In Project 2010, we’ve added a new view called the Timeline view which allows you to easily create a high level view of your project plan that you can then share through other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook.
The default view for Project 2010 is the Gantt with Timeline so you’ll see the Timeline view at the top of your window the first time you boot Project 2010 but it if isn’t there, you can display it by going to the View tab and checking Timeline in the Split View group.
Here is the Timeline view when you create a new project. I’ve also selected the Timeline view’s Format tab to show off the commands that go along with the Timeline view.
I will demonstrate how in 4 simple steps you can create Timeline view that looks good enough for any status meeting or mail to executives, customers, partners, etc.
Step 1: Add Tasks to the Timeline
Simply right-click the tasks you want on the Timeline and select "Add to Timeline”.
Step 2: Arrange the Tasks
Now that you have tasks on your the timeline, you can easily re-arrange them so it looks even better. You can drag tasks above or below the gray bar which represents the project to display the tasks as callouts or drag tasks up or down within the gray bar to display the tasks on different rows.
Step 3: Format the Tasks
Now that the tasks are arranged nicely, you can make a few tweaks to make the timeline more readable. Through the Timeline’s Format tab, I’ve updated the date format to be more concise, set more text lines to show so you can read the tasks names, and highlighted some tasks with different colors to make them stand out (did I mention Project 2010 now has 32-bit color – yes that means we now have orange).
Step 4: Share the Timeline
Finally, you can paste the Timeline into other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook by clicking Copy Timeline on the Format tab and selecting the proper size. When you paste the Timeline view, the items are pasted as individual Office Art shapes, so you can do an optional step 5 like I have and further format the shapes using the graphics power of those applications. Here I have added reflection, a 3-d effect, and further edited the colors.
That’s not all the Timeline view can do but I’ll have to save the rest for a video…
I’m Roberto Reif and today I am excited to introduce a new feature that has been added to Project Professional 2010, the ability to: synchronize a tasks list between Project and SharePoint!!!
A Project Manager (PM) can use all the advanced scheduling capabilities that exist in Project Professional with all the collaborative capabilities that exist in SharePoint.
Users can now publish a project plan from Project to SharePoint and vice versa. Any changes made in Project / SharePoint can be easily updated into SharePoint / Project with the click of a button.
So how does this work? Let’s assume a PM creates a simple project plan in Project Professional, as shown below.
The PM would like to share the plan with his/her team members via SharePoint. To do this, the PM clicks on the File tab and drills on to Save & Send > Sync with Tasks List (see image below). After filling out the required fields, the user clicks on Sync, and in a matter of seconds the project plan has been published to SharePoint.
The SharePoint list will look as follows:
Now the team members can view and modify the data in SharePoint, and the PM can synchronize the updates by clicking on the Sync button. Tip: After the first sync, the Sync button also appears in the Info tab shown below.
If the same data is modified both in SharePoint and Project, the PM will be prompted with a conflict resolution dialog next time there is a Sync operation.
A few important things to notice are:
· Summary tasks are supported in the synchronization
· Most custom fields can be synchronized, and can be added via the Manage Fields dialog (click on Manage Fields button shown on the image above in the Info tab)
· This feature only works with SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server 2010
· This feature only works when Project Professional is not connected to the server
We encourage you to try it out and let us know what you think. Be amongst the first to download the Project 2010 Beta . Sign up now at www.microsoft.com/project/2010 and be notified when it’s available!
Update on 5/19/11 - with Project 2010 SP1 you will now be able to synchronize auto scheduled tasks too - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/project/archive/2011/05/18/project-2010-sp1-enhancements-to-sync-to-sharepoint-task-list.aspx
Dr. Ed Hanna, one of our most senior field people for EPM recently posted a great example of using material resources using Project Server. So, I'm taking Ed's e-mail and converting into this post. I hope you find this very useful.
Here's an example of how you might use Project to track the pouring of the concrete for one section of a dam.
First, create a Resource Sheet entry for the concrete. Click the image below for more detail.
The dam footing work we are tracking will contain 20,000 cu. meters of concrete and will be poured over a ten workday period. The Gantt Chart task to pour this footing looks as follows.
Next, the Resource Usage view shows the planned usage of concrete at 2,000 cu. meters per day. Note: there is no Actual Work as the task has not yet begun.
Once progress begins, the Resource Usage view can be used to report actual usage. In this case, only 1,000 cu. meters of concrete poured on day #1. Consequently, work is off to a slow start.
Here’s the full Resource Usage view showing 3,000 cu. meters of additional concrete poured on day #2. On the left you can see totals. For example, you can see that 20,000 cu. meters of concrete is scheduled to be poured (i.e. Work) and so far 4,000 cu. meters have been poured (i.e. Actual Work). The graph in the lower portion of the display shows Cumulative Scheduled Work (i.e. the cumulative amount of concrete scheduled to be poured).
The display can also be changed to track the cost of the concrete. The graph in the lower portion of the display shows Cumulative Scheduled Cost (i.e. the cumulative cost of concrete scheduled to be poured).
I hope this is helpful. By the way, Hoover Dam contains 3.33M cu. meters of concrete.
Hello everybody. I’m Heather O’Cull and I’m also a program manager on the Project team. This week I decided to lock Lidiane out of her office and take over control of the blog to write about a new feature that I think is pretty cool – Visual Reports.
Visual Reports is a new feature in Project Standard and Professional that allows you to report on your project’s data in Excel using PivotTables and PivotCharts, and in Visio using a new feature called PivotDiagrams (think fancy WBS charts). Using Visual Reports you can now easily create eye-catching reports that are also informative off data from your project using formats that are familiar to your target audience. To help get you started we are shipping Excel and Visio templates. You can also create your own templates that you can share out to others to provide a consistency across everyone’s reports.
Some background information for the technical people (non-techies feel free to scroll to the pretty pictures), Visual Reports works by first creating a local database (.mdb file) that contains data from your project. From there we build a local cube (.cub file) and then hook the cube up to a PivotChart in Excel or a PivotDiagram in Visio. These cubes are completely separate from the server cubes. There are six different cubes to create reports off of – resource, task, and assignment in both summary and usage (time phased) flavors. You can even save cubes or the database to then create reports off of in the future.
And now for the pictures…(Click to enlarge)
Pictured here is the main Visual Report dialog. All of the templates you see listed in the dialog are templates that we are shipping to help get you started. If I create a new template and save it in my templates folder it will also show up here. You can even choose to include templates from another location such as a public share. When you create or edit a template you can specify which project fields and custom fields to include in the template.
Here is an example of an Excel template we’re shipping, the Resource Work Summary Report:
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
And the corresponding PivotTable:
Note, how using this chart you can easily see that Resource3 is over allocated and that Resource1 and Resource2 could potentially take over some of its work since they both have remaining availability. If I wanted, I could customize this report to only show the data for a certain time period. I’ve also customized the look of the chart a bit to help show off Excel’s new charting capabilities. For more information on new Excel features check out the Excel 2007 blog.
As I mentioned earlier Visual Reports works with a new feature in Visio called PivotDiagrams. These diagrams are good for hierarchical data such as work breakdown structures. You can customize the look of the nodes in the diagram by adding text fields, data bars, indicators, and background colors that are based off a value. You can even use formulas to create calculated fields in Visio. To learn more about this feature check out the Visio 2007 blog. Here is an example of the task status report:
From here I could drill into Phase3 to see which tasks are causing it to slip.
