Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part8 – Creating the Program Structure

The following example illustrates the process for creating a Master Project/Program Structure following best practices;

· Login to the Enterprise using Project Professional.

· Create a 'new' Program structure/outline using an Enterprise Template.

Note: the Enterprise template will have all the required default options for scheduling tracking. The Enterprise Template will also have the appropriate Program activities and Milestones.


Fig - New Enterprise Templates


Fig - select Enterprise Template


Fig - New Program activities

· Set Project Start date and appropriate attributes for Program.

· Update Program work structure/activities as necessary.

· Build Team and assign Enterprise Resources to Program activities/tasks as necessary.

· Save Program using an appropriate naming convention.

For example, use a common prefix for all components, say Project number or Project Keyword e.g. P001 Sat Rem Program, P002 Sat upgrade Design. This is so that all the components of the Program appear together when opening via Project Professional > FILE > OPEN and also with PWA > Project Centre view when sorting by file name. See example below, showing Program and Sub-projects;


· Next, Publish the Program schedule to the server. This will prompt the creation of a SharePoint Services site/workspace.

Note: If you use WSS for EPM2007, then create the WSS site when you publish the programme. Publishing the Program and then the projects in the right order is paramount so that the project WSS sites can be created as WSS subsites. Note at this stage we've not yet set up any sub projects.


In the next post, we will review creation of individual sub-projects.

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part7– Recommended Process for Maintaining Programs/Master Projects

Here are the recommended process maintaining Master Projects/Programs within EPM;

· Open each sub-project, process task updates and update Project Attributes as necessary.

Note: It is recommended that updates are done and processed on individual sub-projects if using collaborative task updates. This would normally be done by the sub-project owner/Project Manager/Team Plan Manager.


When working with multiple projects, care should be taken to ensure that sub-projects are appropriately checked-in prior to inserting in Master Project.

· Save each sub-project after above updates and close.

· Open Master Project/Program ensuring that sub-projects are opened in Read/Write mode.


Note: User can check the detail view in Project Professional > File > Open dialog box and retrieve the list from the server. The sub-projects will be listed together if the appropriate naming convention is used.

· Expand each sub-project to retrieve the individual project data. The schedule of individual sub-projects will be affected depending on the progress on cross-project dependent activities/milestones.

· Update Master Project attributes as necessary and SAVE ALL changes including sub-projects.

· Publish Master Project/Program and Close.

· Open individual sub-projects, Save, Publish and Close.

The published Master Project/Program and sub-project data will now appear PWA > Project Centre/ Project Details and Data Analysis and custom reports.

Reviewing Team Activities

The Master Project/Program Managers can access the Master Project either via Project Professional or PWA > PC > Project Detail.

Team Managers (for example ,S&A) can review a consolidated schedule of all their team plans via PWA > PC. The team plans will be grouped together via Project Attribute 'Team Plan'. The user can see the individual project details as necessary via Project Detail views in PWA. Alternatively, a consolidated 'virtual' plan can be launched in Project Professional by selecting the grouping header in PWA > PC and selecting Edit. This will launch Project Professional (depending on user access rights) and open the selected/grouped schedules together for analysis.

If you need guidance on access rights on projects, review this post for ‘Multiple user access to common project’.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Microsoft EPM Project Scenario Modeler for what-if-Analysis

Applies: EPM2007 & EPM2010

There are some neat capabilities in EPM 2010 for doing some limited what-if-Analysis of live Enterprise Project Data. Some examples are mentioned below with use cases;

- Multiple Undo used only during the session i.e. when project is open and works only up to the last save operation.
- Save Project as mpp file used only for taking full project copy/snapshots as mpp file and kept outside of EPM. Normally used by PMs to save monthly backups outside of Project Server in some case where they need to compare historical changes, for example forecast cost to complete, with the current live plan.
- Publish Tasks setting project task attribute ‘Publish’ to ‘Yes’ hides the tasks in PWA > My Tasks and Timesheets. This data is still visible in Project Centre, Resource Centre Reports, Data Analysis etc.
- Inactivate Tasks setting tasks to Inactive does impact project data in Project Centre, Resource Centre Reports, Data Analysis etc. This is akin to deleting the task temporarily. In summary, tasks can be either hidden (taken out of the equation) or not. There is no modelling of existing live tasks.
- Team Planner used in conjunction with Multiple Undo for what-if-analysis. Again, used during the session i.e. when project is open and works only up to the last save operation.

