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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Announcing the Infrastructure Update for Office Servers

    • 12 Comments

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

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

    Project Server

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

    Project Professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more about the new SharePoint features here

    Read more about the new Search features here

    Read more about the Content Deployment updates here

    Knowledge Base Articles

     

    Descriptions    
    Infrastructure Update for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 KB951695

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

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

    Installation Instructions

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

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

    Downloads

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

    Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Modify the baseline in Project 2007

    • 2 Comments

    Change is inevitable. Adding new tasks to a project that has already been approved and baselined can be troublesome—to you and stakeholders. But don’t fret. You don’t need to set a new baseline to take into account the new tasks. Just update the old baseline. To modify the baseline that has already been set, do the following:

    1. Select the new tasks that have been added recently to the project. This is important.
    2. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and click Set Baseline.
    3. In the Set baseline list, select the previously set baseline. It will have a date associated with it.
    4. Here’s the tricky part. Make sure you select the Selected Tasks option. Otherwise, you’ll reset the baseline for the entire project.
    5. Click OK.

     

              clip_image002[6]

     

    One more thing: Make sure you communicate these changes to stakeholders, if necessary. Some people just don’t like surprises.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Welcome to P12!

    • 36 Comments

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Using a Consolidated Project for What-If Analysis

    • 5 Comments

    This post is based on a technique presented in an Ed Hanna e-mail and is augmented with items that we are using internally to manage our own efforts.  This technique can work, to a certain extent, in Project Server 2003 and will definitely work in Project Server 2007.

    There are times where you need to look at several projects at once and you need to gauge the impact of a change to all of the projects at once.  In this post, we will use the consolidated project function to create a combined view across multiple projects to re-allocate resources so that any overallocations are addressed.

    Notes

    1. This solution assumes you use leveling.  The solution is much less time consuming if you use leveling to move around your resources.

    2. In Project Server 2003, you should not save this consolidated project to the server.  You can save it locally so that you can access it as needed.

    3. This solution works best with enterprise resources.  Some parts will work with Project Standard, but not all.

    4. This solution also works better if you have leveled the individual plans first.  Otherwise, you'll see changes caused by conditions within the individual project as well as across the combined projects.  This might make it very difficult to see what changed.

    Scenario

    There are several resources who are overallocated as they are shared resources across three projects.  As such, adjustments need to be made find and fix the overallocations while determining impact to overall project timelines.

    Setup

    NOTE: I would strongly suggest you (a) backup all of the files involved or (b) make copies/versions of the files which are expressly dedicated for modeling purposes if you are doing this in a production environment. 

    For this scenario, I created three projects based on the New Product template.  I substituted names for resources that were already assigned to tasks.  For this illustration, three enterprise projects will be used.  However, more projects can be added to broaden the analysis.

    clip_image002

    clip_image004

    Create the Consolidated Project

    From Project Web Access, navigate to Project Center. Select the projects that you want to analyze.

    clip_image006

    Then select Actions, Edit Read-Only.  (You can choose Edit, but then all of your changes are live.  We'll discuss that later.)

    clip_image008

    This will create a new master project containing the selected projects.

    clip_image010

    Now, we need some additional columns. 

    • Insert the Priority field, so we can adjust the relative priorities of the projects (default priority is 500—on a scale of 0 to 1000). 
    • Insert the Subproject Read only column.  We'll discuss that in more detail below.  If you selected Edit Read Only above, the Subproject Read only column should say Yes.

    To insert a column, select Insert, Column from the menu bar in Project Professional.  As we will be switching views a bit in Project Professional, I would also turn on the View Bar (View, View Bar).

    clip_image012

    Setting up for the Analysis

    In this case, it is assumed that the resource allocation issue is known on these projects. However, it may be necessary to see a consolidated view of resource usage across projects.  To do this, do the following.

    • In Project Professional, open the Resource Usage View (View, Resource Usage)
    • Create a new group called Resources Across Projects
      • To do this, select Project, Group By, More Groups
      • Then click the New button
    • Set the Group by Name and check the Group Assignments, not Resources box.        clip_image014
    • Click OK.
    • You will see the following screen, verify that Resources Across Projects is selected and select Apply. clip_image016
    • When the grid appears, add the Project and Start columns to the grid view. 
    • Sort the grid by Start Date.
      • To sort by Start Date, select Project, Sort, Sort By.
      • Then change the first drop down to Start and select Start.
      • clip_image018
    • Now you can see an aggregation by Resource across all projects in the consolidated project   clip_image020

    Looking for Resource Over Allocations

    As these are enterprise resources, the work will be aggregated.  In order to find overallocations, switch to the Resource Graph view.  My own personal preference is to switch the displayed units to hours rather than look at the percentages.  Sometimes, you see overallocations even though the person is only working 6 hours on a given day.

    To change the units, right click on the graph and select hours rather than peak units.  I also zoom out to the weekly level as I figure that if I give people 40 hours of work, they will manage it on the day by day basis to get it done.  There are several views you can use here so I would recommend taking a look at all of them to get a feel for their potential uses.

    From the graph below, we see that Razvan is very overallocated with a peak in June.  As he is a key resource, we need to change how he is scheduled and judge the impact to the projects.  Since there is such a large number of tasks, we will use Leveling to adjust the assignments.

    clip_image022

    You can combine the two above views by doing the following:

    • Select Window, Split
    • Click on the bottom pane somewhere.  (It needs to have focus for this to work)
    • Click Resource Graph on the View Bar
    • You should see the screen below.  As you scroll across, the graph and grid will stay positioned in the same timeframe.

    clip_image024

    Adjusting the Plans

    Now, the priorities on the plans will be changed to gauge impact on the schedules.  To do this, switch to the Gantt view again.

    First, change the Diamond Products priority to a higher priority (i.e. 600).

    clip_image026

    Now, we will level the consolidated project. Select Tools, Level Resources and the Resources Leveling dialogue will be displayed.

    clip_image028

    Select Level Now.  Immediately the impact of the leveling is seen. As a result, the Metal and Rubber projects have been delayed since they are at a lower priority.

    clip_image030

    The leveling action is now undone so that another what-if can be executed.  From the menu bar, select Edit/Undo Level.  

    Raise Metal Products to the highest priority (i.e. 999) and perform the Level action again.  Now, Diamond and Rubber's tasks are delayed as they now have a lower priority.

    Why Not Priority = 1000?  1000 is a special value where leveling doesn't move anything.  If you use 999, you are at the highest priority but it allows tasks to still be moved.

    clip_image032

    Continue the What-If activity in the consolidated project until a satisfactory outcome is found.  You may use deadlines for key tasks to monitor impact to key dates. 

    If you want a full before and after representation, you can use baselines.  However, you will need to make a copy of the inserted projects to do this since you will have to open the inserted projects in edit mode to save the baselines.  After you build the consolidated file, baseline it and save it (at this point it becomes a master file).  Then make your what-if modifications to the master file and then view the before/after comparison in the Tracking Gantt view.

    Leveling a Specific Resource.  If you wanted to only level a given resource, you can switch back to the Resource Usage view, select a given resource and select Leveling.  In that case, it will only level the selected resource, if you choose that option.  This can come in handy if you only want to level named resources.

    The Resource Graph view can be checked to make sure that none of the resources remain overallocated—even after leveling has taken place.  This is possible as Project cannot always resolve all overallocations. 

