Keeping Your Project Schedules Updated by the Team without Microsoft Project

The Project 2010 feature that’s my personal favorite is called “Sync to SharePoint.” This feature is particularly useful for two groups: 1) organizations that have SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint Foundations 2010 but not Project Server 2010 and want to be able to share project information across their project teams; or 2) organizations that may have the software but where the project manager wants to use a simple SharePoint task list rather than publish the project to Project Server 2010 to share project information. Use of this feature allows a team to collaborate on keeping the project schedule updated without everybody having a copy of Microsoft Project on their desktops.

Using the Sync to SharePoint feature is simple. First, you set up the SharePoint task list, a list of project tasks. To create a task list, use the icon shown in Figure 1 or click on Site Actions | View all site content | Create.

Figure 1: The icon to create a task list.

Keeping Your Project Schedules Updated by the Team without Microsoft Project

As an example, I’ve I created a task list that I’ve named “Sync To SharePoint Training Deployment.” When executed, this list, which contains all the tasks for my project, will be used for project synchronization.

Tip: Be careful in your naming! In an earlier effort I created the same named task list, but I ended the name with an exclamation point. Although the task list name may generally contain special characters, it can’t for the purposes of Sync to SharePoint. If your list name contains special characters, you’ll need to recreate your list without them. Otherwise the synchronization will fail.
Next, I created a simple project, which is based on the Microsoft template for a training deployment. As shown in Figure 2, I’ve deleted many of the tasks to simplify the example.

Figure 2. A sample project based on the Microsoft Project template for a training deployment.

Keeping Your Project Schedules Updated by the Team without Microsoft Project

In order to synchronize these projects tasks with the SharePoint list and allow others to collaborate on this information, navigate to File to Save | Send to Sync with Tasks List.

Enter the site collection name of the SharePoint site you want to access, where the project will be published to. Next, click the Validate URL button.

In my example, because the Project name is similar to the SharePoint task list name, the correct task list has been selected for me in the “Select an existing tasks list, or enter a new name” drop-down list box.

Tip: Note that I could have chosen to create the SharePoint task list during the sync process; however, the most common scenario based on your organization’s security will probably be to follow the steps I’m describing here.

Figure 3: The Sync with Tasks List dialogue.

Keeping Your Project Schedules Updated by the Team without Microsoft Project

Now go ahead click the Sync button. You may receive a confirmation message during the sync; just click OK when you do. Upon completion if all goes as planned, you’ll have successfully synchronized your project to the SharePoint Task list.

Note: Summary tasks will show up as folders. When they’re clicked on, they’ll expose the subtasks, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Exposing your sub-tasks in a folder.

Keeping Your Project Schedules Updated by the Team without Microsoft Project

To learn more about Project 2010 and SharePoint integration, we recommend the on-demand WebNLearn session, “SharePoint Integration with Project,” featuringthe author and freely available to MPUG members.


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Written by Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell, PMP, MCT, MCP, MCTS, is the founder and CEO of MS Project Now!, a consultancy focused on delivering project, portfolio, and business management solutions. Dan has already completed several upgrade projects to the Project Server 2010 beta. He has a strong background in enterprise project and portfolio management (EPM). He has worked with the Microsoft Project Portfolio Server application since it was first acquired from UMT by Microsoft and has some of the most complex portfolio server implementation experience in the United States. In addition Dan has extensive experience with database maintenance and design, systems architecture planning, networking technologies, and server operating systems, as well as experience building servers from the ground up. Dan enjoys balancing his work commitments with skiing, exercise, playing the guitar, and coaching members of youth sport.
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