Tuesday, 9 November 2010

SharePoint & Project Server 2010 October CU – Critical Info

Microsoft has discovered a critical issue in the recently released October Cumulative Updates for SharePoint Server 2010 and Project Server 2010, and have removed the files from download availability.  If you have already downloaded the CU, do not install it.  If you have installed the CU, please contact Microsoft Support for assistance.  Microsoft will be posting additional information about the issue as soon as they have it, and will make the Cumulative Update available for download again as soon as the issue has been fully resolved.

Issue Details

The October Cumulative Update makes some changes and updates to the user profile database.  Unfortunately there are certain situations where this update does not complete as expected and leaves the update in an inconsistent state.  This causes issues with several SharePoint features that use the User Profile Application such as MySites, People and Expertise Search & Ratings.

If you have already applied the October Cumulative Updates

You should perform the following steps below;

Note: If you encounter any issues following these steps or have questions specific to your environment/deployment please call Microsoft Product Support for assistance.

Check the following locations for the Microsoft.Office.Server.dll to determine the version. If the version is 14.0.5128.5000 or greater, the October CU is applied.

  • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\ISAPI\Microsoft.Office.Server.dll
  • C:\Windows\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.Office.Server\\Microsoft.Office.Server.dll

Using Central Administration perform the following steps

  1. Click on Manage Service Applications
  2. Select User Profile Service Application by clicking on it
  3. At the top of the screen on the Service Applications tab, click on Manage
  4. On the Manage Profile Service: User Profile Service Application page, click Manage User Permissions
  5. On the Permissions for User Profile Service Application dialog, you will need to;
    • Specify the desired user accounts and click the Add button to add them to the list
    • By default SharePoint 2010 RTM has these accounts;
      • NT Authority\authenticated users
      • All Authenticated Users
    • Once the user accounts are in the list, you will need to set the permissions appropriately for your environment and click OK.

Note: info as received from Microsoft SharePoint Team

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

SharePoint 2010 – how to view/list all imported User Profiles?

Applies to: SharePoint 2010

If you encounter an issue during the user profile import process, how can you view/list all imported user profiles to start troubleshooting? Or, you may simply want to view the complete list of profiles imported from AD.

Below is a note from Microsoft Tech Support which I found useful;

It seems that there is no built-in method to list out all the users’ profile and associated properties. However, all the users profiles are stored in the SQL database “User Profile Service Application_ProfileDB_XXX” > table “dbo.UserProfile_Full”. You can run a SQL query command “Select * from dbo.UserProfile_Full” to list all the users.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Secret Mission of the Terminator – Apple fan?

Thought you might enjoy this! Watch the ending!

Did you have a good summer break?

Hi all. Sorry about the radio silence over the past few weeks. Been extremely busy with projects and then away on holiday. I had an ultimatum from my kids….it was them or my laptop. So, no laptop or Blackberry was allowed on our trip to New York. Felt helpless…some of you may know the feeling!


(The Mistry Family at the top of Empire State Building, New York)

The weather was great, food was excellent and had a wonderful time with the family.

Anyway, I came across this rather strange chap on my holiday in New York. Check out the pictures below..…will make you laugh! This guy was actually serious and stood outside the American Museum of Natural History all day! Anyone know him? I was too afraid to ask how many offers he had so far!



(click picture to enlarge)

Hope you all had a fabulous summer!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

EPM2007/2010 – Scheduling your Backups & Other Services

Applies to: EPM2007/2010 | Administrators

Already have Microsoft EPM deployed? Have you planned your SQL DB or Farm backups around other automated service run-times?

The system services and where to set is shown below. 

Item Service Where to Find/Set?
1 Resource Capacity : PWA > Server Settings > Additional Server Settings
2 AD Synch for Enterprise Resource Pool : PWA > Server Settings > Active Directory Resource Pool Synchronization
3 AD Synch for User Groups : PWA > Server Settings > Manage Users > Active Directory Synch Options
4 SQL DB Backups & Maintenance plans : SQL database server 2005/2008 Management Studio
5 OLAP Cube Build : PWA > Server Settings > Cube Build settings
6 Message Queue Cleanups : PWA > Server Settings > Queue Settings > Cleanup Interval Offset (for Project and Timesheet)
7 Email Alerts and Reminders : PWA > Server Settings > Alerts and Reminders
8 Other SharePoint Timer Jobs? : Any other SharePoint Timer Jobs for example Farm backups
9 Custom Jobs? : Any other custom event jobs including integration with other systems

I would recommend designing a good schedule which incorporates the services/functionality used in your deployment. Remember, the run times will depend on your deployment i.e. data, system performance etc. You may have to go through few iterations to get to an optimum schedule that works for your organisation. An example is shown below.