And for a little more background information, Visual Reports works with Excel 2003 or later and Visio Professional 2007. You don't need to have .Net 2.0 installed to use this feature. That was only a requirement for the Beta.
Hi there! My name is Sonia Atchison, and I write some of the Help content you see over on Office Online. I know this may seem like a silly little blog post to many of you, but I remember when I first started using Project and I figured out how to make a field that showed red/yellow/green graphics to indicate progress, I was pretty happy with myself. So I decided that you know what, I bet there are people out there reading this blog right now that would really appreciate a quick rundown of how to make a visual progress indicator.
Create a custom Progress field
First, you have to create a custom field that will hold your status information. On the Tools menu, point to Customize, and then click Fields. Choose an unused text field, and then click Rename. Type "Progress" and then click OK.
Next, you want to identify the different progress values. Under Custom attributes, click Lookup. Use the table to add three values that correspond to red, yellow, and green. In this example, I'll use "On track," "Issues," and "Blocked." Select the Use a value from the table as the default entry for the field check box, click the value that corresponds with green ("On track"), and then click Set Default. Click Close to return to the Custom Fields dialog box.
Finally, you need to identify which graphics to use for each lookup value. Under Values to display, click Graphical Indicators. Use the table to set each indicator, as I've done here:
Click OK when you have the indicators set, and then click OK again to return to the Gantt Chart view.
Insert the Progress field
Next, add the field as a column in the Gantt Chart view using these instructions. The process is fairly straightforward…just right-click the column header to the right of where you want the new column to appear, click Insert Column, find the Progress column, and then click OK.
Use the Progress field
Once the column is added to the view, you can choose the progress for each task in your project, and the red, yellow, or green indicator will appear in the view. I think this is pretty neat, myself!
Need more info?
A video demo of this process can be viewed here, or a Help topic with similar instructions is available here if you need more information!
In most cases, the tasks in a project are related to each other, and the relationships between them drive the schedule for the project. The relationships between the tasks are called "dependencies." In Microsoft Office Project, you can create dependencies between tasks in the same project, and between tasks in different projects.
What kinds of task dependencies are available?
Project offers four kinds of task dependencies: finish-to-start, start-to-start, finish-to-finish, and start-to-finish.
First, let's talk about finish-to-start (FS) dependencies. This is the most common type of dependency and is the default type of dependency that Project uses. In a finish-to-start dependency, the second task in the relationship can't begin until the first task finishes. So, for example, if you were planning a project to make a wedding cake, you might use a finish-to-start dependency between the "Bake cake" and "Decorate cake" tasks. When the "Bake cake" task is finished, the "Decorate cake" task begins.
Start-to-start (SS) dependencies are used when the second task in the relationship can't begin until after the first task in the relationship begins. Start-to-start dependencies don't require that both tasks start at the same time. They simply require that the first task has begun, in order for the second task to begin. Going back to the wedding cake example, let's say you had planned to make the icing for the cake while the cake is baking in the oven. You can't start making the icing until the cake has started baking, so you might use a start-to-start dependency between the "Bake cake" and "Make icing" tasks.
If one of your tasks can't finish until another one finishes, you can use a finish-to-finish (FF) dependency between them. Finish-to-finish dependencies don't require that both tasks be completed simultaneously. They simply require that the first task be finished, in order for the second task to finish. The second task can finish any time after the first task finishes. In our wedding cake example, let's say there are some finishing touches to the decorations that you can't finish until the cake is delivered. You can use a finish-to-finish dependency between the "Decorate cake" and "Deliver cake" tasks. When the "Decorate cake" task is finished, then the "Deliver cake" task can be completed.
Finally, the start-to-finish (SF) dependency is a little tricky. When you use this type of dependency, you are saying that the second task in the relationship can't finish until the first task starts. However, the second task can finish any time after the first task starts. Going back to our wedding cake example, let's say you have a task for billing the customer. It begins when the customer requests the cake, but it can't be completed until after the cake delivery has begun. You can use a start-to-finish dependency between the "Deliver cake" and "Bill customer" tasks, so that when the "Deliver cake" task has begun, it is okay for the "Bill customer" task to finish.
So when you put the entire plan together, with these dependencies intact, the plan might look something like this:
How do I create dependencies?
First, you need to determine whether you want to create a dependency between two tasks in the same project, or between a task in one project and a task in another project.
If you want to create a dependency between two tasks in the same project, review Create task dependencies (links) within your project.
If you want to create a dependency between a task in one project and a task in another project, review Create task dependencies (links) across projects.
Where can I learn more?
Learn more about task dependencies in the following articles:
· View and update task dependencies (links) across projects
· Create and link tasks with Project 2007
· Watch this: Create a cross-project link
· Watch this: Link tasks in your project
· Change or remove task dependencies (links)
If you are an experienced project manager then it’s likely that you are familiar with the Assignment Units field. For those who aren’t, Assignment Units determines the rate at which a resource is assigned to work on a task. This field is set to 100% or the Resource’s Max Units (whichever is the lesser of the two) by default, although it can be less or more depending on the needs of the project manager. In Project 2007, and previous versions, when this value differs from 100% we show it next to the resource name in the Gantt chart. For Project 2010 we’ve made some changes to the way that the Assignment Units field is calculated. Primarily, these changes were made in response to customer feedback about the way calculations were impacted when resources entered overtime work. For this release we’ve clarified the definition of the Peak field and the Assignment Units field which previously had some functional overlap but now fill more defined, separate, roles. As a result of these changes the Assignment Units field is no longer automatically modified to be greater or less than default value of 100%; as a consequence the field does not show up in the Gantt chart as often as it used to. This has led to some confusion which I’m hoping to clear up with this post.
For an example of this, see the two screen shots below in which all the three day, fixed duration tasks were increased to 30 hours of work (up from the initial 24 hours of work) after the resource had been assigned to the task:
Project 2007 SP2:
Project 2010 (Auto Scheduled task and Manually Scheduled task):
In Project 2010 we still show Assignment Units in the Gantt when the value is directly altered from 100%, but we have changed the product behavior so that changing scalar work after making an assignment on a task will no longer automatically alter the Assignment Units field as it did in previous versions.
To understand the new behavior let’s have a short look at the intent and purpose of Assignment Units. When a resource is initially assigned to a task in Project there are three important values that characterize the assignment: duration, assignment units, and total work. The equation that governs the relationship between these three values is one of the core project scheduling functions, sometimes called the “iron equation of scheduling.” It’s defined:
In this way a resource with the standard 8 hour/day calendar assigned at 100% to a 3-day task would be calculated:
Thus, the assignment would have 24 hours of total work.
But as it turns out, in previous versions of Project we were using the Assignment Units field to track two slightly different aspects of the resource assignments on each task:
· Keep track of the workload initially assigned to the resource as detailed above.
· Show the maximum workload experienced by or assigned to the resource.
Because the field was being asked to do two different things users could experience inconsistent behavior around the extending of task duration in versions of the product prior to 2010. To help resolve this inconsistency we’ve leveraged the Peak field which already handles the second function leaving the Assignment Units field free to track the workload as initially assigned. Here’s an illustrative example:
Let’s say that we have a three day, fixed duration task and let’s assign this task to Steven who’s working with the standard 8 hour/day calendar. When we make the assignment we see that Steven has 24 hours of total work for the assignment. This is how it will appear in Project 2007:
And now in Project 2010:
So far, things are about the same.