    In the example below, it is confirmed that Patrick is not over-allocated. To scroll through the resources, select different resource assignments above.   (i.e. resource names will appear in red letters if the resource is overallocated).

    clip_image034

    Saving the Consolidated Project

    WORD OF CAUTION: To this point, this project has been a playground as you have not actually changed the underlying files.  This was the purpose of opening these project plans in a read-only mode.  

    Making It Real.  If you change the Subproject read only field to No, the linkage becomes two way.  (i.e. changes in the consolidated/master file will change the inserted projects and changes in the inserted projects will change the master file).  So as you play in the consolidated/master file, there is the possibility of saving unwanted changes to the inserted projects.

    Play Friendly.  If you choose to make changes to the inserted projects, you will want to coordinate this with the individual project managers as you will be impacting their schedules and you will have their projects locked for editing.

    Taking care of your master.  If you are using Project Server 2003, you can save the consolidated file locally (do not save/publish to server)—at which point it becomes a local master file. In Project Server 2007, you can safely save/publish these master files on the server.  

    You Must Choose.  If you do not like what the comparison reflects, close the master file and do not save the changes.  If you do like what the comparison reflects, of course, you may (optionally) want to write another baseline (i.e. Baseline 1) and save the master file and all the inserted projects.

    If there are satisfied with the results, do the following.

    • If you are effecting the change in the inserted projects, change the value of the Subproject Read Only field to No.  In this instance, we are not changing the inserted projects.
    • Decide if you are keeping the master file.
    • If you want to keep the Master, select File, Close to end the session.  Project will prompt us—for each open project schedule—to determine whether we wish to keep the changes. 
    • You will be prompted to Save and Check in the master project, type in a name and select Save.clip_image036clip_image038
    • If you want to change the underlying projects under another name, select Yes when prompted.  Otherwise, select No.

    I hope this is helpful in showing how What-If analysis in a consolidated project can help in determining the impact that new projects/proposals will have on existing projects.  This is a powerful capability and should be used cautiously—ideally by an appointed Portfolio Manager who has visibility and authority above the level of individual projects.

    Technorati Tags: Microsoft , Project Server 2007 , Best Practice , What If , Impact Analysis

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Creating New Views

    • 0 Comments

    In Project 2010, we’ve simplified the view creation process down to two steps.

    Step 1: Update your current view to something that you want to save. In this example, I’ve inserted a few columns and applied a group to the Task Usage view.

    image

    Step 2: On the View tab, from any of the view dropdowns, click Save View.

     image  

    A dialog will pop up and you will be able to give your view a name.

    image

    And once you click OK – your new view is now being displayed and will show up in the view dropdown list.

    image

    So, what’s going on behind the scenes?

    A view consists of four elements– a screen, table, group, and filter. The screen is just the type of view (Gantt Chart, Task Usage, Calendar, etc.). The table defines which columns should be displayed. The filter and group settings also define what the view should show and how it should be displayed. All views have these defined, they just may be All Tasks and No Group. You can update the Table, Filter, and Group for a view through the View tab – Data group.

    When you click Save View, in the background Project is copying the current view settings to the new view and creating a copy of the current table with the new view’s name. This way as you farther insert/remove columns in your new view, other views aren’t being affected since different views can have the same table. Project doesn’t create new filters or groups when you save a new view, instead the existing ones are just applied to the new view.

    Another change for Project 2010 is that when you create a new view, table, filter, or group it is automatically added to your global.mpt file. This means that it will be available in all of your projects instead of just the current project you are in. If you don’t like this functionality, you can turn this off on the Advanced tab of the Project Options dialog. Also, note that you’ll still have to manually add items to the enterprise global just like in previous versions.

    Another advantage of having items saved to the global, besides that they’ll be available in all of your projects, is that you can go back to the global copy if you no longer want your local version. For example, in the first image in this article, notice how I’m in the task usage view but it is no longer the original task usage view I started out with – I’ve changed the columns and applied a grouping. If I want to go back to that original task usage view, on the View tab, Task Usage dropdown, I can select Reset to Default:

    image 

    Click Yes at the Warning.

    image

    And then I’ll be back to the plain Task Usage view.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    image

    Additionally, say I started with the view I just created, My Awesome New View, and made a bunch of changes to the formatting and such that I no longer wanted. I could click Reset to Default and get back to the original configuration I had when I first saved the view.

    Finally if I’m in the new view, My Awesome New View, and click Save View again, this time I’ll get the following dialog:

    image

    And now I can choose to update the global version of My Awesome New View or save the updates as a completely new view.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Enabling Better Collaborative Project Management with Office 365 and Project Professional 2010

    • 2 Comments

    Today, Kurt DelBene announced Office 365, which we believe will define the future of productivity. Office 365 is a new cloud service that brings enterprise-grade productivity to everyone. This is an important announcement for the industry and Microsoft. I encourage you to watch today’s global press conference about Office 365 on the Microsoft News Center (www.microsoft.com/presspass).

    I wanted to blog about this news to explain what it means for Microsoft Project 2010. As many of you know, we offer Project Server 2010 cloud hosting through numerous partners that many customers are already taking advantage of today. With SharePoint Online as part of Office 365, we now deliver great collaborative project management in the cloud through the Project Professional synchronization to SharePoint just as we do today for our on-premise customers.

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    SharePoint Online as part of Office 365

    Microsoft Project 2010

    Office 365 Project Pro. Synchronisation

    Office 365


    The Project Professional 2010 ability to publish plans to SharePoint allows project teams to share and update Project tasks through SharePoint lists. Project plans can be easily updated by team members and quickly communicated to executive stakeholders.

    Highlighted features of Project Professional synchronization to SharePoint Online as part of Office 365 include:

    • Publishing your Microsoft Project Professional 2010 project plans to SharePoint task lists in Office 365 allows team members to view and update task status. This allows project managers to then automatically synchronize updates directly into the Project Professional project plan. Project managers also have the choice to extend the number of additional fields to synchronize between SharePoint and Project.
    • The synchronization feature will help resolve any conflicts in task information that are identified during workspace synchronization.
    • SharePoint task lists in Office 365 can be converted to Project Professional 2010 project plans.

    For a demo of the Project Professional 2010 collaborative capability see Microsoft Project Professional 2010 SharePoint Synchronization

    For more details on Microsoft Project Professional 2010 see Microsoft Project Professional 2010

    Download a free trial of Microsoft Project Professional 2010 at Download Center Microsoft Project Professional 2010

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Announcing Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack Beta

    • 5 Comments

    We are excited to announce the release of the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack Beta to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscribers.

    Integration between Project Server and Team Foundation Server is a huge leap forward for organizations that want to bridge the gap between the Project Management Office and software development teams using Team Foundation Server. The feature pack further strengthens Microsoft’s Application Lifecycle Management Solution by enabling these teams to work together more effectively while not getting distracted or overwhelmed by each other’s’ detail. It enables teams to work together more effectively by:

    • Providing executives with insight into portfolio execution, alignment with strategic objectives, and resource utilization of their software development projects by leveraging the quantitative data stored in different systems.
    • Bridging the impedance mismatch between the Project Management Office and Application Development by facilitating better coordination between teams using disparate methodologies, like waterfall and agile, via common information and agreed upon metrics.
    • Enabling development and project management teams to use familiar tools to collaborate and communicate project timeline and progress such as Microsoft Project, Project Server, SharePoint and Visual Studio.

