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Archive for June, 2010

SharePoint 2010 Project Tasks Part 2 – Synchronise with Microsoft Project 2010

Posted by workerthread on June 1, 2010

(A quick update on my posts on SharePoint 2010 and Project tasks: as far as I am aware the SharePoint synchronisation feature is only available on Project Professional 2010, NOT Project Standard).

In my previous post I wrote about the Project Task List in SharePoint 2010.   Using it in conjunction with Microsoft Project 2010 makes it even more useful.  For example, you can use the nice Project 2010 features to create a project, add resources, set predecessors etc (all standard Microsoft Project stuff), then use a new feature you can find under the “Save and Send” option on the File menu:

Project 2010 sync -  Click to view full size

From here you can either sync with an existing SharePoint task list, or create a new task list in the site you specify.  It’s also possible to start from a SharePoint Task list and create your project from there, using this option on the “New” menu:

new from task list

The synchronisation process will also assign resources, as long as these already exist in your SharePoint user list and in the same format.  It’s important to note that the data in your SharePoint Task List is Manually scheduled.  In Microsoft Project 2010 you will see two scheduling options on the ribbon:

Auto Schedule:

Auto Schedule

And Manually Schedule:

Manually Schedule

Now, it’s quite likely that if you start by creating your project with Project 2010, everything will be Auto-Scheduled, because that means that when durations or actual completion dates change, other dependent items in the project will be re-scheduled.  If you are auto-scheduling, then when you sync with the SharePoint list, you will see this message:

Manual Schedule dialog  -  Click to view full size

which is telling you that everything will be switched to manual scheduling when sync’d.  So after a sync you will need to re-set auto-scheduling to see the impact of any updated tasks (by the way, if there are any synchronisation conflicts you will see a conflict resolution dialog where you can decide whether you keep the SharePoint version or the Project 2010 version).

Project 2010 also provides a “Manage Fields” option:

Manage Fields

where we can add other Microsoft Project fields to our SharePoint list like this:

Add Field

And once added you will see them as new columns in the SharePoint list:

Added Fields  -  Click to view full size

This is ideal if you want to use other features in SharePoint to provide current project status information, perhaps on a dashboard where you might use SharePoint charts or KPIs.  Once you are syncing between Project and SharePoint you might also want to place other restrictions on the SharePoint list for standard users – perhaps only allow data in specific columns to be amended, or make sure only project owners or administrators can add or delete tasks.   The new InfoPath 2010 SharePoint list form capabilities might come in handy here.

In summary, if you are planning to use SharePoint 2010 Project Task lists, then getting a copy of Project 2010 for your project owners or managers is likely to be a good investment.  It will allow you to publish and maintain project tasks to your assigned resources, who can easily update status and completion dates from the SharePoint site without the need to provide Project 2010 licences for everyone else involved.

I’ve also started looking at the new Silverlight SharePoint Gantt Chart from IntelliGantt and how it might work in this scenario.  I’ll post more about this once I’ve tried it out on some sample project sites.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

SharePoint 2010 Project Tasks Part 1

Posted by workerthread on June 1, 2010

(A quick update on my posts on SharePoint 2010 and Project tasks: as far as I am aware the SharePoint synchronisation feature is only available on Project Professional 2010, NOT Project Standard).

It’s been a good while since the last post here – I’ve been really busy on client projects, as well as trying to learn as much as possible about SharePoint 2010 now that the released product is available.  I thought I would try to cover some of the things I’ve found out while working with the 2010 SharePoint and Office products in this and future posts, kicking off with how Project Tasks now look and behave.

The Project Tasks List in SharePoint 2007 / WSS 3.0

One of the standard list templates in both SharePoint 2007 and WSS 3.0 is called “Project Tasks”.  You can find it in the “Tracking” section when creating a new list:


It comes with a default “Gantt View” already set up, so that when you add entries to the task list, you get to see them like this:

2007 Gantt - click to view full size

When I show this to clients new to SharePoint they get very enthusiastic about managing project tasks via a web application.  Then they ask about task dependencies – in other words can the tasks be linked so that the Gantt shows how each one is linked to its predecessor or successor tasks – same as you would be able to create if you were using Microsoft Project.  Unfortunately SharePoint 2007 Project Tasks can’t do this “out of the box”.  There are several 3rd party options available, such as SharePoint Task Master from Bamboo Solutions and of course Microsoft’s own Project Server.

Improvements in SharePoint 2010

The Project Tasks list is still there in SharePoint 2010 (all versions, including Foundation) and in the “Tracking” you will see this icon:


In 2010, the first thing you will notice once you create a new list from this template is that the Gantt view has changed so it now looks a lot more like the one you would see with Microsoft Project:

2010 Gantt - click to view full size

And as you’ll notice from the screenshot above, it’s possible to define predecessors for tasks when adding or editing them:


So far so good, but there are a few other things you need to know.  First, updating one of the tasks does not automatically re-schedule its predecessors.  You can consider a SharePoint 2010 Project Tasks list as using manual scheduling, not the clever auto-scheduling you get in Microsoft Project.  Here you can see the duration of the “Define Scope” task has been extended, but nothing happens to the start date of successor tasks:

2010 re-schedule - Click to view full size

The other point to bear in mind is that it’s possible to set as task as it’s own predecessor, without SharePoint giving you any kind of error:


Then you can end up with a task that looks like this on the Gantt

Self Predecessor gantt - Click to view full size

This is something that isn’t permitted in full-blown Microsoft Project, where you will get an error like this if you try it:

project 2010 error - Click to view full size

So overall some nice improvements. It doesn’t stop there though.  Microsoft Project 2010 adds more – namely the ability to synchronise with your SharePoint list.  More on this in part 2….

Posted in Microsoft SharePoint, Office | 4 Comments »