Now let’s increase the scalar work on the task to 30 hours, that is, change the value for Work in the table on the left from 24 to 30 hours. In both versions we see that the work is distributed evenly (according to the default flat contour) across the three day assignment. Remember, the task is fixed duration not fixed units, so the work assigned will change to accommodate the new increased workload. In Project 2007 the value for Assignment Units increases to 125% to accommodate the change in total work on the assignment:
In this example, any increase in the duration of the task would result in work being defined according to the Assignment Units value consistent with 10 hours/day. This is not consistent with the desired behavior for Assignment Units which is to maintain the value at which the resource was initially assigned to the task. According to our iron equation, and customer feedback, the subsequent edit of scalar work should not have caused the Assignment Units value to be altered.
In Project 2010 we see that the Assignment Units field has remained at 100% which was the workload initially assigned to the resource while the Peak field has changed to reflect the maximum workload on the resource of 10 hours/day:
There are two assertions that we have made in the conceptual framework around the scheduling engine that are now better served by the new differentiation between the Peak field and the Assignment Units field:
· Overallocation should only be indicated when the resource is directly assigned more work than a can be completed at the Max Units allocation. Many users used the Assignment Units field as displayed in the Gantt chart as an indicator of overallocation. This was not always accurate.
· Increases in task duration should maintain the initial assignment allocation.
Here are a couple examples that demonstrate these points:
Take the previous example’s three day task. Let’s say that Steven worked on the task and entered actuals as shown below. For the first two days he worked 8 hours per day, but on the last day he worked 10 hours to ensure that all work on the task was completed. Here in Project 2007:
Note two things here. First, the value for Assignment Units is calculated based on the maximum effort expended by the resource on the task, which in this case is 10 hours on the last day of the assignment. Because of the increase in the value for Assignment Units the relationship between assigned work, duration, and assignment units is not valid for the first two days of the assignment. Additionally, this Assignment Units value will now appear in the Gantt chart seeming to indicate an overallocation even though the Project Manager did not assign Steven to more than 8 hours/day initially. This violates our first scheduling assertion.
Now let’s examine how Project 2010 handles the scenario:
Here we see the Peak field is still 125% which is consistent with the additional actual work on the last day of the assignment. However, the Assignment Units field remains 100% and will not show an apparent overallocation for the resource consistent with the initial allocation. The scheduling assertion that overallocation only be shown when created by the Project Manager is maintained.
Additionally in Project 2010 we’ve added new UI elements that help users more easily identify when a task contains a resource overallocation. The primary element to demonstrate this condition is the red “overallocation indicator” shown next to the task name in the grid:
We’ve also provided the Task Inspector which provides more information regarding issues with the assignment, and guides the user to possible solutions:
Continuing with the previous example Steven enters 10 hours for the last day of the assignment as previously described and then the Task Duration is extended by two days, the new work would be determined based on the Assignment Units. While this is the correct conceptual behavior we see the following in versions leading up to and including Project 2007:
The two new days are assigned at 10 hours per day. It’s unlikely that the Project Manager expects Steven to work at the same rate as he did on Wednesday, so extending the assignment at the rate of 10 hours/day is not expected given the Project Manager’s initial assignment of 8 hours per day. Additionally, the new work has been assigned in a way that will make it impossible for the built-in tools, like resource leveling, to resolve the overallocation and difficult for new/novice users to correct the issue. Simply changing the Assignment Units field back to 100% will not fix the problem; it will just scale the work contour.
In Project 2010, we see the following behavior:
This is more in line with what the Project Manager might expect and consistent with our conceptual framework. New work should be assigned at the original workload, and the resource should not appear over allocated. In this case we see how we are not more consistently following the Iron Equation when it comes to assigning new work to the resource. Here’s the breakdown:
Where the Peak field captures the max (or “Peak”) assignment value of 10 hr/day for the Wednesday of the assignment.
A couple common questions have cropped up around our new behavior in this area, and I’ll try to address them here.
“Allocation units no longer display in the Gantt!”
Actually it does. You can still set it manually and it will show up in the Gantt. As previously mentioned some users were relying on the appearance of the Assignment Units field in the Gantt to indicate overallocation on a task but this was not the intended use of the Allocation Units field and was potentially inaccurate way to determine overallocation. Instead we’ve provided the overallocation indicator and the task inspector for this purpose.
“Why not show the peak field in the Gantt instead of assignment units?”
The display of the Allocation Units in the Gantt chart was meant to inform the user when they have a resource assigned to a task at a value other than 100%. If we show the Peak field in the Gantt there is potential that it would show up even when the user had initially assigned the resource at 100%. One example would be when accepting actual work updates from my tasks.
“How is VBA based on the old behavior impacted?”
Any script that relied on the Assignment Units field showing the maximum value for the assignment on a task should be altered to reference the Peak field for this information instead. Also, note that edits to the duration or timephased work or actual work for the assignment will no longer impact the Assignment Units field. If you want that field to change when any of these values are altered you must now explicitly set the Assignment Units field directly but also note that changes to the Assignment Units field directly will impact the assignment work (fixed duration) or task duration (fixed units) the same way they did in Project 2007.
“What about fixed units tasks?”
The only difference between the fixed duration tasks as described in this post and tasks that are defined as fixed units is that when the scalar work on a fixed units task is changed the duration of the task will change to accommodate the additional work. Here’s a demonstration of the “increase scalar work on the task to 30 hours” example from above but using fixed units tasks instead of fixed duration. First Project 2007:
And now Project 2010:
Because we are working with fixed units tasks, edits to the scalar value for work will not impact either the Assignment Units field or the Peak field. However, if timephased work entry will behave consistent with the behavior observed in the examples for fixed duration tasks.
Hopefully this clears up some of the questions around the changes made to the Assignment Units behavior in Project 2010. We feel that the end result is more in line with what users expect from the product, and will resolve some longstanding complaints around overallocation and task extension.
In an effort to enable more direct communication with our users, we have setup a Microsoft Connect site for Project. You can now submit bugs that you have found in Project 2007 and suggestions for features you would like to see in future releases of Project directly to the Project team. While we may not be able to directly respond to every submission, we do promise to read and consider every bug and feature suggestion we receive.
Follow these steps to submit feedback -
On the feedback page you can submit bugs and feature suggestions by clicking on the “Submit Feedback” link. You can also search feedback submitted by other users and add comments, votes, and validations. Vote on whether you agree with the bug/feature suggestion and use validations to indicate if you have experienced the same problem.
Note, you don’t have to sign in to search existing feedback, but you must sign in with a Windows Live ID or Microsoft Passport account to submit new feedback or comments on existing feedback. To log in, click the sign in button in the top right-hand corner of the page.
If you are a part of the Office 2007 Technical Beta, you should continue to use the same bug submission tools you have been using.
Did you know that Project ships 8 Gantt chart views? I thought I'd take today to go into what each one displays. To get to most of these views you'll need to go to the View menu - More Views dialog.
Gantt Chart - This is the plain Gantt chart.
Bar Rollup - If you like to rollup subtasks bars to the summary task, this view helps you with formatting.
To roll a task up to a summary task, double-click the task to get to the task information dialog and check "Roll up Gantt bar to summary" on the General tab. In this view you can then specify if you want the task name shown above or below the summary bar by using the Text Above column (only available in this view).
Detail Gantt - This shows the critical path, how far you have slipped, and how far you can slip before other tasks/the project finish date is affected.
