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May 12, 2009

Project Server 2010 Technical Requirements

The key points: 64-bit only running on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 with a 64-bit SQL Server 2008 or 64-bit SQL Server 2005 to hold the databases.
IE 7 or IE8 as the browser - IE6 is being dropped in July 2010.
(Update: Just noted that IE ONLY is supported by Project Server 2010. Sharepoint Server will be supporting "other" browsers (Firefox and Safari) but it does not appear that cross-browser support will be in Project. See Christophe Fiessinger's Blog )

As most people know, Project Server runs right on top of Sharepoint server, so the same requirements which were announced a couple of days ago for Sharepoint Server apply to Project Server. You can read the details and the QA here:

So far I've seen nothing public about other requirements, but I'd guess that for features such as visual reports that Excel 2003 and Visio 2003 would probably drop off the supported filetype list in this next version and that it would work best with Office 2010.

April 17, 2009

Project 2010 and Project 2007 Service Pack 2 Release Dates

The latest news is that the next version of Microsoft Office Project will be with Office 2010 which will be released, quite coincidentally, in the first half of 2010. According to Microsoft's Chris Capossela:

We’re announcing that Microsoft will begin releasing new versions of Office-related products this year. Exchange 2010 will be the first product in this lineup, entering beta for customers to download today. Exchange 2010 will become available in the second half of 2009. Office 2010 — including Office Web applications, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 — will enter a technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and will release to manufacturing in the first half of 2010.

The Technical Preview for Project Server is usually restricted to mostly larger customers and Partners, but I'm hopeful that desktop users get some sort of preview as well. I can't say much about it, but I am certain that Project 2010 introduces the most ambitious changes on the desktop since Project 98.

The big unknown with 2010 is how well the move to software as a service will go. Sharepoint 2010 is supposed to be able to be offered as a service, but does this mean that the applications which ride on top of it (Microsoft Project for example) are going to be hosted by Microsoft as well? Are enough people willing to buy it?

Project's prospects are also tied up in the latest Office Service Pack. Word on the streets and the blogs is that Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will be out on April 28th. I'm trying to remember all of what is in SP2, but I am drawing a blank. No doubt some of the things which are still broken will be fixed and some of the things which are still working will be broken... (if history is any guide). Always test before rolling out!.

Update: This post has some vague details to refresh my memory. They are getting better at Service Packs I think...

The scheduling engine, Active Cache, and Gantt charts all have improvements. There is additional reliability with earlier versions of the .mpp format.

April 13, 2009

Luck is where you find it - How to skip directly to Great without passing Go

This study from Deloitte suggests that survivor bias and a lack of rigor discredit the "research" in books like "In Search of Excellence" and "Good to Great".


They claim that "success studies tend to rely exclusively on intuition to justify the noteworthiness" of the companies which are studied and go on and provide a pretty easy to understand explanation of why what is presented as the secret of success in innumerable business books is really no more significant than seeing "Elvis in a slice of pound cake" Mmmmmm.... pound cake...

Sure, they are shilling for their own research, but it is definitely worth a read. I've seen all sorts of organizations try to claim success as due to their particular efforts - sometimes to laughable levels which I can't repeat, but if you are a consumer of business practices or business "research" it is a necessary read. Snake-oil salesmen may be well intentioned, but sometimes they are just plain wrong.

As an aside, often I don't get a chance to read some of the more popular business books until their fad has passed. More often than not, the tide has turned on a number of the companies profiled and they have fallen from greatness. The lesson learned: life is fleeting. Make what you can from it while you can.

April 9, 2009

Better Than Me

drakes bay point reyes california

At a recent event I looked through all the pictures on my camera. It turns out that my 9 year old is better than me. I THINK this is a good thing, but I'm not so sure..

This is a shot he took at Drake's Bay which is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Even being on the lee side of Point Reyes, the wind was fierce and left heavy objects standing on the surface of the sand. Drake's Bay is reputed to be where Sir Francis Drake landed his ship the "Golden Hinde" in 1579. When I was younger, there was a brass plate which was supposedly left by Drake claiming California for England. It was later found to be a hoax perpetrated by E Clampus Vitus and the identies of the culprits were revealed in 2003.

As an aside, Pt. Reyes is part of the Pacific plate and is sliding North along the North American plate. The border between them comprises the San Andreas Fault.

