SharePoint 2010 is months away from being “old news”, but the amazing thing about the update from MOSS 2007 –> SharePoint 2010 is that it was so packed with updates, we can still blog about cool features.
Today, I’ll discuss the Project Task list and it’s integration with Project Professional.
For anyone that has ever needed to run a project in the Microsoft ecosystem, I’m pretty sure you cracked open Project Professional and built a plan. For those that have been Project Managers you’ve probably worked with Project Professional in conjunction with Project Server, which is a slightly bigger kettle of fish.
Project Professional is a great product, it’s to a project manager what MS Word is to a document writer. It is so packed with features, that stand alone, it can fulfil many features needed to run projects in an organisation.
There are however times, when the sharing of the plan becomes a requirement and this is when Project Professional starts to hit some limitations. Similar to Visio, if you wish to share a plan / drawing, you need to convert it to PDF and mail it to your colleagues. This approach, is time consuming, static and creates unnecessary data duplication.
Enter the Project Task list for SharePoint.
The Project Task list in essence allows the SharePoint administrator to create tasks that are dependant on one another. These tasks are then shown in a Gantt chart view which gives resources a lovely snapshot of how their particular tasks effects the rest of the project.
The list works wonderfully on it’s own, but for those that have access to Project Professional the combination really takes it to another level.
The following screenshots illustrates how easy it is to synch a Project Plan to SharePoint via Project Professional:
1 – Once the plan is created, click on File –> Save & Send –> Synch with Tasks List
2 – Enter your SharePoint site URL, click on Validate, select the appropriate list and click on “Sync”:
3 – The tasks will begin to sync:
4 – After the successful sync, the tasks are available in the SharePoint list:
Staff will now be able to view the entire project plan without the need for a Project Professional license. The project manager will also not have the requirement to save the plan to PDF in order to share it.
Some caveats do exists, so just beware of some of the following “gotchas”:
- When adding resources, you have to use the exact resource names of the AD Accounts for users. Using generic resource names e.g. Consultant, Infrastructure Specialist et al is therefore not supported;
- The project plan can only support manual scheduling
- Only finish-start predecessors without constraints / lag times;
- Ensure there are no special characters in task names
- To view the expanded Gantt view you have to click on the folders which is a little cumbersome
In closing, I think the Project Tasks list is a great tool for the company that needs to manage basic projects. When you require slightly better resource and task management, the combination of Project Professional and the Project Tasks list works very well. Lastly, when things get very serious, Project Server becomes the necessary evil.