, there are two ways content is surfaced on MSDN: Developer Centers and the Library. MSDN also has other resources you may find helpful.
The quickest way to get to the Project Developer Center is to type msdn.microsoft.com/project.
To browse to the Project 2010 Developer Center on MSDN:
Similar to TechNet, the Project 2010 Developer Center provides links to content that we’ve identified as most commonly-used, as well as links to links to other resources, including blogs, forums, downloads, and other websites containing relevant content. Note that the Project 2010 Developer Center includes information for both Project Server 2010 and the Project 2010 client application. You can subscribe to an RSS feed for newly-published content across all Office applications, and then filter for Project Server.
For an all-up look at Project Server 2010 content on MSDN, use the Library.
To browse to the Project 2010 Library:
Here, you can browse through the Project 2010 VBA Developer Reference and the SDK Documentation to find the relevant Project Server 2010 content. There is a link on the Project Developer Center home page to download the Project 2010 SDK, which contains documentation, 11 code samples, IntelliSense XML files for Web Services, VBA Help, schema references, and more.
In addition to the Project 2010 Developer Center and the Project 2010 Library, MSDN has several other resources you may find helpful:
Context-Sensitive Help and IntelliSense in Visual Studio. If you are using Visual Studio, you can also get context-sensitive Help by pressing F1 in your code. By default, Visual Studio 2010 uses online Help as its primary source. You can change this setting by clicking Help, and then clicking Manage Help Settings. The Welcome Guide of the SDK, which is accessible through the Start Menu shortcut by clicking Start > All Programs > Microsoft SDKs > Project 2010 SDK, includes detailed information about installing and using the updated IntelliSense XML files included in the download. Once the files have been copied to the right directory, you can get tooltips, auto-complete, and API descriptions in the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) as you type and browse through code.
To provide feedback on MSDN articles, first determine which view you are using: Classic, Lightweight, or ScriptFree.
There are many, many blogs out there with Project Server, or enterprise project management, as a focus. Here are just a few Microsoft blogs worth checking out:
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
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
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.
How often are you told that your project will start on date x and then it is moved to date y, maybe date z before it finally gets going?
Now when your project start date moves, you can just update the start date in the Project Information dialog and a lot of dates will update but not all of them (ex. deadlines, constraints, tasks with actual work). If you want those to move you need to go through Move Project.
The advantage of Move Project is that everything in the project is moved with respect to its original offset from the project start date. For example, in this project task b has a deadline 5 days into the project and task c has a constraint to start 2 days after the project’s start date.
Now I select Move Project to update the project start date to 1/12/11.
And everything in the updated plan has the same offset as it had before. Task b has a deadline 5 days into the project and task c has a constraint to start 2 days after the project’s start date.
In Project 2007 and earlier, you can access this functionality on the Analysis toolbar, Adjust Dates but there are a few limitations: deadlines and tasks with non-zero percent complete aren’t moved.
Demand Management is about capturing all work proposals in one single place, taking these proposals through a multi-stage governance process, making decisions on which proposals to approve and tracking progress on their execution until the work is completed. A key component within Demand Management is the Workflow governance model we have now implemented within Microsoft Project Server 2010.
The "Proposals" feature in Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 helps capture demand in one place, but is not flexible enough and does not have a full-fledged governance workflow behind it. The "Builder" module in Project Portfolio Server 2007 is a flexible demand management paradigm, but does not have a familiar Project Server/Office SharePoint Server look and feel and also has some usability, scalability problems. The Demand management functionality in Microsoft Project Server 2010 is designed to be both flexible and usable.
In project portfolio management (PPM), a project lifecycle is a long-running process that spans various governance phases. Typical demand management phases are create, select, plan, and manage (customers can create their own).
The "Plan" phase is accomplished by the more familiar project management processes using Project Professional and Project Web Access. Workflow models the governance processes and provides a structured way for projects to proceed through the phases. Workflows, along with other key concepts, are captured and integrated within the demand management feature set, providing a rich and dynamic platform on which customers and partners can build custom solutions.