None of these above capabilities provide a solution where by you can actually modify existing live project tasks/assignments for multiple scenarios. You cannot modify tasks/assignments, save > publish to server and expect to undo the changes if they are not right for the business.

For those who used EPM2003, you may have used Project Versions. This was a built-in feature of EPM2003 .The issue with this feature was that it kept all versions of a project in the same live database and caused duplication of costs, resources, external dependency issues etc.! This feature has since been removed and no longer available in EPM2007/2010.

  • Want to take multiple snapshots of Enterprise Projects to perform various analysis without fear of compromising live data?
  • Want the flexibility to take multiple snapshots of live Enterprise projects with various scenarios (cost, schedule etc) and review their impact on overall live Programs, Master Projects, external project dependencies and Project Portfolios via built-in EPM Tools i.e. Project Centre, Data Analysis Reports or custom Reports?
  • Want to Model Enterprise Projects with various resourcing scenarios to address over-allocation of common key Enterprise Resources and retain the approved version?

Well, Enterprise Project Modeler allows you do just that. This is an add-on solution for Microsoft EPM2007 & EPM2010. Analyse project data the way you want to, how you want to and when you want to, without fear of compromising current/live Enterprise project data. Project Managers/Planners can take various snapshots of their Enterprise projects for analysis and restore models/scenarios that best works for the business.

Below is a short introductory video for this Business Productivity Add-on solutionEnterprise Project Modeler’ for what-if-Analysis from Project Solution Ltd. Some screen shots are are also included. Contact with promo code ‘April2011’ for 25% Easter discount!! Valid only until midnight 30th April 2011.



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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part6 – Creating & Setting Up

The recommended process for creating a Master Project/Program is as follows;

· Determine the various components that will make up the Master Project/program.

· Using Project Professional create an overall project schedule. This can be created from a 'blank' custom Enterprise Template with say one task, or it can be based on common activities that other sub-projects will depend on. Some users create a list of summary milestones (say by phase), which are later linked to key milestones in various sub-projects representing overall project phases.

Note: Assign Enterprise Resources to Master Project Tasks as appropriate.

· Set the project start date and appropriate attributes e.g. Project_Type = Program and Team Plan = PMO.

· Save the Master Project/Program with appropriate title (see guidance note in earlier section).

· Publish Master Project/Program to the Enterprise and close.

· Create other sub-project Project schedules using appropriate Enterprise Project Templates and adjust as necessary. Set Project start dates and project attributes.

It is recommended that tasks and milestones are setup with the option to start AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This will make rescheduling and sub-project updates easier. Use of date constraints should be limited.

· Save sub-projects to the Enterprise using the appropriate naming convention and close.

· Open Master Project schedule and insert the sub-projects (with Read/Write option) as desired in the correct order and outline level.


Critical Note: A common sub-project should not be inserted in more than one separately published Master Projects/Programs within EPM2007. Refer to note below regarding nesting.


Note: Although nested/hierarchical Published Master Project/Program is supported within EPM2007, it is suggested that you try and limit to one hierarchy. When nested Master Projects are used, the user will receive a warning message regarding the existence of the common sub-project in another published Master Project. This is only a warning message and can be ignored.

· Set up cross-project dependencies within the Master Project/Program as necessary

· SAVE ALL sub-projects and Master Project/Program and close.

· Open individual sub-projects and assign Enterprise Resources as necessary (checking resource availability etc.) and set Baseline.

· Save changes to sub-projects.

· Publish sub-project to the server selecting the option to create workspace under the workspace for the Master Project/Program and close.

· Open Master Project/Program, Publish (choose to Save all changes if there are changes) and close.


(click picture to enlarge)

The published Master Project/Program and sub-project data will now appear PWA > Project Centre/ Project Details and Data Analysis and custom reports.

In the next post we will review recommended process maintaining Master Projects/Programs.

Microsoft EPM Project & SharePoint Workspace Automated Archive & Recovery Solution (ARS)– April Bonanza!!

Author: David Smith (Project Solution Ltd - Business Development Manager )

- Are you struggling with the numerous manual steps for archiving completed projects and associated SharePoint Workspaces?
- If you are using categories to hide/deny projects? what about access to important project artefacts?
- Wasting too much time and effort when you could be focusing on other key areas of your business?
- Are you experiencing system performance issues as result of amount of data/structure of data? Is this affecting adoption of EPM/SharePoint?

Want EPM Project Archive & Recovery processes to be completely automated? Want a simple solution that aligns with your Work/Project Management business processes? Payback within approximately 1year?

