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Plan the project life cycle (Project Server 2010)

 

Applies to: Project Server 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2010-04-07

There are many methodologies and systems that effectively manage a project life cycle. This chapter does not advocate for any one of these over another. The chapter is written for Project Server administrators, and it provides a list of project creation, maintenance, and archival activities. These tasks are general and will be the same, or at least similar, regardless of the methodology being used by your organization. Planning these activities can help ensure that projects are being managed in a way that is consistent with the purpose of your organization and can foster a satisfactory experience for the end user. The various options and processes available with the features described in this chapter are discussed in greater detail in Operations for Project Server 2010. This article alerts those who are responsible for planning the deployment and configuration of Project Server 2010 that some choices will have to be made that relate to these features.

Projects have many ways of moving from concept to reality. Sometimes the process is informal and may be the result of a brainstorm on a whiteboard that happened in under an hour. Other times a project is created after years of study and careful analysis. If it is not planned and managed, this creation process can become chaotic. This chaos can cost your organization in many ways: reduced efficiency, misallocated resources, misaligned priorities, duplication of effort, conflicting approaches, and missed opportunities, to name a few. What follows are some key things to consider when you are using Microsoft Project 2010 to create projects for your organization.

The project proposal feature provides a mechanism for controlling the entry of projects into Project Server. It provides added value for business decision makers by storing proposal data together with project data. This feature provides better reporting, modeling, and pipeline analysis and helps automate proposal management business processes.

Proposals are limited projects. They are limited because all of the features that are available when you are using Microsoft Project Professional 2010 are not available when you are using proposals. Project proposals are not enterprise projects. This limited or lighter kind of project is helpful and useful to many users. The proposal lets users submit project proposals (aided with simple project and resource planning features) — and provides a simple gating mechanism for projects to be added to Project Server. Project proposals are subject to a review before they can be transformed into enterprise projects. Project proposals contain basic information that allows a business decision-maker to approve or reject the proposal. The proposal may contain information such as the following:

  • Project name

  • Project description

  • Proposed start date and end date

  • Proposed cost

  • Resource requirements

Proposals are created in Microsoft Project Web App (PWA). Anyone who has access to PWA can view proposals. To create project proposals, you must be assigned the Create New Maintenance Project permission.

Proposals can be configured to work with workflows that are available in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

When the proposal feature is configured for a workflow, the workflow automatically does much of the work. When a proposal is created, the workflow generates task assignments for proposal reviewers and the proposal creator as the proposal makes its way through the proposal process. These tasks are shown to their owners through the Web Part for Proposal Workflow Tasks.

Enterprise resources are the people, equipment, and materials that are used to complete tasks in an enterprise project. Enterprise resources are part of your organization's pool of resources and are stored centrally in the Project Server 2010 databases. You can create the Enterprise Resource Pool that project managers will use when assigning resources to tasks in projects by adding resources to the Enterprise Resource Pool or by importing resources. You should define the contents of the Enterprise Global Template before you add resources to the Enterprise Resource Pool.

Before you can properly create and maintain the Enterprise Resource Pool for your organization, you must carefully define and document your Enterprise Resource custom fields and create them. In addition, for large organizations, initially populating the Enterprise Resource Pool is just as important as the process of keeping the Enterprise Resource Pool accurate and up-to-date. Tracking significant changes to the resource information that is stored and managed in the Enterprise Resource Pool can be a full-time activity

Before you create your Enterprise Resource Pool for Project Server 2010, you must determine your starting point. The process of adding resources to the Enterprise Resource Pool varies according to whether you are:

  • Starting with new projects — Minimal preparation is necessary for this scenario. The process is simplified if you can gather all required resource information in a single document. You could make a list on paper. Then you would import your identified resources from Active Directory, or from a membership store if you were using forms authentication. Alternatively, you can gather this information by using Microsoft Excel. Then you would import the resulting spreadsheet into Project Professional 2010 and save it to the Project Server database.

  • Creating the enterprise resource pool — In this scenario, you are creating the Enterprise Resource Pool in Project Professional 2010. Using Project Professional 2010, connect to Project Server 2010 and check out the Enterprise Resource Pool. Enter the resources and save the Enterprise Resource Pool.

Project Server 2010 includes lookup tables and fields that you can customize. A custom field can contain information about a task, resource, or assignment. In Project Server 2010, fields that can contain customized data are text, flags, numbers, dates, cost, start and finish dates, and durations. You can customize these fields to obtain the information you want using formulas, specific value calculations, or graphical indicators.

You can write your own formulas, including references to other fields, to be calculated in a custom field. You can create a list of values for a custom field to ensure fast and accurate data entry. You can display a graphical indicator in a custom field instead of the actual data. That way, you can quickly see when the data in that field meets certain criteria, such as when the data exceeds a specified range or when resources are over-allocated. You can also create a hierarchical structure of custom fields for information in your project. For instance, you might want to associate your company's cost codes with your project data. After you create this structure and apply these custom fields to your data, you can easily use them to filter, sort, and group project data.

In Project Server 2010 there are two types of custom fields — local and enterprise. Local custom fields are used by the project manager within the scope of a particular project. Enterprise custom fields are used by the Project Management Office (PMO) to collect data for rollup reporting across the organization. For enterprise task and project custom fields, Project Server 2010 supports the notion of scoping to a specific program (collection of projects). In this way, an enterprise custom field can be defined that applies to a subset of projects.

There are certain activities that you should consider when retiring projects. Doing some basic clean-up when a project is retired can help to improve Project Server performance. Also, you can secure projects to ensure that only those who need the information — for example, for historical purposes — can see the projects. Deleting other enterprise objects that are not being used, such as resources and assignments, can help to prevent degradation of server performance.

A number of enterprise objects can be backed up in PWA:

  • Projects

  • Enterprise Resource Pool and Calendars

  • Enterprise Custom Fields

  • Enterprise Global

  • View Definitions

  • System Settings

  • Category and Group Settings

Backing up these objects allows you to selectively restore specific items, and you can retain multiple versions of these items.

Backups are done on the Server Settings page under Database Administration. There are two methods available:

  • Schedule Backup

  • Administrative Backup

Administrative Backup allows you to back up enterprise objects at any time. Schedule Backup, as the name implies, allows you to back up enterprise objects daily at a scheduled time. We recommend that you back up your enterprise objects regularly and, if scheduled, at a time when server utilization is low. You should also have a plan for backing up your databases.

When an object is backed up, it is saved to the Project Server 2010 Archive database.

When a project is complete, there are a few options available for retiring the project.

  • Delete the enterprise objects from the Project Server 2010 Published and Draft databases, and retain copies in the Archive database.

  • Delete enterprise objects from all Project Server 2010 databases and rely upon database backups for archival.

  • Place the project in a special Project Server category that denies access to all but a few users.

To allow only certain users to view a retired project, you can create a special Project Server category for that purpose. Add the project and all users whom you do not want to have access to the project and set all of their permissions to deny. For more information about Users, Groups, and Categories, see Plan groups, categories, and RBS in Project Server 2010.

Deleting unused enterprise objects when a project is completed can help to prevent degradation of server performance. It is particularly beneficial for long term server performance to delete assignments. It is also a good idea to delete resources if they are no longer being used in the enterprise. Deleting unused enterprise objects when a project is completed also saves disk space on your database server.

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