    Please check out Brian Harry’s post: Portfolio Management: TFS <-> Project Server Integration in Beta for more details on this exciting new solution and try it yourselves!

    Key resources

    Questions and Answers

    Q. How does this Feature Pack differ from the out-of-the-box Team Foundation Server and Microsoft Project add-in?
    A. The Microsoft Project add-in allows project managers to use Microsoft Project to connect to Team Foundation Server to collaborate and participate in the planning and execution of software development projects. The Feature Pack enables integration between Team Foundation Server and Project Server and allows planning and status information to be synchronized between the two systems.

    Q. Are there any prerequisites or dependencies for this Feature Pack?
    A. Dependencies are:
    • Team Foundation Server 2010 + SP1 beta
    • Visual Studio 2010 + SP1 beta
    • Project Server 2010 or 2007
    For a detailed description of dependencies and prerequisites please check the beta documentation mentioned above.

    Q. Do customers need to apply this Feature Pack to Team Foundation Server or Project Server?
    A. The Feature Pack must be applied to Project Server (2010 or 2007). The Team Foundation Server 2010 SP1 beta must be applied to Team Foundation Server 2010. Check out the documentation for more details.

    Q. What MSDN Subscription level is required to download the beta?
    A. This Feature Pack will only be available to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscribers (go to your MSDN download center, you should find the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack as an available download). An organization must own at least one license of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN. With that one license, the software can be downloaded and installed and then all users with access to either the Project Server or the Team Foundation Server products that are integrated can benefit.

    Q. Can I use this release in production?
    A. The beta comes with a “go-live” agreement. If the user agrees to the terms in the pre-release license agreement then they are eligible to use the environment in production. As usual we recommend testing out this beta release in a test/staging environment prior to any product rollout.

    Q. When will the final version be ready?
    A. Pending your validation, it will ship sometime in the first half of next year (2011).

    Christophe Fiessinger
    Senior Technical Product Manager, Microsoft Project
    http://blogs.msdn.com/chrisfie
  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Microsoft is Rated in the Gartner Project and Portfolio Applications MarketScope

    • 0 Comments

    It’s my pleasure to announce that Microsoft received the highest rating possible in the recently released Gartner Project and Portfolio Applications MarketScope. This report is an evolution of the 2010 Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Project and Portfolio Management (PPM). Specifically, Microsoft received a “Strong Positive” rating. You can see the full rating table at the bottom of this blog post and download the report at http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/reprints/microsoft/vol14/article21/article21.html.

    We listened closely to customer and partner feedback and built a high quality PPM stack with Microsoft Project Professional 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Project Server 2010. It’s been one year since we launched our latest software, and it’s great to see this report recognize us!

    I urge you to take a look at the full Gartner report linked above. Microsoft is committed to being a leader in the PPM market through continuous innovation. So if you’re looking to deploy a PPM solution, look no further! I highly recommend learning more about our Microsoft Project & Portfolio Management solution at http://www.microsoft.com/project/en/us/solutions.aspx. There you’ll find pointers to product guides, demos and evaluation software.

    Sincerely,

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

    The MarketScope is copyrighted 2011 by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The MarketScope is an evaluation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner's analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the MarketScope, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest rating. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This MarketScope graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research note and should be evaluated in the context of the entire report. The Gartner report is available upon request from Microsoft.

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  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project Fields and Their Descriptions

    • 3 Comments

    Modifying your Project views just got a little easier. Deciding on what field (column) to add is sometimes a hit or miss proposition. Many of the fields sound the same. After all, you don't want to confuse the BCWS field with the Budget Cost field. Now with a new Help article that lists all the fields in one place with useful descriptions, you can make better decisions about the kind of information you want to display in a view.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/project/HA102369301033.aspx?pid=CH100788901033

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2007 Project Resource Kit

    • 24 Comments

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

    The PRK consists of the following tools:

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

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

    URL:

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Administrative Time Explained

    • 13 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Simple Example for Managing Administrative Time Categories

    Simple View for managing Administrative Categores 

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

    HOW TO USE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    image

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

    image

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

    Solution:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Talk Amongst Yourselves

    • 52 Comments

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

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Getting started with Project Web App

    • 0 Comments

    Office.com has a great set of Help content to get you started using the version of Project Web App that comes with Project Server 2010.

    In addition to this getting started content, Office.com has a lot of other content to help you use Project Web App. For more information, see the Project Server 2010 Support page on Office.com.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    At a Glance: Roles vs. Generic Resources

    • 0 Comments

    Project Server 2010 supports both resource roles and generic resources. On the surface, these terms may appear to be redundant. If you want to call out a Developer in my project, do you do so by identifying a “Developer” role, or by creating a generic resource called, “Developer”?

    You use roles during resource constraint analysis, part of the portfolio analysis process. Resource constraint analysis is the process of looking at the resource needs of a project proposal, and comparing that with the resource capacity of the organization. (For example, Proposal A needs 5 Developers, and our organization has 4 Developers available.) In Project Server 2010, resource constraint analysis relies on roles. You can identify “Developer” as a role, and then assign that role to either named resources (“real” people), or to generic resources (placeholders). Project Server 2010 will only consider resources with defined roles during resource constraint analysis.

    You use generic resources, on the other hand, are used as placeholders for named resources. You may have a generic resource named “Developer” that also has the role of “Developer.” Just like saying Joe is a developer, when you use a generic resource, you are saying that “Developer” is a developer. In the context of portfolio analysis, you should use generic resources when you know the role type and quantity needed for a project (for example, two Developers), but you don’t have to know the names of the actual people who will do the work.

    Want to read more? The following topics cover resource constraint analysis in detail, with clarification on roles and generic resources:

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Delegates

    • 1 Comments

    In Microsoft® Office® Project Server 2007, the timesheet surrogate feature exists to allow one timesheet user to give the management of their timesheet to another user — send updates and so forth. This is great for timesheets, but there are many other parts of Project Web App where you may want to delegate your duties to another user or users but you can’t because a delegation feature doesn’t exist. Based on this need, the delegates feature was born in Microsoft Project Server 2010. This feature simply allows one user to act as another user, no matter the permission level difference of the one user compared to the other. As an example, a team member can be a delegate for an administrator which means that when the team member becomes the delegate, they have all privileges that the administrator has.

    Let’s begin by talking about the security settings that control the delegates feature. Next, we’ll talk about how you create and administer delegates. After that, we’ll talk about delegates from a reporting and programming standpoint and finally we’ll talk about a few things you need to consider.

    The Delegates Security Settings

    There are a number of security permissions that control whether or not the delegates feature is enabled, whether or not a given user can be a delegate or act as a delegate and who has permission to create delegates. By default, the delegates feature is turned on globally, but the feature has not been enabled for any user or group except for administrators. Therefore, in order for the "ordinary" user to participate in delegation, you need to enable it for the various groups or users that you wish. Let’s first look at the Project Web App Global Permissions.

    clip_image002

    Here in the Resource section, you can see the following permissions:

    · Manage My Resource Delegates   Allows a user to set up delegates for other users.

    · Manage My Delegates   Allows a user to create a delegate for themselves, but relies on someone else to pair up the delegation to another user who will do the work.

