EPM, Microsoft Project and You

Enterprise Project Management, Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Server

  • For those that may not know, this blog has move to http://www.epmstrategy.com/tools-for-you/blog/   but there is a new post there on MICROSOFT PROJECT ONLINE – MANIPULATING ODATA USING $SELECT AND $FILTER here: http://www.epmstrategy.com/microsoft-project-online-manipulating-odata-using-select-and-filter/

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  • For those that may not know, this blog has move to http://www.epmstrategy.com/tools-for-you/blog/   but there is a new post there on Microsoft Project – Linking Task Duration (But Not Tasks) here: http://www.epmstrategy.com/microsoft-project-linking-task-duration-but-not-tasks/

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  • http://www.epmstrategy.com/microsoft-project-the-hammock-task/

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  • http://www.epmstrategy.com/microsoft-project-product-lifecycle/



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  • We are thrilled to make some announcements for the New Year.  We have worked hard to capitalize on growth opportunities and expand our offerings.   While we still concentrate on Project Management and Microsoft Project, we have begun to offer more services:

    1. Organizational Project Management (OPM), Program and Portfolio Management individually and collectively as OPM3 –  The OPM3 model is a standard for assessing the maturity of the Portfolio, Program and Project Management competencies.  Certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the OPM3 provides a foundation for improvement.
    2. Strategic Operations Management (OM) – OM is focused on the production processes; examining and assessing the alignment of operations to the strategy of the corporation yields focus areas for improvement.
    3. Change Management (CM) – CM uses behavioral science to smooth the transition through the change to a new future state.
    4. dditional Microsoft Project services
      1. Hosting
      2. Offsite administration
      3. Expanded training
      4. Schedule/Template maintenance
    5. Microsoft Experience Center (MEC) – The MEC is program that allows business professionals a chance to have hands-on, real world experience with the Microsoft platform.  Sessions are led by trained and qualified facilitators and are designed to be interactive, experiential and fun.

    To better reflect these increased offerings, we will be changing the name of our organization.  Effective January 1, 2015, we will become EPM Strategy.  Please visit our website at www.EPMStrategy.com .  There you can find our Services page which highlights more of the services that we provide.  Be sure to check out the video page and favorite our YouTube channel (http://goo.gl/gB7fE5) to keep up with our training and quick tip videos.

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  • http://www.epmstrategy.com/ssrs-reports-not-displaying-icons-in-the-header/


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  • BY: Collin Quiring

    Sometimes, when you are using Microsoft Professional and you insert a Subproject the Subproject is“Read Only” when you try to save the Master Project.  This quick post is how to resolve that issue.

    In this example, I have a Master Project which is titled the highly original name of “Master Project” and I have a equally cleverly named subproject named “SubProject”.  It appears like this in Project Professional.


    At the top of the screen is the name of the schedule (MasterProject) but it does NOT say “read only”.


    So, I make my modifications and then select the Save button.  As expected, I get the following message:


    HOWEVER, I now get the error message that the subproject is a read-only file.  And, the system gives me a chance to save a copy of the file with changes.  But, I do not want to do that, I want the subproject as I have it.


    How do I resolve this?  Luckily, it is not that hard to make the subproject to be able to be saved and no longer read only. It can be done in the existing file.

    Just go into the properties for subproject by double clicking on the name of the subproject and then go to the Advanced tab.  In that tab is the option for Read Only.  Make sure that is not selected.


    After doing this change though, you have to close Project and re-open it.

    Quick side note:  Was there any way we could have known this BEFORE we made changes to the subproject which we subsequently lost when we changed it from Read Only and had to close and re-open Professional?  Yes, there is an indicator.  Going back to the screen shot from before, you can see next to the indicator column a small red indicator next to the subproject indicator.


    If we had hovered over that indicator we would have seen that it states “This project was inserted read-only from” and then gives the path to the subproject.


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  • BY: Tim Gryder

    It has often been told to me that “Project just is too complicated to schedule with” or that “I can’t make project dates ever work right”.

    Well let’s dispel the notion that Project is too complicated to use. Maybe we should approach this from the view of…”I just need to understand how it works”

    Project is like a violin in a concert performers hand…In the wrong hands it screeches out the most horrendous information or bad information.

    Or maybe it’s like flying a complex aircraft which with all the dials and indicators which would crash at the hands of an untrained pilot, but yet with a person trained to use Project…

    MS Project really does allow for the business process of project management to capture good information and reschedule our projects. Scheduling can be made easy and much more accurate.

    So for the brevity of this blog post, let’s imagine a project to build a storage barn. Pretty simple, right?

    Let’s build out tasks, which in project are easy to do, but in order to enjoy simplicity and ease of schedule in the project as it evolves, we must first set it up correctly in the beginning.

    So here is our file.  (We are using Project Professional 2013.)


