Sunday, 28 June 2009

Microsoft Support Lifecycle

I had a query from a customer regarding MS Office software support lifecycle. Below is some info from Microsoft that might be interesting.

Microsoft provides support on the current service pack, and in some cases the immediately preceding service pack, for the products listed below. See the Lifecycle Support Policy FAQ for details on the Service Pack Support Policy. As a convenience to you, Microsoft is providing a list of the currently supported service packs: Supported Service Pack List. If you have any questions regarding support for a product, please contact your Microsoft representative. If you need technical support, visit the Contact Microsoft Web site.


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Microsoft Support Lifecycle

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Project and Workspace Archiving & Restore – Cool custom tools!!

Over the past couple of days we discussed how to Archive and Restore projects using OOB features, best practices and considerations for associated Workspaces.

The manual approach for archiving and restore may work for smaller deployments or instances with small number of ‘live’ projects. But, if we have a medium to large deployment or we are in a situation where we simply have very many ‘live’ projects we may need to start thinking about automating some of the processes to streamline our operations. Archiving your projects and workspaces will not only help with the system performance but more importantly, your SQL database backups and disaster recovery where you might be mirroring or log shipping to another site. Whatever approach you take whether manual or automatic…keep your system ‘lean and mean’.

Here is some info on an automated ‘Project and Workspace Archive & Restore’ custom utility for EPM2007 & SharePoint Workspace that I worked on earlier. The key features are;
    Archive Projects with and without workspaces. The associated workspaces can be configured to be automatically migrated to another site collection either within the same App Pool/Content DB or to a completely different farm!! Note: You can even leave the workspace in its original location and the restore tool will automatically figure out where the associated workspace is at the time of restore and re-link it automatically.

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    The above figure should give you an idea of the flexibility when it comes designing your archiving and restore strategy!! It is totally flexible.

    Archiving Projects based on custom attributes and whether the project is INDEED complete. How often do we see PMs simply closing a project with remaining work and duration? The archiving tool will enforce that policy. See attached fig below.

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    Restore Projects with and without associated Workspaces automatically including re-linking;

  • Firstly, the associated workspace will be restored.
  • Next, the project will be be restored from the archive and automatically published.
  • Finally, the project will be automatically linked to the associated restored workspace. How cool is that!! 

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We can also add in capability for user controlled archiving based on Project Attribute.

If this has wet your appetite then I suggest you contact us to see how we can help you with a solution that will work within your organization.

Hope this series of archive and restore posts has been useful. Your feedback is always welcome ( ). Let me know what you think.

EPM2007 Project Restore– Recommended Steps (OOB)

You have been diligently archiving projects following your organisational best practices. There will come a time when you will have to restore a particular project from the Archive DB, perhaps it was archived prematurely or there is an extension to the project that was earlier completed…whatever the reason might be, expect this. The steps to restore a project are very simple if you do NOT use associated SharePoint Workspaces. However, if you do, then there are some considerations…..

What steps should I follow?

  1. Firstly, review the List of Archived Project (refer to best practices in earlier post regarding OOB Archiving Projects)
  2. Next, restore Project from the Archive Db (via Server Settings > Administrative Restore). Remember that the Project will be restored to the Draft DB. At this point, it will not exist in the Publish or Reporting DBs.
  3. Set the Project ‘Workspace Provisioning Settings’ to MANUAL (via Server Settings). Note: If you don’t do this, you will not be able to undertake steps 4 & 5 below. That is unless, you choose to create a new ‘dummy’ workspace first. But then, you have the hassle of deleting this ‘dummy’ site after remapping the correct workspace to the project.
  4. Open the restored Project via Project Professional and Publish to the server.
  5. Finally, for each project restored, add/map the workspace URL via Server Settings > Project Workspaces. Hopefully you will kept a record of the URLs and project names in the Archive LIST.
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And before you ask, yes! you need to do this manually for each project being restored.

I will be discussing the the custom Archiving Tools in the following post. For smaller deployments we could manage doing this manually, but for medium – larger deployments this may become a challenge.

Hope this helps for now!

EPM2007 Project Archiving – Recommended Steps (OOB) - Part II

This with ref to my earlier post regarding OOB Project Archiving.