    · Can be Delegate   If a delegate has been created, it allows the user to go to the “Act as a Delegate” page and act for another user.

    · Manage Resource Delegates   Turns on the delegates feature.

    At the user or group security level, similar global permissions can be set. As mentioned earlier, except for the administrators group, all others do not have the ability to create and become delegates.

    clip_image003

    There’s also a category permission you need to be aware of. The category permission, found in the <section name> is called “Manage Resource Delegations”.

    clip_image005

    Note: By default, in the Administrators group for the My Organization category, this permission is enabled if you have a brand-new Project Server 2010 site and disabled for upgraded sites. What this means is that for upgraded sites by-default and by-design the delegates feature does not work.

    So how does all of this work? Actually, it’s quite simple. Once you become a delegate, Project Server 2010 authorizes you to connect to the server but then switches your context so that you now are working as the user you’re the delegate for. Let’s walk through the setup of a delegate so that you can see what needs to be done.

    Delegate Setup

    Now that you have the security settings set up, it’s time to create your delegates and to act as a delegate. Let’s suppose you manage resource Mary, and Mary has told you she is going to be out of the office for two weeks. You also know she has time that needs to be reported while she’s gone. There are two ways to handle establishing the delegate. If policy permits, Mary can set up her own delegate for you or if not, you as her manager can set this this delegate. In our example, let’s assume you’re going to manage Mary’s work for the two-week period — you can’t find another team member to do this for you – and so you’re going to setup the delegate. To do this, you go to Personal Settings and click Manage Delegates (if you have the Manage My Resource Delegates permission, you can find the Manage Delegates option on the Server Settings page).

    clip_image006

    Next, you go to the ribbon and click New.

    clip_image008

    Now you can set the period for the delegation and also the fact that you’ll be the delegate for Mary:

    clip_image010

    Once the delegation is created, and as long as the current date is within the delegation period, you are now able to work on behalf of Mary. To start working as Mary, go to Personal Settings and click Act as a Delegate. Here you can see that the delegate isn’t active though your delegate is available:

    clip_image012

    You select the delegate and click the Start Delegate Session button. At this point, you are now working as Mary and you see the same UI, tasks, timesheets and other things that Mary would see. As well, you have the same permissions as Mary. Thus, if you started out as a Project Manager and Mary is a team member, while working as Mary, you have Team Member privileges. To help alert you that you are working as someone else, all Project Web App (PWA) pages are branded with a status bar as shown below.

    clip_image014

    To switch back to your account so that you are no longer a delegate, you can click the status bar where is says “Click here” or go to Personal SettingsAct as a Delegate. Here, you simply click the Stop Delegate Session button on the ribbon.

    clip_image016

    Working with Delegates

    To help you find the delegations that you own or manage, filtering can be applied. On the Manage Delegations page, click Filters on the ribbon to see something like this:

    clip_image018

    In this picture, you can see that you the manager have two different periods when you may act as Mary.

    Reporting and Programming

    There is no reporting available within PWA to show you, for example, when a user started and stopped a delegate session. The Unified Logging Service (ULS) log does, however, have entries to show you this sort of detail. For instance the following ULS log entries show the beginning and ending point for a delegation:

    3/01/2010 09:18:34.80 w3wp.exe (0x0A04)0x1374 Project Server      General 5z1a Medium PWA:http://pserver/pwa, ServiceApp:PSERVER_ProjectServiceApplication, User:DOMAIN\user, PSI: PWA.UserDelegationActivateDelegationCalling ActivateDelegation for delegationUid 77a5b19b-2b67-4b3c-8b49-c191994ac2df.   

    3/01/2010 09:40:34.98 w3wp.exe (0x0A04)0x1374 Project Server General 5z1c Medium PWA:http://pserver/pwa, ServiceApp:PSERVER_ProjectServiceApplication, User:DOMAIN\user, PSI: PWA.UserDelegationDeactivateDelegationCalling DeactivateDelegation for userUid a0672aff-c177-4908-b190-d9e24076f3ea.        

    In many organizations that enable delegates, you will want to be able to tell what a user has done while acting as a delegate. Though Project Server 2010 does not have built-in auditing, you can consider using Project Server’s built-in events to help you with this. Project Server 2010 has added ten new UserDelegation events you can use to determine when a delegate session is Activated, Activating, Changed, Changing, Created, Creating, Deactivated, Deactivating, Deleted and Deleting. You may find ways to use these events as well as other events to meet your needs.

    Notes and Things to Consider

    Here are some things to consider about delegations.

    1. Be careful about security elevation. Delegations work well for peers (those who have similar permissions) and from “managers” to “subordinates. But, you should probably avoid having someone like a team member act as a delegate for a manager, for example. You should also avoid having users act as administrators. If a user isn’t already an administrator but needs to act as one, you should probably consider just making them an administrator.

    2. When you are acting as a delegate, you cannot manage delegates. This prevents, for example, users who don’t have permissions to create delegates from doing so while acting as another user who has permissions to do so.

    3. Not all PWA functions work with delegation. Here’s a short list of things that may not function properly while you are a delegate for another user:

    a. Issues, Risks, going to Project workspaces. When you navigate to a project’s workspace, you are using your security context and not the delegated user’s context. If prior to activating the delegate session you have access to the project workspace, you will be able to do so while acting as a delegate. But, the delegate session does not grant you permissions to the workspace.

    b. Project Detail Pages. This is the same thing as point ‘a’. Essentially, whenever you leave the realm of Project Server 2010 pages and you’re in SharePoint 2010 pages, the delegation is not in effect.

    c. Project Professional. The delegate session does not apply to Project Professional. Thus, if you are a team member prior to the delegate session and now you’re acting as a project manager, you will still be unable to use Project Professional to work with projects.

    4. As noted earlier, if you upgrade from a previous version, delegates don’t work by-default even for the Administrators group. You will need to add the “Manage Resource Delegates” permission to a category (such as My Organization) that’s been placed on a group or user (preferably group).

    5. In Project Server 2007, timesheets surrogates are used to delegate timesheets from one user to another. Surrogates have been removed from PWA 2010 and delegates is the replacement.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Group By, It's Great!

    • 6 Comments

    We have something called SQM data that tells us how many clicks each feature in Project gets and in my opinion Group By is one of the most underused features in Project.  It only gets .1% of all clicks and is one of the most powerful features in Project  (think you know the top 5 features, check the end of this article to see if you are correct) 

    Why is Group By so powerful?  It lets you analyze data based on pretty much any field in Project - want to see how much remaining critical work you have compared to noncritical work, which tasks are starting each week, completed tasks versus incomplete tasks - use group by.  It's Project's version of pivotTables.

    How do you apply a group?  This command is located on the Project menu - Group by flyout.  It can also be found on the standard toolbar.

    What does it look like?

    Here is an ordinary project plan.

    image

    Say you want to see how much critical work you have versus non-critical work.  To do this just set Group By to Critical.

    image

    Not only now are your tasks grouped by whether or not they are critical (I collapsed the critical:No group so both groups would fit in the picture), you can also analyze data.  Looking at this you can see that there are 188 hours of critical work remaining.  You could insert other fields depending on what you're interested in - Cost if you want to see the total cost of critical work...