April 8, 2009

Migrating Projects from Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007

Migrating from previous versions of Project to newer ones has always been difficult. The change from Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 is probably the most difficult so far, and until now you have been on your own figuring it out. A lot of sleepless nights have been acrued.

But if you have not migrated yet (and you will have to fairly soon as support for Project Server 2003 fades away) you are fortunate to have a new guide to help you through it. Microsoft has enlisted Quantum PM to put together this free guide to making a successful migration. It runs to 47 pages, so it will take some reading time. After the link you will find the table of contents.

Click here to go to the download site: Best Practices for Migrating to Project Server 2007


Envision Success for Your Business Goals
Reasons to Migrate
Business Goals
Technology Improvements
Use Public Resources
Microsoft Project Server 2007 Web Links
Use a Formal Schedule for Your Migration
Gold Certified Partners
Pick Your Team
Migration Team
End User Team
Analyze Project Server 2007 Features and Business Impacts
Conduct a Review of Project Server 2007 Architecture and Features
Evaluate Project Server 2007 Technology Features
Determine Business Process Impacts
Develop a Formal Project Plan for Your Migration
Scope Definition Statement
Roles and Responsibilities
Migration Sponsors
Risks, Issues, and Change Control
Communications Plan
Quality Test and Validation Plan
Schedule of Events

Perform Your Current State Business Process Assessment
Review Recent Use of Project Server 2003
Identify Custom Interfaces for Project Server 2003
Identify Custom Reports for Project Server 2003
Review the Project Server 2007 Platform Capabilities and Potential Uses
Prepare For Changes to Project and Resource Management
Project Scheduling and Project Web Access (PWA) Changes
Proposals and Activity Plans
Saved Links Not Available in Project Server 2007
Project Server 2003 Versions Not Available in Project Server 2007
Resource Management Changes
Resource Management Capabilities in Project Web Access
Resource Plans
Team Resources
Budget and Cost Resources
Status Report Migration Considerations
Preparing For Changes to Time and Task Update Processes
Differences Between Project Server 2003 and Project Server 2007 Timesheets
Project Server 2003 Administrative Plans versus Project Server 2007 Administrative Time
Project Server 2003 Historical Time Tracking Data
Planning For Timesheet Migration
Planning For Reporting Changes and Enhanced Capabilities
Project Professional 2007 Visual Reports
Project Web Access Data Analysis Views
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
Office SharePoint Server Excel Services

Verify that computers meet hardware and software requirements
Confirm licensing and media
Confirm IT Staffing Availability and Training Needs
Install Project Server 2007 Environments

Perform Data Analysis to Determine Quality of the Data for Migration
Archive or Delete Project Schedules and Workspaces
Analyze Project Schedules
Validate Project Server 2003 Configuration Settings and Data
Validate Users and Resources
Validate Enterprise Global Custom Fields
Validate Security Templates, Groups, Categories
Validate Security Group and Category Members
Validate Views and the Associated Security Categories
Document the Pre-Migration Corrective Action Plan
Immediate Actions
Postponed Actions

Pre-Migration Planning and Documentation Checklist
Pre-Migration Training
Pre-Migration Checklist
Server Information
Database Information
Migration Account Verification Information
Migration Tool and Project Server 2007 Version Verification
Perform data analysis on your existing Project Server 2003 data.
Run a Pre-Migration Verification Test
Data Analysis Queries and Corrective Actions
Contingency Planning
Perform a Test Migration

Update the Enterprise Global file to reflect new objectives and processes
Update or Re-engineer the RBS
Update or Re-engineer User Access and the Project Security Model
Perform a final Project Server 2003 data clean-up, verification and backup
Perform a final Windows SharePoint Services data clean-up, verification and backup
Prepare for the Migration
Enterprise Global Data Migration
Project Data Migration
Roll back Migration

Project Server Technical Operations and Maintenance
Protecting Your Information Assets
Technical Operations and Maintenance Schedule
Project Server Applications Operations and Maintenance
Enterprise Data
Enterprise Global
Timesheet Management
Database Object Administration

March 30, 2009

Spring already in progress

After the snow

I usually mark the Spring Equinox on my blog. This year I missed it. Where I live Spring is most definitely here and I'm obviously late. So I'm setting the clock back to winter (February to be exact) and will catch up to spring very soon.

