Author: Gary Chefetz

Gary Chefetz is founder and Chief Executive Officer of MSProjectExperts. Gary is a Microsoft Project MVP, recognized for his expertise sharing in the Microsoft Communities and for authoring numerous books about Microsoft Office Project and Project Server. Gary also holds an MCP in Project Server.

Project Server Twilight Zone

  A client wants a Microsoft Project Server system built, including a security configuration based on the Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS). When the consultant arrives at the client site, the key stakeholder in charge of the deployment has abruptly left the company. When the consultant asks the remaining staff for a copy of the org chart, company policy states that this is not shareable information. No manager is assigned to resolve the problem. Cue music…   Photo courtesy of Loren Javier  

Webinar: From Excel Workbooks to Portfolio Analysis in 7 Steps & 2 Days using Project Online

  Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): This Webinar is eligible for 1 PMI® PDU in the Technical Category of the Talent Triangle Event Description:  Join us as Project MVP Gary Chefetz presents his exciting session from the 2014 Microsoft Project Conference. Project Online’s new integration with SharePoint enables you to rapidly move from Excel to Portfolio Analysis. This session demonstrates seven simple steps for an Excel to Project Online migration and teaches you how to build an ideation footprint, a portfolio management framework with a workflow in two days. Presenter Bio:  Gary Cheftez, Project MVP As author or co-author of twenty-plus books on Microsoft Project and Project Server, Gary has dragged out his obsession with these products into a near fourteen-year technology mission. Gary has all sorts of certifications that begin with the letter “M” as well as twelve consecutive Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) awards. He is founder of msProjectExperts, the world’s leader in Microsoft Project and Project Server educational products and services, now in its 12th year. Gary is a serial entrepreneur with direct experience in publishing, real estate, manufacturing, retail, software development and project management. His consulting experience spans an array of industries and disciplines. More important than his history is Gary’s next project that might be the guidance you need to get your job done. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

Adopt Project Server 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Adopt Project Server 2013

Welcome to the year of the cloud! For the first time, Microsoft is releasing its most powerful Project and Portfolio Management system in two variations. Microsoft Project Online is now available as a monthly subscription for organizations using Office 365 and for installation behind your firewall. This release, heavily influenced by the SaaS and IaaS revolution and Microsoft’s continuing mission to rewire Project Server 2013 into the SharePoint 2013 framework, is one of the most compelling ever. 1. Governance workflows using SharePoint Designer 2013 For those of us already living in the Project Server world, I believe the ability to use SharePoint Designer to build governance workflows is the likely top pick for reasons to upgrade to Project Server 2013. This long overdue ease-of-use feature unleashes the ultimate business tool potential of Project Server 2013. Workflows allow you to embed intelligence into business processes automation. SharePoint Designer 2013 allows non-programmers to build governance workflows. While the declarative (non-code) workflows you build using free-for-download SharePoint Designer 2013 are limited when you compare them to Visual Studio or third-party add-ons, this new ability using a familiar tool finally enables many organizations to get off work-flow square one. I know that in our Implementing and Administering Project Server 2013 training, that building a project governance workflow is a class highlight for every student. 2. Project Online (Office 365) For Microsoft, this is the play for the decades and a very big gamble. For the small and mid-market public sector, this is the software win of a lifetime. The ability to arm a business with enterprise class software for nothing but a monthly payment commitment is finally a reality. The barrier to entry is so low that the challenge for Microsoft and its partners is to help people with a simplified approach to a very complex technology that provides an opportunity for growth that no other competitor provides. Certainly this is a landmark event in Project Server history and that’s why we cover it thoroughly in all of our books for Project Server 2013. 3. SharePoint Permissions Mode At the center of a simplified management approach to Project Server 2013, SharePoint permission mode is a complete mask to Project Server security, a necessarily complex matrix for some, but not for the larger masses and certainly not necessary for midmarket customers that might be strongly attracted to Project Online. Although taken by itself, it doesn’t sound like much but it enables new lightweight project management support and much of the maturity story that Project Server 2013 now supports. With that statement I open a can of worms that requires more explanation than the confines of this blog post allow. 4. Ideation and Demand Management Improvements Most companies require a simple, easy to use solution to capture great ideas. Sometimes these ideas transform into projects that you want to triage through portfolio selection and manage with Project Server. Although you need only a SharePoint list, you can now create SharePoint sites for employees to propose ideas, or even request on-demand support tickets. Project Server 2013 provides the missing link between free-form ideation and formal portfolio selection with both manual transferability and workflow governance. You can create SharePoint workflows to govern the ideation or proposal process and seamlessly hand them off the SharePoint list items to Project Server for governance without writing code. Say hello to PPM for the masses! 5. Architecture and Performance Microsoft made a huge under–the-hood investment in Project Server 2013, upgrading and refitting it with performance characteristics worthy of the Office 365 infrastructure. While the Project Online user may be oblivious to these improvements the organization installing Project Server 2013 in its datacenter immensely benefits from them. I can best compare it to upgrading the airplane from turbo prop to jet propulsion. It takes a while to build and tune the environment, but it is quite amazing how well it performs. Most of the students in our first two classes have been well experienced with Project Server and just as amazed as we are by the whiplash speed we have Project Server 2013 running in our training environment. After more than a year of working with various iterations of this software, these are my top picks of the most influential drivers for Project Server 2013 adoption. Keep in mind that this is barely scratching the surface of the changes in this version and that it is not just a Project Server story when you include SharePoint and SQL Server.