(click picture to enlarge)

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

SQL Server 2005/2008 – Latest Patches and Planned Updates

Here is some info received from the Microsoft SQL Server team regarding the planned updates;

  • SQL Server 2008 SP2. Microsoft targets release in Q3/CY2010.
  • SQL Server 2005 SP4 release is planned for Q4/CY2010. Extended support for SQL Server 2005 will be available through 4/12/2016.  Please see http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/ for specifics.

Latest CUs (post current Service Packs);

Note: Install current Services Packs prior to latest CUs.

Current Service Packs;

Monday, 10 May 2010

Link between project management excellence and long-term success

Here is an interesting article that I found very enlightening.

This is extract from ‘Closing the gap’: The link between project management excellence and long-term success is an Economist
Intelligence Unit briefing paper, sponsored by Oracle. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the survey and analysis, and wrote the report.


(click picture to download copy of paper)

Note: The report was based on a survey of 213 senior executives and project managers worldwide and in-depth interviews with nine executives and project management experts in the fields of industrial manufacturing; architecture, engineering and construction; aerospace and defence; mining and metals; pulp and paper; and utilities, oil and gas.


To be successful, companies should consider the following best practices;

  • To maintain a competitive advantage and ensure that projects generate maximum value for the company, business leaders must link every project management decision, from the choosing of projects to the way teams will measure outcomes, to the strategic goals of the organisation.
  • Training, mentoring and other development activities for project management professionals should be tied to specific skills gaps and career planning.
  • To prove that a project was a success, it is necessary to measure more than timeliness and adherence to budget; companies should also measure outcomes against project goals, determine whether the project delivered bottom-line results and assess the satisfaction of clients and stakeholders with the project.
  • A lessons-learned database, in which project teams document project challenges and how they were handled, is a valuable tool for avoiding mistakes in the future.
  • Leaders who continue to focus on improving project management strategies and methodologies as the economy rebounds will garner the greatest long-term success.

Hope this helps in understanding the relevance and importance of structured Project Management processes within the organisation.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Project 2007 – Visual Reports, create stunning Project Reports!

Applies to: Project 2007

Struggling to analyse project data? Want to easily extract Microsoft Project data to Excel? Want to create stunning Project Reports?

You can launch Visual Reports via the Reports menu button on the toolbar within Microsoft Project 2007 (standard and professional).

Note: Also refer to my earlier post ‘P2007 – Analysis Toolbar, where is ‘Analyze Timescaled data in Excel’?’.


(click picture to enlarge)


All of the templates you see listed in the dialog are example templates that are shipped to help get you started. If you create a new template and save it in your templates folder it will also show up here. You can even choose to include templates from another location such as a public share. Ideal for setting reporting standards. When you create or edit a template you can specify which project fields and custom fields to include in the template.

The following table shows the list of Visual Reports, grouped by category;


Type Description

Task Usage


Cash Flow Report


This report shows a bar graph with cost and cumulative cost amounts illustrated over time.


Resource Usage


Cash Flow Report


This report shows planned and actual costs for your project over time. Costs are broken down by resource type (work, material, and cost). An indicator shows if planned costs exceed baseline costs.


Resource Availability Report


This report shows the work and remaining availability for your project's resources, broken down by resource type (work, material, and cost). A red flag is displayed next to each resource that is over allocated.


Resource Cost Summary Report


This report shows a pie chart that illustrates the division of resource cost between the three resource types: cost, material, and work.



Refer to example report in my earlier post ‘What Are My Project Costs by Resource Type for Next Period? Part 2’.

Resource Work Availability Report


This report shows a bar graph with total capacity, work, and remaining availability for work resources illustrated over time.


Resource Work Summary Report


This report shows a bar graph with total resource capacity, work, remaining availability, and actual work illustrated in work units.


Assignment Usage


Baseline Cost Report


This report shows a bar graph with baseline cost, planned cost, and actual cost for your project illustrated across tasks.


Baseline Report


This report shows a diagram of your project broken down by quarter, then by task. This report compares planned work and cost to baseline work and cost. Indicators are used to show when planned work exceeds baseline work, and when planned cost exceeds baseline cost.

Baseline Work Report


This report shows a bar graph with baseline work, planned work, and actual work for your project illustrated across tasks.

Budget Cost Report


This report shows a bar graph with budget cost, baseline cost, planned cost, and actual cost illustrated over time.


Budget Work Report


This report shows a bar graph with budget work, baseline work, planned work, and actual work illustrated over time.


