Author: Markus Waldinger

Markus Waldinger, Microsoft MVP and Manager at Campana & Schott, has more than 10 years of experience in Project Management and Social Collaboration. In this decade he has implemented Microsoft Project Server from version 2003 on and EPM based solutions within a variety of customers such as Bombardier, EADS or Bayer. Based on his proficiency he is responsible for the technical and functional evaluation of Project Server since 2010 and is leading the competence area EPM at Campana & Schott. Its main goal is gathering, managing and providing knowledge around EPM solutions across the whole company. Markus is part of the US team of Campana & Schott and also acts as a Virtual Technical Solution Specialist for Microsoft.

Webinar: Project Collaboration in the Cloud with Project Online 2013

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:  With the new Project Online, Microsoft provides project managers and team members an improved tool for planning, collaboration and team communication. And that not only on-premises but also beyond the organization borders. Through the tightened integration of Microsoft SharePoint and Project, the Project Team Site is the central point of communication – even external team members can be integrated easily. Your project culture will change due to the new collaboration possibilities. In this webinar you will learn how to: Provide Project Online as a communication platform for internal and external team members Collaborate within the team (in a practical example) and Use the extended possibilities of Project Online About the Presenter:  Markus Waldinger, Microsoft MVP and Manager at Campana & Schott, has more than 10 years of experience in Project Management and Social Collaboration. In this decade he has implemented Microsoft Project Server from version 2003 on and EPM based solutions within a variety of customers such as Bombardier, EADS or Bayer. Based on his proficiency he is responsible for the technical and functional evaluation of Project Server since 2010 and is leading the competence area EPM at Campana & Schott. Its main goal is gathering, managing and providing knowledge around EPM solutions across the whole company. Markus is part of the US team of Campana & Schott and also acts as a Virtual Technical Solution Specialist for Microsoft. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

Webinar: Increase Your Productivity by Directly Implementing Your PM Process within MS Project

  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:  More accurate forecasts. Transparency over deviations. Improved stability of the project plan. In this webinar you will learn how to take the smaller and bigger hurdles within Project Management and improve the quality of your schedule in Microsoft Project 2010, 2013 or Project Online at the same time. Process oriented approach Do you plan based on methods from e.g. PMI or do you use your own custom project management process? In both cases you should also align all steps you take accordingly within Microsoft Project Professional. Based on a PMI compliant configuration of a custom ribbon you will see how project managers can efficiently work in the Microsoft Project Client without being distracted from the nitty-gritty. See how to bypass the calculation logic regarding Units, Work and Duration in the Client to stabilize your data. Efficient reporting Standardize KPIs between project leads and executives and stay in control. Optimized collaboration Improve the collaboration between the project stakeholders. Use pre-configured Project Sites which are available automatically for every project and optimize task and risk management. Speaker Bio: Markus Waldinger, Microsoft MVP and Manager at Campana & Schott, has more than 10 years of experience in Project Management and Social Collaboration. In this decade he has implemented Microsoft Project Server from version 2003 on and EPM based solutions within a variety of customers such as Bombardier, EADS or Bayer. Based on his proficiency he is responsible for the technical and functional evaluation of Project Server since 2010 and is leading the competence area EPM at Campana & Schott. Its main goal is gathering, managing and providing knowledge around EPM solutions across the whole company. Markus is part of the US team of Campana & Schott and also acts as a Virtual Technical Solution Specialist for Microsoft. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

The image shows a set of icons that are used to create reports in Project Online. The icons represent different types of reports, such as new reports, dashboards, resources, costs, in progress, getting started, custom, and recent. These icons provide quick access to the different types of reports that can be created in Project Online. PNG

Increase Your Productivity by Directly Implementing Your PM Process within MS Project

