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Two Ways to Sync Microsoft Project with Your SharePoint Project Site

First things first! At the start of any project, you need to decide how and with which tool you will manage your project. At BrightWork, our recommendation is that SharePoint is the best collaborative platform with which to manage a project.

For more experienced Project Managers, SharePoint will not have all the project planning capabilities they are looking for. Instead, Microsoft Project will be the tool of choice. And, for good reason. Microsoft Project is an incredible tool to manage your project schedule.

Most of the time, though, it’s really just the Project Manager who needs access to the MPP file regularly. Team members don’t need to be in MS Project on a day-to-day basis. Team members just need a place where they can find their work and provide a status update on their work. SharePoint is the perfect tool for that.

Even better, the two-way sync between SharePoint and Microsoft Project gives you the best of both worlds.

In the following article, I’d like to share with you two simple ways to sync your Microsoft Project Plan with your project management site in SharePoint:

  1. Sync an existing Microsoft Project Plan to a SharePoint site
  2. Use the Open with Project Feature in your existing SharePoint site

Sync an Existing Microsoft Project Plan to a New SharePoint Site

With this method, you will be creating a new SharePoint Team site with a Tasks List that is mapped to the MPP.

Step 1: When you are in the Microsoft Project file, navigate to File and click Save As.

Step 2: Under Save and Sync, you should select the option to Sync with SharePoint.

Step 3: On the right hand side, you will see some fields under Sync with SharePoint Tasks. Select Sync with New SharePoint Site, enter your Project Name, and add the URL of what will be the new team site (parent site) in SharePoint.

Step 4: Click Save.

Clicking save will actually kick off the creation of a brand new team site in SharePoint. After the sync has completed, your browser should automatically open up the new SharePoint project site, along with a pre-populated SharePoint tasks list and timeline web part addition.

Use the “Open with Project” Capability in your Existing SharePoint Site

With this method, you will be creating a new MPP file that is mapped to an existing Tasks List in SharePoint.

Step 1: Navigate to the SharePoint Tasks List in your Team Site.

Step 2: From the ribbon, click Open with Project. This will open a MPP file containing the plan from your SharePoint tasks list.

 

Step 3: Make all the changes that you normally would in Microsoft Project.

Step 4: Click Save. Once you click save, you will see the sync kicking off.

The next time you or the team goes back to the SharePoint project site, they will see the SharePoint Tasks list (and all the corresponding Work Reports) reflecting any updates that have been made.

Likewise, any updates that the team may make in the SharePoint site will be reflected in the MPP the next time you open it.

A Few Considerations on the Microsoft Project to SharePoint Sync

1. Compatibility

Before you get started using the SharePoint to MS Project sync, there are some prerequisites you need to know about. Essentially, if you are using Server or one of the Foundation versions of SharePoint, you will require the corresponding version of Microsoft Project Professional Desktop for the sync to work. SharePoint Online requires Project Online in Office 365.

For example:

  • SharePoint 2013 requires Project Professional 2013 Desktop
  • SharePoint 2016 requires Project Professional 2016 Desktop
  • SharePoint Online requires Project Online in Office 365

2. Default Field Mappings

The default field mappings you will get with the out-of-the-box sync are:

  • Task Name
  • Start date
  • Finish (due) date
  • % Complete
  • Resource Name
  • Predecessors

These fields represent the basic information you would likely need to track and report on work from the SharePoint project management site.

3. Location of the MPP File

You might think that the corresponding MPP file would logically be housed in the Document Library of your team site. However, it will actually be stored in the Site Assets section of your SharePoint site.

That’s actually a better place for it to be, as it is out of the way of most of the team members. When it’s hidden away in the Site Assets, it’s unlikely anyone will just stumble across it, or possibly make any changes to disrupt the sync. Team members only need to update their tasks from right within the SharePoint site. Those changes will be reflected in the MS Project file with no need for most to go near the Project file itself.

 

 

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15 Comments
  1. Nice overview but what about task updates? Can resources update tasks in SharePoint and “push” them to Project? If so, are there any Project licensing considerations?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Yes – the sync works both ways. So any updates that are made to the Tasks List in SharePoint by team members will be reflected in Microsoft Project the next time it is opened.

    Likewise, any updates made to the plan in MS Project will sync back into the SharePoint Tasks list once the .mpp is saved.