Earned Value Over Time Report


This report shows a chart that plots AC (actual cost of work performed), planned value (budgeted cost of work scheduled), and earned value (budgeted cost of work performed) over time.


Note: My example above include only Earned Value and Planned Value.

Task Summary


Critical Tasks Status Report


This report shows a diagram showing the work and remaining work for both critical and non-critical tasks. The data bar indicates the percent of work complete.


Assignment Summary


Task Status Report


This report shows a diagram of the work and percent of work complete for tasks in your project, with symbols indicating when baseline work exceeds work, when baseline work equals work, and when work exceeds baseline work. The data bar indicates the percent of work complete.


Resource Status Report


This report shows a diagram of the work and cost values for each of your project's resources. The percent of work complete is indicated by the shading in each of the boxes on the diagram. The shading gets darker as the resource nears completion of the assigned work.


Resource Summary


Resource Remaining Work Report


This report shows a bar graph with remaining work and actual work for each work resource, illustrated in work units.


Enjoy reporting! You can contact me (pj@projectsolution.co.uk) if you have any queries or want a demonstration of the reporting capabilities of Microsoft Project 2007.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

P2007 – Analysis Toolbar, where is ‘Analyze Timescaled data in Excel’?

Users of EPM2003 may have been used to the ‘Analyze Timescaled data in Excel’ functionality in Analysis Toolbar. After upgrading to EPM2007, you may be wondering what happened to this feature. 


(click picture to enlarge)

The Analyze Timephased data in Excel is P2003 feature has been replaced by the new Visual Reports in P2007.

Visual reports in P2007 has far reaching capabilities than the single timephased export to excel functionality in P2003. Below is a summary of the key features;

P2003 – Analyze Timescaled Data in Excel

· Single report format.

· Simple export of ‘certain’ standard fields e.g. work, Cumulative work. Does not include Baseline information.

· Simple Graph with no drill-down capability

· Extracted Data cannot be manipulated easily or drilled into

P2007 - Visual Reports

· Multiple report formats. Can easily be standardised by PMO.

· Build Complex MS Excel Pivot Table reports with standard fields including Baseline, Enterprise custom fields

· Graph based on pivot table data which can easily be customised by adding/removing fields

· Extracted pivot table Data can easily be manipulated by adding/updating time periods, rows, columns filters etc.

Visual Reports is a new feature in Project Standard and Professional that allows you to report on your project’s data in Excel using PivotTables and PivotCharts, and in Visio using a new feature called PivotDiagrams (think fancy WBS charts). Using Visual Reports you can now easily create eye-catching reports that are also informative off data from your project using formats that are familiar to your target audience. P2007 has some out-of-box (OOB) Excel and Visio templates. You can also create your own templates that you can share out to others to provide a consistency across everyone’s reports.

More to follow in following post.

EPM/SharePoint 2010 – Reaches RTM!

Great News from the Microsoft product Team! EPM and SharePoint 2010 Products have RTM’ed!


Volume License customers with active Software Assurance (SA) on these products will be one of the first to receive the 2010 set of products. They will be able to download the products in English via the Volume Licensing Service Centre starting April 27. Customers without SA will be able to purchase the new products through Volume Licensing from Microsoft partners starting May 1.

You can expect to see Office 2010 in retail stores in June.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

3 Key Things to Remember when Applying Updates!

Applies to: MOSS; EPM2007

I often hear users saying “I am an administrator and logged with my own windows account to do the upgrade”.

You need to think of the SharePoint Farm Administrator (normally SSP account depending on your configuration) as the ADMINISTRATOR! only. This resolves majority of the upgrade failures to do with access rights.

I would highly recommend keeping these three key points in the fore front of your mind when doing upgrades (applying updates);

  1. Login as the SharePoint Farm Administrator (normally SSP account) to apply updates, when working with SharePoint CA or to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard (SCW) to join a web server to a existing farm.
  2. Test/validate the Farm first by running the SharePoint Configuration Wizard (SCW) on each Web/App server, starting with the one that is hosting the SharePoint CA.
  3. Ensure you have a bullet-proof and well tested back-out strategy in the event of a failed upgrade.

May the force be with you!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Managing My Custom (Local) Project Pro Settings/views within EPM

Applies to: EPM2003, EPM2007

In the past posts (links below), we discussed the ways of creating local views within Microsoft EPM environment i.e. working with your local custom views/settings that are different to the Enterprise Views. 

