May 17th, 2013On our blog related to Microsoft Project Server 2013 we just added new post about deploying Project Server 2013 on Microsoft Azure infrastructure.
You can find it here: Project Server 2013 on Windows Azure deployment
Try it - it is fun and quite easy.
May 16th, 2013
I am very excited about how my map of The Project World turned out! It combines my love for map making and storytelling. It contains many of the things I talked about the past 5 years about the different stuff you do in projects.
“What amazes me about these early globes is that people built a coherent representation of the world as a sphere even though they were missing part of it. They sewed together the edges of what they knew to be so as to make it into the shape they knew it had to take. This is a perfect analogue to sensemaking: we take what we know and form it into something that represents what must be.” – Cynthia Kurz
I am releasing the map as 16 individual cards you can collect over at ProjectManagement.com.
There are already 6 cards posted with a short description of the story behind them.
A Map of the Project World. Ah. Finally It All Makes Sense. To Me. is a post by Bas de Baar. Read more about Shrinkonia.
May 14th, 2013
May 13th, 2013
We have had support calls from clients where they wish to "resurrect" the implementation, that was done a year or two again. Just to come on-site to find out someone has formatted the server and re-allocated it to another application ! Which I'm sure it's normal IT practice but, no one new about it for about a year that the server is off. Only when a new person started in the PMO he wanted to use a tool, but the tool was not there.
I have a done a bit of research on why Project Server Implementations fails and have spoken to may people that i work with on what caused things to go south. I will try to highlight them below in a manner that makes sense to all.
- Scoping of the Project not done properly, when requirement workshops starts everybody is amazed at how much work is actually involved
- Buy in from Senior Stakeholders is a key success factor for a successful deployment. How do you drive the adoption of a new tool from the bottom up?? That will simply not work. I have dealt with clients where executives had come to a point, after numerous change management processes, training, begging and pleading, came to a point where the users KPA's and KPI's are influenced by participation of the system. Unfortunate, but a reality. But today 8 years on Project Server works like a dream in the same said organization, having upgraded from 2003 to 2007 and then to 2010.
- Buy in from "the rest of the community" In some cases too little focus is on the general community and too much focus on executives and Senior Personnel. By not letting them know the benefits and how it can make their work better, you actually just aggravates them. I have had Project Managers tell me that this new system will not be used and that they will use "Offline" scheduling to plan and track their projects, as they feel the "Visibility" makes them vulnerable.
- Change Management - So many organisations thinks by telling resources to use a new system is classified as change management. User training is NOT the only aspect of change management. In some cases management seem to think that change is driven from the bottom up and not from the Top downwards. This tool as with any other Enterprise tool requires an amount of change management.
- Thinking the Tool will define a process. The tool is supposed to support a properly defined process, not the other way around. If there is no governance or processes in place, many clients think this tool will now "Make it all better"
- Overestimating Maturity. Many organisations when asked the question "On a scale of 1-5, how mature are you. The general response is: "We are at least a 4!" In 95% of these cases a 2 on that same scale is an overkill. Once you are a in workshop and you start asking about base-lining procedures and the response is "We don't set baselines on schedules" but they are still trying to manage things like "Planned vs. Actual" and in some or other way try to actually report against that!!
- Over complication of the Configured Solution. Many clients wants to have a solution that is so complex and can do so many things that the basics are forgotten about. Having a large complex solution that no one understands just adds to the end user frustration.
- People overestimating the Project Professional skills. So many people think they know Microsoft Project, having worked in a stand alone environment for years. Once a Project Server is installed that picture changes significantly. There are added complexities, and a heap of new functions to use.
- Customers don't follow advice. Most reputable implementation partners have done this for a number of years and all of them have "War Stories" to tell. Clients take that lightly and does not listen to advise or suggestions given. We have a very good idea of what will and what wont work!! Trust us.
- Cutting Training. Allot of clients think by cutting training from the deployment they will save time and money, when in fact what happens is is costs more and the learning and adoption curve is so much longer. In my humble opinion this is one of the most dangerous things to do. And i am sure some implementation partners will hang me for saying, that some Partners Allow clients to cut training so that they still get the business.
- Infrastructure cost and or complexity. Allot of the smaller clients tend to underestimate the complexity of n proper designed Infrastructure. Most of them do not want nor understand the need of a Development environment.
May 13th, 2013
The process of upgrading from Project Server 2010 to Project Server 2013, or migrating between environments can be quite complex, requiring a number of steps to be completed in the correct order. In this post, I am going to document some of the common and uncommon errors that you may run into. I also intend to update this post as I uncover more.
