Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No More Project1 !

It is with a lot of emotion that I discovered today that Project1 is no more automatically created in Project 2013 where it was always showing up at Project 2010 start-up!

2010 opening window:

2013 opening window:

For sure, if you're not selecting any project or pushing ESC in the backstage, Project 2013 will create a Project1 for you. But I see as a great improvement to be now able to open a project without always having this Project1 to close before!

I hope you share my enthusiasm!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm now a Microsoft P-Seller for Project!!

It’s official, I’ve been nominated and accepted by Microsoft as a P-Seller for Project (formerly called Virtual Technology Specialist)! I’m extremely excited to be considered among the elite in the Microsoft Partner Community, and I look forward to learning more about the program and helping businesses find value using Microsoft Project.

One of the first questions I had during this process was “What is a P-Seller?”

I’ve located this text, which explains the program:

"The Microsoft P-Seller (VTS-P) is a select group chosen from the elite in Microsoft’s partner community, whose focus is to augment Microsoft’s internal Technology Specialist team. Their primary role is to communicate the value of Microsoft Solutions to customers and to provide architectural guidance for Enterprise Integration solutions. The Microsoft P-Seller program was designed to create a deeper relationship with Microsoft Partners, the Product Teams at Microsoft Corporate, and Regional Microsoft Offices, in order to provide highly skilled solution specialists to Microsoft customers. It is designed to enable a high performance team of partner-based resources to deliver pre-sale activities and resources to empower customers and help them meet their solution and integration needs."

Here are the 3 key points to keep in mind about the P-Seller role:
Figure 1 : overview of the P-Seller role

1 - Contributes to MS sales and pre-sales technical support capacity:
The Partner Seller (P-Seller) is a Microsoft Partner resource acting as an extension of the Microsoft sales team in the capacity of sales and pre-sales technical support. The appropriate P-Seller has the ability to position, demonstrate, design and implement Microsoft solutions.

2 - Provides subject matter expertise for key technology areas:
Designed to help Microsoft scale out its sales and technical pre-sales efforts by enabling Microsoft partner resources to help drive and accelerate pipeline velocity and customer deployment.

3 - P-Seller resources are deeply integrated into Microsoft’s sales team:
P-Sellers engage wth AM/OM/SSPs on Sales Opportunities providing SSP and TSP deliverables which include -Sales & positioning presentations, Technology & Strategy briefings, product demos and technical follow up. P-Sellers are provided access to the same demo content and presentations as Microsoft SSP's and TSP's.

I now get access to information on the Microsoft corporate network such as knowledge bases, technical articles, training materials, and other resources. I also get guest access to Microsoft facilities, and priority for participating in Microsoft marketing events.

This is a really great opportunity, I'm proud to be a part of this elite community, and I look forward to all that comes from it. 
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Your Enterprise Global Doesn't Want to Save my Macro to Project Server 2013?

Hello everyone

Sorry with this blackout period.But, I'm still  happy to share interesting things I found.

Currently in a 2013 configuration, I wanted to upload to Enterprise Global two written macros to the EGlobal.
After a lot of trial to save the EGlobal after transferring the macro using the organizer, nothing is uploaded to the server.

Thanks to an old blog written by Pieter Veenstra, I managed to save my enterprise global.

Two possibilities :
Install the HotFix proposed by Microsoft or follow the below process to hack the system!

1- Open your Enterprise Global either using MS Project ( it has moved from PWA settings in 2010 to MS Project menu in 2013)
2- While the Enterprise Global is opened, go to the organizer

3-  Copy the content to the checked-out Enterprise Global

4- Create a dummy task in the enterprise global gantt chart view (be sure to not change the view, it can corrupt in some way your fragile Enterprise Global) 
 5- Delete the same task!

6-Close, save and check-in the Enterprise Global

Final- The Enterprise Global is now well saved to the server

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MVP Project!!

It is with great pride I announce that I have been awarded as a Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Project for the first (hope not the last) time. 

The Microsoft MVP Award is an annual award that recognizes exceptional technology community leaders worldwide who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with users and Microsoft. The idea behind this award is to give some recognition to folks that have volunteered their time to write books, create documentation, run user groups, and generally spread the word as advocates for the development platform.

I'm even more honoured that we are just around 60 MVPs for Project wordwide and as far I could see on the MVP website, I'll be the only one in Canada.

