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Some bad and ugly things about Microsoft Project 2003 Server and 2007 Project Server (EPM)

Some bad and ugly things about Project Server 2003 and 2007 Microsoft Project Server Interaction effect of product switches creates situations that are very time consuming to figure out.  For example the cornerstone of this system is resource management. It is one of the primary objectives of most people who deploy Microsoft Project 2003 Server and 2007 Project Server.

To do resource management, a project manager creates a WBS in Microsoft Project, builds their team from the enterprise, and then assigns those resources to detail task records in the WBS.

POW! That is when it starts to get complicated. The problem is there are too many switches (options) for how a task might behave when you add resources, remove resources, adjust resource assignments, change calendars, and process the updated assignments from resources in PWA. Sure, you can sort of figure it out just like you can figure out how to hook up your stereo system, reformat your computer, or sail around the world, but who has the time these days?

Believe us, we are grateful for this being complicated because it brings in revenue but that isn't going to make it any easier for you to implement this system! :)

With an enterprise system you need to think about what the "aggregate" needs to learn and do. We are not thinking the desktop anymore we are thinking enterprise. Are your people going to have the time, or be willing to make time to learn software these days that is overly complicated? Let's say you have 50 project managers and you need them to learn this tool well enough for you to get a handle on resource management and capacity planning. Half of them won't want to do resource management in the first place, they are all very busy, and when they sit down to work with the tool they will face what will seem like an endless array of reactions to entering data.

The project management idea driving the development of this system is simple. A project manager needs to manage the constraints (time, money, performance, and resource availability) on a project. The idea is to breakdown the project to the detail level with each detail has having it's own constraints of time, cost, and work. Manage those detail task constraints and you manage the constraints of the project. It is the answer to the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time."

So all a project manager needs to do, wants to do, is enter in their estimates of time, work, and costs to detail tasks. Microsoft, bless their hearts, has just given users so many option in doing this that very few people today have the time to figure out what is going on. And in all honesty, some of us just can't quite get it for some reason.

Just to provide a perspective on this, these are some of the switches related to how a detail task might behave (reacts or change) based on resource assignments and updates:

  • The project calendar

  • The task calendar

  • The calendars of all of the resources assigned to the task

  • Whether or not the task is effort driven

  • The Task Type selection (fixed duration, fixed units, fixed work

  • Timing constraints (ASAP, ALAP, SNLT, SNST, FNLT, FNST, MSO, MFO)

  • Dependencies

  • Enterprise tracking method selected, such as "per time period" or "% complete" or "actuals"

  • Whether it is the first time a resource has ever been assigned to that task if it the Effort Driven switch is Yes

  • The actual update from a resource

  • Several different selections in Options related to just that particular project

  • Whether an adjustment is made to the units assigned, or the work assigned, or to the task's duration or to the task's work, etc.

There are more, and these switches are not all On/Off switches like the lighting panel you might see back stage. They interact with each other and some are sort of hidden.

We know you can figure this out and we work hard to teach people how this works, but do you want to deal with this? Will your project managers? If you are going to do resource management in the enterprise they have to know this stuff thoroughly which means that if you want to reach the objective of resource management or capacity planning in the enterprise it isn't going to happen according to most deployment plans people are following these days.

This "Ugly Reality" needs to be faced directly by anyone wanting to eventually obtain the value of managing resources well across the enterprise.

The value is high, but so are the costs.


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