Background refresh your Project Online reports

Are you using Excel Services to render your Project Online (OData) reports for the end-users? If yes, I guess you would like to have all those reports being refreshed automatically without disturbing anyone.

Here is one simple solution – use Power BI for Office 365. This will not only allow for auto-refresh but also enable the new “Q&A” feature and other cool functionalities.

As an example I have created a quick tutorial showing the path from your OData report to auto-refresh enabled. Please notice that this requires a minimum purchase of one Power BI license for Office 365. For more Power BI information go to: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerbi/

1. Navigate to the Site Contents area of your PWA home page

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2. If you have the license to Power BI you should now see the app available

2_bi

3. From the Power BI homepage create a folder and/or upload a new file (report)

3_bi

4. You should now see the report in the Power BI folder and hopefully also a beautiful screendump from the worksheet (which would be the sheet you last saw before saving and exiting Excel)

4_bi

5. Click on the “…” and go to “Schedule Data Refresh”

5_bi

6. Et voila! You can now turn on “Refresh Schedule” and set up a daily or weekly timer job. If using multiple data connections you can even control which ones should be impacted.

6_bi

7. Also included in the refresh job is a “history” area where previous refresh jobs can be found and monitored

7_bi

 

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App review: SOLVIN Project Wheel

In the App store for Project Online and Project Server 2013, a lot of useful solutions are already available for easy deployment. Many of them are free, and absolutely worth deploying, as they can help improve usability and system administration. Every month new Apps are added to the store, and as a service to my blog followers I will blog about those I find most interesting.

My first review is of a simple yet very useful App, which I am sure will make every manager/PMO lead smile. The App is called “Project Wheel” and is made by the company German PPM partner SOLVIN.

What it does is simply to load all available projects and place them in wheel, by which you can filter/group by year and total planned work .  By clicking in the middle zones, the wheel automatically filters to the corresponding projects. It´s worth noticing that the actual filtering is very impressive due to smooth graphical animations, that every manager would simply love watching. Finally, by clicking on the projects found, one can navigate directly to the Project Detail Pages for more information.

The app is free and very simple to use and deploy.

App demonstration video:

The app can easily be found in the store by searching for Project Wheel:

projectwheeldump

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Project Server 2013 SP1 is out now!

Straight to the point… Project Server 2013 Service Pack 1 is now available for download.

Get it here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42011

New “Timephased Data” app released today

Today, Projectum (www.projectum.dk) released their second app for Project Online/ Server 2013. This new app allows you to work with timephased data from a PDP “Project Detail Page”. It is fully customizable and free to install in your PWA. It can be used for many different things such as cost, benefit and other forecasts.

The free app can be found in the Sharepoint Store, and will soon be followed by a professional app that allows for specific data/ totals to be send back to the Project Custom Fields of your choice.

app2

Project Online for just 7 USD per month

During the Project Conference in Anaheim, Microsoft shared a new license type for the lightweight users of Project Online. What this mean is that users, who just need access to the PWA portal, my tasks, timesheets etc. only need the new license type available from just 7 USD per month.

Project Online …

Great feature and minor bug in recent Project Online update

Hi all,

Project Online has been updated with some new cool features.

Read about some of them below or by using this link: http://blogs.technet.com/b/projectsupport/archive/2014/01/22/project-online-have-you-seen-any-of-the-new-bits-we-have-added.aspx

The latest changes first – and we have made it far easier for users of PWA that also have a license for Project Pro for Office 365 to find the download – now we have it right in the Get Started carousel.  This one is rolling out right now – if you don’t see it yet then it should be to your Project Online environment within the next week:

PWA Home page with new tile for download of Project Pro for Office 365

And the hover over tells you what this gets you – richer views and reports!

Get Started Carousel with new download description

If you’ve already removed the Get Started carousel and want to take a new look – then just clicking the Gear icon and the Getting Started menu item will show you the same things.

Get Started Page

And if you want it back on your home page – it is a Web Part so you can edit the page and find it listed under the Project Web App category.

Adding the Get Started web part back

You may have noticed another recent addition in the Get Started carousel too – just to the left of the Project Pro for Office 365 download link – the ‘New to Project Online?’ link.

New to Project Online tile

This will take you to our TechNet page with plenty more useful information to help your journey with Project Online.  If you’ve got this far then you (or someone in your organization) has already carried out step 1 – but steps 2 and 3 will help get people and projects into your new online environment.