    Say your plan is like this plan and subtasks have kind of ambiguous names.  In that case you probably want to include summary tasks in the grouping.  To do this, go to Project - Group By - More Groups.  Select what you want to group on and click Edit or just click New to create a new one.  Set the innermost line that isn't being used to Outline Number as picture below.

    image

    Note that their is a checkbox at the bottom that says "Show summary tasks".  This means that summary tasks will be in the group but that they will be grouped based on their values.  For example, if you have Flag1 set to Yes for the summary task and No for it's subtasks.  The subtasks will be in one group and the summary task will be in another.  Adding Outline Number to your group is how you maintain hierarchy.

    Other Group By tips:

    • Status is a great field to group on.  This shows you which tasks are completed, on track, late, and in the future.

    image

    • You can add layers to a group the same way as you can to pivotTables in Excel.  One example is Status, then Resource Names.  This way you can see if the same resource has multiple late tasks, etc.
    • You can group on custom fields.
    • When a view is grouped, you can only add new tasks/resources at the bottom of the view.
    • Multi-value fields are grouped as a single unit.  If you have Bob assigned to T1 and Bob and Ann assigned to T2 and group by resource name, you'll get 2 groups.  One for Bob which will contain T1 and one for Bob and Ann which will contain T2.
    • When grouping on a field which can have a range of values, say a number or a date, you can set intervals to make the groups more meaningful.  For example, group by Start date on its own isn't that great since you have a different group for each day a task is starting on, but if you set the grouping interval to weeks you can now see which tasks are starting which week.

    image

    Which gives you:

    image

     

    And now, as I promised, the top 5 features used the most in Project are:

    1. Save
    2. Insert Task/Resource
    3. Indent
    4. Paste
    5. Apply View

    Surprised?

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Microsoft Project Server 2010: Get the Most for Your Organization, Now and for the Future white paper, diagram and videos

    • 0 Comments

    I am happy to announce the release of a white paper, diagram and videos produced by Advisicon, entitled Microsoft Project Server 2010: Get the Most for Your Organization, Now and for the Future. The white paper is targeted at decision makers and its purpose is to address some of the main factors for scalability, best practices, and opportunities for creating wins from the potential challenges often faced when implementing a solution such as Microsoft Project Server 2010 . The Visio diagram entitled Project 2010 Scalability Flowchart is designed to assist the different roles and perspectives in dealing with the challenges and the next steps to leveraging Project 2010 and Project Server 2010’s capabilities, depending on your entrance point for using the application.  The four videos entitled: Introduction to the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Lifecycle; Work and Capacity Planning; Need for Consolidation and Project Metadata... Moving from Ad-Hoc to Projectized; Top Down view of Strategic Meta data... Business Driven PPM will enable you to plan and scale Project 2010 to fit with your organization’s needs. Last but not least we have also published a Spanish version of the white paper and the diagram. Start you download!

    Executive Summary

    Organizations in the 21st century, especially in light of the post-economic environment of the 2008-2010 timeframe, are looking at technology platforms that can help them solve issues now while being accounted for by the Chief Executive/Financial Offices as a solid investment to grow with their business, in full support of the direction the organization wishes to stretch and move. Microsoft Project 2010 (also referred to as Project Server 2010 or Enterprise Project Management) is meeting expectations and appealing to a wider group of business users to solve planning, forecasting, and financial control needs.  This is largely attributed to the ability for Project 2010 to slip into the sweet spot of supplying a robust technological platform that can bridge project management methodology and an organization’s individual maturity approach for growth. Project Server 2010, now built upon the business collaboration system SharePoint Server 2010 platform, is delivering enterprise-wide support of aligning work with organizational strategy, strong tactical execution, and meaningful Business Intelligence (BI) empowering organizations to make informed decisions that impact their current situation, but also provide a strong foundation for future goal achievement.

    This white paper was created to shine some light on critical elements related to the discussions, decisions, and adoption of Microsoft Project 2010. Companies are looking to better align strategy with financial planning and look to their corporate diversity, regional presences and departmental structure for the best way forward.  The purpose of this white paper is to address some of the main factors for scalability, best practices, and opportunities for creating wins from the potential challenges often faced when implementing a solution such as Project Server 2010. The information presented will initiate dialogue and thought around the use of and growth with Project 2010 that includes the individual SKUs of Project Client, Project Server and SharePoint Server.

    Table of Contents

    • Executive Summary
    • Introduction
    • The Perspectives
    • Perspective 1 - Project 2010 Points of Entry and Scalability: Planned and Organic Growth of Technology and Process Systems
    • Perspective 2 - Know Your PMO:  How Stakeholder Classes are influencing decisions regarding Project 2010
    • Perspective 3 - Roles Played During Project 2010 Acquisition:   Views from a Microsoft, Partner, & Consumer
    • Perspective 4 - Ease of implementation and leveragability of Project 2010
    • Perspective 5 - Decision threats and cultural change: What may cause road-blocks or resistance to deciding on the solution?
    • Perspective 6: Challenges and Critical Assumptions Related to Selecting Project 2010 as a Solution
    • Key Summary Points
    • Conclusion

    Do not forget to check out other existing white papers on Microsoft Project Portfolio Management offering on our Project site at http://www.microsoft.com/project/en/us/articles-white-papers.aspx

    Microsoft Project Server 2010 Scalability PPM Lifecycle

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Task Statusing and the new Grid

    • 7 Comments

    A few weeks back Patrick Conlan posted an overview of some of the Time Tracking investment areas for Project Server 2010. Today we are going to drill in on one such investment area, namely the Statusing feature area. This screenshots used for this example are taken from a post-Beta Build of Project Server 2010, so if you noticed differences from our November Beta release it could be because no one has seen some of this yet J

    Time Tracking is where we focus our efforts on the “Team Member” experience. For those unfamiliar with Project terminology, “Team Members” are generally the set of individuals on a project responsible for task completion, or, put more simply, they are the “Project Team”. Sometimes referred to as “Resources”, organizations know that empowering Team Members to create, status and manage their own work reduces management overhead, increases transparency and encourages individuals to complete tasks in a timely manner. With Team Members as our focus in Project Server 2010 we identified a number of goals to improve the experience:

    · Make Statusing easier to use

    · Empower the Team Member to customize how they view/manage their own work.

    · Help people complete tasks in a timely manner

    Easier to Use - Making the Statusing of work easier to use was one of the primary goals of this release. Reporting task progress should not be a complex job that people have to be trained to do, but rather something that should be as easy as using any Microsoft Office product. To achieve this we invested in a number of enhancements, listed below:

    Fluent UI: In 2007, Office received a UI makeover. This redesign made it even easier for end users to figure out what actions could be performed merely by glancing at the page. In Project Server 2010 this same user interface comes to the world of Statusing (shown below). Simply select your tasks and the available actions for that task will “light up” in the user interface.

    image

    We got a lot of feedback over the years that sometimes it was difficult to know what action a button will perform. In Project Server 2010 this is made much easier through the use of enhanced tooltips. The button tooltip will give a complete description of the button action making it easier to try new actions (shown below).

    clip_image004

    Keyboard Shortcuts: You will also notice in the tooltip screenshot above that we have added keyboard shortcuts to common actions. For an action like Save, it will improve the overall experience as well as allow keyboard-loving Team Members to spend less time reporting work and more time working.