Some of you wanted to you know what to do about Archiving associated SharePoint Project Workspaces. Well, there is no OOB automated solution for this. When an EPM project is Archived, the SharePoint Workspace will remain as is (unless selected to delete), i.e. the two are ‘decoupled’ when the Project is Archived. If you want to also move the workspace from the ‘live’ site collection to another (say Archive Site Collection), then you will need to do this manually by using the appropriate SharePoint STSADM tools.

If you are moving the Workspace then remember to jot down the ‘new’ URL in the list of projects archived. This will assist you when you restore the project and re-link to the workspace. I will cover the process and best practices of restoring projects in the following post.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

EPM2007 Project Archiving – Recommended Steps (OOB)

You have been using EPM2007 for a while and have very many projects in the system. It now time to start thinking about archiving your projects. If you don't archive your completed projects on the regular basis then, over time time, the number of projects in the Draft and Published DBs will build up. This may start adversely impacting the system performance.  It is important to have a ‘rigid’ business process in place for archiving projects. Hope this helps if you are in the process of setting this up. If on the other hand, you have one in place, then hope this helps in strengthening your existing processes.

The out-of-box (OOB) Archiving process, is basically ensuring that your projects are copied/retained in the Archive DB and removed from Draft/Published DB.

You may wish to record the name of the Projects being archived with the URLs in a custom List within PWA or an admin SharePoint site. See example below. This is so that users can still access the project workspace(s) after the project schedule has been removed from the draft and published DB.


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Here are some recommended EPM Business Processes for archiving projects (without using automated EPM partner Add-on/enhancements). I will cover the custom automated solution (for archiving & restoring project schedules and associated workspaces) later in the following post.


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The actions undertaken by Project Managers and Administrators are indentified below.

    Set Project Attribute [PM]

  - PMs to set appropriate project attribute e.g. Archive.
Note: Appropriate Project Centre view(s) can be created to show projects that are ready for archiving.  Include fields e.g. Owner, % Work Complete, Project Status, Checked out, Check out by, Last Published etc. This view will be used by system administrators to assist with the archiving process.

    Ensure project tasks and assignment are 100% complete [PM]

  - Set remaining work and durations as ‘0’ for tasks and assignments that are deemed to be completed but have not yet been marked as complete.

    Set task field ‘Publish’ value to No [PM]

  For all tasks that are marked as complete, set Publish flag as No.
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This will ensure that completed tasks/assignments do not appears in users MY TASK and MY TIMESHEETs if the archived project is ever restored. Refer to previous post regarding this.

    Save and Publish project [PM]

    Save Enterprise project as mpp file [PM]

  I would recommend that Project Managers include this step as part of their project closure process. Save Enterprise project as mpp file within the associated project workspace along with other documentation.

    Confirm projects are archived [Admin]

  - Within Manage Queues, review any errors than may have occurred during automatic backup overnight.
- You may wish to also confirm that the project(s) have been archived by checking the projects available to restore i.e. PWA > Server Settings > Administrative Restore.

    Record project name and associated project workspace URL in the Archive projects list previous setup [Admin]

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    Finally, delete Project from the Draft and Published DBs [Admin]   

  Take due care when selecting the projects to delete. Do NOT select the option to delete the associated workspaces.

The above archiving process is not to be confused with SharePoint Farm or SQL Database backup for the purpose of disaster recovery.

Note: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Project Server 2007 & MOSS – Issue with linking Risk/Issues with Tasks! Contd...

Here is an update to my earlier post regarding this issue....
I have just been doing some further testing with the MS support engineer. It looks like the issue affects only the farm/web administrators. Other 'mortal' EPM users are not affected. My testing confirms this. Phew!!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

New EPM2007 Deployment with SP2 – Issues with Services not starting

If you setup a new deployment and upgrade to SP2, you may come across an warning message indicating that the services have not started.
If you then, try to launch SharePoint CA you get an error message stating that the page cannot be found. On further investigation, you may uncover the fact that the SharePoint Administration Service has failed to start.
Here are some steps that will help resolve the issue:
1. In registry editor add/modify the following values on "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control":
a) ServicesPipeTimeout DWORD 60000 (decimal).

b) WaitToKillServiceTimeout changed to "120000".

2. Reboot the server

Here is what your changes should look like before and after….

Before Changing the Registry

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After Changing the Registry

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Not: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. Ensure that you have taken appropriate backups of your registry prior to making any changes.