The question then arises, as to how these local settings/views can easily be;

  1. Copied and used in other already existing projects, and
  2. Used in New projects 

The solution for the above two scenarios is as follow;

Migrating Custom Local Project Pro Views to an Existing Project

The key to migrating custom local views is understanding the fundamentals of what a view comprises of within Microsoft Project Pro. i.e. a View comprises of [Table] + [Filter] + [Group]. Note: Refer to the earlier post which provides the background.

Firstly, open the project from the server (via Project Pro) which has your local settings/views. Then, open the other existing project into which you wish to migrate the custom local settings/view. Now that both projects are open, follow these simple steps;

1) Select the 1st project which has your local/custom settings/views. You can do this by selecting the project name from Windows button the tool bar.


2) Open the Organizer utility via Tools > Organizer


3) Once the Organizer dialog box has launched, you configure the migration/copy of entities from one project to another. See fig below. I would recommend having your 1st project (i.e. with the local settings/views) on the left hand side and the other existing project on the right hand side. Then, click the appropriate tab for each entity, select the custom entity name and click Copy. Do this for all the components that make up your local/custom view for example Table, Group, Filter. Don't forget to copy the View as well. Remember; a View comprises of [Table] + [Filter] + [Group].


4) Once this is done, Close the Organizer dialog box. Save changes to your 2nd project and check-in.

Using Local Custom Settings/Views for New Projects

Now that you have mastered the process for transferring/copying the local custom settings/views from one project to another, you do not want to keep doing this for all new projects you create in future. The options are;

  1. Get your local custom settings/views incorporated into the Enterprise Templates so that others can benefit. Note: only users with appropriate access rights will be able to do this. This is normally a PMO/Administrator function. You may not have access rights to perform this function, in which case, the following option will be more appropriate.
  2. Create an Enterprise Project (not Enterprise Template) that can be used as your ‘template project’ i.e. cookie cutter for your new projects. I would suggest a naming convention like ‘001_YourName_Template’.
    • Use this project to hold all your custom local settings/views
    • Use this project to create new Enterprise Projects using SAVE AS function.

Note: follow the above steps to migrate your custom settings/views to create your ‘template project’.

Enjoy! create and keep your local configuration which does not clash with Enterprise configuration.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Project Templates for PMO/Multi-user Access

Applies to: EPM2007

My earlier post covered the process for enabling multi-user access for common project. This works fine on a single project, but you do not want to keep doing this every time you initiate a new project. Especially, if you are a PMO member and share the responsibility for managing common projects.

The solution is to prepare a project with the required number of users as Status Managers (following the process in my earlier post) and save this as an enterprise project NOT an enterprise Template. See example in figure below.


(click picture to enlarge)

Note: If you save this project as an enterprise Template, you will lose the Status Managers you have setup on the project i.e. they will be removed/cleaned out.

Tip: Use a naming convention that works for you for these types of enterprise projects.  I would suggest using a prefix for example ‘001_PMO Template1’. This will ensure your ‘template’ project shows up at the top of the list of projects….easier to find.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

PWA Home – Filtering Project Workspaces Based on Attributes e.g. Active, Department etc

I recently had a request from a EPM2007 PMO/administrator for OOB (out-of-box) solution for filtering project workspaces, in the home page, based on attributes such as project status or department. The response was simple…..

After having used EPM2007 for a couple of years you will notice that the list of Project Workspaces, as displayed in your home page, has grown.


(click picture to enlarge)

It gets difficult to assess what is active and what is not. The only default filters that are available with the project Workspace webpart are;

  1. All Workspaces
  2. Owned Workspaces

To access/filter project workspaces, in your home page, based on attributes such as Project Status (Active/In Active), department etc, you can do the following;

  1. Remove the existing/default Project Workspace Shared Webpart from the Home Page
  2. Add ‘Project Centre’ webpart in PWA Home Page
  3. Create Custom (filtered) Project Centre view to show the correct projects list


Set the view to filtered view in the Project Centre webpart, as appropriate.


To access the project workspace, first select the row (edge of the grid) for the project concerned.


Next, click Go To and select Project Workspace from the menu. See fig below.


That’s it! Now you can structure the project workspace list the way you want.

If you are not familiar with removing and adding webparts, contact me (pj@projectsolution.co.uk) and I will send you further info.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Outlook 2007 - Delete Auto-complete Email Addresses

Ever been haunted by an incorrect email address after having been entered/typed manually in the ‘To’ field? i.e. a typo?

Even after you have corrected a wrong email address in your contacts, the old email will continue to bug you when outlook tries to autocomplete addresses for you.