    Microsoft Excel-Like Interaction: We spent many weeks in the usability lab working on Statusing in Project Server 2010, with the goal of making input and task manipulation a seamless end user experience. What was striking throughout our studies were people’s affinity and familiarity with Excel. As such, we modeled much of Statusing’s interaction paradigms off of Excel. As users complete work they merely open the page and type in the cell and save, much like they would update an Excel spreadsheet (see below).

    clip_image006

    Sometimes the Team Member needs to do more than just enter text. Imagine I wanted to change the start date of the “Draft Due” task above. I could achieve this by focusing the Start cell and typing a date (like Excel) or by focusing the cell and selecting a date from a date picker (shown below). clip_image008

    This allows the user interface to provide for your expert users (who want speed), yet still support your novice users (who need more guidance).

    Updated Left Navigation: In Project Server 2010 we have also updated the left navigation pane to help Team Members navigate around the server. We have provided visual feedback as to where you are in the left navigation menu. Since I am currently on the “Tasks” page viewing my work you will see the “Task” link highlighted in blue.

    clip_image009

    Another improvement that Team Members will notice (especially those on smaller display screens) is the ability to hide the left navigation menu to make more space for the main grid – just click on the “Nav button” (inside joke) to contract/expand the menu:

    clip_image011

    Error Handling: When Team Members make an error while trying to status their tasks we can usually catch the error before the tasks are saved. The experience is very similar to the underlining of misspelled words you have come to expect in Microsoft Word. For example, imagine I had worked 6 hours today on my “Draft Due” work item. I log into project server and want to mark two hours remaining. While doing so I mistype “hours”. Project Server 2010 immediately corrects me by outlining the cell in red. When I focus the cell it provides more information helping me resolve the issue.

    clip_image013clip_image015clip_image017

    Technical Note: this kind of validation is complex as Project supports many ways of entering duration, so we make a non-blocking server round trip to call a “textconv” routine. This is why you may occasionally see a slight lag between the edit and the error, especially over high-latency networks.

    Empower the Team Member – Another important design goal of Statusing in Project 2010 is to empower the Team Member to manage their tasks, their way. During usability testing we discovered that people are very particular about how they track their work and we wanted to provide Team Members with the flexibility to view their tasks in many ways.

    Multiple Layouts: One of the first big investments in this area was the ability to support multiple different layouts in the “Tasks” page in Project Server 2010. To demonstrate this I will walkthrough how I have customized my own PWA tasks page to better match how I work. I will start with the default PWA view. You will see it displays task work on a day by day basis on the right side of the screen (shown in red).

    clip_image019

    This view is great but there’s a bunch of information I don’t care about. We are not required to give a day by day breakdown of work at my company. Fortunately Project Server 2010 allows me to customize this view to better match the way I work. The first thing I do is I go to the layouts dropdown in the Ribbon and turn on the “Sheet” View. Here, I can enable a “Gantt Chart” View of my tasks as well. After turning on the sheet view you will see a much simpler user interface.

    clip_image021clip_image023

    Custom Grouping: I made my view simpler but it still doesn’t match my needs. There’s information I am still not interested in. For example my tasks are grouped by “Project Name”. Fortunately even that is customizable in Project Server 2010. I simply go to the “Group By” dropdown in the ribbon and select
    “Custom Group By”. After doing this, a dialog pops up that shows I am grouped by “Planning Window” (discussed later in this post) and then by “Project Name”. I set Project Name to “None” and press ok. This results in a set of tasks no longer grouped by “Project Name”.

    clip_image025 clip_image027clip_image029

    Hide/Remove: Another investment area was enabling users to “customize” the fields which they view on screen as well as placement of important fields. To demonstrate this I will continue with my customization of my tasks. First I will remove some fields that don’t matter to me. Work, Remaining Work, and Actual Work are largely ignored in my organization. In fact, I am primarily concerned with task finish dates and % complete. Project Server 2010 allows me to remove the columns that I don’t need. To do this first I need to hover my mouse over the “Remaining Work” column header. This will expose a dropdown. When I press it I will see a menu. From here I will select “Configure Columns”. This will allow me to hide/unhide the columns that I am currently seeing on screen (shown below).

    clip_image031 clip_image033 clip_image035

    After hiding the work columns the tasks page now looks even simpler.

    Technical Note: when removing fields that no-one will use, it is best to do it in the administrative settings menu as this will improve performance as the data will then never move from the database to the page.

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    Sorting: In addition to simplifying the number of fields on the screen, I like to sort my task order based on the task finish date. I want tasks finishing soonest to be displayed at the top of the list. To do this I merely hover over the column header (just like above), except this time instead of “Configure Columns”, I will “Sort Ascending” on the Finish Date. Notice the updated column headers icon which now indicates I am sorted on finish date.

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    Units: For my next customization I want to change the way I see dates. Often I am interested in the day of the week a particular work item needs to be completed. Well I am in luck; the solution for this is just few, easy button clicks away. First I will click on the “Units” dropdown. Then I will highlight the Date item and select the format that matches the information I want displayed. The resulting page will now show dates in the format “Mon 12/14” instead of “12/14/2009”.

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    Reorganize/Resize Columns: The page looks almost perfect for how I want to view my work. As I mentioned earlier “Finish Date” is really the most important thing for me and I like to see it first when reading from left to right. That’s great because in Project Server 2010 I can simply mouse over the column header and then click and drag the column to the left side of the screen.

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    Finally I would like the “Finish” column to take up a bit less space on my screen. Since I change the date formatting I really don’t need such a wide column. This is flexible as well in Project Server 2010. I mouse back up to the column headers and pull and drag the right column divider to the left to achieve this affect.

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    View Persistence: Finally now that I have spent all this time getting just the right view of the work ahead of me, how do I save this view? This happens automatically in Project Server 2010 so there is no reason to save anything. The next time you return to the page your settings will be remembered auto-“magic”-ly on a per-view basis :)

    Technical Note: What happens if the underlying view definition changes? If the view definition is no longer compatible then the user is given a dialog warning them to reset to the default.

     

    Help people complete tasks – With the release of Project Server 2010 we really wanted to help Team Members accomplish their work goals. Obviously the interface changes already mentioned will help people spend less time “working” with Project Server and more time working on their work, but we wanted to go further this release and help people identify what they SHOULD be working on as well.

    Planning Window: If you’re like me, you’re constantly juggling many tasks, so there can be a lot of noise in my tasks page. Some need to be completed “Yesterday” and others really aren’t something you need to worry about today. In this mess of work sometimes it becomes difficult to focus on what you need to be doing NOW. Repeatedly during user testing we found that people really wanted Project Server to help them with this task. To achieve this we have introduced a new feature called the “Planning Window”. The Planning Window splits your tasks up into a set of distinct groups, those currently “In Progress”, those that are happening in the “Near Future” and those in the “Distant Future”. The Planning Window moves with you through time, dynamically updating as your work progresses. In the example (shown below) you will see that my “Widget Documentation” task is happening on 1/25. Currently it’s in the near future, but when 1/25 rolls around you can bet that it will be “In Progress”. Likewise the task “Javascript Intellisense Documentation” was due weeks ago on 12/14 and since it is still not completed it has stayed “In Progress” until finished.

    clip_image058

    Totals Column: We heard frequently from customers that they wanted a way to determine at a glance how many hours they SHOULD be devoting to a particular work item within a specified time period and to have the option of entering work at the period level.

