Friday, April 24, 2015

Delegation: what are the limitations?

Hi Project Server addicts!

Today I was willing to talk about the delegation. This feature was introduced with the 2010 version, replacing (more or less) the surrogate feature in 2007 version. Project Server 2013 reproduces exactly the same functionnality than in Project Server 2010. The delegation is a quite nice improvment, thus it has been blogged a few times here, here and here. So I won't reinvent the wheek since my fellow Project experts did a really good job with their blogs.

Too bad, what am I going to blog about??

After working on few Project Server deployments where the delegation was heavily used, I found out that there were a few limitations which could sometimes be painful. Here is a good subject to blog about! To understand the big picture, one must understand that the delegation applies to the PWA site. Thus all limitations below are a direct consequence, meaning that all that is outside the PWA site scope will not be included in the delegation influence.

1- BI Center
As you might know, the BI Center is a specific site beside from PWA, so the BI Center is not included in the delegation scope, preventing users from accessing by delegation reports they should not see.

2- Project sites
Similarly, the project sites are on the SharePoint side of the Force thus the delegation will not permit a user to access project sites of a delegate fellow colleague.

3- MS Project Pro
The Project client is a side application which is related to Project Server when opening, saving, publishing, creating the project team. So you cannot connect to PWA using a delegation session.

4- Resources with no valid account
Finally one of the heaviest limitation I encountered concerns the delegation for external resources, for example for consultants or customers timesheets. Those resources usually do not have a PWA access with the appropriate CAL, thus they are just created as resources with no valid account. You will see that the delegation feature does not work for resources which are not also users. Prasanna wrote a blog about it.
Figure 1: delegation for a resource with no valid account impossible to create

Finally I would like to end this blog by a nice app I just found. This app easies the PWA navigation through additional buttons in the ribbons. One of them allows navigating from the delegate creation page to the acting as a delegate page.
Figure 2: "act as delegate" new button in the "manage delegates" page

Will Project 16 provide some improvments about those limiations? We'll know it soon hopefully!

EDIT 2015-04-27: as Karen suggested in her comment, the PDP security is also out of the delegation scope.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Project Online sites: the timeline doesn't show up in the Project Summary webpart, why??

Hi All,

I've come across a strange issue on the TechNet forum and thanks to David N Lean, we got an interesting answer. Let me share it here with you.

The project site by default contains the Project Summary webpart which provides to the project team basic project information on the late tasks and tasks to come. It also proposes with a sliding transition the project's timeline, which is also accessible of course in MS Project Pro and in the PWA schedule PDP. So far so good. Here is what does it look like:
Figure 1: project summary webpart in the project site, displaying the project timeline (on-premise)
Hester Blok, a skillful Project Server consultant from the Netherlands, came to the forum with the following issue. It was working as expected with Project Server on-premise, but not with Project Online. Here is what she got:
Figure 2project summary webpart in the project site, without the project timeline (Online)
Only the upcoming and late tasks are displayed, but no luck with the sliding timeline... Obviously the timeline is one of the new sexy feature that we do like presenting to customer. The immediate conclusion saying "it is not available with Project Online sites" was neither acceptable technically nor from a customer point of view.

The solution is related to the task list. As you might know, the site tasks list is synchronized with the project tasks and is in read-only mode in the project site. What do I see if I click on a task in the project timeline??
Figure 3: detail of a task in the site timeline
The timeline in the site's webpart is built from the site tasks list, not from the schedule timeline itself, nor from the project. Now I share with you a blog post from Brian a few weeks ago. It says:
"The change will make it so that enterprise projects are not synchronized with SharePoint tasks lists, by default. If you still want enterprise projects to synchronize with SharePoint tasks lists, you can turn this setting back on by going to Project Web App ‎(PWA)‎ Settings > Connected SharePoint Sites > Settings, and selecting the ‘Sync Enterprise Projects tasks to Tasks List’ check box."

Thus if you do not change this setting, when you publish first your project, the site is correctly created with the task list, but this list will never get synchronized. That seems to be the root cause why by default, in Project Online, the project summary webpart cannot retrieve the task list information for the timeline. 

So just go to the server settings, Operational Policies \ Connected SharePoint Sites and change the setting:
Figure 4: settings in the connected sharepoint site menu

Figure 5: enable the tasks list synchronization
The thing is that it changes nothing to the existing project site, as far as I could test at least. I tried publishing the project (from PWA only), removing the webpart and adding it again, edit the properties, with no luck... If someone has a trick for this part, please share it, it would be quite tedious to recreate the existing sites, attach them to the projects and migrate the content.

Thus it is quite important that you enable (if applicable to your customer's needs) this parameter while doing the first configuration run of your customer Online instance.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Active Directory Tip 1 - Group Timer Job : Be Careful of the Save Button

Hello Everyone,

Today I will treat a strange behavior that causes me headaches.
While doing my Project Server 2013 configuration, I came across the configuration of the Active Directory Resource Pool and Group Synchronization.
I then configured the two timer jobs to execute the Resource Pool synchronization THEN the Group synchronization.
Here was my configuration in the central administration:

Project Web App: Synchronization of AD with the Enterprise Resource Pool job :
Project Web App: Synchronization of AD with security groups job :

But, after some days, I see that the group synchronization timer job changed its starting time to 12:00AM.

I finally found that it's NOT an automatic process which is causing the timer job to change change.

In the below screenshot that is available in the ACTIVE DIRECTORY GROUP SYNC OPTIONS  in the  PWA Server settings, you may be used to manually push the save or the save and synchronize buttons.
Be careful, starting from 2013, if you have the Enable Scheduled Synchronization set , this will RESET your Project Web App: Synchronization of AD with security groups timer job to the following:
This new setting may cause some issues as the group synchronization may start before the resource synchronization (I will explain what type of issue in my next post).

You may now to communicate the impact of the action to all people who have the capability of manually launch a group synchronization.

Hope this helps!

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