Nothing like a foot or two of snow to make winter seem right.

March 24, 2009

Sign of the Times - Libraries During Economic Crisis

I was logging in to the library to find a book this morning and the first thing I saw was this page touting bankruptcy, foreclosure, healthcare and legal assistance - was this the work of a hacker?.


No, not at all, but this is a big change from what used to be a page with links to upcoming events, fund-raisers and general library promotions. It is interesting to see this transformation to a more active role in solving people's problems.

I've been lucky to have spent time in some rather nice libraries over the years and especially over the past couple of decades I have wondered if they would survive due to the widespread availability of information over the internet, but seeing the resurgence of libraries in my local area and the more social role they are taking, it seems that they are adapting to that change just fine.

Here is the new San Mateo City Library building. It replaced a concrete bunker of a library that was on the same site since the 70's. Support your local library! I do my part through overdue book fines :-)


February 4, 2009

Reasons To Be Awake


Having a client request that you are on-site at 7:00 AM has its upside. I may see the sunrise someday soon and there is little traffic. In the SF Bay Area, the latter means a lot. The shot above is one I took of the Bay Bridge in the pre-dawn hours.

January 29, 2009

Date Math - DateAdd, ProjDateAdd in Microsoft Project

I just ran into someone having trouble making a custom formula in Microsoft Project. They were adding a duration to a date by using a + sign. For example:


The result they got was years in the future and was unexpected. The reason for this is that Duration is stored in minutes. The duration of an 8 hour day is 480. Dates, like Finish1, are stored as a serial number which is counting from 1/1/1900, making today 39842. When you add those two numbers together, each minute is treated as a day.

Fortunately MS Project has some functions which will do the date math for you. DateAdd will do simple date addition, and ProjDateAdd will do date addition with any of the Project calendars taken into account. If you have a duration of 5 days stored in the Duration1 field and today is Thursday, then the different functions would give the following results:

Now()+[Duration1] would give a date about 7 years from now.

DateAdd( "d", 5, now()) will give a date five days from today (Tuesday).

ProjDateAdd(Now(),[Duration1],"Standard") would give a date one work week from today. (Thursday)

January 23, 2009

Project Management Office and the Monorail


With the current economic situation examples of government public works projects such as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) are in the air and it got me thinking about what the biggest benefits of such projects are. It seems to me that the most lasting impact is on public infrastructure, things like dams and roads that enable everyone to progress, but which would not be possible unless some central organization provided them.

I think the same thing is true of PMO's. The biggest value they can provide is infrastructure, whether that be well-trained people, processes or technologies which will enable projects to progress smoothly and efficiently.

However, the comparison between PMO's and government agencies brings up the inevitable question of bureaucracy and efficiency. What is the right size of a PMO? Too large and it creates its own gravitational field. Too small and it is not capable of building essential infrastructure. I think the solution to this project is to keep as much of the PMO work project-based, with the projects it is undertaking being defined by the organization it is supporting.

The PMO needs to be able to grow and shrink as needs change and needs to be vigilant that they are not just doing projects to have something to do. They have to be aware of the fine line of providing lasting value rather than just making work. Look at what your PMO is doing and see which activities it is undertaking which will actually help the organizations you support. The PMO should build and maintain infrastructure. Nothing more. Nothing less.

January 14, 2009

Yaki Imo - Roasted Sweet Potato

yaki imo truck in tokyo

That truck has fire shooting out the back because it is a Yaki Imo truck and is roasting sweet potatoes. This one happened to be driving around Tokyo so you don't see the man standing outside his truck hawking them with a characteristic Yaki Imo cry. If you google Yaki imo you can probably find an audio file of it. The yaki imo truck is pretty similar in concept to ice cream trucks except that they serve something hot rather than cold and their product is more rustic and hand-made.

Roasted sweet potatoes are quite delicious. You can see a pile of the raw reddish/purple ones just in front of the oven (under the scale). They also are an illustration of the reverence that Japan has for food. I don't think in the US that they would allow this sort of truck with open flames driving around the streets, and even though Japan is in many ways more safety conscious than the US, they appear to make exceptions where food is involved.