The figure below shows the four typical phases of demand management and how they fit together. Within each phase are stages such as propose idea and initial review. Each stage can have an associated project detail page (PDP) in Project Web Access (PWA). The entire collection of stages represents a single workflow that can be linked to an enterprise project template (EPT). More details about these concepts given below.
A governance workflow is all about creating a rich life cycle for any proposal/demand that comes into the system. It includes defining the various stages through which the project goes in its lifecycle (for example, Proposal Creation, Proposal Initial Approval, etc), determining what information is required or locked at what stage (for example, budget cost should be locked down after the project is approved), including any manual approval/notifications steps as necessary and adding any business logic to update other Line Of Business Systems (for example, update the SAP system when the proposal budget gets approved).
The Project Server workflow platform is built on the Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow platform, which in turn is based on the Windows Workflow Foundation. Workflow is a key component of demand management.
Project Server 2010 workflows use the Site workflow paradigm, which removes the restriction that a Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow can be started only on a list item. Project Server workflows are deployed to Project Web Access, and workflow instances can be run only as a project entity.
The figure below shows the high-level processes for workflow creation, administration, and use.
Note: Project Server workflows must be created in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. Project Server workflows cannot be created from Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010.
The administration of Project Server workflows is identical to managing any other Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow, thereby providing more consistency between Project Server and Windows SharePoint Services 2010 and reducing redundant work. Workflow instances are created when a project is created and are deleted when the project is deleted/completed/rejected.
Unlike in Windows SharePoint Services 2010, a user does not start a workflow instance from the administration page that lists all the Project Server workflows.
An enterprise project type (EPT) represents a wrapper that encapsulates phases, stages, a single workflow, and PDPs. Each EPT represents a single project type. Normally, project types are aligned with individual departments, for example, marketing projects, IT projects, HR projects, and so forth. Using project types helps to categorize projects within the same organization that have a similar project life cycle. For a user, the EPTs appear in a drop-down list of project types when the user clicks New Project in Project Web Access.
Phases represent a collection of stages grouped together to identify a common set of activities in the project life cycle. Examples of phases are project creation, project selection, and project management. Phases do not have any direct technical impact on the behavior of an EPT. That is, changing the order of phases does not affect how the system reacts. The primary purpose of demand management phases is to provide a smoother user experience where users have the option of organizing stages into logical groups.
A stage represents one step within a project lifecycle. A stage is composed of one or more project detail pages (PDPs) linked by common logic or theme. Stages at a user level appear as steps within a project. At each step, data must be entered, modified, reviewed, or processed.
At a technical level, each stage represents a step where data is manipulated before the workflow can move to the next step. For a single-stage workflow, very little programming is involved. The user enters all of the data in one PDP, and can then work on the project as she normally would. For a multi-stage workflow, each stage is separated by an activity (SetProjectStage) within a Visual Studio workflow diagram. The actual SetProjectStage activity acts as a marker between stages and sets default properties of the next stage. The activities that follow SetProjectStage outline the actions that must take place within the next stage.
Note The actual stage itself is not created within Visual Studio. The stage must first be created in Project Web Access. After the stage is created, you can link to that stage within Visual Studio.
A PDP represents a single Web Part Page in Project Web Access. PDPs can be used to display or collect information from the user. You can create PDPs in much the same way you create any Web Part Page in a SharePoint site, where you can add Web Parts that provide the experience you want. You can add individual Web Parts from the standard Web Part galleries to create custom Web Parts.
Project Server Web Parts and custom Web Parts used in demand management all contain custom fields. Web Parts can make calls to the PSI, query the reporting database, or integrate with external systems.
The figure below shows the general hierarchy of the parts of demand management in Project Server 2010.
Workflows are associated with the stages. From a programming standpoint, PDPs are not actually referenced within the workflow. The PDPs simply act as containers to hold or display data. The workflow can however, references custom fields in the Web Parts.