TechNet Getting Started with Project Online with Steps 1 to 3 - Sign Up, Add People, Add Projects

What else?  Well sometimes a blank page can be daunting – so we added some guidance if you aren’t seeing any projects to your Project Center:

Empty Project Center dialog - with links to change view or add a project

Clicking ‘changing your view’ will bring the ribbon into play and show you the views dropdown:

View options in the ribbon

Or ‘add a project’ will bring up a wizard to get you started with a new project – Or offer some other ways to get projects into your system:

*** Update 1/23 – even I got caught out with the new stuff here and didn’t have the lastest UI – so swapping out the next screenshot for the new ones.  This is the same experience you will see if you click on the left hand tile in the Get Started carousel – Create or import projects

Tiles showing the available Enterprise Project Types

Here we see the out of the box SharePoint Task List and Enterprise Project – as well as a couple of extra Enterprise Project Types I have added to my system.  I select Enterprise Project and click next:

Entry screen for project details

Then I enter my project name, as well as any other information a different Enterprise Project Type might need in terms of custom fields, then click finish.  It will show working on it…, and then Hold on, creating he project and will then take you to the schedule page to begin entering your tasks:

Schedule web part

end of updated screen shots ***

(We have also added wizards to the New Project experience in Project Center.)

*** Update 1/23 – There is a slight issue with the New Project experience from the ribbon in Project Center right now, and users may see the ‘Working on it…” dialog just carry on spinning.  You should find that if you go to the Project Center it will have actually created your new plan.  Sorry for this inconvenience – I understand a timing issue with some required css updates led to this – but it should be resolved soon. ***

More magic to come – if you are creating a SharePoint Task list project then we take you straight to Edit mode – the original experience didn’t make it clear what you needed to do next.  So you get this:

Task list - ready to edit

rather than this:

Old Task list - not taken in to edit mode automatically

Much better I think!

And there’s more… After you add your first task – it will automatically be added it to the timeline – just so you get the idea how it works and where to go to add further tasks to the timeline.

When the first task is created we add it to the timeline

Another very useful addition to the project site is a way to get back to the Project Center – the ‘Projects’ link in the left navigation pane:

Project Site with link in the left nav back to Project Center

And following that link back we can get to one more of our new additions – more call-outs in Project Center.  Each project now has a quick way to see status, open or share the plan – or a few more quick links to delete, edit the resource plan, build team or go to the project site.

Project Center showing call-outs, which alolow easier access to other features such as deleting a plan

I hope you are finding all these changes useful and if you think we are still missing some tricks then I’d be more than glad to have comments.  Also thinking that we should switch gears and start pre-announcing some of this stuff so you know what is coming.  Thoughts?

Project Conference in two weeks – Join these sessions

I am happy to share that I, two of my colleagues and LEGO will be delivering sessions at this years Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim.

Session:
Project Worst Practice – Learn from other people mistakes

Date:
Tuesday, February 4

  • Time:5:00 PM – 6:15 PM
  • Room:201 D
  • Session Type:Breakout
  • Session Code:PC310
  • Level:300 – Experienced
  • Presenter:Microsoft
  • Project Version:Current Project 2013

‘You only ever learn from your mistakes’ is a widely held opinion -but not true – you can learn just as much from other people’s mistakes. In this session Brian Smith (Microsoft Sen. Support Escalation Engineer), Peter Kestenholz (CEO Projectum and MVP) and ian White (PPM Technical Lead Microsoft Western Europe HQ) will share their worst technical, deployment and organisational pit-falls in their ~30 combined years of experience of Microsoft Project technology. From the support incidents that happen on a regular basis and are easily rectified, to deployments that fail due to elementary mistakes finishing with organisations that ‘fail to plan’ effectively and then just fail. Brian, Peter and Ian will bring the top worst practise they have encountered and share these with you and through this help you avoid these ‘bear traps’ in your deployments. Whether you are a developer, deployment professional or part of business management there will be lessons to be learnt in this session – come an learn from others in a ‘safe place’

Session:
Awesome user experience for PWA from a great visual design

Date:
Monday, February 3

  • Time:5:00 PM – 6:15 PM
  • Room:204 C
  • Session Type:Breakout
  • Session Code:PC261
  • Level:200 – Intermediate
  • Presenter:Partner Led

“Have you ever thought about changing the main page of Project Web Access, but got stuck in the proces?

In this session you will learn how easy it is to customize your PWA simply by using PowerPoint and standard web parts in SharePoint. The results are beautiful and does not need any coding. The session will be presented by two consultants from the Danish Project Partner – Projectum”

Session:
LEGO – “Only the best is good enough!”

Date:
Monday, February 3

  • Time:2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
  • Room:201 C
  • Session Type:Breakout
  • Session Code:PC277
  • Presenter:Customer
  • Project Version:Project 2010
  • Level:200 – Intermediate

“Join the LEGO® Group – one of the world best known premium brands, known for the famous LEGO Brick. LEGO is one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers and the largest in construction toys.

The world’s children spend 5 billion hours a year playing with LEGO bricks.

