The preferred way of working with MS Project on Microsoft Project Server for Project Manager is usually a 3 step process (a) build the schedule with the team (b) save the schedule on project server and (c) publish the schedule. But, creating a project schedule in huge outsourcing engagements, with multiple vendors, for multi-million dollar engagement, is not straight forward and takes time. Project Manager can take several approaches to building a schedule in such scenario:
Option #1: Sit with each vendor and document list of tasks. After all the tasks are documented, publish the project schedule to project server. This process is time-consuming before one can see the project on Project Server (esp, the Sr. Mgmt who are in a hurry to view the schedule as soon as project charter/scope is finalized)
Option #2: To satisfy Sr. Mgmt, PM could create an initial draft with milestones and deliverables (usually a shell) and publish this for review by stakeholders. Stakeholders, are anyways interested in milestones vs. day-to-day tasks. PM could then work with individual vendors to build a detailed project schedule. This process takes no less time compared to option 1 but atleast it takes a phased approach is building a project schedule and at the same time provides visibility to Sr. Mgmt.
The challenge with option #2 comes in when vendor is spread across globe. In such cases, PM is forced to send the initial draft schedule and ask the vendor(s) to fill in the placeholders for his tasks. In this article, I want to show you on how to accomplish option #2 using Project Server 2007.
Working with multi-vendors to build project schedule in Project Server 2007:
Assumptions: Vendor does not have access to MS Project Professional 2007 and/or does not have access to Project Server
End goal: is to get the updated .mpp file from vendor(s) with all the updates, onto project server.
Step 1: Launch Microsoft Project Professional and log into Project Server. Create and publish the initial draft schedule (sample illustrated below with placeholder for vendors’ tasks)
Step 2: Download the schedule (PWA -> Edit) and” Save as File” on local machine. Click OK on prompt [The file saved will be sent to vendors for building their tasks in schedule]
Step 3: Send the downloaded schedule to Vendor’s Manager for them to create tasks and assign resources. Remember, the resources added by vendors will all be local resources (see assumptions)
After you receive the updated schedule from Vendor, save the file on local PC.
Step 4: Launch Microsoft Project Professional and log into Project Server. Click on Tools -> Enterprise Options -> Import Project to Enterprise
Step 5: In the Import Project Wizard sidepane, click the Map Resources link.
As you can see, vendor has updated the project schedule with his tasks (Task1, Task2, Task3).
Step 6: In the Map Project Resources onto Enterprise Resources dialog, map every local resource in the .mpp file with enterprise resources in the Enterprise Resource Pool and then click the OK button.
Step 7: Continue to Step 2. Ensure that you see 0 errors on Confirm Resources screen as follows:
Step 8: Continue to Step 3
Step 9: On the Task Field Mapper page, click the Map Task Fields link. In the Map Custom Fields dialog, map each local task field with its corresponding enterprise custom tasks and then click the OK button.
Step 10: Continue to Step 4. Ensure that you see 0 errors on Confirm Tasks screen as follows:
Step 11: Continue to Step 5
Step 12: In the Import Project Wizard sidepane, click the Save As link.
Step 13: In the Save to Project Server dialog, save the project with the same name that you originally created in step 1, and then click the Save button. Confirm prompts regarding calendar.
Step 14: You should receive a message “Congratulations: You have now imported your project into Project Server“
Step 15: In the Import Project Wizard sidepane, click the Save and Finish link.
Step 16: Click File – Publish to publish the project if it is an in-progress project containing actual progress.
Step 17: Click File – Close to the project and check in the project when prompted.
Now the updated tasks by vendor will be reflected on PWA. Repeat the same for adding the tasks and resources from all the other vendors.
Now, you may ask, why just not give permissions for vendor to edit and save project schedule. Sure, that’s one way of accomplishing option 2, provided vendor(s) have access to Project Server and has the required software, in this case MS Project Professional 2007 for editing. But vendors don’t necessarily have the latest a greatest software always (atleast in our case, we were on MS Project 2007 and several vendors’ organizations were still on MS Project 2003). That’s the reason why we went with the approach of sending the .mpp file for vendor for updates.
For us, it’s working perfectly for now, but time-consuming. Hopefully, we’ll get all the vendors on MS Project Professional in near future.