Project Server 2007 & MOSS – Issue with linking Risk/Issues with Tasks!

Whilst doing some testing over the past couple of days I uncovered a bug with the linking of Risk/Issues to Project Tasks in deployments of Project Server 2007 with MOSS.

Note: If you are using EPM2007 with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), this does not concern you.

Steps to replicate the issue;

1) Create a new project with say a couple of tasks

2) Save and Publish the project to create a project workspace

3) Navigate to project workspace, create/add Risk and link to project task

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4) Notice that the link is indicated at the bottom of the page

5) Click Ok to close the Risk

6) Next, view the Risk item added earlier

7) Notice that the Link has disappeared.

Note: I have tested this with SP2 + Apr CU as well. Awaiting fix from Microsoft regarding this issue.

Refer to update here.

Friday, 5 June 2009

EPM2007 and Outlook Email Alerts and Notifications – enhanced team collaboration solution

The default EPM2007 – Exchange Server integration allows;

  1. Users to set alerts and reminders. Note: This applies to all projects assigned to user.
  2. Managers to set alerts and reminders for themselves and their Team Members. Note: This applies to all projects owned by user.

Sometimes this is not sufficient as the users are inundated with emails and the users cannot differentiate between critical and non critical tasks/assignments.

There are some enhanced collaborative solutions available from Project Solution Ltd for Executives, Resource Managers, Project Managers and Team Members;

1. Set Notification on key Project Tasks

This works in addition to default alerts and reminders, if set. The PMs can set the notification on say a few key critical tasks out of say 1000. This sends notification to the key resource(s) assigned to dependent tasks when the predecessor task(s) is completed or due to be completed.   

2. Resource over-allocation notification

This utility sends alerts to Resource Managers (RMs) on a daily basis if any of their resources are over-allocated based on % deviation from Capacity.  This includes the list of projects affected and duration of overallocation. This allows more proactive management of key/scarce resources. Often PMs reschedule tasks/assignments without consulting RMs, hence, causing overallocation and this is not picked up until either the bottleneck is realised or RM remembers to view the loading in the different graphs.

3. Project email from PWA

Let’s face it, majority of the project collaboration takes place via email. How often do we find users simply putting ‘help or crisis’ as the subject matter? It is not at all easy to retrieve emails, a few months down the line, if they do not have the correct subject title or category.

This utility allows Executives (and others) viewing the exception views/reports to quickly send email, directly from PWA > PC and Project Detail, to either the Project Owner/PM or the entire team regarding and an issue..perhaps one of the KPIs is showing Amber or Red. The email is launched in outlook automatically with the addresses filled in and project title in the subject. The user can then add his/her comments, as appropriate in the email body.

This utility allows execs to quickly send emails and improves traceability of project communication.

Note: currently this utility only works with MS Outlook. Other 3rd party email clients are not supported.

Contact for further information. When contacting. Please mention my name to get discount!

I will also be reviewing some new ‘cool’ (rocking! should I say) utilities available from ProjectExperts enhancing the functionalities of PWA > My Tasks. More later. Stay tuned…….

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Office System 2010 Preliminary System Requirements - Start Planning for your hardware upgrade NOW!

The new SharePoint Server 2010 requirement will be as follows;

SharePoint 2010

  1. SharePoint Server 2010 will be 64-bit only.
  2. SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2.
  3. SharePoint Server 2010 will require 64-bit SQL Server 2008 or 64-bit SQL Server 2005.

In addition, Microsoft is planning on an increased level of compatibility with 3rd Party browsers Firefox 3.x and Safari 3.x.  Due to this focus, Internet Explorer 6 will not be a supported browser for SharePoint Server 2010.


The new Project Server 2010 requirement will be as follows;

  • Project Server 2010 will be 64-bit only
  • Project Server 2010 will  require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Project Server 2010 will require 64-bit SQL 2005 or 2008
  • Project Server 2010 will only support Internet Explorer 7 or 8 (IE 6 will not be supported nor other browsers)

EPM2003/2007 users will need to bear this in mind when they next refresh their hardware environment.

Note: I am still checking on Project Pro client requirements, WSS and other 3rd party browser support. I will update this post as soon as this is confirmed.

More information later…stay tuned.

Note: Information provided by Microsoft UK (Tara Hellier)