Image illustrates how to access the PWA settings, click the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen and select "PWA Settings" from the drop-down menu.

Project Server 2013: Shock, Horror and Awe

This article was orginally published in MSProjectExperts’ blog. Reproduction of content on this site is strictly prohibited without the express permission of MSProjectExperts. Copyright (c) 2012 CHEFETZ LLC. All rights reserved. Quick Start for Project Server Veterans Everyone has heard of the five stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Shock, Horror and Awe are the stages that an experienced Project Server professional goes through when first absorbing Project Server 2013. At first I thought this was a personal phenomenon, but after watching colleagues and friends I now realize this is a normal and expected reaction. Thankfully the cycle time is nowhere near as protracted as grief. And, you now have the advantage of expecting it. The shock sets in when you launch PWA for the first time. Where did my interface go? The following figure shows a fresh new instance of Project Web App. Notice the abbreviated Quick Launch menu. As a veteran, you no doubt want to get started with the Server Settings page, which by the way has a new name, PWA Settings page. Click the gear icon in the upper right of the interface. The system displays the menu, that was the Site Actions menu, shown in the following figure. Select the PWA Settings item from the menu. The system displays the PWA Settings page shown in the following figure. This is where the Horror part happens as you notice things are missing. Where did they go? The answer is two-fold. Some of the items have relocated to SharePoint Central Admin, while still others are in suspended animation. To locate the migrants, launch SharePoint Central Admin and click the General Application Settings link. The General Application Settings page displays as shown in the following figure. At the bottom of the page, in the PWA Settings section, click the Manage link. The “blue flag” PWA Settings page displays. I say blue flag as this page carries standard SharePoint flag rather than Project Server’s emerald green emblem. Otherwise, another distinguishing feature is the appearance of the Project Web App Instance selector in the upper right hand part of the content area. Here, what you can do for one, you can do for many. As the purpose of this post is to get you started on your own adventure, I am not going to get deep into specifics on the page. The reason for this change is to make this more intuitive to SharePoint administrators and further adopt the SharePoint management model. Some management functions appear in both locations. Part two of the horror cycle is realizing that the familiar security management controls for groups and categories are absent from the PWA Settings page at the site level in the default presentation. This is because new instances, not upgrades, but new instances of Project Server arrive in the new default SharePoint Permissions mode. This new way of managing users is worth exploring before writing it off as seems to be a popular first reaction. I strongly encourage you to keep an open mind and imagine some of the new scenarios this might support for your organization or customers. In the name of brevity, you no doubt want to know how to escape this mode. If you are working on your own server, you use PowerShell. Launch the SharePoint 2013 Management Console from the server Start menu as shown in the following figure. You can change permissions mode using the following PowerShell cmdlet for your in-house system. Set-SPProjectPermissionMode –Url <URL> -Mode <Mode> (<Mode> = ProjectServer or SharePoint)   If you are using Project Online, you can change the permissions mode by navigating to the SharePoint admin center for your tenant and expand the Project web App menu as shown in the following figure. Selecting the Settings item displays the site collection with project web app settings dialog shown in the following figure. For those of you who want to get Project Server 2013 to a classic Project Server state, you must perform two more small tasks. From the PWA Settings page, click the Quick Launch link to display the menu editing page shown in the following figure. Select the items that you want to display and then click the Save &Close button. The last step is to reset the default project type. This time from the PWA Settings page select the Enterprise Project Types link and set the default enterprise project type to the Enterprise Project Type rather than the SharePoint list. At this point you are in classic Project Server mode. Finally, the awe part is up to you. How fast do you adapt to new ideas? Can you appreciate a little disruptive thinking? If, so spend some time exploring and digesting. There are lots of new scenarios supported by the raft of changes in Project Server 2013. Bill Raymond and I deep dive into all of this for you in the new version of the Orange book.