Microsoft EPM ARS 2007/2010 is one of the Business productivity add-on solutions/tools for Microsoft EPM/SharePoint which completely automates the entire process for Archiving and Recovery. simple and ease to use.
- Make the most of your existing investments in Microsoft EPM/SharePoint.
- Helps improve adoption of the overall Microsoft EPM/SharePoint Solution.
- Manage complete project life cycle including archiving completed projects.
- End-user self-service capability for archiving & recovery without losing access to associated project workspaces/artefacts.
- Improve system performance by keeping live data streamlined.

Check out the demonstration video below and find out more!!

Microsoft EPM Project & SharePoint Workspace Automated Archive & Recovery Solution (ARS)

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Friday, 4 March 2011

EPM Project Workspace Missing? Unable to re-create SharePoint Workspace?

You may experience this issue if;

  • The initial project workspace creation failed


  • You copied just the Project Server DBs from production to development environment, without the corresponding SharePoint Content Database and relinking.

As a result, you are not able to create a new workspace when you re-publish the project via Project Pro. The system thinks project workspace exists, but in reality it does not.


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To resolve the issue, run the appropriate script below against the Published database. This clears the workspace URL part for the project, allowing you to recreate the workspace during the subsequent publish operation from Project Pro.

Note: Take appropriate DB backups and test the script thoroughly prior to applying on your production system.

---To set the SharePoint workspace value of selected project to Null


----To set all values of WPROJ_STS_SUBWEB_NAME to NULL i.e. update/clean-up the entire Project Server published DB after restoring to Development


Hope this helps.

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part5 - Best Practises, Configuration/Design

The following configuration/design considerations need to be taken into account prior to using Master Projects within Microsoft EPM;


The working instructions should clearly identify when to create Master Projects and define what would constitute sub-projects.

Project Naming convention

It is highly recommended that the naming convention for Master Project/Program and sub-projects be agreed in advance so that users can easily identify individual components of the Master Project/Program. In addition, the naming convention should easily help collate the various components when opening within Project Professional and viewing within PWA > PC.

For example, use a common prefix for all components, say Project number or Keyword, e.g. P001 Sat Rem Program, P002 Sat upgrade Design Project etc.

Resource assignments

Procedures should be set up so that assignment of the resources to activities is only done on sub-projects.

Process for managing cross-project dependencies (Tasks and Milestones)

Procedures should be set up such that only Milestones (and Tasks) are linked across projects. It is recommended that these Milestones are appropriately labelled and also notes against the Milestones appropriately define the external dependencies.

Linking of summary tasks across projects is not recommended.

Project Attributes

Appropriate project level Enterprise custom fields should be set up with either Long term program names or values to indicate type of entity. The following attributes are recommended;

- Project_Type (Program, subproject)

- Team Plan (EPS PMO, AS etc).


Procedure should be set up such that only the sub-projects are baselined only after appropriate cross-sub-project dependencies are setup by the PMO.

Process for Managing Master Projects/Programs and sub-projects.

The following Post (part 6) with provide further details.

Maintaining WBS and Project Reporting

Procedures are setup such that sub-projects are inserted at the correct outline levels only within the Master Project/Program, otherwise this may affect any existing custom reporting.

Note: Treat sub-projects as if they were Summary Tasks on your standard project. Whatever outline level the summary task would be, insert the sub-project at the same outline level, say for example 'Plan' Phase was originally part of very large project that was split up as a smaller sub-project. In this case, it is recommended that you insert this sub- project in the master schedule/plan at the same outline level as the original schedule.

Updating Views and Reports

The PWA > PC views should be reviewed and updated such that there are Master Projects/Programs and sub- projects mixed in the same views. Certain project attributes such as Cost, Work and Duration are rolled up in PWA view. Consider a scenario where you have Program with projects P1 (cost £100) and P2 (£200). If there is view that shows all three of them together, then you will see £300+£100+£200 = £600.


There is an option to show or hide the inserted projects from within the project centre view.


Other recommended new views are;

- External Milestone Dependency views in Project Professional and PWA > PC > Project Detail

- Team Plans view in PWA > PC. This will group sub-projects by Project Attribute 'Team Plan'. See above.

Security/Access Rights

The access rights for Team Managers (for example, S&A) would need to be set up such that they can only view consolidated schedules of their Team Plans.

Enterprise Project Templates

It is recommended that custom Enterprise Project Templates are created for the overall Master Project/Program.

Additional Enterprise Templates should be created for Phases or Team Activities, i.e. representing constituents of a typical Master Project/Program.

Hope this helps!!

