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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Early Project 2010 Feedback and Issues – Part 2

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    Thanks for all the feedback everyone has sent in so far. Here are some of the tops items we’re seeing.

    Fixed Issues -

    Print Preview: The text says “Print Enter Project” instead of “Print Entire Project”. This issue by far we have heard from the most people and we have fixed in the final version.

    Beta - image

    Post-Beta -image

    Exporting to Excel: In the Beta, only the tasks above the first blank line get exported to Excel. In the final version, we have fixed this so all the tasks get exported as expected.

    Setting Hours Per Day and Hours Per Week: This issue didn’t affect all users but it was possible to get into a state where you couldn’t adjust the Hours Per Day and Hours Per Week setting in the Options dialog. This has also been fixed in the final version. In the meantime, you can get around this issue by using VBA. The following line of code will update these settings, just replace # with the number you want to set them to.

    OptionsCalendar HoursPerDay:=#, HoursPerWeek:=#

    Common Questions -

    Entry Bar: In Project 2010, we have turned off the entry bar by default since we noticed people were not using it in usability studies and we want to remove any unnecessary elements from the UI. For those of you who dearly miss it, you can easily turn it back on. Go to File – Options – Display and check “Entry Bar”.

    Before -

    image

    After -

     image

    Setting Constraints: It is by design that you can’t set constraints for manually scheduled tasks (the dropdowns are disabled). The fact that the task is manually scheduled is a lot like the task having a constraint on it since the task is not going to automatically get re-scheduled. You can still set a deadline on manually scheduled tasks. For more information see this blog post.

    Re-sizing Rows: Several people have asked how to re-size all the rows at once. This works the same as Excel. To do this, click the box in the top left corner of the view:

    image

    This will select all the rows in the project. Now, drag the row divider for one of the rows to the height you want all the rows to have. This will set all rows to the same height. This works the same way in Project 2007 too.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: See work at a glance with the Calendar View

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    Whether chiseled onto ancient stone walls, or hung from your kitchen wall, calendars are often the preferred way to view the progress  of events, tasks, and even entire projects. So, too, with the Calendar view in Project 2007 and Project 2010. If you need project information presented in an attractive and efficient way, then take a look at the things you can do with the Calendar view.

    image First things first. To open the Calendar in Project 2007, click Calendar on the View menu. For  Project 2010, click the View tab, and then click Calendar in the Task Views group.

    To create a task    Click and then drag the mouse across the Calendar for the duration of the task.

    To increase task duration   Move the cursor over the right side of the task bar until the cursor becomes a right-pointing arrow  image , then click and drag the task.

    To link tasks    Move the cursor over the first task on the Calendar. Make sure the cursor doesn’t become a four-pointed arrow before linking the tasks. Now, click and drag the cursor to the second task—but don’t release the mouse button until the cursor becomes a chain-link symbol clip_image002.
                   clip_image004
    To move a task    Move the cursor over the edge of the task until the cursor becomes a four-pointed cursor, then drag the task.

    To format the task    Right click on the task, and then click Bar Styles.

    To copy the Calendar    To copy the Calendar using Project 2007 into another program, like Word or in an e-mail message, click Copy Picture  clip_image006 on the Formatting toolbar. For Project 2010. click the Task tab, and then click Copy Picture.

                     clip_image008

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Working with Text

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    Project 2010 makes it easier to work with text in your project plan. In this post I’ll cover how:

    • The “Add New Column” interface allows you to easily add and insert columns
    • Autocomplete saves you time and keystrokes when entering text data
    • Text wrapping lets you see all the relevant details without having to manually resize rows

    Before diving in, I should note that these aren’t the only improvements we’ve made to working with text in Project 2010. As detailed in previous posts, some other enhancements include rich copy and paste and support for millions of colors.

    ADD NEW COLUMN

    Just like previous versions of Project have let you add new tasks by simply typing in empty rows at the bottom of your project plan, the “Add New Column” allows you to add new columns just by typing in place.

    Project’s default view contains the most commonly-used columns, like Task Name, Duration, Start, and Finish. But we wanted to make sure it was straightforward to add additional columns that are meaningful to you, whether you’re adding a built-in Project field like % Complete, or your own custom field like “Open Issues” or “Review Date”.

    There are a few ways to add a column to your plan:

    • Click Insert Column from the View tab in the ribbon
    • Right click on any column header and choose Insert Column or press the Insert key on your keyboard
    • Just type directly into the column labeled Add New Column to the right of your other existing columns.