With the introduction of the ribbon for Office 2007 and finally Project Professional 2010, Microsoft significantly changed the way of working on projects. From a data modeling perspective, it makes sense to combine all project-related functionalities in one tab and, alternatively, task related ones in the other.  But from a user perspective there is room for improvement. Still, one version later with Project 2013, project managers and schedulers continue to  switch back and forth in the ribbon between the tabs in order to work with a tracking view (in the Task tab) and then set a baseline (in the Project tab). Could you increase your productivity and work more efficient with a custom ribbon? The answer is yes, definitely.  Additionally, you can design your ribbon within common project management processes like the Project Management Institute (PMI® ) or CMMI, or modify it to fit your processes. For this article we will reference common process groups (stages of the lifecycle) according to PMI®: Initiation Planning Execution Controlling Closing Following we will discuss these topics in more detail. The Custom Ribbon Let’s have a look at a custom ribbon in Project Professional 2013. (The customizations discussed in this article apply to Project Professional 2010 as well). Instead of navigating in the client via the different entities like Task, Resource or Project, we introduce a custom ribbon to follow the Process, including some generic functionalities. The idea behind this action is to combine the most often used functions like Open, Save and Publish (in a Project Server or Online environment) and make them easily accessible right from the beginning. After the change, the Initiation phase addresses typical tasks like creating new projects from a template, showing the project information dialogue box, and setting the initial baseline. Instead of navigation through the ribbon, this 1-click functionality automatically sets the baseline 0. You may believe this is accomplished via a complex macro, but actually the code to set the baseline 0 is just one line.  The one line can be easily implemented by using the macro recorder and saving the code. As required by the process, it is now time to plan the project, define and detail out the schedule, plan the project team and assign resources. In a server or Project Online environment, the Plan Resources function would show the dialogue box to add resources from the Enterprise Resource Pool.  In the local client, it would pull up the Resource Sheet to enter new resources. Other useful snippets of custom code used are the macros to set fixed work.  In this case, fixed work is set to allow planning durations without jeopardizing the already-planned work for tasks. It can be the other way around also by setting a fixed duration in order to plan the work. This approach is another useful improvement and adds value for new and experienced project managers and schedulers. Although it is more or less a simple macro, a task loop with error handling should be considered for each set of custom code.  Otherwise, external tasks, empty tasks (empty lines) could cause the code to stop. While the Closing phase repeats some steps from the Initiation phase, such as Update Project Information as well as Save and Publish, the Controlling section is straight forward and points the user to different views and controlling functions. Indicators will bring up a special Gantt Chart View that filters for tasks with indicators while Work is pointing to a modified Task Usage View in the client. Adding Reports is one enhancement to the Process ribbon not discussed in this article.  While adding Reports would be an additional button, Visual Reports in Project Professional 2010 and the new Reports in Project Professional 2013 are worthwhile to have available on their own ribbon tab.  Navigating through the dashboards including Burndown Charts and Work Overviews is valuable and would be well placed in its own section so as not to overload the controlling section of the Process ribbon. Global.MPT How can all of these improvements be accomplished in the client? The answer is by changing the Global template; the Global.MPT.  The Global Template  is individually created and stored in the Users Profile Directory, but the customization can done via a dialogue box which allows adding new buttons, functions and combining existing actions on a custom ribbon. Server or Project Online Environments So far we have discussed the ribbon in the Project Professional client only, but with a server or Project Online environment in place, there are additional benefits and opportunities as well. Project Sites Define a project site template with a pre-configured folder structure. Throughout the lifecycle, capture document templates for the Project Charter.  Also, use the wiki to capture lessons learned. Project Center The ribbon in the Project Center cannot be modified. But custom views for planning, execution and controlling can be created to accomplish a similar experience as with the process driven buttons in the Project client. Workflows Implement workflows with the out-of-the-box functionalities of SharePoint Server to support Initiation and Closing of projects. Project Templates Last but not least, consider using process-conforming templates. This can be the cherry on the sundae to be more productive with Project Professional. Conclusion A custom ribbon is a relatively easy customization to implement and adapt Project Professional to individual needs and requirements. In an enterprise organization, it can help to support and align processes and data quality as well as improve the overall usability. While we have discussed a custom ribbon and the modifications made to the client on a high level, the MPUG web event, Increase Your Productivity by Directly Implementing Your PM process within MS Project addressed this topic in more detail and explained the background. We also provided some examples of the custom code and explained how to roll-out modifications in an enterprise environment.