Now let's go on and continue sharing my experience and knowledge with the community!
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Delegation in 2013 - Don't Misundurstand the Project Pro Message

One interesting feature Project Server has introduced in 2010 is the capability to substitute yourself to someone else using the delegation.
By the way, you cannot use it while in SharePoint Permission mode

One of the drawback is that this is only working in PWA interface (except for the Business Intelligence part).
Consequently, Project Professional will not allow you to connect to a server while you have an ongoing delegation session.
So now, let's imagine you're in a delegation session in the name of this famous John.

Then, you try to open your MS Project Pro connected to your server and, Surprise, a misleading message appears.

It's not that wrong message as you do have inadequate permissions but not really explicit!

So, next time a user call you with this kind of message, make sure they are not using the delegation in the meantime before trying to check network or permissions to the server!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Manage Calendars using Recurrence Pattern

One of the challenge of planning with MS Project is to be accurate in the dates and vacations.
Though, statutory holidays coming every year needs to be taken into account!

Let's take the example of the 4 of the US holidays found in Wikipedia:
Official Name Date
New Year's Day January 1 (Fixed)
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Third Monday in January
Inauguration Day First January 20 following a Presidential election
Good Friday The Friday before(western) Easter
Interesting in those holidays is that they happen every year. Some can be set recurring, some not:
January first is always the January first (hopefully for those who are partying all New Year eve).
Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday is the 3rd Monday of January. Strange for an anniversary but still, the public holiday is like that.
For the Inauguration Day, this is not possible to predict when it will happen, recurrence will not help in that case
The Good Friday is arriving before Easter, which is again unpredictable and though, the recurrence will not help either.

MS Project and though Project Server is proposing a nice feature in setting recurrence to exceptions in calendar. 
You will first have to go to the Calendar setting:

After creating an exception, while clicking to the details detail button, you will get the following window:

Now, see how to set the above defined recurring and not recurring holidays.
January first:

Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday:

Inauguration Day:

Good Friday:

Now you can declare enterprise calendars with mostly recurring statutory holidays. Some will still need to be entered one by one.
Obviously, this can be configured for Project Server calendars in going to enterprise calendars in the PWA settings

In the next future, I will share with you some calendars until 2020!

Additional note thanks to Gary Chefetz comment:
While creating recurrence, you will have to identify exceptions such as first of January falling on a Sunday. Then a creation of a specific calendar exception will be necessary. The easy way to identify such case would be to check each calendar exception year after year and verify which day it falls.

Furthermore, try to limit your calendars horizon to your projects horizon to not overload the server and the database with unnecessary information

Hope you will love to avoid defining calendar exceptions every year!
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Change a custom field label in PDPs

When you're in charge of a large Project Server deployment, you might face concerns and issues that are due to the project scaling. When I say "large", I mean thousands of users, hundreds of custom fields, tens of project types, PDPs...

In this context, in order to keep a consistency between lookup tables, custom fields or any other objects, I usually use a naming convention such as "lkp_table name", or "organization_customfieldname" for multi-organization deployment. Thus it means that you do need to find a way to display a custom label for those custom fields, different from the name in the system.
Figure 1: naming convention for lookup tables or custom fields

It also make sense for out-of-the-box fields such as "project Owner". In many case, the project owner will be a project manager, but it could be a PCO. Thus organizations might want to give a custom label to this native field.

Facing this concern, evenif I'm not a developer, there is an easy way to give custom label. So enjoy it because that will probably be the one and only post I'll ever write about coding. But as you'll see, it is not much difficulty.

We'll make a simple example with the "owner" out-of-the-box field.
Figure 2: default owner field

First you need to download the following jquery librairy. You can upload the js file to the style librairy of your PWA site collection, accessible from the "site contents" link. Once uploaded, you can download from the TechNet gallery a script provided by a fellow MVP Paul Mather. Download the script for example in your site collection document librairy (sites/pwa/SiteCollectionDocuments).

You can edit the js file and replace the custom label.
Figure 3: update the js file with your custrom label
Then edit your PDP from the server settings and add a content editor webpart.
Figure 4: add a content editor webpart to the PDP
Edit the webpart then enter the path of your javascript file (/sites/pwa/SiteCollectionDocuments/ChangeCustomFieldDisplayLabelonPDP.js in my case) and set the webpart as "hidden":

Figure 5: enter the javascript file's path in the webpart configuration and hide it

Et voilà!! The native field is "renamed" as you needed to.
Figure 6: PDP with the new label

Note that if you have installed language packages, since the code contains the name of the field and not the GUID, you'll need to consider writing in the javascript file the label for custom field in all languages supported on your PWA instance.