    Instead of a dialog box, you get a streamlined experience in-place. The list of fields narrows down as you types, so that you start with something like this:

    clip_image001

    ..and then as you type you’ll see the list shrink down:

    clip_image002

    …and end up with your new column inserted:

    clip_image003

    This experience applies both for built-in and custom fields. Let me explain that distinction a bit more for those unfamiliar with it…

    Project has a mixture of pre-defined fields like Duration, and custom fields which you can define and use for your own purposes. By comparison, every column in Excel is “custom”, where you start with a blank spreadsheet and enter your own column names.

    Since Project is for managing projects, we know you’re likely to use concepts like Duration and Start date, and so the application has logic built around these fields. Of course, sometimes you simply want to capture additional “metadata” about a given item—as an example, you might want to add a “Risk level” field for each task. That’s where custom fields come in. Custom fields also include many “advanced” features like different data types, formulas and indicators, and more. Covering these is outside the scope of this post, but for more info, start here.

    The concept of the Add New Column is that you don’t need to know or worry about any of these details, and you can simply interact with your plan like you would an Excel spreadsheet. You just start typing! If you want to know the behind-the-scenes details, though, here’s some more about how this works:

    Say you click in the Add New Column header and type “foo”. Project will now add a column called “foo” to your plan, and a “new” Add New Column will appear to the right in case you want to add more fields. Project will automatically use a text custom field, unless you specify otherwise, and Project will also automatically select the next available custom field number, so that you don’t need to worry about whether you’re using Text6 or Text7.

    In fact, you can also just type into a task row underneath the Add New Column. In that case, Project will automatically infer the field type (such as date, number, text) based on what you’ve entered, and add an appropriate custom field column to accommodate that data so you can just keep typing. If you want to adjust things later on, you can always:

    • Rename the column by simply double clicking in the column header and typing in the header. This works for built-in and custom fields.
    • Click the column header and then drag to change the order of columns
    • Change the field type by right-clicking on the custom field header and choosing Data Type:

    clip_image004

    To hide or bring back the Add New Column, use the Display Add New Column checkbox under the Column Settings dropdown on the Format tab in the ribbon.

    These specifics should help for users familiar with previous versions of Project, or those curious to understand the internal details. But our intention in the design of the Add New Column is that if you simply want to add a column of text, it “just works” with zero learning curve, so you can focus on the content of your plan.

    AUTOCOMPLETE

    Project 2010 also delivers a time-saver familiar to Excel users: autocomplete for text. In this example, I’ve added a custom field named “Rough Cost”. Since “Medium” appears in another task row, it’s automatically suggested here as soon as I type “M”. I can keep typing to ignore the suggestion, or if I want to enter “Medium” I just press the Enter key and move directly to the next line.

    clip_image005

    Autocomplete works both in the grid and in column headers.

    TEXT WRAP

    Project 2010 automatically increases the height or individual rows to accommodate wrapped text, like this…

    Type into the cell:

    clip_image007

    …and then press Enter:

    clip_image008

    If you prefer manual height adjustment, you can control this setting by right-clicking on the column header.

     

    If we’ve done our jobs right, the Add New Column, Text Wrapping, and Autocomplete will seem so natural as to go largely unnoticed. But they represent some new ways in which Project 2010 brings the flexibility and familiarity of Excel together with the power of Project.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks for Project Show filtered tasks with other tasks

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    Sometimes, when filtering tasks, wouldn’t it be great if you could see filtered tasks with all the tasks, at the same time? Maybe you want to view filtered tasks within the context of all tasks.

    For example, Knowing which tasks have deadlines and which don’t can help you prioritize tasks by deciding, say, where to re-allocate resources on the project as important deadlines begin to loom.

    Welcome to filter highlighting.

    Here are two task lists. The first has not been filtered. The second one has been filtered to show tasks that have a deadline—with the filtered tasks highlighted in blue.

       image

      

       image

    Here’s how to create a highlighted filter in Project.