Learn from the best – how LEGO Implemented a Corporate IT PMO and the processes and tool support needed for this. You will during this session have funny facts about the LEGO Group, see the LEGO PMO Cartoon with LEGO Minifigures, Learn about the Resource Management process that takes LEGO Corporate IT PMO to the next level in the Gartner PPM Maturity model. See a live demo of Project Server 2010 and “Resource Manager”– a Microsoft Partner product, supporting the best in class PMO! –Only the best is good enough!!”

An introduction to innovation

Microsoft Project Server helps capture, rank end execute on new business ideas and initiatives. The latest release of Microsoft Project Server (2013) is the strongest tool to deliver the engine behind these portfolio management processes. Obviously other tools are on the market, but Microsoft allows for the greatest flexibility allowing you to grow and mature your organization accordingly.

However, from past experience I see a strong tendency to companies not having a uniform approach to what innovation actually is. This leads to some confusion when defining what and how to use the implemented PPM tool. For this reason, I would like to share some thougts around the topic of Innovation, while referring to some of the key researchers and authors within that specific area.

An introduction to Innovation

With innovation comes change. This is broadly known, as the Latin word for innovation is “innovates” which is the noun form of “innovare” – to renew or change. According to Porter and Christian (2003) ´innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas‘. West (1997) describes innovation as ‘…the introduction of new and improved ways of doing things at work‘. Porter (2003) specifically use the word “successful” and West (1997) uses the word “improved”. Both words create the statement that innovation is not only about research, but also delivering new and greater results when compared to yesterday. Today, the world´s organizations are in constant need of doing things greater than they used to, or perhaps doing the work better than their competitors are. The greatest managers, in the most successful companies, are often the ones who are best at handling the need for constant innovation and thereby reltated change actions.

To be innovative, as an organization, forces the people to be creative in their work and thoughts. West (1997) believed that allowing for a high level of flexibility would give a greater return of creativity from their employees. According to West (1997) a flat structure, decentralized decision-making, low job specialization and a cross line functions tends to stimulate creativity and lead to innovation. If one were to compare these factors to organizational types, a matrix, or even better, project organization, with few steps to top management, would be perfect to generate innovative thinking and realization. Also the detailed specification of one’s job, would be highly depend on the characteristics of the future projects or clients, meaning there can be no constant and repeatable work behavior that would last very long. In these project-like scenarios, acting creatively and innovative, is enforced as a factor of success within the job or role one has.

However, creating an innovative organization also has its downsides if not managed properly. Allowing for creativity on all levels in an organization requires a certain amount of bureaucracy to support that only the strongest ideas survive. Goffin and Mitchell (2010) introduces us to the “Innovative Pentathlon Framework” which has evolved from the widely used Stage-Gate approach. This approach in general allows for all ideas to be recognized, evaluated, prioritized and then finally implemented or executed upon. Unfortunately, streamlining innovation only works in reality, if the organization has a clear strategy, and some supporting business drivers, that are measurable. If not, what Goffin and Mitchell (2010) describes as the “Idea Generation Phase”, would become a regular subjective approach from senior management. This kind of behavior would destroy the motivation for those who didn’t have their ideas approved, simply because they can´t get an objective explanation as to why. To avoid this, the organization must have a clear set of business drivers or priorities, scored against each other. This would enable all new ideas to be scored subjectively by their creators before getting send for approval for instance wrapped in a business case document.

Managing innovation is in general an act of balancing innovative freedom and bureaucracy. One should not exist without the other. The problem is that the balancing varies depending on the type of innovation or idea the organization is looking at. Technically speaking, the higher the risk for the business, the higher the amount of bureaucracy should be. This approach requires categorizing the ideas and projects into different types. Tidd and Bessant (2009) introduces the 4P approach, which is useful when trying to determine the business risks associated with a new idea. Having 4 types of innovation, and separating them into being either “Incremental” or “Radical”, could be a great starting point for an organization to define which stage-gate model should be used, and how detailed the business case around the idea should actually be. By business case I am referring to the planning of communication, organization, stakeholder analysis and other key factors that will support the actual change process later during the actual implementation.

I hope this introduction gave you some new insights and some referrals to which authors and frameworks that you and your organization can dive into in order to improve your innovation maturity.

Sources and litterature

Goffin, K. & Mitchell, R., 2010. Innovation management : strategy and implementation using the pentathlon framework. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Porter, M. & Christian, H., 2003. Moving to the Next Stage. UK Competitiveness, Issue 3.
Tidd, J. & Bessant, J., 2009. Managing innovation: integrating technological, market and organizational change. 4th ed. Chichester: Wiley.
West, M., 1997. Developing Creativity in Organizations. Leicester: BPS Books.

 

Timsheet Daily Comments 2013

My company has just released the latest version of our “Timesheet Daily Comments” add-on. This enables you to enter comments directly from your timesheet grid within a specific cell. This makes it much easier to keep track of what was actually done, especially helping those in need of invoicing these hours. The add-on is available for both 2010 and 2013 version (on-premise). Watch the 60 sec. video to get introduced.

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