Thursday, May 1, 2014

Timeline in Project Web Access 2013 : new nice feature!!

The timeline in MS Project Pro 2010 has been a really great new feature which was strongly appreciated by project managers when they need to quickly extract a graphical overview of their project plans for executive committees presentations.

But what about a portfolio timeline view including multiple projects? That was not possible with Project Server 2010. Hopefully Project Server 2013 brought a bunch of nice new features such as the timeline in PWA, meaning in the proejct center and in the project schedule page.

So in this post, not much writing but just a quick description of this new feature quite easy to use and with a extremely nice render!

Below is the project center (still in french, I promise I'll get an english PWA as soon as possible...), where you can select a project in the grid and click on "add a project" in the "project" tab on the ribbon, under the "timeline" section. Be aware that if you click on the project name hyperlink, you'll go directly to the project details, so just click on another cell next to the project name.

Figure 1 : Project center timeline with the "add to timeline" button

When you click on the timeline itself, a new contextual "timeline" tab appears in the ribbon. It allows you formatting the bars with custom fonts or colors. You can also choose to hide or display some items like dates or lock the timeline width. Finally selecting a specific bar in the timeline, you can remove it or display it as a legend.

Figure 2 : "Timeline" tab with formatting options in the project center ribbon

Going to the project detail in the schedule page, you'll be able (assuming you're in edit mode) to select a task and add it from the "add to timeline" button.

Figure 3 : Project detail timeline with the "add to timeline" button

Note that selecting high level phases of your project will give you a really nice result. Similarly to the project center, you can click on the timeline to display the "timeline" tab of the ribbon in order to do some "sexy" formatting.

Figure 4 : Timeline" tab with formatting options in the project detail ribbon

Note : (read carefully the edit at the end of the post, the first part of the sentence below is erroneous but I keep it as is to keep track of the post history)
As an important comment I'd mention that whereas the project center timeline is user specific (stored in the personal settings), the project details timeline is project specific, meaning that modifying it requires checking out the project in PWA or MS Project Pro. The project details timeline can then be seen from 3 different places :
  1. PWA, editable when checking out the schedule (figure 3 and 4),
  2. MS Projec Pro, editable when checking out the project (figure 5),
  3. The project site welcome page, consultable only (figure 6).
Figure 5: project  details timeline in MS Project Pro

Figure 6: project  details timeline in in the project SharePoint site

Hope you enjoy this nice new feature that brings to the PWA 2013 a brand new view at portfolio and project level. Try it and you'll love it!

EDIT June 10th 2015: Damien brings a useful contribution in his comment below by mentionning that the Project Center timeline is NOT user specific since it is stored in a Sharepoint list.

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  1. Hi Guillaume
    Thank you for your post.
    One question/remark. The project center timeline is not user specific, since the source is a sharepoint list, as a portfolio manager, you will see the same timeline as a collleague portfolio manager.
    What is a shame, I think, is that you cannot (in SharePoint Permission mode) add projects to the project center time line as a Project Manager. So there's no way to create an overview "of all my projects" on the project center as a project manager, unless all projects were added to the list by a portfolio manager.
    Do you have any ideas on how to do this?
    thank you

  2. Hi Damien and thanks for bringing some lights on this subject. I'll edit the post to correct the project center timeline not being user specific. Indeed the SharePoint Server permission is quite restrictive and much less granular than the Project Server permission. So far I do not know any workaround, except creating a report displaying the projects owned by the Project Manager, using SSRS or Excel Services.

    1. One idea, is for a project manager to create a temporary 'master project', for purposes of creating a timeline. In Project Pro, create a new project, insert desired projects as subprojects, create the timeline, copy it for a presentation, and don't bother saving the temporary master project. Of course, the project manager has to have permissions to open the projects in Project Pro. -Aviva

  3. Hi Guillaume

    I am experiencing an issue where the timeline on the Project Site & PWA is not the same as in PWA. I have published the schedule on the server but there are still some tasks reflecting in the timeline on the Project Site that I have removed in MSP. Do you perhaps have any idea as to why it is not the same?

  4. Hi Nadine, This could be many reasons and it is quite difficult to debug from here. Maybe the publish job in MS Project wasn't successful. You could try to publish the project from PWA and see if it helps. In case it doesn't, I'd suggest to post your question on the TechNet forums:

  5. Hi Guillaume

    Thank you. I have published the project via MSP & PWA and I have monitored the queue to ensure that nothing failed during the publishing process.
    PWA & MSP are now the same. It seems to be the Project Site that is not updating correctly.