Red Bars - Critical tasks (tasks that must be completed on schedule for a project to finish on schedule)
Black Line before a task - Slippage: This shows how far the task's start date has slipped compared to Baseline Start.
Black Line after a task - Slack (specifically Free Slack): This shows the amount of time that a task can be delayed without causing its successor tasks to slip. For a task without successors, free slack is the amount of time that the task can slip without delaying the finish date of the project.
Leveling Gantt - This view shows you how leveling has affected your project. (Wondering what leveling is - check out this help article)
Green bars - Shows you where the bar was before the last time you leveled.
White diamond with black outline - Shows you where the milestone was before the last time you leveled.
Black line before a task - Delay: This helps to show you how leveling has caused a task to be delayed. The line is drawn from Early Start (the earliest date that a task could possible being, based on early start dates of predecessor and successor tasks and other constraints) to Start.
Black line after a task - Slack (specifically Free Slack): This shows the amount of time that a task can be delayed without causing its successor tasks to slip. For a task without successors, free slack is the amount of time that the task can slip without delaying the finish date of the project.
Milestone Date Rollup - When you roll up a milestone to the summary, this view displays the milestone name above the bar and the date below. Regular tasks that are set to roll up will look like milestones on the summary bar.
Multiple Baselines Gantt - This view displays Baseline, Baseline 1, and Baseline 2.
Tracking Gantt - This is our second most popular Gantt chart and is best used when you want to see your critical path.
Dark Gray bars - Baseline
There is a bug in Project 2007 where regular tasks and regular task progress are both drawn with the same blue color and fill. To fix this, when you are in the view, go to Format - Bar Styles and set either Task or Task Progress to have a different look.
Helpful tips:While I don't want to get in to editing bar styles too much since that topic deserves its own post, I'll mention one helpful hint. All the above views are customizable to meet your needs. For example, in the Tracking Gantt, Baseline is displayed but say you want to compare Baseline 5. To do this, just go Format - Bar Styles, and for the Baseline bar style set From to Baseline5 Start and To to Baseline5 Finish. You can do this with other fields too.
Additionally, to quickly set a bunch of tasks to roll up/not roll up, insert the Rollup column.
Exchange Integration provides the ability for team members on a project to view, update, delete and report status on their published tasks in Outlook, Outlook Web Access (OWA) or any other application that is capable of syncing tasks from Exchange Server.
This functionality replaces the Project 2007 Outlook add-in that allowed team member to report status on their tasks and report time against their timesheet. Even though the Exchange Integration feature does not provide the ability to report time against a timesheet, it provides a number of benefits over the Outlook add-in. A few examples of functionality that it provides over Outlook are:
One of the driving goals of this feature is to keep the task experience in Outlook the same for the team members. For us, this meant, that if a team member is familiar with working with Outlook tasks, they should easily transition to using tasks that are synchronized between Exchange and Project Server. Team members will find the same user interface used for Project tasks as they find with regular Outlook tasks, except for a custom Project Task ribbon which changes a few advanced options. Team members use the same interface to mark tasks complete, update their status and categorize their tasks as they would regular Outlook tasks. Also, all their tasks show up in their to-do lists, however, we sync the tasks into folders that are named by the project name the task belongs to, allowing the team member to quickly find tasks for a given project.
Lets walk through a simple example on how this feature works. Jack is a project manager and has a very simple plan, which involves myself to complete some tasks on his project plan. Just like Jack has previously assigned me work, he creates his plan and assigns me to the tasks that I need to complete, In this example, he has assigned me “Task A” and “Task B”. When Jack publishes the plan, the tasks show up in My Work, just like they do if we Exchange Integration is not enabled on the server. I can then go ahead and update my status on the My Work page in PWA, but in addition to the tasks being published to the My Work page, they also show up in Outlook and OWA because Exchange Integration is enabled for me:
From within Outlook or OWA, I am able to see the tasks assigned to me. They show up in my to-do list and in the calendar view:
In addition to showing up in these two places, I can also see a list of all the tasks I am assigned to for a given project:
I can easily go update properties on the task such as percent complete, actual/remaining work, and task name. All the tasks will sync to the team member’s mailbox, independent of the tracking mode. There is no way to enter time phased data in the Outlook task form, so users cannot enter the time phased data like they can in PWA, however the team member can still update the percent complete and actual/remaining work for the task and Project Server will make a best effort on updating the status on the task. When I make this changes, the tasks are automatically synchronized back to Project Server once the client connects back to Exchange Server. Updated tasks are automatically submitted for approval:
Next time Jack opens the project plan, he will see that I have made updates to the tasks assigned to me. At this point he can accept or reject update just like before. If the task update is accepted, the change is applied to the plan. If Jack chooses to reject the update, he can add a comment and it will show up in the notes field of the task for the team member to review.
In addition to updating properties on a task, the team member can create tasks for a project by creating a new task in the appropriate project folder or delete tasks. Both of these actions go through the approval process, just like the it would if the tasks were created or deleted from PWA.
In this release we have also added a new feature called Single Entry Mode (SEM). Patrick Conlan briefly described it in the blog post entitled “Time Tracking in Project Server 2010”. When SEM is enabled the task update data automatically flows into the Timesheet and onto the project plan wherever it is edited, until such time as the timesheet is sent for final timesheet manager approval. It is important to know that Exchange Integration continues to work when SEM is enabled.
This feature is available in the beta release of Project Server 2010 and the setup documentation for the Project Server 2010 describes how to set it up. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you!
Okay, so printing in Microsoft Office Project 2007 might be a little more complex than you're used to. We'll give you that. Need some help figuring out how to get your project data printed and looking professional? Read on.
Printing a view
The first step in printing a view is to set up the view itself so that everything you want to print is displayed appropriately. This may involve things like showing or hiding columns (video), changing row height and wrapping text, or changing column titles in sheet views. If you want to print multiple projects in a single view, you might try printing a consolidated project, which enables you to sort, filter, or group the tasks and resources across multiple projects, all in one printable view.
Once you have the view set up the way you'd like it to print, the next step is to adjust your printing options. If you are printing a Calendar view, you'll need to specify the number of months or weeks you want to print. When printing a view, you can choose to print all notes in the project, or even add a header, footer, or legend.
With your view and printing options all set up, you're ready to print a view. You can even print your project plan to a PDF file, if you'd rather work with a soft copy.
Another option for printing your project data is to generate reports and print those. You can create and print a basic report, a custom basic report, or a visual report.
What's the difference? Basic reports and custom basic reports are generated within Project, and offer a limited reporting experience. Visual reports are generated in Microsoft Office Excel 2007/2003, and Microsoft Office Visio Professional 2007, and use PivotTables and PivotDiagrams to provide a rich, dynamic reporting environment. With this flexibility, visual reports provide a more agile reporting solution than basic reports.
Visual reports are printed through Excel and Visio. For more information on printing in these applications, see the following Help areas:
· Saving and printing in Excel 2007
· Printing in Visio 2007
With so many printing options, it's understandable that you might run into trouble. The following articles may help:
· What I see on the screen is not what prints
· It takes too long to print my project
· Gridlines don't print
· Columns don't print right
The Program Manager in Outlook (Melissa) and one of our Program Managers here in Project (Jon) collaborated on a post explaining the integration between Project Server and Outlook in this release. These posts go into nice detail about how you can manage your tasks directly from Outlook. This is an especially important feature for team members, whom most likely don't have access to Project Professional. The post is broken down into 2 parts:
Hope this will help you understand the integration between the 2 applications.