I'll have more and better examples of some of the variety of Japanese food as I work my way through the photos I took in the last few weeks, so treat this one as just a snack or a warm-up

November 25, 2008

Project Server OLAP Views Errors

Just a warning about special characters. Don't use them if you want your Project Server Analysis views to work correctly:

Avoid all of these:

Data source
: / \ * | ? " () [] {} <>
. , ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = [] {}
, ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = () [] {}
All other objects
. , ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = () [] {}

July 28, 2008

California Fire Season

This view of the Tuolumne river flowing through the Poopenaut valley from the road to Hetch Hetchy dam shows the effect of the many fires burning throughout California this summer. The sun appears reddish and there is a warm cast to everything you can see.



July 18, 2008

Microsoft Project Undo Levels and Macros

One of the new features of Project 2007 is that it allows more than one level of Undo. This is of great comfort to those of us who have made more than one error while working on a file. It also has a benefit for those who automate microsoft project with VBA or VSTO as typically there are many things done during the execution of a macro. In Project 2003 this often meant that macros were irreversible unless you somehow built your own log of the changes and then went back through it to restore things to their prior state.

Taking advantage of this new capability within a macro is easy. There are two methods you need to know:

Application.OpenUndoTransaction ("name of the transaction")


Use these to bracket the code you are going to run in your macro for example:

Sub renameTasks()
Application.OpenUndoTransaction ("rename tasks")
For Each Task In ActiveProject.Tasks
Task.Name = "foo"
Next Task
End Sub

Then when you click on the undo button, all of the changes within that transaction will be reversed in a single click. This is very valuable when you are making a very large number of changes - for example if you modified all of tasks in your macro.

You might be wondering what the transaction name is used for. It is the name which shows up when you click on the undo button, so make it as descriptive as possible. You could also use it if you want to go back to a certain place. To determine where the place is you can read the list of transactions in the undo list. Here is a code sample which shows a message box with all of the undo transactions. If you run it, you can see what you have done so far. Note that many of the names are not very useful for knowing what has been done as they don't include which task the change was made to. Still they offer enough breadcrumbs to see where you have been:

Sub showUndo()
Dim numUndo As Integer
Dim i As Integer
Dim undoString As String
numUndo = Application.GetUndoListCount
For i = 1 To numUndo
undoString = undoString & Application.GetUndoListItem(i) & vbCrLf
Next i
MsgBox undoString
End Sub

Using the name of your transactions you can find out how far back you need to go to reverse the effects of your code even if the user has performed some steps in between. An example would be something like this:

Sub backToStart()
Application.OpenUndoTransaction ("very start")
'do lots of things to the file
Application.OpenUndoTransaction ("middle")
For Each Task In ActiveProject.Tasks
Task.Name = "foo"
Next Task
End Sub

You would then look through the list of transactions until you find the one with the name you like and then reverse that many transactions. It would be great if you could undo out of order, but I have not found any way of doing that. Just like a stack of cards, you have to take the top one off in order to get to the ones underneath.

There are a few things to be careful about undo. First, be aware of the number of undos. Once a transition drops off the bottom of the list it is gone. Second, a project save will clear the undo list. Third, large numbers of undo may affect performance as all that information needs to be held temporarily. Check it with some samples to see the effects in your environment with the types of changes you are going to make.

July 15, 2008

Microsoft Project Server Infrastructure Update

The long awaited fixes to Project Server 2007 and Project Professional 2007 have been released today (July 15, 2008). Microsoft is calling it an infrastructure update rather than a service pack. I suppose this is because it covers a things like sharepoint and other office server infrastructure rather than a specific application.

What ever it is called, Project Server and Project Professional users will find a lot to be happy about. Among the fixes for Project Server are:

  • Timesheets and My Tasks stability and usability improvements
  • Queue Management user interface improvements
  • Logging Tracing improvements
  • Project Server performance improvements
  • Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 migration fixes
  • Database performance improvements to enhance the cube building process and Project
  • Professional Save/Publish scenarios

Project Professional gets the following fixes:

  • Cost Resources calculation fixes
  • Improved Custom Fields stability
  • Improved local Project Cache stability
  • Fixed Excel Import problem

Many of these are quite welcome. A document with details can be found here:

Description of the update is here

Details on what is fixed are here

And the download...


Be careful about installation. There are a number of things to consider so read all the docs and of course, test before deploying to a critical installation.

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