bad and ugly things about
2003 Microsoft Office Project Server unleashed
The idea of
working with your project team with a web-based
tool is great, but the interface for 2003
Microsoft Office Project
Server unleashed (Project Web Access), to be polite needs
a lot of work.
In fact, triple the time you think it will take
the time to perform an activity with this
system. If you
think it is going to take your team members 10
minutes a day to update their assignments up
that estimate to 30 minutes when you account for
the poorly designed and written interface. The
cost of a PWA license is cheap at around $150 each, but
if you are going to ask your 200 team members to
spend 20 to 30 minutes to do what should only
take 10 minutes you have just incurred a lot of
long term cost you might not have considered.
You are going to have issues and resistance to
this system, that we think is purely a function
of a poor interface. We have worked with
hundreds and hundreds team members who have been
asked to update their assignments in PWA. Never
once have we had a single one of them say
something even close to, "This is going to make
my job easier."
For a long time we thought the
general bad attitude we faced was a function of
entering data into a time sheet. Who like
entering their time every day anyway! Then one day we decided to
just take an honest look at PWA. The colors are
pretty but the interface and most of the
functionally is funky and cumbersome to be polite.
The primary problem with
the interface is the small space provided to
view and work with data.
The screen below is of the
Project Center which provides a view of
enterprise projects as one line records. (That's
right, nothing else really, just a list of projects that
you can sort and filter.) With the average
screen resolution you are looking at only being
able to view maybe 10 projects at a time. That's
In some areas of PWA it is
a little better, and in other areas much worse. The
viewing space is not consistent across the PWA
pages nor the data being viewed.
If you are a Project Server
Administrator much of your business and
technical administration is performed in the
Project Web Access Admin page. For example, as
part of the security model you will need to
organizational permissions for users. The next
screen is all Microsoft gives you to work with.
You can view four or five items at a time.
In the next screen capture
we scrolled the entire content in this tiny
window with Snagit to show how much is really there.
The more EPM features you use,
the more working in PWA is part of your business
processes, the more objects (resources and
projects) that you have, the far more time it is
going to take to get the job done and more
irritating you are likely to find the system.
Maybe that's just us, but we can work all day
in Microsoft Project and it is not considered
one of those software products people love to
start working with at the beginning of the work
day. But PWA? After awhile it is just dreadful
and that is hard thing for us to say because we
really do like the colors and love the idea.