Hello--I’m Jon Kaufthal, Program Manager on the Project team. A key focus of mine for our upcoming Project Professional 2010 release is the new Team Planner, and I’m excited to introduce you to Team Planner today.
The main idea behind Team Planner is combining the power of the Gantt chart with the simplicity and familiarity of the Outlook calendar. Team Planner lets you:
1. Easily see your team’s work laid out over time
2. Quickly spot problems
3. Drag and drop to resolve those problems
So, what does this look like in practice? Let’s imagine you start with this in Gantt:
To switch to Team Planner, you can click the View tab in the ribbon and then choose Team Planner. At that point, you’ll see this:
A few things to notice here:
1. Each team member’s work is represented in a single row, making it easy to glance across the timescale and see who does what when
2. Overallocations are highlighted in red
In the example above, you can see that Jon is double-booked for part of that first week of October. Luckily, we seem to have at least two good options for how to deal with it.
First, we could move the task in time. In this case, it’s OK for the “confirm speakers” task to happen two days later, so I can simply drag it over to the right a bit. Once I do that, I see:
Notice that the row has shrunk down, and the red is now gone. The work remains assigned to Jon, but moves out to happen two days later.
Alternatively, Brian has some free time and is equipped to do this task as well. It looks like he’s out from Wednesday through Friday of that week, but he has two days open at the beginning of the week. Since that’s all that’s needed for this task, we can simply drag it down one row and a few days to the left. Once I do that, I see:
So we’ve now reassigned the task to Brian, and it’s beginning a few days earlier.
These are just a few basic examples to illustrate the power and simplicity of Team Planner. Making these sorts of schedule adjustments in Team Planner is a simple visual process, letting you focus your attention on keeping your plans on track.
There’s much more to cover in Team Planner, including:
· The unassigned and unscheduled zones
· Automatically resolving overallocations
· Updating your status directly in the view
· Customizing the look and feel of the view: colors, sizing, hiding sections, filtering, grouping
· Seeing/editing more details through tooltips, right-click, double click, and split views
…but I wanted to stick to the basics for this first post. Let us know what you think!
There is a vast number projects being managed in the world and many Project Managers may not be aware of how they could use Project to help them manage these projects. Templates are a way to help Project Managers get started with Project. The goal of the templates is to give you an idea of how you may want to structure your project. Each template suggests milestones, dependencies, and generic resources to give you a starting point. Obviously, you may change the proposed work breakdown structure to fit your needs.
In Project 2007, we have added about 25 new templates to cover additional project scenarios. To give you an idea, these are some of the new templates that will available in Project 2007:
These templates are well structured to help you understand what tasks can occur concurrently and see what the critical path of the project is. We have also made sure that the generic resources match a skill that will help you define what type of resources you will need for the project. In addition, we added a number of notes to tasks to help you understand why a that task is needed or important related information.
Here is a sneak peak at the Vendor RFP Solution template:
Note that the durations for all tasks are marked as estimates (have a question mark). We did not attempt to estimate task durations as they will widely vary for each project.
If anyone has template suggestions, it would be great to hear (though new ideas would not likely make it into Project 2007).
Deliverables is a new feature that shipped in Project Professional 2007. Deliverables provides the ability to publish key dates to a SharePoint site and for others to consume these keys dates within their project plan. This feature helps you to manage cross project dependencies. A project manager can define deliverables within their project plan using Project Professional and have the dates automatically published to a Deliverable SharePoint list within the Project’s workspace. This allows other project manager to take dependencies on the published deliverables within their own Project Plans. When there is a change with a deliverable, such as a change in the finish date, all the project managers who have taken a dependency on the deliverable get informed of the change with the deliverable when they open their project plan. Deliverables provide a way to loosely tie projects together.
This diagram illustrates deliverables at a high level:
When a project manager creates a deliverable or a dependency on a deliverable they have the option to link it to a task. When a deliverable or dependency is linked to a task, it shows an icon beside the task name and displays bars on the Gantt chart. It is important to note that the dates of the task are not tightly coupled with the dates of the deliverable. This is to allow the project manager to work with his/her schedule without altering the dates of the deliverable. It is by design that the project manager needs to explicitly update the deliverable dates. The below screen shot is a project plan with deliverables and dependencies:
So know that you have an idea what Deliverables are, let’s work through an example. The example that I like to use is the release schedule of large software development project, such as Microsoft Office, which has several beta releases before the actual shipment of the product. The overall schedule is managed in a single project plan, but there are many teams, such as Project, Excel, etc, that adheres to the overall schedule, but requires their own detailed schedule that is specific to them. An Office schedule that is just an example that I made up and has no meaning what so ever, may look like this:
Product teams are very interested in the Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM dates and they want to be able to easily keep track of these dates. In order for this to happen, the project manager for the Office schedule must create deliverables for these tasks. Before the PM creates deliverables, they are going have to publish the project to Project Server and create a workspace for the project. To do this:
Once the project is published and the workspace is created for the project, the PM ready to create deliverables. To create a deliverable the PM will have to follow these steps:
The PM for the Office schedule would repeat these steps for each deliverable they want to create. Once they have completed creating the deliverables for Beta 2 and RTM the schedule should look like this:
As you can see from the schedule, there are red bars on the Gantt chart that represent each deliverable. There are also informational icons beside each task indicating that there is a deliverable linked to the task. Now that the PM has created these deliverables, other PMs can view these deliverables from the workspace for the project:
Since the deliverables are published to a SharePoint list, there are many built in benefits. Users can easily setup alerts, create RSS feeds, add additional columns, etc. It is important to note that if you change a deliverable from the SharePoint List, it will give the PM the option to sync the change next time they open their project in Project Professional.
PMs can also now consume these deliverables as dependences from within their own project plans. Going back to our example, the Excel team will want to take dependencies on the Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM deliverables from the Office schedule. This time I am only going to create a very simple project plan with three tasks that represent the Excel team’s project plan. To create a dependency on a deliverable, the PM does not have to publish the project or create a workspace. They only have to do the following steps:
Now a dependency has been created that has been linked to Task A and is dependent on the Beta 1 deliverable from the Office Schedule. These steps will have to be performed for each deliverable, which in this example is Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM. If you have a large number of deliverables to create from already existing tasks, I suggest you read my programmability post on deliverables: http://blogs.msdn.com/project_programmability/archive/2007/02/19/working-with-deliverables.aspx
You will notice that the dependency dates and the task dates are not aligned. The dependency dates are also loosely coupled with the task dates. This is shown in the below image of the Excel project where the yellow Gantt bars show the dependency dates are much further out then the task dates shown by the blue Gantt bar:Now that we have two projects, one with published deliverables and the other with dependencies on the published deliverables, let’s work through an example where one of the deliverables change. Within the Office schedule there is a deliverable, Beta 1, which has a finish date of March 20th 2007. To change the finish date to March 30th 2007:
Now go to the Excel team Project to see how this change has affected the dependency:
Note that the dependency date is now 3/30/2007 and is back in sync with the Beta 1 deliverable.
Hopefully that gives you an idea on how deliverables feature works. This feature truly provides a flexible way to loosely couple projects together that are not affected by the scheduling engine. I have only given a short overview on how to get started with deliverables. Once you start to play around with them, I am sure you will find great uses for the feature.