    Notice that Work Breakdown must be determined in your project structure.

    And you must define Task Mode, Type, Duration, Dependencies, Constraints, Resources, and Calendars and a few other assundry items which are a training class in and of itself…. Also remember, here is where it gets interesting. Project schedules differently depending on the task type. Please take note of the impact of task type and calendar and resource understanding required for the project being set up which this blog isn’t going to unearth…but having made a choice on type and other set up considerations… then we get something like this.


    Notice now that I have set duration and work calculated via the Duration * Units = Work which again is a whole other conversation and imperative to learning to use Project.

    But now let’s update this schedule. Remember that Project recalculates based on status date which can be found in your project information…

    First I update my tasks…and with fixed duration I will update duration on all the tasks I have been given information on from my resources. This should be everything to the left of the green line which represents today.


    But, as of Tuesday (which is today) the day I am updating my project (the green line)… I have three tasks that are behind schedule and have not been completed.

    I do not want to have to manually change the dates on all the tasks so let’s have project reschedule the project tasks for us.


    After I have taken updates I now reschedule everything that is past due…because you can’t do work in the past… (I know some of you think you can)

    Highlight all of the project tasks or just the tasks you want…and use the update project button on the Project Tab.  Picking the date you want to move uncompleted tasks to start after. Note that this will create a constraint on the tasks rescheduled to start after today. This could be alleviated by just rescheduling the one latest task and letting the schedule push the remaining tasks without constraints.


    Now, all of my past due tasks have moved forward to today (the green line)…the day I rescheduled. Also note that based on dependencies and all the other constraints and variables set up in the beginning, all future tasks moved as well. So there you go. Have you been moving things around in project and it was wearing you out??? Just spend a little more time on the front end setting the file up correctly and then enjoy letting project do the rest.


    This update cycle means that you can now focus on the impacts of late tasks and implications to future tasks. It also means your resources get true corrected dates to work by. Give it a try and see what happens!

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  • BY: Collin Quiring

    We recently had a client who uses Project Online request the ability to NOT create SharePoint sites that are connected to the Project schedules directly.  They prefer to use their own SharePoint site.  First, it is important to note that Project Online is something that Microsoft routinely tweaks and modifies and doesn’t necessarily notify anybody so it is possible that at some point in the future, this might change, but at the moment there is no ability to turn that off.  When you create a schedule with Project Online, you will get a SharePoint site in the Project Online instance.

    So, what do you do when you do not want to create a SharePoint site online?  There are two options – you can create the site and then promptly delete it, or, you can deactivate the site after you create it.  Both of these have their own unique issues that arise as a result.  This blog will go through the two options.

    The first option is to create your schedule and create the Sharepoint site and then delete the site.  So as to have better screenshots and a more clear explanation, I will go through how that appears when using Project Professional 2013 with a Project Online instance.  This first screenshot is the schedule being published.  My test schedule name is “ZZ Test Delete Site”.  Notice that I do NOT get a choice – I have to make a site.  The “Do not Create a Site at the time” is grayed out.  I have to “Create a site for this project”.


    Ok, so now that the site is created, I can go to PWA Settings and to the Operational Polices and select the Connected SharePoint Sites.  At this point, I see that the SharePoint site has been created..


    Just to make sure that no conflicts exist, I closed Project Professional and checked-in the project.

    I select the row and select the Deete Site option from the tool bar at the top of the screen.  A pop up message appears.  (In case you can’t read it, the box says “Deleting this site will permanently remove all documents, issues, risks and deliverables for ZZ Test Delete Site.  Are you sure you want to delete this site?”)


    Since I do want to delete this site, I select OK.  And, while I don’t get another message, I do see now that the site is no longer listed in the Connected SharePoint Sites screen:


    Ok, so now I have accomplished my goal of not having a site, right?  Well, yes and I have created a new issue.  If I go to Project Center and I drill down on the schedule and select the Project Site I get the message that “There is no site configured for this project.”


    However, within Project Professional there is an interesting “bug” about this.  When I find and open the file from Project Online and check out the schedule all looks well.  But, when I go to Publish again, I get the option box again that I have to create the site.  It is just like the first time I published the schedule.


    This is a nuisance message.  This is something you will just have to train your Project Managers to hit the “Publish” button anyway.  In all of the testing I did, this did NOT re-create the site.  Going back to Project Center and trying to get so the site still says that there is no site configured.  And, no site suddenly appears in the sites list.

    A KEY POINT:  This will become a bit more clear after the second test.  It is important to note that the tasks and settings from the schedule appear as expected within Project Online (Project Center, Resource Center, Tasks, etc).

    So, this appears to have resolved the problem and you just have to live with the “create a site” box each time you publish.

