My Picks from Project Conference 2014

As you probably are all aware, the sessions from Project Conference 2014 have all been made available online.  Here’s my list of the “must see” sessions. The only problem, of course, is that I didn’t get to see all of the sessions – in fact, I didn’t get to see very many sessions at all.

Hence my list is basically culled from the list of what other folks have told me that I should see.  It’s a good start, I suppose – and not intended to disparage anyone’s presentations that didn’t make the list.

Gartner Shares the Most Important PPM Trends for 2014; Donna Fitzgerald and Ben Chamberlain.  If you’re a PMO director or often called to play the role of one, make sure to see this presentation on how to do portfolio management – and make sure you have your Amazon account open on another screen and a credit card handy as you’ll be buying a number of books after this.

AWESOME User Experience for PWA From a Great Visual Design; Dariana Kestenholz and Mathias Laegdsmand – A simple way to drastically improve the look and feel of the main PWA site – and thus drive user adoption.

Real World Reports: Business Intelligence in Project Online and Project Server 2013; Mike McLean and I skim a rock over options for reporting against online and on-prem installations.

MS Project Server at Qualcomm; Nelson Diaz presents a case study on a Project Server implementation.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, there’s plenty more where that came from – including a vast array of customer case studies and technical chalk talks.

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UMT 360 Workflow Visualization App Review

Props to Alex Burton over at EPMSource for his review of our Workflow Visualization App, a key part of our 2010 package that was spun off into a separate app in the App Store for 2013.

Check out the review here:

Posted in Project Online, Workflow, Workflow Designer | Leave a comment

Configuring OData Refresh in Project Online (Revisited)

When Project Online was first released, there was no mechanism to refresh Excel reports consuming OData feeds.  Users were encouraged to open the Excel reports and manually refresh the reports.  Macros were written.  Hair was pulled in frustration.

Somewhere after the release, Microsoft came up with a clever solution – which involved basically routing the Excel report to an Azure server, which then triggered the refresh and returned the data to the Excel report.  The instructions for configuring this were posted in Microsoft blog under a somewhat less than obvious title:

Somewhere after that was posted, the configuration became a site collection feature.  Hence, if you’re using Project Online right now, you need to activate this at the PWA site collection level.

To get there, go into site settings for the PWA main site, and select the option for Site Collection Features.


The one you’re looking for is entitled Project Web App Permission for Excel Web App Refresh.  Activate that and you should be good to go.


For more official architecture type stuff, take a look at this link:

Posted in BI, Project Online, Reporting | Leave a comment

The Difference Between Yammer Users and Project Server Users

I just realized what I was trying to say in that post last week:

  • Yammer users are selfish.  They want something out of the collaboration experience, i.e. to achieve their own goals.
  • Project Server users are selfless.  They just want to contribute data for the greater good of the organization.


Posted in Collaboration | Tagged | Leave a comment

Project Conference 2014 BI Linkfest

Thanks everyone for coming out to Mike McLean and my presentation on Business Intelligence in Project Server 2013.  Per some of the comments received, I wanted to provide a couple of links to blog posts supporting the demos we delivered:

  1. LINQPad and Office 365 (make sure to check the comments section)
  2. Major Milestones and OData
  3. Cumulative Milestone Report and OData
  4. Project Reporting in Power View Maps

…with additional blog posts forthcoming on Power View for SharePoint and SSIS against OData.

For those of you using on-premises versions of Project Server 2010 or 2013, I would encourage you to take a look at the following links for additional ideas, resources, and recordings of previous sessions with a different set of demos:

  1. SharePoint Conference 2012 BI Demo Links
  2. Project Conference 2012 BI Demo Links (Part 1)
  3. Project Conference 2012 BI Demo Links (Part 2)
  4. Project Conference 2012 BI Demo Links (Part 3)
Posted in BI, Project Desktop, Project Online, Reporting | 2 Comments

Required Reading for Project Server 2013 Administrators

I just wanted to draw your attention to Brian Smith’s posting over on the Microsoft Project Support Blog:

If you’re on Project Server 2013 or Project Online, please make sure to read this…and if you’re not following his blog, you should be.

Posted in Admin, Project Online | Leave a comment

Why Are We Talking Yammer at a Project Server Conference?

Man, that’s a great question.  I’m glad you asked.

Of course, there’s the technical reason.  Yammer is owned by Microsoft and falls under that same collaboration SharePoint umbrella Borg thing that Project Server also falls under.

Then there’re the organizational reasons….a couple of the folks from the Microsoft Project team that we all knew and, well, if not loved, at least generally enjoyed working with, jumped ship a year or two ago and moved over to the Yammer side of things.

And then there’s the fact that Yammer and Project Server really represent two sides of the same coin.  At the end of the day, the entire SharePointYammerProjectServerCollab story is really one of enabling teams, whether they be project teams, technical teams, management teams, or any other kind of team.  It’s a story of breaking down each individual’s personal identity and reforming it as part of a larger group with a common goal.  That larger group may be the project, the PMO, or the entire organization.  At some point, the membership and very identity of that group pivots around a central, common idea, or goal.

Yammer, to be specific, and collaboration tools in general, help groups determine their own path to achieve that goal.  It facilitates self-organization of the group to best achieve goals.  And that, by the way, is how you know you’re using Yammer correctly – if you’re using it (to paraphrase Michael Schrage) to create a shared experience and not to share experiences.  The latter means you’re just using Yammer as an internal corporate Facebook to share pictures from last quarter’s sales meeting.

Project Server, and project management tools, on the other hand are a much less tolerant of ambiguity.  Project Server is the X to Yammer’s Y.  Project Server is all about the metrics.  Project Server allows us to define our goal, and then to assess whether or not we’re going to achieve it.  Project Server brings the hard calculations missing in a pure collaborative space.

In a broader sense then, Project Server allows us to identify challenges in achieving our goals.  At the project level, that may mean finishing on schedule.  At the enterprise level, that may mean that we’re not focusing on the work we should be.  Either way, these metrics help quantify the challenges to achieving our shared goal.  These metrics create the shared problem space.  Collaborative tools help us develop solutions to these problems.  Both approaches are required to reach the finish line.

What’s interesting is the fundamental difference in approach from both tools.  Whereas Yammer assumes the existence of intrinsic motivation on behalf of the participants, as a more metrics driven tool, usage of Project Server is usually driven by extrinsic motivation.  It’s the difference between saying, “I want to work with this guy to achieve my goals,” and “I need to get my data in so the reports look right when they go to the boss.”

If you look at the work of the organization as occurring along a continuum, there is a certain structure that must be followed.  Within that structure, there’s a certain grey area that can be exploited to make the organization nimble and responsive.  This is a complementary arrangement that delineates the space in which Project Server and Yammer play.

Posted in Collaboration, PMO, SharePoint | Leave a comment