    1. In Project 2007, on the Project menu, click Filtered For, and then click More Filters.
      In the dialog box. select the filter you want to apply (or create a new filter).
    2. Click the Highlight button.
    3. Note   In Project 2010, on the View tab, select the type of filter you want to highlight in the Highlight list:

      image 

    Presto! You’ll see the filtered tasks highlighted.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Millions of Colors

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

     

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

     

     

     

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

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

    image

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

    image

    To this:

    image

    Or this:

    image

    Or even this:

    image

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

    image

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Task Statusing and the new Grid

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    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.

    clip_image037

    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.

    clip_image039 clip_image041

    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”.

    clip_image043 clip_image045 clip_image047

    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.

    clip_image048 clip_image050 clip_image052

    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.

    clip_image054 clip_image056

    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 :)

    clip_image060clip_image062

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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!

    clip_image066clip_image068

    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

    Tips and Tricks: Change the table quickly

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    Tables consist of columns that show specific information about task and resources. Here’s a quick way to turn the tables on your project. Right click the Select All button in the upper left-hand corner of any Project view that uses a table, such as the Gantt Chart view, Task Usage view, or Resource Sheet view. A list of table appears for you to pick. In the example, below, the Cost table has been applied to the Gantt Chart.

    image

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Copy and Paste

    • 16 Comments

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

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

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

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

    clip_image001

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

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

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

    In Project, you’ll then get:

    clip_image003

    So without any further manual steps, you now have:

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

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

    clip_image005

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

    clip_image007

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

    Pasted into email - cropped2

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

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

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

    clip_image009

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing the Backstage view

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    Hi, it’s Jon K again. In this post, I’ll introduce Project 2010’s new Backstage view. The Backstage view is the new experience seen when you click on the File tab in Project 2010. While the other ribbon tabs focus on things you do in your project (add tasks, edit resources, change formatting), the Backstage view is focused on things you do to your project as a whole—for example, save, print, and share.

    The Backstage view is new across all Office apps for 2010, whereas the ribbon was a part of other Office applications for Office 2007 but is also new for Project 2010. In this post, Clay provides some background on the thinking behind the introduction of the Backstage view. His comments there apply to Project  as well, so I recommend you take a break from this post and go read his post first if you’re new to the Backstage view. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

    OK, welcome back. When you click the File tab in the ribbon to enter the Backstage view, you’ll see a new list of tabs down the side: Info, Recent, New, Print, Save & Send, Help. Additionally, there are single-click “fast commands” for frequent options like Save, Save As, Publish, Open, and Close. Below these tabs you’ll also find a button to configure Project options.

    When you first click the File tab in Project, you’ll see Project’s Info tab:

    clip_image001

    The Info tab is where you can get high-level status about your project and make related changes. A few things to notice:

    • The Backstage view is full screen. Since you’re not working with the content of your document, the Backstage takes over the screen and allows for more screen space to describe the relevant features
    • “Temporary” sections provide status about special conditions such as a Read-Only file as shown above.
    • The info tab also provides:
      • A convenient place to reference the location of your document, and copy it to the clipboard
      • A place to manage your connections to Project Server (if any)
      • A link to the Organizer, where you can move project elements
      • A thumbnail view of your project, which you can click to exit the Backstage view
      • A place to view and edit key properties of your project. For example, you can click on the Status Date to directly edit inline

    When you’re connected to Project Server, you’ll see a number of new Info tab options “light up” as shown here:

    clip_image002

    As you can see, a number of Project Server-dependent features are now shown, such as:

    • A convenient link to your Project Web App home page
    • Date/time of your last publish to PWA, and a button to publish again
    • Buttons to check for updates, manage permissions, and work with the enterprise global

    The right-side pane now also lets you control the tracking method, edit custom fields values, and link to related information like documents, issues, and risks.

    I won’t go into as much detail on the other tabs here, but here’s a quick overview:

    • The Recent tab provides quick access to your recently opened projects, and lets you pin the projects you want to always keep on the list
    • The New tab brings together a number of ways to start a project, including:
      • Blank new project
      • Recent templates, local templates, and Project Server templates
      • New from existing project, from Excel workbook, or from a SharePoint task list
      • Templates from Office.com, which you can now navigate and open directly in Project without having to open a Web browser
    • The Print tab combines print preview with changing common print settings, providing a convenient all-in-one interface for printing. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
    • The Save & Send tab (this was called “Share” in the Beta) is where you go to publish to Project Server, sync a list to SharePoint, change your file format, save as PDF or XPS, send as an email attachment, and more
    • Project’s Help tab is similar to that of the other Office apps and is described here.
    • Finally, Options takes you to Project’s options interface, which we’ve redesigned for 2010 and perhaps we can cover that in more detail separately.

    The Print tab is a good example of the benefits of the full-screen experience in the Backstage. Where before you might have had to toggle between setup dialogs and preview, the new print experience lets you change the common settings and immediately see the impact in the preview. So you can easily change your printer, number of copies, page layout, date range, and the like and then hit Print once you’re ready. Here’s what this looks like:

    clip_image003

    There’s more to discover, but I hope this overview gives you a sense of what’s new with the move to the Backstage view and why we hope you’ll find it useful.