In part6, we will review best practise for Creating and Maintaining Master Projects/Programs.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part4 - Soft Dependency - Deliverables

Most Project Managers want to be in control of their own destiny and do not want their plan/schedule to automatically move as result of a fixed external dependency, as this may have a knock-on effect on agreed milestones, billing, resourcing, costs etc. They may instead prefer to deal with this external change manually, after appropriate deliberations with the project delivery team. The key requirement here is collaboration between the PMs! They want to be armed with appropriate external change information i.e. notification of change so they can manage their project schedules effectively; either working from or to an external dependent project milestone/deliverable.

In contrast to fixed dependencies, 'soft' dependencies can be created across multiple projects. This is done in Microsoft EPM by using the Deliverable feature. Deliverables is a new feature in Project Server 2007/2010, which uses extended capabilities of SharePoint. It allows you to create list items that might be common to multiple projects, and then use those items as logical connectors among other project schedules. These connectors are called Dependencies.

This new feature allows owners of one project to expose key deliverables to their associated workspace, which is then consumed by other Project(s). The dependencies set up on these exposed deliverables are 'soft' and only show as indicators in the other projects, i.e. slippages on the deliverables from one project will not automatically move dependencies created on these deliverable in other project(s). This gives Project Managers/Owners of the other Projects more control over their Project schedules. They can adjust their schedules to meet the deliverable dependency dates as necessary.

See concept illustrated below:


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The executives can also view the Project Workspace showing the deliverables and subscribe to alerts and notification of changes. Different views in the project workspace can be created to show the deliverables as Gantt chart view or simple tabular view etc. Also, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be created to easily identify the slippages on dependent deliverables.

It is recommended that an appropriate task naming convention (say including keywords of the originating project) is used to easily identify the deliverables in other project schedules. later in the series, further information will be provided on the use of Deliverables functionality.

In part 5, we will look at best practices, based on real-world field experience, for Managing Programs/Master Projects within EPM. Then, comes the interesting part…..getting practical with exercises.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Microsoft EPM - Managing Programs/Master Projects, Part3 - External Project Dependency Management

In Part 3 and 4, we will review the options for managing external project dependencies; Fixed and Soft Dependencies.

Fixed Cross-project Dependencies

Fixed dependencies can be created across projects using the following approach;

· Master Project/Program

· Consolidation of Projects

The key difference between the two is that Master Projects/Programs will be saved and published to the server, whereas consolidation of Projects is a means of viewing multiple projects (say for department, teams) 'on-the-fly' for the purpose of reporting/analysis or creating cross-project dependencies.

Consolidation of Projects

Users can create dependencies across independent and separate departmental projects that may belong to multiple Programs/Master Projects. This is done by creating a consolidated view of projects in a 'blank container’. The concept is illustrated in the figure below.


It is recommended that appropriate Project Centre views are created as necessary by reporting entity i.e. departments/divisions/core teams.

The steps for viewing consolidated project schedules and creating dependencies are as follows;

· Select multiple projects in PWA Project Centre view, as required, either by using the CTRL key or selecting the Project Centre view group header

· Click ‘EDIT’ on the view toolbar to open the selected projects in Project Professional 2007.

· View multiple project performance within Project Professional

· Create cross-project dependencies, if required. Note: The procedure for creation of dependencies on Tasks/Milestones across projects is very similar to that on the single project.

· Close and Checkin projects. Choose NOT to save the ‘container’ project. You may wish to save changes on other projects if you have made changes i.e. created dependencies across projects.

Refer to example in the figure below. Once the selected group projects are opened in Project Professional, they can then be re-arranged by simply moving them in the same way you would move a summary task.


You may have other reasons to consolidate project files. For example, you may want to combine them temporarily for a quick review or for printing.

Master Projects/Programs

Master Projects are primarily created for the purpose managing very large Projects or Programs. Large Projects and Programs are broken down into individual 'smaller' entities/projects.

For large projects, these are sometimes referred to as work packages managed by Team Managers. For Programs, these individual entities are Projects managed by other Project Owners/Managers. See example below:


Master Projects/Programs can be saved and published to the server. A common sub-project can exist in only one separately published Master Project/Program.

Note: Nested Master Project structure is supported in EPM2007. An example of a nested Master Project is as follows: 'Trials – UK Project' > 'Trials – EU Master Project' > 'Trials – General Master Project'

We will later review best practices and Management of Master Projects/Programs.

In the following post, we will look at ‘Soft Dependency Management’ i.e. ‘Deliverables’.