**2014-08-01 : need to add a function or it will not work. I'll update the post asap.
**2015-06-22: post (lately) updated with a new code example, based on Paul Mather's excellent post.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to disable in MS Project Pro the "new tasks are created in ... scheduled mode"

A quick one for this week! More than an article, let's call it a tip. We are all experts that deal with advanced features to answer elaborate customer's business needs. BUT.... The user acceptance is one of the key success factor. And after deploying Project Server since 2006, I've come to the conclusion that a few little tiny details can promote or limit this acceptance.

So what about this very annoying notification each time users (actually including yourself as a Project Server SME) open MS Project Pro?
Figure 1 : new tasks creation mode notification message
I actually lived with this notification with a fatalistic acceptance unless the question was raised and answered on the TechNet Project forum by one of our excellent MVP (Julie Sheets, not to mention any names...).

YES YOU CAN deactivate this notification, god!!

Once MS Project is opened (and after the notification disappears argghh), just right click on section which displays the scheduling mode for the new tasks:
Figure 2: scheduling mode for new tasks

You'll get a menu that proposes various options for customizing the status bar. Just deselect the "new task mode notification":
Figure 3: unselect the "new task mode notification" option in the status bar customization menu

Et voilà!!
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

View effective rights tool: now integrated to Project Server 2013

Much has been said on the 2013 release of Project Server, so it's kind of ambitious to write a brand new blog on the topic those days! But let's try!
Some of you guys surely faced the situation where a resource cannot access an object in Project Server? Or have been called on Monday morning by a gently customer and seeing that the security has been tweaked making a real mess?
Project Server 2007 PRK (Project Resource Kit) used to propose a "View effective rights" tool that allows the Project Server administrator troubleshooting issues regarding security settings and access control.

Here is basically what did it look like:
Figure 1: "view effective rights" tool in the PS2007 PRK

This tool has vanished in PS2010 (as far as I know..) and it is with a great pleasure that I'm presenting today the "view effective rights" functionality integrated to Project Server 2013!

It is pretty simple to use it, assuming of course you're using the Project Server permission mode. Just navigate to the server settings, then manage users. After selecting the culprit user, you can click on the "view effective rights" button.
Figure 2: "view effective right" in "manage users"
Then you'll be able to select from the drop-down list the type of rights you want to troubleshoot :
  • Global permissions,
  • Category rights for projects,
  • Category rights for resources,
  • Category rights for views,
Figure 3: type of rights selection
Figure 4: category rights on projects
Figure 5: category rights on resources
Figure 6: category rights on views

Try it and as an administrator you'll soon use it on a daily basis!

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Master the Multiple Choice Custom Fields in your Excel Reports!

It happens sometime that there is a need to report information stored in a Multiple Choice Custom Field:

If this happened to you, you must have seen that the custom field is not part of the standard views such as MSP_Project_UserView.
You will have instead a specific view for each Multiple Choice Custom Field named MSPCFPRJ_<CustomFieldName>_AssociationView.

Then, you will have to write down a clever request giving you the list of choices made by projects.
Don't worry, you can find this clever information right below!
SELECT Proj.ProjectName,
       lt.MemberFullValue AS 'VLookupField'
FROM dbo.MSP_EpmProject_UserView AS Proj 
LEFT OUTER JOIN [dbo].[MSPCFPRJ_<YOUR_CUSTOM FIELD NAME>_AssociationView] AS MVassoc -- view for multi value field 
ON proj.ProjectUID = MVassoc.EntityUID 
LEFT OUTER JOIN dbo.MSP_EpmLookupTable AS lt 
ON MVassoc.LookupMemberUID = lt.MemberUID 
order by    ProjectName asc

I would recommend to do the post treatment in the excel itself. it would be possible to link the below request with the one that will gather all your project information but, be careful, it will multiply the number of lines per the number of choices made on projects.

Then, I recommend to create a specific tab in your excel report to show the information
This will return you something like this while rendered in an Excel pivot table with data connection:
Be sure to have checked the "Repeat All Items Label" check box

Now, you may want to return these information on another sheet gathering other project information.
To do so, I will create a one cell concatenation of the selected project.
First step is to gather the information based on the project on several cells

The formula to gather several lines of a specific project is quite ugly:

$A$1:$B$5000 = Where to search
$A$1:$A$5000 = Where are the project names
$G$4 = The project name to search
1:1 = The line number you want to fetch
Be careful, this is array formulas, that means that you will have to click on CTRL+ENTER to validate your formula!

Here is the overall list of formulas, as you can see, only the parameter number changed (I return here a maximum of 12 entries)

To finish, the easiest part is to put all that in a single cell with the following formula.
To render it nice, I created a second column containing the separator so that a separator is only created while a value is returned. I then concatenated the overall in a cell

Separator cells are looking if there is a value after the current one and if yes displays the separator:

Result cell is a concatenation of the entire table:

Tips: you can use =CHAR(10) as separator to render in a cell on several lines

You are now able to render multi-choice custom field in your excel services report!