    Finally, if you’re interested in programmatically customizing the Backstage view, see here.

  • 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.

    image

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Changing Constraints Back to Normal

    • 1 Comments

    Now you’ve done it. You created a number of tasks in Project 2007 using start dates that you entered manually. Or maybe someone handed you a schedule with many “Must Start On” constraints applied to tasks. Unless you have a good reason to use non-default constraints or manually entered dates on tasks, it is best to let project figure out the proper constraint and dates after you set up the relationship between tasks. Project will typically apply the “As Soon As Possible” (ASAP) constraint, for example, to tasks, because this constraint best reflects how most tasks are typically scheduled in the real world.

    So how do you clean up a project with messy constraints and switch them back to Project’s preferred ASAP constraint? You could hunt for them one task at a time. But that’s too much work. Or you could add a Constraint Type column to a view, and search for them that way, but a bunch of work still remains. A better solution: search for the problem dates or constraints, and then have Project replace them automatically.

    1. On the Edit menu, click Replace.
    2. In the Replace dialog box, set up a search criterion that says something like “Find all tasks that don’t have an As Soon As Possible constraint and change it back this constraint.” Now this is going to look a little backwards in the dialog box, but here it is:

    image

    1. In the dialog box, I specify in the Look in field list, that I want to search only within values in the Constraint Type field.
    2. In the Test list, I specify a condition of “does not equal”, which applies to the value in the Find what box. What this means is that if a constraint value is found that is not “As Soon As Possible,” then the constraint needs to be changed to “As Soon As Possible.”

    I told you that it seems a little backwards, but that’s how it goes sometimes in software.

    Now, you don’t have to stop there. You can enter specific dates to look for in the Find what list, with a Test of “equals”, and replace those dates with an ASAP constraint.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Business Intelligence Overview

    • 9 Comments

    This post will provide an overview of the Business Intelligence (BI) investments that were made in Microsoft Project Server 2010.

    A Brief History

    In Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, the focus for reporting was on infrastructure, where we provided the infrastructure to make accessible reporting data available.  The new reporting database allowed you to more easily query data from Project without the need for advanced SQL skills.  The OLAP Database was also enhanced to 13 new cubes to provide richer data.

    Feedback indicated a need to provide further data segmentation of OLAP data.  Since we only had the one OLAP database, it contained all data.  Administrators wanted the ability to build more targeted and smaller OLAP databases based on a particular user audience.  They also needed a way to easily customize what data was contained within the OLAP database.  For example, having cost data in an OLAP database that was used by contractors made many administrators nervous.

    For accessing the data, we also released two SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) Report Packs.  Feedback indicated that this was a step in the right direction, but any solution that started with “Open Visual Studio” didn’t address the core data accessibility issue.  Another issue was the people who typically need to create reports don’t usually have the requisite SQL skills or access to programming tools to write the reports for SSRS.

    Project Server 2010:  Make Data Richer and Easily Accessible

    Consequently, three major investments were made in Project Server 2010 in OLAP, the Reporting Database and in Excel integration to address these needs.

    Multiple OLAP Database Support

    Multiple OLAP Database support enables the administrator to configure, customize and provision OLAP databases based on the particular needs of the target audience.  There are two primary ways that the OLAP database can be customized.

    Filtering the Data

    In Project Server 2010, an OLAP database’s data can be filtered based on a combination of date range, Project Department and Resource Department.  This provides a way to easily filter the OLAP data to the information relevant to a given user group.   In this case, the Information Technology OLAP database will only contain project and resource data that is assigned to their department.  No more having to filter out the Marketing projects to get an IT report!

    clip_image001

    Controlling The Data Elements Published

    The second way of customizing an OLAP database is to specify which data elements are included in a given database.   The ability to add or remove custom fields as dimensions and measures is an easy operation.  For intrinsic data such as baselines and cost data, you can exclude the data from the OLAP database by merely deselecting the box for that data type.  If you are using the new Inactive Tasks feature, you can also easily exclude this task type from the OLAP data.  Lastly, if you like handcrafted MDX, you can add your own calculated measures to the database via the user interface.

    clip_image002

    New Data in the Reporting Database

    A number of new data elements were added to the Reporting database in this release.  Now it is possible to create report using Timesheet administrative time data and timesheet custom fields data.  This enables the user to get a much richer view of where time has logged, as well as other uses like a list of planned vacation time or planned training time.  We also added data related to the new portfolio and workflow functionality.  Lastly, if you’ve used project properties in the past in Project Professional, these are now populated into the Reporting database.