RACI charts are a convenient tool in the initial planning process for a project, helping to identify the parties that are Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) throughout the project.
To fill out a RACI chart, first you need to determine the functions, decisions, and/or activities that will make up your project. Then, you decide who will be your project's participants. These make up the rows and columns in the chart. To complete the chart, you fill out the grid, identifying how each participant is involved with each function, decision, and/or activity. That is, whether a participant is responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed.
If your organization uses RACI charts to help plan your projects, you may find it helpful to also track RACI designations in your Microsoft Office Project plan.
You can use columns in the Gantt Chart view to track the Responsible and Accountable participants for each task in your project. You may also want to add columns for the Consulted and Informed participants, although these roles are not necessary for every task.
Consider using the Resource Names column to contain the Responsible participants. The Resource Names column lists the resources assigned to each task, so it translates well to the Responsible role in a RACI chart. Also consider using the Contacts column to contain the Accountable participants.
If the Resource Names and Contacts columns are unavailable for you to use for the Responsible and Accountable participants, you can simply add two custom text fields to your view, renaming them accordingly.
The following resources offer guidance on adding columns to a view:
· Hide or show a column (remove or add a column)
· Demo: Add, hide, and show columns in Project
· Watch this: Hide or show a column
Because completing a RACI chart is typically done early in the planning process, you may find it helpful to assign generic resources as the Responsible and Accountable participants.
For more information on assigning and replacing generic resources, see:
· Add resources to your project
· Add resources to the enterprise resource pool
· Substitute resources in a project
You can learn more about using RACI charts in the following articles:
· Inside Microsoft.com: Release Management
· Establish and manage the project stakeholders list
In this post I’ll cover improvements to an everyday command in Project: copying and pasting data.
Though paste likes to keep a low profile, in fact it’s the fourth most commonly used feature in Project. And while Project and Project Server offer many advanced reporting features, a very common form of “reporting” is pasting data into an email, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. And countless surveys and guidelines show that communication is a critical component of good project management.
In Project 2010, we’ve gone “back to basics” in an effort to bring you the output you want with minimum effort on your part. We’ve improved the copy/paste experience when going from Project into the Office apps, and also going from the Office apps into Project.
To illustrate some of the improvements, let’s imagine you get this email from your manager:
As in this example, our customers tell us that many of their projects start outside of Microsoft Project.
To start fleshing this out in Project, you could do the following:
In Project, you’ll then get:
So without any further manual steps, you now have:
And now you’re ready to start fleshing out your project, perhaps breaking down the work and collecting estimates. After some more work, your project might look like this:
Say you want to reply to your manager, or send a summary to team members. To do this, you can simply highlight the relevant columns. In this case I’ll drag to select a range of cells, leaving off the “TBD” tasks and also the “Resource Names” column since that is already shown in the group headings:
From Project, you can now choose Copy (via the Ribbon, context menu, or CTRL+C), and then switch to another application and then paste. If you paste into a new email, you’ll get the table shown here:
So with just a few clicks, you have an email with your table including the grouping, indenting, and formatting you specified. The column headings are automatically carried over. And since this is a standard table, you can use all of the power of Office’s table tools to further modify formatting.
Note that the above focused on working with tabular data, but keep in mind:
We hope these changes save you time and make it easier to share information with your team—in the tools they prefer.
This post comes to us courtesy of Mark Shea of our Office Assistance area.
This post will guide you through the Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 backup and restore process by using the the SharePoint Central Administration Web site.
If you do not already have a remote file share to store the backup files, you must set one up before backing up your environment.
Set up a remote file share
Note The central administrator pool and the Timer service use the same user account.
Note If you receive any errors during the backup or restore process, you must delete the failed “Backup/Restore” timer job before you can run the next backup or restore process. The URL for the Timer service jobs is:
Note You do not have to delete the Timer service job if you did the Project Server 2007 backup or restore by using the stsadm.exe command-line tool.
Note The server farm should be taken offline prior to backup.
To back up your Project Server 2007 installation, do the following:
This section guides you through the Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 restoration process using Central Administration. It describes how to restore over the original server farm. This document does not describe a migration of Project Server 2007 data.
I wanted to let the regular readers of this blog about a change in blog stewardship.
GOOD LUCK!Lidiane has relocated to Boston from Redmond for personal reasons and has joined another Microsoft team there. We wish her well and thank her for her great work on Project 2007 and the Project blog. As a result, she has passed on the blog coordination role to me.
INTRODUCTIONMy name is Treb Gatte and I'm also a Program Manager on the Project Server team. I've been with Microsoft a little over a year and have been a Project Server user since Project Server 2002 Beta.
One of our goals is to increase the number and regularity of posts such that you receive a steady diet of updates and new information. If there's a topic you would like to us to address, please add your request as a comment to this post. I can't guarantee that every submitted topic will be addressed. However, we can't improve our targeting unless we know what you, the reader, needs. Please spread the word about our effort.
EXPECTATIONSI feel it's very important that we inform you of some ground rules going forward.
LINKING.I wanted to address linking expectations from the Project blog, before I receive a request to link to someone’s site. You can use this as a general guideline for the Project Blog and the Programmability blog as our team does both.
You will note, as a service to our readers, we provide a list of Project Community Blogs. These sites were placed here as a result of web searches and not as a result of linking requests. These are blogs or sites which have created content that is freely shared with the Project Community. Most of these sites are either created by Microsoft employees or by our Project MVPs. A great deal of these authors also participate on the UseNet in performing community support for the Project forums there. Consequently, they are viewed as a valuable community resource.
If you have a Project related site and you wish to have us link to you, make it easy for us to find you. You will need to have freely available content that would be of interest to the Project community. You should also practice generally acceptable blogging practices of tagging such that your site will appear in a Technorati or other Blog related search engine. Finding you is worth one hundred requests to link to you.
If you are selling something in addition to the content, please note our link will be to the free content. Otherwise, we could be seen as endorsing your product/service/etc. which we simply can't do. As this process is subjective, we will be very conservative in our linking. If there's any doubts on our part, our default response will be to not link.
EMAILAs I'm now receiving all of the incoming email and trackbacks, I have a simple request. If you have a comment or question, please post it as a comment to an existing post. Many of the emails that I'm receiving are on topics for which I either can't answer or shouldn't answer. If you post your question as a comment, you can draw upon the wealth of Project community that visits the site for a more timely answer.
Again, thank you for your readership! Stay tuned as there's much more content to come.
Hi, It has been a long time since my last post. Sorry for the long delay and I will try to fix this with more frequent post in the future. OK so let’s get to the topic of the day: “Resource Plans, what are they and how should you use them”.
Resource Plans were developed in response to a number of customer requests for a way to estimate corporate resource capacity when some projects are in full execution and others are still in the proposal or planning phase. Therefore, we focused on the part of a project lifecycle where the project is still just an idea or opportunity but not yet established as a project. Yes, resource plans can be used during the execution phase as well but let’s first talk about the pre-project phase.
To “create” a resource plan, all you need to do is add a resource to the list after clicking on the Resource Plan button on any Project page.
Above is a sample resource plan. These resources are linked to a project via the plan but no assignments are made within the project. Simple to create and easy to use or at least I hope you see it that way. As you can see, we are using weekly granularity of assignments in the sample. The granularity can be set from days to years depending upon your own preferences. This enables the resource manager to plan how a resource would be used if the project gets the approval to begin work. This plan uses work resources but any resource type can be assigned. With this resource plan I am demonstrating is how you can mix named resources with generic resources on the same plan.