    Now for the second test.  In this case we will Deactivate the SharePoint site, rather than deleting it.  In this case, the schedule name is “ZZ Test Deactivate Site”.  After creating, saving and publishing the schedule, the site appears in the settings.  In this case I will select the Deactivate option for the site but I will not Delete the site.

    In the Connected SharePoint Sites screen I select the Deactivate option.  I then get this pop up box warning me that I am getting rid of the SharePoint site.  Which is what I really do want in this case so I select OK.  (In case you can’t read it, it says “This will disable the enterprise project features for project ZZ Test Deactivate Site and the SharePoint Tasks List will be enabled for editing.  Are you sure you want to do this?”””)




    I select OK and now that the site is Deactivated I see the following in the Connected SharePoint Sites screen:



    And, all appears well.  However, not so much.  If you want to use this like a “normal” Project Online schedule with the task, Project Center and Resource Center working as you would expect then we refer back to the KEY POINT from earlier in this blog.  By Deactivating the site what we really have done is not get rid of it, we have only gotten rid of the functionality.  In the message we just saw when we deactivated we got a hint to this – where the box says that the SharePoint Tasks List will be enabled.  What would be nice is if it said that the Project capabilities would be disabled.

    Now when you go to Project Center and drill down on the schedule you are actually taken to the Project Site. So, you are not taken to the Tasks list.  You are taken to a site that you theoretically just Deactivated.  In our case, this is actually the exact OPPOSITE of what we expected. By selecting “Deactivate” what we really did was “stop using Project Online functionality and only use SharePoint functionality”.  Which, is not what we wanted.  The tasks have been converted to a SharePoint List and is no longer a “task list” in Project Online as the other schedules with normal sites (or the deleted site).



    The tasks list is a SharePoint list now, it is not a “project” task list:


    And, opening the schedule in Project Professional now brings up all sorts of interesting pop up boxes.  The first one is when you open the schedule it syncs to the SharePoint List.


    When you try to save the schedule (not even publish, just save) you get this pop up message (In case you can’t read it the box is called Conflict One and the message says “This task was deleted in SharePoint.  To undo deletion, click “Keep Microsoft Project Version”, or click “Keep SharePoint Version” to delete the task from the project plan.”  and then it shows the task details)



    In this case, my goal is to not use SharePoint so I will select the Keep Microsoft Project Version.  This pop up appears for each task (unless you select the option to “Keep the selected version for all remaining conflicts in this synchronization.”

    Now, another interesting point.  I clicked on save to get this.  But, when I look at the bottom right of the schedule’s status bar it doesn’t say “Save Completed Successfully”.  It says “Publish Completed Successfully”.  And, the publish option is grayed out.  I do not have the ability to Publish, yet is says that it was just published.  Perhaps that is another blog some day about whether or not this actually published or just saved and said it was published or maybe it thinks that because it sync’ed to a SharePoint list that it counts as published?

    Therefore, the final conclusion is that if you do not want to have a SharePoint site, you have to publish the schedule, delete the site and train the Project Managers to hit Publish with Create site selected.  If you Deactivate the site you actually are doing the opposite of our goal in this case.

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  • BY: Collin Quiring

    This came up a while ago with one client and I just wanted to share this issue with everybody.  Depending upon how you look at this issue, you can consider it a bug or a feature.  It sort of makes sense the way it works but it probably shouldn’t work that way.

    This was tested in Project Web App 2010 (Project Server 2010) and Project Web App 2013 (Project Server 2013) and Project Online 2013.  I assume this works the same for all date fields that users can enter but I only tested in the Actual Start and Actual Finish date fields.

    When you are in the Tasks page in Project Web App and you enter a date (or any text or numbers) into the Date field the system immediately takes that date and background “saves” that update so that the system thinks that you have placed some data there.  That is fine in most situations.  However, what about when you realize you put the date in the wrong field (wrong date field or wrong task to update or whatever the reason)?  Well, you are stuck.

    Since the date information you have entered is in the “background” already you MUST have a valid date format Date in that field from now on.  You can not delete it and leave it blank.  You can not backspace it out.  You have to leave a date in the field of some sort.  The only way to get out of this is to leave the page and not save the update.  Which, in and of itself, is a bad solution unless this is the very first field and the only update that you have done.

    If you try to blank out the field or put in a non-date format text into this field you will get the message ‘’is not a valid value for this field .


    If you consider this a bug it is due to the fact that you can’t delete it or otherwise fix the error in the field.  The only work arounds are to put in a fake date, save it, and then ask the Timesheet Manager/Project Manager to deny the update.  Or, you can leave the page (which isn’t practical in most cases).  And, another side effect of putting in a fake date is that if it does get approved, it can affect the entire schedule and everybody else’s tasks.

    If you consider this a feature then this is just a nasty side effect.  The feature is that it “saves” into the background as you type and that is nice and might help you not to lose work.

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