    Excel Based Reporting

    In order to make data easily accessible, we need to use a tool that most people already have and know how to use.  Since the most commonly used tool for BI data visualization is Excel, it was a natural fit for the need.  Excel also made it easier for end users to extend the solution with creating new reports or assembling reports into a dashboard.

    In enabling the use of Excel as our BI solution, we made the following investments:

    New Business Intelligence Center

    This new website is created beneath PWA to house Excel, SSRS and PerformancePoint content.  This enables a one stop shop for all BI needs. 

    clip_image003

    Pre-Connected Excel reports

    Connecting users to their data proved to be a challenge for many.  Therefore, we provide some pre-configured and pre-connected reports which can be used as dashboard components or as report starters to build your own version.  The example below is the Timesheet Actuals report, which was built based on the needs of a customer who was using our time tracking solution in Project Server 2007.

    clip_image004

    Pre-Connected Reporting Database Templates

    We also provide pre-connected blank templates for report creation over the Reporting database.  These templates focus on key entities within Project Server.  This makes it much easier to create quick reports on these specific items.  The templates are:

    • Dependent Projects
    • Issues
    • Project And Assignments
    • Projects And Tasks
    • Resources
    • Risks
    • Timesheet

    Automatic Pre-Connected Template Creation for OLAP Databases

    When an administrator builds a new OLAP database, Project Server 2010 will automatically create a pre-connected blank template for each of the 14 cubes.  This makes it easy for a user to create reports quickly.  These templates include:

    • OlapAssignmentNonTimephased
    • OlapAssignmentTimephased
    • OlapDeliverables
    • OlapEpmTimesheet
    • OlapIssues
    • OlapPortfolioAnalyzer
    • OlapProjectNonTimephased
    • OlapProjectSharePoint
    • OlapProjectTimesheet
    • OlapResourceNonTimephased
    • OlapResourceTimephased
    • OlapRisks
    • OlapTaskNonTimephased
    • OlapTimesheet

    In addition to the templates, an Office Data Connection library is created and pre-populated.  These connections are used by the templates and sample reports, and these remove the need for the user to know the server name, database name and SQL.  In all cases, users can copy and modify these files to extend the reporting to meet their own needs. 

    Lastly, multi-lingual support is now provided.  For each language pack installed on the server, a folder with the requisite templates for each language will be generated.

    Pulling It All Together

    In the end, you can use Excel reports to share information, either by email, SharePoint or aggregating a number of reports into a dashboard.

    In the dashboard example below, I’ve created a Project Dashboard which shows me a time phased look at actual work versus planned work for the project, as entered from My Tasks.  Below it, I can see upcoming milestones report, which has time based conditional formatting of the Finish Date to highlight overdue milestones and upcoming milestones.  With this, I can see if hours were logged against the project as planned and see what milestones are impacted if the numbers are low.

    clip_image005

  • 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

    Project 2010: Introducing Exchange Integration

    • 4 Comments

    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:

    • Ability to report status from OWA
    • No add-on to deploy to the team member’s computer
    • Seamless integration with Outlook Tasks

    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 WinProj

    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:

    Task List 2

    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:

    Outlook Sample 1

    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:

    To WinProj

    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!

    Chris Boyd

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Get the scoop quickly

    • 1 Comments

    The biggest question in project management is: How is my project going? The quickest way to learn this is to take a look at the Project Statistics dialog box in Project 2007. To get to this, on the Project Menu, click Project Information, and then click the Statistics button.

    image

    At a glance, you can find the following:

    • At the top, you can review start and finish dates for the currently estimated, baseline, and actual  dates, as well as the variances.
    • At the bottom, you can review the current, baseline, actual, and remaining values for duration, work, and cost.

    Now, wouldn’t it nice if doing your taxes and balancing your checkbook were this easy?

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing AutoFilter

    • 7 Comments

    In Project 2010, we made a big update to AutoFilter in the client. Now from the column header you can sort, filter on, and group by the field. Essentially there are four zones:

    image Sorting: Depending on the type of field, you can sort alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically.

    Group By: You can select to group explicitly on the field, or group on an interval specific to the field type. For example, for date fields this looks like:image
    If you aren’t sure why to use group by, check out this post.

    Filters: While you can easily use the checkboxes to select which values to display, the filter flyout allows you to do this more quickly based on the selected criteria.

    Date Fields:                    Duration Fields:
    image image

    Checkboxes: These allow you to select which values to display by simply checking/un-checking the values. For example, if I uncheck October then none of the task that start in October will be displayed.