Microsoft outlook stores any email address you type into the “To” field–wrong or right. For example, if I type in “mom@blag.com” instead of “mom@blah.com”, outlook will try to autocomplete the error address into the email field. No matter where you try to correct this, the error email address will always be remembered.

Likewise, the bigger the cache of email addresses gets, the slower and more useless it becomes.

If you are lucky enough to trigger the autocompletion box, you can press the down arrow until the error email address is selected and then hit DELETE. Often, however, the autocompletion box will not be displayed.

The easiest thing to do is to blitz the whole file. The file lives here where your-profile is unique to your installation: “C:\Documents and Settings\your-profile\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook”

Delete or rename all *.nk2 files at this location.

If you need a detailed, walk-through you can find it here:


Friday, 5 March 2010

EPM2007 – Issue with Home Page layout? Here is the fix!

Are you experiencing page layout issue on the PWA Home Page? See example in fig below. This issue would affect you more if you have added other webparts on the Home Page for example Project Centre Webpart.


(click pictures to enlarge)

This issue can easily be fixed by setting the appropriate width of the webpart(s). The general steps are as follows;

1) From Site Actions, select Edit Page


2) From Edit option, for the affected Webpart, select Modify Share Web Part.


3) From within the Web Part Task Pane update and fix the width that is most appropriate for all users i.e. based on screen resolution.


4) At the bottom of the Web Part Task Pane,click Apply


5) The webpart will now have been resized. Try another width dimension as required and apply.


Once you are happy with the layout, select Exit Edit Mode at the top of the Web Part Task Pane.


That’s it. Job done!.

Please be mindful of the fact the user access rights to edit PWA page Themes, layouts and Webpart. Refer to my earlier post regarding this.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

EPM2007 – Preventing Users from Modifying PWA Pages and Personalization

Ever got a call from a user one morning to say that the data on PWA page is not showing i.e. only a blank page shows with no error messages. Or, the PWA theme has been changed! Puzzling….you investigate and get the same result, say for example the REMINDERS are not showing on the Home Page within PWA! You investigate and determine that the the webpart was removed by someone. But WHO! You are the only administrator. No one else is forthcoming to state that they have done something.  Could it be someone external?

If you are an EPM Application Administrator or PMO and you have encountered this situation and/or concerned that this could happen in your deployment, then read on.

Where to start looking?

Determine what the Project Managers or Team Members can and can’t do. Log in with role-based test user accounts, if necessary. Within PWA Home Page, navigate to Site Actions and determine if the user is able to EDIT PAGE for example. See fig below.


(click picture to enlarge)

Based on the above fig, the user is able to create, modify PWA pages by removing and adding webparts within the page and edit site themes, affecting all other PWA users within the environment.

Users belonging to Project Managers group within Project Server 2007 will be able to do this by default!

The next thing you may wish to check for is the ‘Personalization’ capability i.e. changes that are local to the user and do not affect the other users. See fig below. 


Where to make changes to default PWA Site Permission settings?

To make changes to the default permission settings, navigate to PWA > Site Settings and select Advanced Permissions.


Next, from the Settings dropdown, select Permission Levels.


Here you will see the User Groups at PWA root site site level. The one that you need to review and modify is the ‘Project Managers’ user group. See highlighted in figure below.


Select this user group and make following changes;

Uncheck the Manage List check box.


Next, uncheck the options for ‘Add and Customize Pages’, ‘Apply Themes and Borders’ and ‘Apply Style Sheets’.


Once this is done, the Project Managers will not see the ‘Site Actions’ Tab.


Whereas before they saw ‘Create’, ‘Edit Page’ and ‘Site Settings’ within Site Actions as in the first fig above.

Where to make changes to default PWA Personal Permissions settings?

If you want to further restrict users from making personal changes. Then uncheck the Personal Permissions options for PWA site user group. See fig below.


This, in my view, is optional. I would personally leave this unchanged. The users have the option to Show Shared View or Reset Page Content if they are not happy with their personal page changes.


Considerations for making changes to default PWA Site Permissions in an existing system

Ideally, the above changes should be considered during the planning phase and modified before the users are added to the Project Server User Groups. If, however, you decide the make the above changes in an existing deployment where users are already added to Project Server User groups, you will need to take the following action;

  • Re-apply Project Server security by first removing and adding back users into the affected Project Server user group, in this case it is the Project Managers user group. Ensure you save changes after removal and addition of users back into group(s).

As always, document and test any changes thoroughly on a development environment before making changes to the live system. A virtual PWA instance/environment is sufficient for this purpose.

Hope this helps you keep a tighter control of your EPM environment.

Note: Also read how Project Server Security Groups map to SharePoint Security Groups