How does this integrate with Project Professional? Well, simply stated it doesn’t. As I said earlier, these assignments are not within the project or better said they are outside of the project. The only association is through the resource plan itself. Let me guess, you want integrate the planned assignments here with other firm assignments for these same resource on other projects. Well good, capacity planning would be nothing without integration to overall resource availability. But before I dive into this topic, I think we need to see the resource plan settings pane.
All clear? I didn’t think so but without the image it may be too hard to grasp the options representing resource availability on the plan. In the feature we call this utilization calculation but don’t let that confuse you, utilization is just the consumption of availability… right? So what options do we allow? To begin with we default to using the resource plan assignments as if they were real project assignments. This means that the hours booked to the resource plan will deduct from the availability of the resource. The second option is to use the assignments made within the project and to ignore the plan assignments, which is like turning off the resource plan assignments. And the final option is to pull the assignment data from project task assignments up through a certain date after which we will pull the resource plan assignment data.
These options align with three use cases:
1. The resource plan greatly simplifies the assigning of resources and no task level assignments are needed. (frequent customer request)
2.Resource plans are used to estimate resource usage but not to actually commit resource usage; that is left to project task assignments.
3. So in the beginning, the resource plan will account for 100% of the resource commitments on the project. Then when Phase 1 begins and task level assignments are made, and then resource availability will be consumed by the project tasks until the end date of phase 1. And the resource plan will only account for the assignments in Phase 2 and beyond. This represents a rolling project plan.
OK, the last thing to explain is the setting of Work Units. Resource plans offers a new level of resource time allocation, called the FTE. To begin with though, we use the familiar Hours, Days, etc. However; these are all directly associated to minutes which is a very accurate time element. Since one of the overriding design tenets for Resource Plans was to support early planning where estimating is the normal practice. We now offer a new way to specify resource allocations and that is FTE or Full Time Equivalents. FTE is a simplification where the resource manager specifies the amount of time an average full time employee would spend and they do not need to think about how many hours are in a month or year.
Well that’s about it for today. You are probably nearing information overload if not already fully there. Therefore, I am intentionally leaving the FTE definition out of this posting. Next time I will discuss the FTE definition as this can be a full posting in itself.
Resource leveling is the act of taking a project with people assigned to a bunch of tasks, and making it so that they don't have to work overtime. Okay, that might be oversimplifying it a little, but essentially that's what you're doing.
Seriously, what's resource leveling?
Let's back up a bit. So you've got a project with several tasks, and resources assigned to those tasks. Some resources are assigned to multiple tasks, which has resulted in a handful of resources being overallocated. That is, the tasks they're assigned to require more time than they have available for work.
Microsoft Office Project has a cool feature that evaluates your work, generic and committed resource allocations, and adjusts your project so that your resources are no longer overallocated. You simply click Level Resources on the Tools menu, and Project comes up with a solution.
How does leveling work?
Okay, so admittedly, Project's resource leveling feature is pretty neat, but it's designed as a tool, not a replacement for an actual project manager. You're going to need to know what adjustments were made to provide an overtime-free work force, and evaluate whether the solution that Project came up with will work for your project.
When you tell Project to level resources, it does a couple of different things. In some cases, it simply moves the tasks around, so that the overallocated resource works on tasks consecutively, instead of simultaneously. For example, let's say you've got two tasks, Task A has a five-day duration, and Task B has a two-day duration. The tasks are completely unrelated in the schedule, but John is currently scheduled to work on both of them on Monday and Tuesday.
There are no restrictions on when the project needs to end, so when you level the resources for the project, Task B is simply moved to begin after Task A.
In some cases, when you level resources, Project splits a task to make room for the overallocated resource to complete a task during a specific scheduled time. Using this same example, let's say John has to complete Task B on September 2nd and 3rd. When you level resources in this scenario, Project creates a split in Task A, so that John works on Task A for one day, then goes over and works on Task B for two days, then goes back and finishes Task A after Task B is complete.
Prior to leveling, you may want to do a few things to control how the leveling will affect your tasks. You can set task priorities, to control which tasks take precedence over other tasks, and you can set project priorities, so that if you're working with a common pool of resources among multiple projects, the right projects take precedence.
- If you set the priority to 1000, the task will not be leveled.
- To level only certain resources - go to the Resource Sheet, highlight the resources you want to level, and then click on Level Resources.
Learn more about resource leveling in the following articles:
· Distribute project work evenly (level resource assignments)
· Goal: Resolve resource allocation problems
· View resource workloads and availability
That’s right, in 10 days we’ll be kicking off the Project Conference down in Phoenix, Arizona. The product team has been very busy finalizing our presentations and demos to make sure this conference is the best yet. The entire program management team will be there along with a bunch of developers and testers so you will have plenty of chances to interact with the people behind the software.
We are all very excited since we finally get to show off Project 2010 after all the hard work we’ve put into it. Don’t worry though, there will be lots of sessions on Project 2007 too where you can learn how people are using Project today to save money, enhance efficiency, and prepare for future growth (yep, took that last part from marketing).
If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time. Just go to www.msprojectconference.com
Top Reasons to attend (in my opinion):
And in case you are wondering, I will be leading two sessions – ILL 201: Project Professional 2010 Overview on Wednesday (this is a lab session where you will be able to try out Project 2010) and PO 304: Project Desktop Reporting on Thursday. If you are attending and have any feedback about the session, let me know. Well, back to finalizing my demos and figuring out how much sunscreen to pack to survive in the desert…
In Project 2010, we have introduced a new concept called "User-Controlled Scheduling". It's a collection of features designed to make Project a more flexible planning and schedule management tool. The idea is that you, as the project manager, can have complete control over when a task should happen. If and when appropriate, you can leverage Project's powerful scheduling engine to help forecast the date of a task based on various factors like dependencies, calendar, constraints, etc. But at any time, you have the flexibility to manually override Project's automatic calculations.
Ok, what does that really mean you ask? Let me illustrate...
Say you are planning for a new project. You've just talked to a few key stakeholders to get an understanding of the timeframe and deliverables and now you're ready to start building out a schedule. So far, you know the project will be divided into a couple major phases and you have a rough idea of the list of tasks to be completed within each phase. You don't really have all the specific details for every single task yet though. You need to confirm with Joe over at Sales to see if he can arrange for a customer site visit, then talk to Jane from Engineering to see when they can staff up your project, email Jack from Marketing to see if they can do some market research… You get the idea: during the initial planning phase of a project, things can still be very fuzzy.
So, how do you capture all of the high-level, possibly vague information and eventually transform it into a well structured, presentable plan?
With the new release, you can start your planning in Project right from the get-go. Tasks are by default "Manually Scheduled", meaning that you have complete control over their dates. For example, I've just typed in the couple key phases of my project:
You'll notice that that the Start, Finish & Duration fields are blank. When tasks are in this "Manually Scheduled" mode, Project will not automatically calculate and fill in dates for you.
Now let's capture what we do know. For example, we have specific dates for the task "Design" in mind. For "Engineering", we know we have a 2 week budget but don't know the specific date. For "QA", we know we have to be done by 12/1, but not how long it will take. And for Marketing, we need to discuss the timeframe with Jack:
Notice that using Project 2010, tasks do not need to be fully defined - you can leave duration or dates as blank or even type text into those fields. This lets you easily capture uncertainties when planning.