    You only need to license for those who are actually accessing the plan in Microsoft Project. So team members can manage all their work in SharePoint without ever having to access MS Project.

    Reply
  3. We are doing a cutover and would like to use a task list for the team to see when their next task is due. The cutover team do not have MS Project hence the use of a Task List. We do not want the team to sync any changes back to the project plan. My question is how to prevent this? Would not having MS Project on their laptops make a difference in their ability to sync back to the Master cutover plan?

    Would you have any recommendations? (besides downloading to excel)

    Thanks

    Reply
  4. I have come across a trouble that end users are not having access to site asset hence, one they modify anything it won’t get save to sharepoint.
    Is there any other way we can sync the project and sharepoint but keeping the file “.mpp” in any other place except site asset.

    Reply
  5. Hi Teresa,

    If the Tasks List in your SharePoint site is synced with MS Project, any update made to the tasks in SharePoint (marking it complete, updated % complete, etc.) will be reflected in the .mpp. Even if the cutover team does not have MS Project on their machine, any update they make will sync with the Project Plan the next time it is opened by you, or the PM, or whoever else has access to it.

    Is the issue that you want everything to remain tracked in the SharePoint site, just not synced to the MPP?

    One possible workaround could be to add an additional Tasks List to your SharePoint site for all the cutover tasks that does not sync with MS Project (** disclaimer: I know it is possible to have multiple Tasks List in one site, but I am unsure if/how it would affect the existing sync). Alternatively, you could add a Custom List to the site to track those tasks.

    Reply
  6. Hi Debarun,

    Users not being able to access the Site Assets sounds like it could be a permissions issue, and they may need to be granted more access within the site.

    However, I’d suggest keeping .mpp where it is currently housed in the Site Assets library, and ask users to make their updates in the Tasks Lists and therefore not needing to access the Project Plan.

    One other thing to note. In order to use the sync, they would need to have Microsoft Project Professional Desktop installed on their machine.

    Reply
  7. One clarification of this statement:
    One other thing to note. In order to use the sync, they would need to have Microsoft Project Professional Desktop installed on their machine.

    Correction:
    One other thing to note. If the end-user would like to open the SharePoint Tasks List in MS Project, they would need to have Microsoft Project Professional Desktop installed on their machine. They can still make updates to tasks in SharePoint without needing Project installed.

    Reply
  8. Good article, thanks!
    We have a requirement to sync additional columns with task list, for example isMileStone. How can we modify the “out-of-the-box sync” columns?

    Reply
  9. Hi CJ,

    Yes, you can. You’ll need to map the fields so SharePoint knows in which column to put the data from MS Project.

    I don’t have the beauty of images in the comments, but I’ll try the best I can!

    First, you’ll have to make sure the column exists in the SharePoint Tasks List. If it does not, you will have to create a custom column, and then sync the Tasks List with Project again.

    Next, go into the MPP and click on “File”. Underneath the “Sync and Save Your Project” option, you will see a button to “Map Fields”.

    Click the “Map Fields” button and then follow the prompts to map the fields you require.

    That is a good idea for a post. I’ll work on an article covering this process and share the link here when it is complete.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Hello All ,

    I have one .mpp file in SharePoint online Document Library. When ever i am opening the .mpp file in Microsoft Project Planner in 2013/2016 Desktop version and made the changes & save it , some columns values are updated and some values are ignored .

    Do you have any idea and resolution for the same . Is this known issue from MS , if yes kindly share the blog from MS .

    Please let us know if any workaround for the same.

    Reply
  11. once a plan is synced is it possible to have sharepoint send automatic reminders to resources that a task is due, late, starting etc?

    Reply
  12. Is there a way to open a master project and add subprojects for each of your mpp files in the site assets of each sharepoint site to have one consolidated view?

    Reply
  13. Hello Billy
    I tried to map from an empty project 2019 to an empty Sharepoint online task list. I mapped my fields and can see them on both side. The sync is ok from project to the SPO List. But at reverse it does not work. Note that I can see the mpp files on SPO site’s assets.
    I don’t understand.
    Is there any limitation between projet 2019 and SPO online?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  14. No anwser Billy, too bad. Bye.

    Reply
  15. Hi,
    I had a question, who all can open the “open with project” option in SP site..is that applicable only for the owners group members

    Reply

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