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Some bad and ugly things about 2003 Microsoft Office Project Server unleashed

Some 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. 

Productivity? Compliance? 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 it.

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.

Some bad and ugly things about 2003 Microsoft Office Project Server unleashed

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 determine the 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.


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