Webinar: Project Online: Priming the Innovation Management Pipeline

  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: Innovation management starts with capturing ideas. Ideation is the new approach supported by Microsoft Project Online and SharePoint Online to collect and rate project proposals. Team members, or any person across the organization, may create ideas and rate their potential. Project ideas are then selected for realization and a project plan is created in Project Web App. Project managers create detailed schedules, plan resources and costs in Project Online while portfolio managers oversee the whole portfolio. This solution supports the complete project life-cycle from exposing ideas for consideration to evaluation of project proposals and project management. Coupled with Cloud-based solutions like Microsoft SharePoint and Project the foundation for a highly flexible and scalable solution is established. Learning Objectives:  During this event, students will learn how Innovation Management supports the complete project lifecycle from an ideation to a calculated approach to Project Management. Speaker Bio: Markus Waldinger, Manager at Campana & Schott with focus on Project Management and Social Collaboration and more than 10 years of experience. In this decade he has implemented Microsoft Project Server from version 2003 on and EPM based solutions within a variety of customers such as Bombardier, EADS or Bayer. Based on his proficiency he is responsible for the technical and functional evaluation of Project Server since 2010 and is leading the competence network EPM at Campana & Schott. Its main goal is gathering, managing and providing knowledge around EPM solutions across the whole company. He also acts as a Virtual Technical Solution Specialist for Microsoft. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

The assignment work by project report shows a graphical representation of the assignments for each project. The legend to the right of the chart explains the colors used for each project. The chart shows the number of hours assigned to each project, as well as the capacity of each resource. The capacity is indicated by the horizontal line in the chart. If the number of hours assigned to a project exceeds the capacity, then the project is overallocated. The chart also shows the start and end dates of each project.

Out-of-the-Box Approach to Simulate Resource Allocation

As a Resource Manager sooner or later you will face the need to simulate scenarios to anticipate resource assignments. Microsoft Project offers you a possibility to do that based on standard functionality. I guess this option is not very common, so I would like to share it with you. While for task management you could use active and inactive tasks to simulate the impact on your schedule for resource management this would be far too complex. So this is how you can simulate resource assignment scenarios: Step 1 – Create a simulation plan Open your client and start with an empty project plan to create a simulation plan. Figure 1: Create a new and empty plan Add projects to your simulation plan. In order to do this use the Insert Subproject functionality in the ribbon. But be careful, do not just select and open the projects. You also have to unselect the checkbox “Link to project”. Figure 2: Then insert the original plan in the simulation plan Please note: When you add subprojects while the option “Link to project” is not set the whole project plan will be copied into your simulation. With the option set there would be only a link to the external project created and each change in your simulation would affect the original plan as well. This is not what we want to achieve and you will certainly annoy some Project Managers. So make sure you don’t accidentally enable this feature. You should also use enterprise resources to benefit from this approach! With local resources in your plans there are no resources and analysis views available in the Resource Center. Step 2 – Prepare the simulation Open the Resource Sheet Change the booking type for all resources from “Committed” to “Proposed” Figure 3: Overbooked resources in the resource sheet With this option the simulated assignments are filtered out in the availability views in the Resource Center but can also be included. In the actual plans all assignments are committed, in the simulation plan just proposed. This assures that no interference with the actual planning will occur. (And easy to guess that the resources would be initially overbooked as we doubled the planned work by creating the simulation plan). Step 3 – Run the simulation After the simulation plan is published to the server the Resource Manager can work with the availability views to identify overallocation. Of course at this stage of the simulation we have the resource booked twice: In the actual plan but also in the simulation plan. To visualize that in the availability view the option “Include proposed bookings” should be set. Set availability view option to “Include proposed bookings” Now here comes the simulation part! The Resource Manager – that means you – changes dates, assignments, resources – basically everything he wants to simulate – and publishes the simulation plan again. As an example, we want to simulate a later project start. Project makes this also very easy for us:  Figure 4: Move your simulation to a new start date In the availability view we can now see that the overallocation can be resolved if the project “Software Development EPM Extension” would run later. Figure 5: Original and simulated project plan side by side Here we can clearly see that in the original planned timeframe the project would cause an overallocation but with the delay it fits better in the capacity of the resource! You can now inform the Project Manager based on the results of his simulation, when the project should start and which resources can be assigned. The Project Manager can then adapt his planning. Summary As you can see you are able to simulate resource assignments with Microsoft Project standard functionalities. The benefit is obvious: As a Resource Manager you are enabled to simulate different scenarios and anticipate bottleneck situations. But of course this approach has some limits. The more scenarios you wish to analyze the more sophisticated your approach has to be. For one customer I wrote therefor a VBA module and placed it in the ribbon to support this function and made his life as a Resource Manager easier. Requirements for this approach The Resource Manager needs the right to save his own simulation plans on the server. The Resource Manager needs read access to the projects he wants to run the simulation on. To achieve this a proper RBS should be set up and based on the category setting the Resource Manager will then have read access to all resources below his own RBS node. It’s recommended to introduce a separate enterprise project type (EPT) for simulation plans.