    AutoFilter is on by default in Project 2010. If you aren’t seeing it, you can turn it on by going to View tab – Filter dropdown – and selecting Display AutoFilter.

    You can tell an AutoFilter is applied since the column header displays the funnel shape image . Additionally, the Status Bar displays “AutoFilter Applied” and if you hover over it, you can see which fields are affected:

    image

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010 Webcast: Project 2010 Overview

    • 2 Comments

    Would you like to see the forthcoming Microsoft Project 2010 release
    demonstrated live?

    PC_Webcast_Email_Blast

    Keshav Puttaswamy, Group Program Manager, Microsoft, will discuss and demonstrate core capabilities and features of the upcoming release – Microsoft Project 2010. The webcast will cover the key bets of unifying project & portfolio management, improving execution with effective collaboration, enhancing user experience & appeal, and simplifying deployment & interoperability.

    Join us to learn how you can utilize the powerful capabilities included in Project 2010. Obtain unique insights into how the next release will continue to support your business during the first in a 3 part series, delivered by Microsoft engineers and product managers.

    Microsoft Project 2010 Webcast: Project 2010 Overview

    Presenter: Keshav Puttaswamy, Group Program Manager, Microsoft

    Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Times: 7:00am – 8:00am PST and 6:00pm – 7:00pm PST

    Register now for this session or one of these upcoming complimentary sessions:

    clip_image004

    PC_Webcast_Email_Blast

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Video: Project 2010 – Editing Very Large Projects

    • 1 Comments

    As promised in our post where we introduced Web Based Editing, we now have a video to demonstrate the speed with which you can edit a large project in Project Web Access. This project has 6,300 tasks and, as you can see from the video, in just a few short seconds you can load the project and make edits to the plan.  Just one of the many new features to look forward to in Project 2010.

     

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Early Project 2010 Feedback and Issues

    • 15 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Time Tracking in Project Server 2010

    • 12 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

    4. Exchange and Outlook Integration (Chris Boyd)

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

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

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

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

    Overview

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

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

    Task Statusing and the Grid

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

    clip_image001

    Figure 1 - Tasks Page

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

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

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

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

    Timesheets and Single Entry Mode

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

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

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

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

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

    Here is a screenshot of the Timesheet:

    clip_image002

    Figure 2 - Timesheet Page

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

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

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

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

    Approval Center

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

    clip_image003

    Figure 3 - Approval Center

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

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

    Exchange and Outlook Integration

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

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

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

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

    Chris will talk about this more in an upcoming post.

    Why Track Time?

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

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

    Patrick Conlan
    Project Development Team, Redmond.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Calling all Admins – There’s a New Blog for You

    • 0 Comments

    Announcing the Admin Blog!  Coinciding with the release of Public Beta, we are aggregating all Project Administrator / Implementer content into a TechNet blog located at  http://blogs.technet.com/projectadministration

    The content of this blog will cover setup, upgrade, performance, backup/restore and planning topics for Project Server 2010/Project Client 2010.  We will also have Project Server 2007/Project Client 2007 and Project Portfolio Server 2007 related topics as needed.  We will also use this blog to announce patches, administration best practices and temporary issues with installs/upgrades.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Now Available – Project 2010 Beta!!!

    • 2 Comments

    You’ve heard the buzz, seen the posts, now check it out for yourself – the Project 2010 Beta is now available!!!

    To download: Click here for Project. You can download the other Office applications from here

    To send feedback: Use Send-a-Smile. When you install Project 2010, you’ll notice that a smiley face and frown now appear in your taskbar. You can use these to send feedback on your experience with Project. To help us out make sure to use the word “Project” in the comments section and include your email address so we can follow up with you if we have any questions.

    To get help: Visit the Project 2010 forums

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Tips and Tricks: Contour your work

    • 3 Comments

     

    A typical work week is rarely typical. Yet, you can plan for this with a Project 2007 feature called “work contours.” If you discover that there is a consistent work pattern in your organization where people are assigned to work more hours at the beginning of a task than at the end, you can have Project account for this using assignment contours. Or, perhaps a task requires more work in the middle of it than at the beginning to account for ramp-up time.

    No problem. After assigning a person to a task, switch to the Task Usage view from the Tools menu. The tricky part is double-clicking the person’s name assigned to a task and not the task itself. This brings up the Assignment Information dialog box (which is what you want since you’ll be adjusting an assignment and not the task itself).