Next, let's break some of these high-level tasks into smaller work items. There are a couple design-related tasks that I want to group together under the "Design" phase, so let's insert and indent them under "Design":
Notice that the "Design" phase, which I had original given 2 weeks of duration, maintained its dates. This lets me plan using a top-down approach, where I can start from high-level dates that may be determined by management or customers, build in buffer for risk management or monitor for potential slippages (as opposed to the bottom-up where I start by defining all the specific work items then work out the roll-up total for each phase). So now I can give the subtasks some specific dates:
Note that there is a small blue bar under the summary - this is the roll-up of all of the subtasks. If I update the subtasks' dates, the blue bar will automatically update. This provides a visual way of indicating whether I still have buffer time in my schedule. I can maintain the high-level timeframe while still getting a summary roll-up of subtasks.
If one of these tasks end up taking longer than expected, and the subtasks end up exceeding the original dates of the summary phase, the roll-up bar will turn red to indicate a slippage:
You'll also notice that there are some red squiggles under the dates. Like the spell-checker in Word highlights spelling errors, the ‘schedule-checker’ highlights potential problems with the schedule. And just like the spell- checker, I can right click on the squiggle to see some possible corrective actions. Here I am going to choose the "Fix in Task Inspector" option to bring up a side pane that will tell me why there may be an issue.
In this case, I am slipping beyond my original 2 week budget on "Design", so I may have to meet with my stakeholder to see if I can get an extension on the "Design" phase, or find a way to reduce scope. In this case, let's say they agreed to letting it slip by 2 days so I can choose the "Extend Finish":
Another example where "Manually Scheduled" mode comes into play is when a task's predecessor slips. Let's say we have underestimated the amount of time the task "Prototype" takes - it's actually 6d instead of 4d:
You'll notice that "Review", which is linked to "Prototype", did not get moved out automatically. Instead the red squiggle appears to indicate a potential problem. This gives me, the project manager, a chance to decide on a mitigation plan. If "Review" truly cannot begin unless "Prototype" is complete, I may choose to enforce the link (it's one of the corrective options on the right-click menu). But of course this means that the "Design" phase will slip again and my stakeholders won't be very happy with me. Another possible mitigation plan is to check if my team can begin reviewing parts of the design as originally scheduled on 10/28, before the prototype is fully completed. If they can, then I no longer need to worry about this warning and just like a spell-checker, you can choose to ignore the warning from the software:
At any point in time if you wish to have Project calculate your schedule for you instead of maintaining manual control, you can toggle your tasks to "Automatically Scheduled" mode. When tasks are "Auto Scheduled", Project will calculate and update their dates automatically just like it has always done in previous versions. In the above example, if I make all my "Design" tasks auto scheduled, the links will always be respected and the summary will automatically update based on its subtasks:
And lastly, if you prefer the existing way of having Project automatically schedule tasks out for you. You can easily change the default task mode to be Auto Scheduled either for the current project, or for the application as a whole:
So, that's all for now for this whirlwind tour of "User-Controlled Scheduling". There are lots more to show but I'll leave them for you to explore when Beta comes out!
When you sit down to think through a project plan, it often makes sense to group the project into several sections. For example, let's say I'm planning a software development project. First, I need to identify the scope for the project, and then write functional specifications documents that detail how the software application should work upon completion. After the specs are written, then the development team gets to work coding the application and handing off builds to the test team. The test team sends the bugs back to the development team for fixing, and eventually a finished product is ready to head out the door to customers. If I take a step back and look at this process, I can identify three distinct phases in my initial description of the work: Planning, Development, and Release. I can represent these phases in my Microsoft Office Project plan using summary tasks and subtasks.
Looking at this example, the summary tasks are "Planning," "Development," and "Release," and the subtasks are the tasks that are indented below each of the summary tasks.
How are summary task dates and durations calculated?
Subtasks determine the start and finish dates for each summary task, as well as the summary task's duration. For this section, let's look closely at the first summary task in the example above, and its subtasks.
Duration. The duration of a summary task is the total duration of its subtasks. Using the example above, we can see that the duration of the "Planning" summary task is 40 days, which is the total duration of the two subtasks (10 days + 30 days).
Start date. A summary task gets its start date from the earliest start date among its subtasks. Using the example above, we can see that the "Planning" summary task takes its start date, 6/26/08, from the "Identify scope" subtask.
Finish date. The finish date for a summary task is the latest finish date among the subtasks. So, in this example, the "Planning" summary task takes its finish date, 8/20/08, from the "Write functional specifications" subtask.
What about resource assignments?
In a typical project, resources are assigned to subtasks, not summary tasks. However, there may be some situations where assigning a resource to a summary task is appropriate. If you decide to assign a resource to a summary task, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, watch out for accidental overallocation. If you assign a resource to a summary task, don't also assign that resource to the subtasks, or the resource may appear overallocated. When dealing with resource allocations, Project treats summary tasks the same as subtasks, so if a resource is 75% allocated to a summary task, and 75% allocated to one of that summary task's subtasks, as well, the resource will appear to be 150% allocated. In actuality, the resource still has 25% availability, but it isn't represented correctly in Project because the resource is assigned to the same task twice.
Also, if a resource is assigned to a summary task, and that resource's time spent on the subtasks stays the same regardless of how the total duration of the subtasks changes, then that resource should be assigned to the individual subtasks, rather than assigned to the summary task. That is, let's say we have a resource, Ana Pavicic, assigned to the "Planning" summary task from our earlier example. Ana is a contract employee, and is required to log exactly 40 days on the subtasks associated with the "Planning" summary task. Currently, that's just fine, because the two subtasks add up to exactly 40 days. However, let's say the "Identify scope" task ends up taking 15 days instead of 10. The "Planning" summary task's duration increases to 45 days. Ana's assignment to the summary task now exceeds her required 40 day contract. Instead, it is better to assign Ana directly to the two subtasks, so that you can easily maintain control of her exact assignments.
Additionally, you should refrain from assigning resources to summary tasks if you do task status updates through Project Web Access. Since summary task dates are driven by their corresponding subtasks, this can cause issues if the resource enters actuals outside of these dates.
Where can I learn more about summary tasks and subtasks?
The following resources can help you learn more about using summary tasks and subtasks in your project:
· Goal: Define phases and tasks
· Outline tasks into subtasks and summary tasks
· Display outlined subtasks and summary tasks
· Assign a resource to a task
· Create and link tasks with Project 2007
One of our support engineers, Anil Kumar, created the following instructions for using SMS to remotely install these controls.
If you are implementing Project Server 2007, your users will have to download the ActiveX controls before they can view Project Center and Resource Center. In order to do this, you have to have the rights to perform the installation. Many corporations have this capability locked down. The alternative is to use a tool like SMS to deploy the controls to your user's machines.
5: XCOPY *.* "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\ /q /r /h /y
7: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\pj12enuc.dll"
9: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\pjres12c.dll"
11: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJPrint12.dll"
13: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJTEXTCONV12.dll"
15: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJGRID12.ocx"
17: regsvr32 /s "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files"\PJQUERY12.ocx"
19: del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\pjcintl.cab" /f /q
21: del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\PJClient.cab" /f /q
23: del "%windir%\Downloaded Program Files\activex.bat" /f /q
This script is presented as is with no warranty. Please test in your environment before running broadly.
UPDATE: Some of the double quotes were in the wrong place in the example above. This has been corrected.