    What was most interesting though was that the time period varied from customer to customer. Some worried about work “today”, others “this week”, even others “bi-weekly”, making it impossible to use the standard Timesheet periods.

    In this case bi-weekly is actually what I am worried about, especially since my lead and I meet for our one-on-ones and he generally likes to review what I have been working on. With ease I was able to have Project Server give me totals for tasks on a bi-weekly basis. First I ensured that I had the sheet Timephased View enabled in layouts. Then I went to “Select Period” in the Ribbon. This brings up a dialog which can sync up with my company’s timesheet periods, or lets me define my own periods. I will set the periods to be two weeks long. After I commit the period length I will return to see my tasks and totals for the next 2 weeks. I see I only have 16h of planned work, better not tell my boss :)

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    Another nice feature of being able to select my own periods is that the Previous and Next buttons remember the setting when moving the view range.

    Managing Overdue Tasks: With the release of Project Server 2010 we also wanted a way to bring to your attention all the work has been assigned to you that is already “late”. We had to really use our imagination to come up with this feature since Microsoft has never had any overdue work :) but we got creative and came up with an easy to use solution. For this you just need to go to the ribbon and dropdown the filter menu and select the predefined “Overdue Tasks” filter. The page will update and show you just your overdue work – things don’t get easier than that!

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    Technical Note: A custom filter can be very powerful when combined with an assignment level task custom field as the Team Member can set a value to hide or prioritize tasks and use the filter (or sorting) to further customize their view.

    We really hope that you and your organization enjoy the easier to use user interface and get value our of Project Server 2010 by empowering Team Members to work the way that they WANT to work, within a system that helps them complete tasks.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Data Migration Test Program

    • 3 Comments

    For those of you who already read Treb Gatte's blog, this is no big news. We have started a new program to test migration from Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007. Our main goal is to get a good range of test coverage for mitigration to make the process as smooth as possible to customers. We have our own data sets for testing these scenarios but getting real customer data is invaluable to us.

    There is some work involved to participate but those who do will have the benefit of getting the results of the tests directly from us. If you are interested in learning more details about the program and how to enroll, please read the full article on Treb's blog: http://spaces.msn.com/evildoctorporkchop/

    Treb is also a Program Manager in the Project team. He is responsible for IT governance, Server Side reports among other initiatives.

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Work offline from Project Server

    • 2 Comments

    There are a number of reasons why you might want to work offline from Project Server.

    • One, you might want to work on a project while flying across the country (but don’t take your eyes off the instrument panel).
    • Two, the network you are using goes down unexpectedly while you’re are in the middle of managing an important project.
    • Three, you want to share a project in Project Server using e-mail. Let’s look at these more closely.

    Work on a project offline

    Step 1: Check out a project

    1. Start Project Professional 2010 and connect to Project Server.
    2. On the File tab, click Open .
    3. In the Open dialog box, click Retrieve the list of all projects from Project Server.
      The Open dialog box displays a list of projects in Project Server.
    4. Click the project you want to open, and then click Open
    5. After the file opens, set Project to work offline from the server.
      1. On the File tab, click Info.
      2. On the right, click Manage Accounts, and then click Work Offline.

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    6. When you have finished working on the project offline, close Microsoft Project.

    Keep in mind, that when you open Project Professional again to continue working on the project offline, you need to select the server to which it was initially saved, and then click Work Offline in the Login dialog box.

     image

    Note    If you do not select the server to which the project file was initially saved, you will not be able to open the project file.

    Step 2: Synchronize changes with Project Server

    1. Start Project Professional.
    2. In the Login dialog box, select the server to which the offline file was initially connected. Do not click Work Offline.
    • Note    If you do not select the server to which the offline file was initially connected, then you will not be able to open the file.
    • On the File tab, click Open.
    • In the Open dialog box, double-click the project name to open it from your computer
    • On the File tab, click Close.
    • When prompted to check in the file, click Yes.

    Your project file is now synchronized with the version on the server.

    Top of Page Top of Page

    Work Offline unexpectedly

    If your computer becomes unexpectedly disconnected from Project Server, you can continue to make changes to your project plan. The next time your computer is connected to Project Server, the changes you made to the project will be synchronized to the server.

    Do the following when you want to save your changes back to Project Server.

    1. Start Project Professional.
    2. In the Login dialog box, select the server to which the project was initially saved. Do not click Work Offline.
      Note    If you do not select the server to which the project was initially saved, then you will not be able to synchronize the project with Project Server.
    3. Close Project Professional.
      If you are prompted, save and check-in the project.

    Share a project

    You can save a project from Project Server for sharing. When you do this, a Project .mpp file is created that you can send to team members as an e-mail attachment or to a file server. Use this method to share a file (rather than working on a project offline) when you want multiple people to work on the same file. When you receive the file back from them, you can synchronize the changes with Project Server.

    Step 1: Save a project for sharing 

    1. Start Project Professional and connect to Project Server.
    2. On the File tab, click Open .
    3. In the Open dialog box, click Retrieve the list of all projects from Project Server.
    4. On the File tab, click Save & Send.
    5. On the right, click Save Project as File.
    6. Click Save for Sharing

      image 
    7. Note    The Save for Sharing command is available only if the project has been saved to Project Server.
    8. Click Save As
      Save As button
    9. Type a name for the project file. You can either type a new name or use the name that matches the name of the project on the server.

    After saving the project with the new file name, you can send the file in e-mail to team members, who can open the file and make changes.

    Note    Changes can only be made by team members if they have Project Professional 2010.

    Step 2: Synchronize the shared file with Project Server

    Once the file has been returned to you, you can open it and synchronize the changes with Project Server

    1. Start Project Professional and connect to Project Server.
    2. In the Login dialog box, select the server from which the shared file was initially created. Do not click Work Offline.

      Note    If you do not select the server from which the project file was initially created, then you will not be able to synchronize the shared file with Project Server.

    3. On the File tab, click Open.
    4. In the Open dialog box, double-click the project name to open it.
    5. On the File tab, click Save As.
    6. Select the name of the original project from which the shared file was created.
      If the shared file name matches the original project name, then the project name will be displayed in the Save to Project Server box.
    7. Click Save. The shared file will now be synchronized with the original project.
  • Microsoft Project 2010

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

    • 11 Comments

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

     

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

     

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

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Clean up the Gantt bars

    • 3 Comments

    Sometimes the details aren’t so important. When people are assigned to tasks, their names by default appear next to Gantt bars. But if the work units are set to a value less than 100%, then this value appears next to the person’s name, as well. Now, this might be OK. But there are times when this can be distracting, like during a meeting where you’re presenting your project to stakeholders, and you’d rather not field questions on what the percents mean.

     

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    If you want names to appear on the bars, but without the work units appearing, you need to do two things.

    First, you need to format the Gantt bars to display people’s initials rather than their full names. Second, in the Resource Sheet view, you need to replace people’s initials with their names. Ok, that’s a little weird, but that’s the only way. Let’s look at the steps.

     

    First, format the Gantt bars to display initials

    1. In Project 2007, click the Tools menu, and then click Bar Styles.

    In Project 2010, click the Format tab, click the arrow under Format, and then click Bar Styles.

            image  

            Tip    You can also just double click in the blank part of the bar chart to display the dialog box.