                             controudialog

    In the Work Contour list, select the type of work assignment pattern that makes sense for the work that will be performed on the task. Now, in the list of patterns, you may not know the difference between a “Turtle” and “Bell” contour, so it’s best just to apply different contours and see how the hours automatically “shape” themselves in the timesheet portion of the Task Usage view. The view should now look like this:

                            contour

    In the image above, two different contours are used: a “Bell” contour and a “Front-loaded” contour, as you can tell by the icon on the left.

    On the right side of the view, Tom has his work hours shaped, or “contoured,” to reflect a front-loaded work pattern.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Demand Management

    • 2 Comments

    Demand Management is about capturing all work proposals in one single place, taking these proposals through a multi-stage governance process, making decisions on which proposals to approve and tracking progress on their execution until the work is completed. A key component within Demand Management is the Workflow governance model we have now implemented within Microsoft Project Server 2010.

    The "Proposals" feature in Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 helps capture demand in one place, but is not flexible enough and does not have a full-fledged governance workflow behind it. The "Builder" module in Project Portfolio Server 2007 is a flexible demand management paradigm, but does not have a familiar Project Server/Office SharePoint Server look and feel and also has some usability, scalability problems. The Demand management functionality in Microsoft Project Server 2010 is designed to be both flexible and usable.

    In project portfolio management (PPM), a project lifecycle is a long-running process that spans various governance phases. Typical demand management phases are create, select, plan, and manage (customers can create their own).

    The "Plan" phase is accomplished by the more familiar project management processes using Project Professional and Project Web Access. Workflow models the governance processes and provides a structured way for projects to proceed through the phases. Workflows, along with other key concepts, are captured and integrated within the demand management feature set, providing a rich and dynamic platform on which customers and partners can build custom solutions.

    The figure below shows the four typical phases of demand management and how they fit together. Within each phase are stages such as propose idea and initial review. Each stage can have an associated project detail page (PDP) in Project Web Access (PWA). The entire collection of stages represents a single workflow that can be linked to an enterprise project template (EPT). More details about these concepts given below.

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    Governance Workflow

    A governance workflow is all about creating a rich life cycle for any proposal/demand that comes into the system. It includes defining the various stages through which the project goes in its lifecycle (for example, Proposal Creation, Proposal Initial Approval, etc), determining what information is required or locked at what stage (for example, budget cost should be locked down after the project is approved), including any manual approval/notifications steps as necessary and adding any business logic to update other Line Of Business Systems (for example, update the SAP system when the proposal budget gets approved).

    The Project Server workflow platform is built on the Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow platform, which in turn is based on the Windows Workflow Foundation. Workflow is a key component of demand management.

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    A Project Server workflow runs on a Project Web Access site and helps to manage a sequence of activities or alternate sets of activities related to project management such as Check Project Custom Field Value and Publish Project.

    Project Server 2010 workflows use the Site workflow paradigm, which removes the restriction that a Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow can be started only on a list item. Project Server workflows are deployed to Project Web Access, and workflow instances can be run only as a project entity.

    The figure below shows the high-level processes for workflow creation, administration, and use.

    Note: Project Server workflows must be created in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. Project Server workflows cannot be created from Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010.

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    The administration of Project Server workflows is identical to managing any other Windows SharePoint Services 2010 workflow, thereby providing more consistency between Project Server and Windows SharePoint Services 2010 and reducing redundant work. Workflow instances are created when a project is created and are deleted when the project is deleted/completed/rejected.

    Unlike in Windows SharePoint Services 2010, a user does not start a workflow instance from the administration page that lists all the Project Server workflows.

    Enterprise Project Type

    An enterprise project type (EPT) represents a wrapper that encapsulates phases, stages, a single workflow, and PDPs. Each EPT represents a single project type. Normally, project types are aligned with individual departments, for example, marketing projects, IT projects, HR projects, and so forth. Using project types helps to categorize projects within the same organization that have a similar project life cycle. For a user, the EPTs appear in a drop-down list of project types when the user clicks New Project in Project Web Access.

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    Phases

    Phases represent a collection of stages grouped together to identify a common set of activities in the project life cycle. Examples of phases are project creation, project selection, and project management. Phases do not have any direct technical impact on the behavior of an EPT. That is, changing the order of phases does not affect how the system reacts. The primary purpose of demand management phases is to provide a smoother user experience where users have the option of organizing stages into logical groups.

    Stages

    A stage represents one step within a project lifecycle. A stage is composed of one or more project detail pages (PDPs) linked by common logic or theme. Stages at a user level appear as steps within a project. At each step, data must be entered, modified, reviewed, or processed.