Find here an example of all I just said in an excel file!

Help from Microsoft :
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Monday, May 19, 2014

New task path in MS Project Professional 2013

MS Project 2013 has brought a nice bunch of new formatting features. Something that needs at least 10 clicks or writing formulas now takes only a click.
Figure 1: task path menu in the "format" tab of the ribbon
Among the new formatting features of 2013 version (critical path, slack, late tasks), we’ll go in this article through the task path formatting options. Those new formatting options allow the user displaying in one click the predecessors and successors of a given task. Meaning that it is now pretty straight forward to anticipate impacts on tasks.

Let’s take an example creating a simple project plan with a milestone that you need to look at more in detail.
Figure 2: sample project plan
  • Predecessors : the predecessors of the selected task will be highlighted. In our example, the milestone has tasks A, B and C as predecessors. Note that it is not only direct predecessors, but also predecessors of predecessors.
Figure 3: milestone's predecessors
  • Driving predecessors : task B has not a direct impact on the milestone thus it is not highlighted as a driving predecessors. Indeed it has a shorter duration that anothers direct predecessors (task A and C). In other words, task B's slack for the milestone is greater than 0 thus it is not a driving predecessor. Note that you can multi-select formatting options, adding driving predecessors to predecessors formatting.
Figure 4: milestone's driving predecessors
  • Successors : tasks D, E and F are successors of the selected milesone.
Figure 5: milestone's successors
  • Driving successors : task F is not directly impacted by the milestone since its direct successors are tasks D and E, thus it is not highlighted.
Figure 6: milestone's driving successors
Note that this is a dynamic feature, meaning that keeping for example the « predecessors » option selected and selecting another task (task F for example), the formatting will be updated (compared to figure 3) when clicking, highlighting the newly selected task’s predecessors :
Figure 7: dymanic update of the task path on task change
As a nice improvment versus MS Project 2010, we’ll mention that the selected task is also under and upper lined in the Gantt chart.
Figure 8: task selected in MS Project Pro 2010
Figure 9: task selected in MS Project Pro 2013 under/upper lined in the Gantt chart

Hope you'll like playing with those new formatting features that give a brand new user experience to our project managers.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Multilines administrative time categories in PS2013 timesheet

Most of the timesheet improvments brought by Project Server 2013 are for the end users. But anyway what's a good for the end user is obviously good for the administrators, isn't it? Since we do like those "win-win" new features, we will go in this new post through the multiline administrative time categories. Note that in PS2013, the administrative time has been renamed "non-project activities".

A common need from our customers is the ability to manage in their timesheets tasks that are not personal tasks, neither on a specific project. That's why the administrative time was introduced since 2010 version. As it is a pretty straight forward and simple feature, you might ask "what could be new with the administrative time feature?".

So let me ask how do you manage support activities with tickets? The best solution is obviously an integration with Team Foundation Server, but you might not have it in your organization or you might not have to budget for the PS/TFS integration. Thus the common way to manage tickets in previous version was to manage a specific support project, which was tedious due to the project's granularity.

The new multiline feature expands the administrative time categories to take into account this type of work allowing multiline to be added to an administrative category in a given timesheet. Below is the procedure to implement multilines administrative time.

The first step is to define your new administrative categorie (non-project activity) in the server settings, checking the "Allow Multipe Lines" checkbox. In this case, it is adviced to flag the ticket activity as "approval required". Note also that the administrative time categories can now be department specific.
Figure 1: new multiline administrative time category creation

Then when the user goes to his current timesheet, he'll be able to insert one or more tickets activities not related to any project, giving a custom name.
Figure 2: current user timesheet
Figure 3: inserting a noin-project activity in the current timesheet
Picking up the "ticket" category, the user will be able to enter a specific name for the ticket activity.
Figure 4: entering a custom name for the "ticket" activity
 After entering as many tickets as required, the timesheet will look like this:
Figure 5: timesheet with 3 "ticket" activities
Grouping by billing category will give to the user a clearer view of the ticket activities in the timehseet versus the other administrative lines and the standard (project) lines:
Figure 6: timesheet grouped by billing categories
As another nice improvment, we can mention that the non-project lines are now carried forward to timesheets for future periods, supporting in the best way possible this new multiline administrative time categories.

Hope you'll try and enjoy it. I'll be pleased to hear from you other use cases than the ticket use case presented here in this post.
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