Webinar: More Tips and Tricks from Gary Chefetz, MVP

  Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): This Webinar is not in the PMI® system. However, it is eligible for self-directed learning PMI® PDU credit. Speakers: Gary Chefetz, MVP, MSProject Experts Please join us for another round of Tips and Tricks from Gary Chefetz, Microsoft Project MVP.  Known for his expertise sharing in the Microsoft Communities and for authoring numerous books about Microsoft Office Project and Project Server.  Gary is the CEO and founder of MSProjectExperts and is one of only 29 Microsoft Project MVPs in the world. In addition to his coveted MVP title, he also possesses the MCP certification. In his presentation, he will show you a new set of powerful tips and tricks for effectively using Microsoft Project 2007 and Project Server 2007 in real-world projects. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

4 Formulas for EPM Disaster

We have observed four classic impetuses for EPM implementations that lead to failure with such regularity that you should consider them avoidable if only because they’re recognizable. Does your enterprise project management implementation resemble any of the following four scenarios? If so, take steps now to correct your course. Boiling the Ocean While it is true that Microsoft produces great software, it also seems to produce lots of buzzwords, acronyms and expressions almost creating a language of its own. One of the more catchy phrases we heard during visits to the Redmond campus last year was, “We can’t boil the ocean” paraphrasing the simple wisdom that you should not bite off more than you chew. If any company could boil the ocean, one would think Microsoft would stand a chance, but Microsoft is smart enough not to attempt it. We must say, though, that Microsoft’s 2007 product releases, collectively, are probably as close as any company has come to boiling the ocean. For the rest of us, it is an appropriate reminder that one of the least successful approaches to EPM deployments is to go big and go fast. It rarely works. While it is quite all right to aspire to such heights for your EPM deployment, starting with the notion that you are going to launch with hundreds or thousands of users is, to put it mildly, ill advised. Remembering that EPM technology changes the way people work and has serious psychological impacts on the organization, it’s always best to start with a proof of concept/pilot. Of course this is sound advice for any technology implementation but particularly poignant for technologies with any magnitude of organizational impact. Implementing EPM is much more akin to rolling out a new ERP system than it is to rolling out the latest version of Office. Although the 2007 Office applications really have changed substantially, you’re much more likely to succeed in rolling out the latest version of Microsoft Word to 100,000 users than you are likely to succeed in rolling out EPM to 100 users. Once past the initial testing and compatibility checks the Word rollout might require a bit of floor support for your users; but implementing EPM requires building new competencies and engraining new behaviors for both management and staff members alike. In selecting your pilot group, stack the deck for success. Keep it contained to a group of people who are most likely to embrace the change and succeed. Look to engineer small wins and celebrate them when they occur. Market your solution to your organization by advertising your wins and encourage your pilot participants by giving them a voice in the system design from the very beginning and by recognizing them for their contributions. Do not launch your new EPM system with the largest project in your portfolio; rather select a smaller, more resource-contained initiative on which to cut your EPM teeth. One Big Project Twenty weeks into your $40 million ERP initiative is not the time to decide that you need new project management controls for your project and that implementing Project Server is part of the answer. While your attempts here may end up succeeding under the auspices of desperation, one project, no matter how large or complex, does not justify an EPM tool implementation. To begin with, if your project is already off to a chaotic start, it is rather unlikely that you can carve out the time necessary to take on EPM as a project as well. Rather than one failed control initiative, you will now have two. Further, if your organizational maturity has allowed you to progress this far down the road to disaster, chances are you will not be able to change that culture in time to realize EPM benefits on your current project. Instead, you run the risk of distracting your attention from your other full-time jobs. If you want an EPM initiative to succeed, you should introduce it gently, not as a crisis management solution. The best you can hope to achieve applying the technology as an after-the-fact solution is to add a degree of transparency to your project as you will not have the time or the organizational bandwidth to adopt the behaviors and management commitments necessary to benefit fully from an EPM initiative. Because your organization’s