    At a technical level, each stage represents a step where data is manipulated before the workflow can move to the next step. For a single-stage workflow, very little programming is involved. The user enters all of the data in one PDP, and can then work on the project as she normally would. For a multi-stage workflow, each stage is separated by an activity (SetProjectStage) within a Visual Studio workflow diagram. The actual SetProjectStage activity acts as a marker between stages and sets default properties of the next stage. The activities that follow SetProjectStage outline the actions that must take place within the next stage.

    Note   The actual stage itself is not created within Visual Studio. The stage must first be created in Project Web Access. After the stage is created, you can link to that stage within Visual Studio.

    Project Detail Pages in Stages

    A PDP represents a single Web Part Page in Project Web Access. PDPs can be used to display or collect information from the user. You can create PDPs in much the same way you create any Web Part Page in a SharePoint site, where you can add Web Parts that provide the experience you want. You can add individual Web Parts from the standard Web Part galleries to create custom Web Parts.

    Project Server Web Parts and custom Web Parts used in demand management all contain custom fields. Web Parts can make calls to the PSI, query the reporting database, or integrate with external systems.

    The figure below shows the general hierarchy of the parts of demand management in Project Server 2010.

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    Workflows are associated with the stages. From a programming standpoint, PDPs are not actually referenced within the workflow. The PDPs simply act as containers to hold or display data. The workflow can however, references custom fields in the Web Parts.

  • Microsoft Project 2010

    Project 2010: Introducing Portfolio Analysis

    • 2 Comments

    In Project Server 2010, a rich set of new Portfolio Strategy features are now available in the core Project Server product serving to more closely unify project and portfolio management. Those familiar with Portfolio Server 2007 will recognize many of these features, but will appreciate the enhancements made possible by rebuilding them on the Project Server platform. Highlights include:

    · UI is now SharePoint-based, making these features easier to use and provides visual consistency with the rest of the app

    · A gateway linking the Portfolio Server product is no longer required, everything resides with one product

    · Full API support now available for these features via the Project Server Interface (PSI), and some integration with the Reporting Database (RDB).

    This seamless unification of two products into one consolidated offering makes end-to-end project and portfolio management easier than ever. In addition to the core platform integration highlights, we’ve adding a brand new Resource Analysis feature that enables portfolio-level project scheduling and analysis based on organizational resource availability.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the Portfolio Strategy feature set, it essentially allows organizations to methodically select projects that will yield the most value for their dollar. By adding intelligent structure to how project investment decisions are reached, executives can minimize the irrationality and fog that comes from making “gut feel” disposition decisions based on limited data and analysis, or based on unqualified or unclear business goals. At a high-level, the feature set works as follows:

    · Organizations define and prioritize their strategic objectives, or business drivers.

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    Drivers can be prioritized using the pair-wise comparison method to reinforce objectivity.

    · Costs and resource requirements are assigned to each project proposal, and a proposal’s impact on each business driver is rated, generating relative project value/priority score across a portfolio.

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    The Resource Plan feature can be used to specify high-level project resource requirements to be fed into the new Resource Analysis feature.

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    Portfolio analysts can review the project-to-driver impact ratings assessed by the project owners and make adjustments if necessary.

    · Portfolios are constrained by cost categories, time-phased resources requirements, and project schedule. The Portfolio Cost Constraint Analysis engine selects projects that yield the most value with the lowest cost, while the Resource Constraint Analysis feature chooses higher priority projects based on resource availability within a planning period’s timeline.

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    Given a limited budget, the Cost Analysis algorithm will select a portfolio that maximizes strategic value while minimizing cost.

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    The new Resource Analysis feature helps you identify gaps in demand vs. availability, favoring higher priority projects for selection.

    · Portfolio analysts can override the software’s decisions, and pull a variety of constraint levers to maximize value based on a given organizational reality. Projects can be forced in, cost reduced, dates moved, resources hired, etc., all in an effort to achieve a plan that maximizes strategic value based on dollars/resources consumed.

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    The tool suggests project selection, but ultimately you are in control and can force in projects for specific user-defined purposes.

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    One of the way the Resource Analysis feature allows you to resolve resource availability gaps is by moving project dates.

    · Final project investment decisions are reached and communicated to stakeholders via reports or through the web interface.

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    New “Committed” fields help communicate the results of selection decisions to stakeholders.

    Again, all of this is done on the shared extensible Project Server/SharePoint platform in the 2010 version, and integrates seamlessly with the rest of the Project features, including the Demand Management feature set and project scheduling/execution.

    From strategy, to selection, to project planning and execution, Project Server 2010 unifies the end-to-end Project and Portfolio Management experience.

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