    2. In the dialog box, click the Text tab, and in the “Right” row, select the “Resource Initials” field.

     

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    Second, replace the people’s initials with their full names

    1. Switch to the Resource Sheet view.

    2. In the Resource Initials column, replace the initials with the person’s full name.

     

    Now people’s names will appear in the Gantt Bar view, without their work units.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Hiding, showing, adding, removing, inserting, etc…oh, and DONUTS

    • 7 Comments

    On Office Online, we’ve got this one article, currently called, “Hide or show a column (remove or add a column).” It’s a fine article, but, to be frank, the feature can be a bit confusing, so the feedback we typically get on it is pretty bad. Lots of frustrated comments, low ratings, the whole bit. We’ve tried changing the title, adding video content, being as upfront as we think makes sense. But people are still confused and/or frustrated, so I’m going to try to take a different approach here.

    First, let’s look at the mechanics of the issue. Project is not Excel. What I mean by that is when you enter information into cells in Excel, that’s basically as far as it goes. The information is there, in the spreadsheet, and that’s that. (Excuse the not-so-great cellphone pics, it’s all I had on me.)

    Excel

    Project is different. When you enter information into columns in a Project view, you’re really entering it into a database. So the columns that appear in your view are really more like a window into the database.

    ViewAsWindow

    If you remove a column from a view, the information is still sitting back there in the database.

    ProjDB

    If you want the information removed, you have to actually delete the information from the fields themselves. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything funky with the database, just put the column back in the view, click the column header to select the cells in that column, and then hit CTRL+Delete. Boom, your data is gone.)

    Okay, so now with that said, I’m pretty sure I can actually hear some of you out there groaning. “That’s stupid, if I delete a column, I want it gone. Why can’t you just make the thing do what I told it to?” To that, I’d like to respond with the following example.

    [Insert drumroll here.]

    Let’s say you have a column called Donuts. The company you work for is awesome, and HR does a donut run every Friday, so you use the Donuts column to indicate each resource’s donut preference. (Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I need a break from writing about columns for resources or budgets or other completely logical project-related things.)

    Anyway so this Donuts column…it’s a custom text field, and you currently have it displayed in the Resource Sheet view. (On the Insert menu, click Column, then choose a text field, such as Text1, from the Field Name list.)

    image

    You’ve gone through and asked every resource in the company what their favorite donut is, and entered it into Project. Amazing work. It took a while to get through all 350 resources, but you did it, and now you’re pretty darn pleased with yourself.

    So now let’s say on some Monday, you’re messing around in the view, taking columns out, putting in new ones, and rearranging things, to try to get better organized and make the view a little prettier. You accidentally remove the Donuts column and forget to add it back in. The end of the week comes along, and you’re getting ready to place your donut order. You go into the Resource Sheet view, and OH NO the Donuts column is gone!

    I’m going to say it again, because that’s pretty close to the end of the world: OH NO THE DONUTS COLUMN IS GONE!!

    Turns out it’s not actually the end of the world. You just have to add the column back into the view, and all of your data is still there. Whew. Crisis averted.

    Does that make my case? I mean really, if saving a weekly donut run doesn’t make my case, I’m not sure what would. But seriously…does that help you understand what the reasoning is behind the way that feature works? Or if it doesn’t, what would you suggest?

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    New Feature Pack from Visual Studio Improves Project Management and Software Development Team Collaboration

    • 4 Comments

    *** Update *** June 28th, 2011 – Please note the following resources are now available:

    We are excited to announce the release of the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack which further strengthens Microsoft’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Solution. The integration between Project Server and Team Foundation Server is a considerable advancement for organizations that want to bridge the collaboration gap between the Project Management Office and software development teams. The Feature Pack will enable teams to work together more effectively by:

    • Providing up to date insight into portfolio execution, alignment with strategic objectives, and resource utilization of software development projects by leveraging the quantitative data stored in different systems.
    • Automating the exchange and sharing of project information across teams and improving coordination between teams using disparate methodologies, like waterfall and agile, via common data and agreed upon metrics.
    • Enabling development and project management teams to collaborate and communicate project timeline and progress using familiar tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio, Project, and SharePoint.

    Our Microsoft IT team has been using the Feature Pack internally for a while. As in many organizations, the software development teams and the project management teams weren’t collaborating as effectively as they could. Tools, even methodologies, were different and didn’t talk to each other. Now after implementing the Feature Pack, developers don’t have to spend time getting status updates, there is much better schedule alignment between teams and there is better visibility and clarity overall!

    "By sharing data more efficiently, the team was able to reduce weekly time spent in status meetings to two hours from 20 hours. Now developers and project managers can focus on their work instead of spending hours each week in status report meetings, and managers can make better, data-driven decisions. In addition, managers and developers have streamlined access to information they need and have better insight into the entire ALM process.” - Michael Lucas, Senior Program Management Lead in Microsoft IT at Microsoft

    One of our partners in Brazil that has the Microsoft ALM competency, TechResult, has also deployed the Feature Pack with the following the results:

    “Team Foundation Server provides visibility and traceability all over my Project. Project Server provides governance across my organization. By integrating them I can extract the best from an ALM platform.” - Daniel Franco Abrahão de Oliveira, ALM Team Manager, at TechResult

    Now, you can download the Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack from MSDN download center. We will continue publishing additional resources in the coming weeks, such as a demo Virtual Machine with a presenter script, additional case studies, and more- so stay tuned and we’ll let you know via this blog when they are available! Below are some of the key resources available now:

    I urge you to take a look at connecting your software development and project management teams with today’s release.

    Questions and Answers

    Q. Is there a demo virtual machine (VM) with this feature pack and sample data I can use?
    A. We are working on a demo VM that will include the RTM version of the feature pack (along with all the pre-requisites) that will showcase the integration between Project Server 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010; this VM will includes detailed demo scripts. Expect a release around the April 2011 timeframe. Until then you can use the CTP demo VM released last July 2010.

    Q. How does this Feature Pack differ from the out-of-the-box Team Foundation Server and Microsoft Project add-in?
    A. The Microsoft Project add-in allows project managers to use Microsoft Project to connect to Team Foundation Server to collaborate and participate in the planning and execution of software development projects. The Feature Pack enables integration between Team Foundation Server and Project Server and allows planning and status information to be synchronized between the two systems. Please read this article Operational Differences in Managing Projects Using Team Foundation and Project for more information.

    Q. Are there any prerequisites or dependencies for this Feature Pack?
    A. Dependencies are:

    For a detailed description of dependencies and prerequisites please check this MSDN article: System and Setup Requirements to Support Integration of Team Foundation Server and Project Server. Please check out Brian Harry’s post for additional information: VS/TFS 2010 SP1 and TFS-Project Server Integration Feature Pack have Released

    Q. What MSDN Subscription level is required to download the Feature Pack?
    A. This Feature Pack will only be available to Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscribers (go to your MSDN download center, you should find the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 and Project Server Integration Feature Pack as an available download). An organization must own at least one license of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN.

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    PWA now stands for Project Web App

    • 4 Comments

    For the Project 2010 release, we have changed the feature formerly known as “Project Web Access” to “Project Web App”. We have made this change to maintain consistency with other Office 2010 Web Apps and to reflect the increasingly rich feature set included with PWA beyond simply accessing data.

    Luckily for everyone, you can continue to just say PWA.

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