underlying bad habits are not going to change with this approach, the benefits you can realize are not going to be significantly important to your stakeholders in the midst of the larger crisis at hand. Such is the way for companies that run their projects through crisis management. Your deployment will be useful only to a handful of users. Methodology Overload “Methodology Overload” implementations are those that imagine that one can spread methodology adoption across an organization like cream cheese on a bagel. These typically fail in the earliest stages. The benefits of project management methodologies and controls are so obvious to the proponents that nobody among indoctrinates can imagine that there could ever be a hint of organizational resistance to them. Why plan for the impossible? Instead of organizational change, these initiatives focus on methodology and miss their marks in so doing. Characteristic of these deployments, committees pore over drafts and rewrites of the company’s new standards for project management inevitably leading to a document release that we can only describe as the My Company PMBOK. In these situations, methodology proponents spend weeks or months rewriting PMI PMBOK guidance to fit their corporate vernacular all the while thinking that they are achieving buy-in because they are working in committee. Ultimately, the work product ends up tossed aside because it is too technical and voluminous to interest or guide anyone except for the choir that wrote it. For the authors, it becomes a prayer book and nothing more. Because the prescribed procedures are so cryptic in nature, many in the organization see this attempt at guidance as another furtive effort to undermine their status quo. In our opinions, the greatest opportunity that EPM tools present to most companies is to introduce organizational controls that follow intelligent methodologies without the need to indoctrinate the organization at-large into a complex management science. The goal is to embed control intelligence into the process and process controls rather than providing a written prescription. This requires a primary focus on the controlled process and less focus on the controlling process. Unfortunately, most methodology-overload projects are lost in theory and tend to focus on the controlling process only. After many years of working with numerous organizations, we have yet to see such a document received with acclaim and excitement by a general audience. At times, this is the result of a shortsighted initiative, while for others it is the result of organizational constraints. In either case, it is not a promising way to launch an EPM effort. Use It or Lose It! When an IT department serves up EPM to its business units as part of a “technology buffet,” willing diners will always line up for a free meal. In companies where this occurs, the buffet offering often accompanies an ill-defined internal push for project management. There might be a corporate improvement initiative underway that is giving lip service to process improvement, efficiency initiatives, or quality management solutions to bolster or encourage take-the-plunge approaches. Sudden executive interest might have an impact at budget time. For all the positive motivating factors one can identify, mostly this type of misguided deployment occurs because the technology is too accessible. The licenses came with our Enterprise Agreement so we might as well use them, is a typical rationale. This, too, smacks of the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality that so often characterizes the boil-the-ocean deployment, but its poison is much more insidious as the buffet attendee is ill prepared for what comes next. Typically, it takes a bit of wrangling for a business unit to get a new software application sanctioned for use, and this wrangling comes in the form of due diligence such as a cost benefit analysis, which engenders a more solid footing to begin with. In the case where the application is pre-sanctioned, these obstacles and their natural sanity checkpoints do not exist. The lowered barriers typically include a much less rigorous challenge to the requesting organization resulting in little or significantly lower due diligence overall, and a high rate of deployment failure. The diligence due in this case is the organizational commitment and a process to follow for success. In many cases, EPM appears on the buffet table with little or no regard given to these critical elements. Very often, the IT team offering up the application does not understand it, and often has no intention of internalizing it as a standard for itself and therefore no intention of building the required competencies. Somebody needs to make a competency commitment, or deployments fail rather quickly, but in these cases, it is up to the implementers in the business unit to rudely discover this fact and quickly correct midstream. Sadly, this is a difficult miscalculation from which to recover. Next time: Strategies for EPM Success This article is an excerpt from the book Implementing and Administering Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 by Gary Chefetz and Dale Howard.