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Using Local Calendars in the PPM Platform

Working as a PPM consultant offers me opportunities to interact with many different clients, all of which have diverse needs and requirements. A couple of weeks ago, I received a very interesting request from a company I am engaged with regarding the utilization of custom calendars by their project managers.

Before we deep dive into their request, it is important to provide some background. By default, the PPM platform does not allow project managers to configure their own calendars when connected to PWA. The logic behind this restriction is straightforward. As we are using a platform to centralize and standardize our project management practices, it does not make sense for project managers to use projects elements that are not part of the global configuration.

If you’ve ever tried to modify the default calendar or create a new calendar when connected to PWA, you may have noticed that the options were grayed out:

Figure 1: Change Working Time dialog

Despite this, there are some unique scenarios in which more flexibility, in this case changing PWA’s configuration to allow certain things that were not planned, is required. Let’s go back to my client’s request.

They are a large service provider company working in the metallurgical industry. Their work consists of machine revitalization, also known as retrofit. They have clients all over the United States, as well as in other countries in both Central and South America. In their project management process, as soon as new retrofit contract is signed, a new project is created on the PPM platform (in their case, Project Online).

As their projects happen in diverse locations, it is common that schedules are developed which take into consideration particularities and restrictions imposed by clients. This includes things such as local holidays, plants temporarily closed for maintenance, unavailability of key staff members that are involved, and so on.

With a scenario such as this, it is very hard to keep the administration of the company’s calendars as the Project Online admin’s responsibility. Even though it would be nice to keep the standards and ask the admin to create the calendars as requested by project managers, consider if this is a worth effort. The more likely reality is that calendars will be used exclusively for each project, which means that, in most of the cases, they will be useless for other projects.

To allow project managers to create their own calendars based upon the requirements they have, as a PWA admin, navigate to PWA Settings. Under the Operational Policies section, click Additional Server Settings. Then, in the Enterprise Setting subsection, make sure to check the Allow projects to use local base calendars option. See figure 2.

Figure 2: Additional Server Settings page

Click Save. Once this option is enabled, project managers will have the ability to create their own calendars:

Figure 3: Change Working Time dialog (creating a new Calendar)

Managers will have the opportunity to create their calendars as a copy of an Enterprise calendar (this means they can take the advantage of including all the existing exceptions). They may also choose to create a new blank base calendar:

Figure 4: Create a new calendar dialog

For example, let’s say that the project will happen in Brazil, and we need to include the national holidays that are established for the country in the calendar. We would create a new base calendar and add the exceptions as needed:

Figure 5: New local calendar created

To wrap-up this post, let’s look at several other considerations:

  • By changing these settings and allowing project managers to create their own calendars, they will have permission to create local calendars, but they will still not be allowed to modify anything in the Enterprise ones
  • Local calendars are only available in the project in which they have been created
  • Project managers won’t be able to add their local calendars to Enterprise, and if they try it, they will receive the following message:

Figure 6: Unable to add calendar to Enterprise

So, tell me about your experience working with calendars in the PPM platform. Have you ever needed to create local calendars for your projects? Feel free to reach out. Let’s chat.

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Written by Raphael Santos

Raphael Santos is a PPM enthusiast with expertise in providing Microsoft Project, Project Online, and Project Server solutions. He has worked in several projects to implement PPM tools, including projects located in Latin America (Brazil, Peru, and Argentina), in the United States, and in Africa. He is also a trainer with more than 10 years of experience teaching users how to use Project Management tools in a more productive way. In 2016, Raphael was awarded the MVP title by Microsoft in recognition of his contributions to the Project Management community. Raphael is a PPM Consultant at Sensei Project Solutions, a certified Microsoft partner specializing in project and portfolio management deployments. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help organizations succeed with their Microsoft PPM deployments. Services include full implementation and training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information.

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