Unmounted Project Service Database
Unlike SharePoint Content databases, Project Service databases need to be mounted before you can run a Test against them. If you do not mount them, you will see the following error.
Test-SPProjectDatabase : Could not find the ProjectDatabase instance (looking for database name: ‘ProjectWebApp’, service name: ‘demo2013’)
To rectify this issue, make sure you mount the Project Database prior using
Mount-SPProjectDatabase –Name <ProjectServiceDatabaseName> –WebApplication <WebApplicationURL>
ConvertTo-SPProjectDatabase returns a ‘There are no addresses available for this application’ error.
The ConvertTo-SPProjectDatabase is used during an upgrade to convert the four Project Server 2010 databases (Draft, Published, Archive and Reporting) into one consolidated Project Service database with the different schemas.
You will see the ‘There are no addresses available for this application’ error if you try and run this command and the Project Service App is not started. To rectify this, navigate to Central Administration and ensure the Project Service App is started and recycle the box, then try again.
Compilation Error – Microsoft.Office.Project.PWA.IDS does not contain a definition for ‘Licence_Copyright_Text’
You may run across this error message when navigating to a PWA instance that originated in Project Server 2010.
This error occurs when a 2010 PWA site has been mounted but the PWA site wasn’t upgraded using the following command:
Upgrade-SPSite -Identity <PWA URL> -VersionUpgrade
The PWA Settings option is missing from the Site Settings Menu
In Project Server 2013, the Server Settings menu item has been replaced by a PWA Settings option on the Site Settings menu. When performing an upgrade from Project Server 2010, this menu option is not automatically added when using the DB Attach method via PowerShell.
In the screenshot below you can see that the upgrade has been completed successfully, but the PWA Settings option is missing.
To fix this error, ensure you enter the following PowerShell command:
Enable-SPFeature –Identity pwasite –URL <URL of PWA site>
This will enable the pwasite feature which provides the PWA Setting menu link.
Filed under: IT Professional, Project 2010, Project 2013, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 Tagged: Common Errors, Migration, Project Server 2010, Project Server 2013, Upgrade
May 13th, 2013
“What happens when so-called experts on transitions are facing major life transitions themselves? It may not be what you expect. Bas founded an imaginary country. Lori turned her home into public space.”
That’s the intro to our new book “A Travel Guide for Transitions: Because freaking out about this by myself totally sucks“. It’s a book about savoring transitions written by Lori Kane and me.
It will be available in June on a Kindle near you
And we have a book trailer!
(Click here if you don’t see the video above)
If you can’t wait, please check out the book we published last year: “Different Work: Moving from I Should to I Love My Work“. This e-book is a collection of stories from people who deeply love their work (most days). People who are working beyond their own “I Shoulds” and who are changing what work looks and feels like for themselves and their families, organizations, and communities.
We Haz Book Trailer! A Travel Guide for Transitions. is a post by Bas de Baar. Read more about Shrinkonia.
May 13th, 2013
Recently I was introduced to a highly peculiar but amazing presentation format called PechaKucha. Like many cool things, it started in Japan. The PechaKucha presentation format is this:
- Exactly 20 slides
- Exactly 20 seconds per presentation (slide transitions are on a timer, so no backing up, taking questions or starting over!)
- Mostly graphic content on each slide
You can see PechaKucha (also called “20x20”) described here, as well as run PechaKucha presentations.
As someone who is frequently on both sides of the podium (either in the audience, or giving a presentation) I immediately saw the appeal of PechaKucha. It forces the speaker to be brutal in their content selection and scoping, and to work out in advance their spoken-word narrative that will accompany the slides. Any and all PechaKucha presentations run just under seven minutes in duration (20 slides times 20 seconds per slide equals 400 seconds, or six and two-thirds minutes).
As an audience member, how many presentations have you sat through that you wish could have been limited to six and two-thirds minutes? As a presenter, have you ever worked with a format that forces you to get to the point and stay on message? Well here you go.
When I first discovered PechaKucha, I had two thoughts relating to project management. The first was this: Use the format for project status reports to cover the essentials, then spend minutes seven through N drilling into whatever details are of interest to the audience.
More broadly PechaKucha embodies in the presentation domain some issues that we so often struggle to define in our project plans. I’m referring to scope management and working within the given constraint(s). In the case of PechaKucha, the presenter must scope their spoken narrative to align with the 20-second duration per slide, for 20 slides. Both the duration and number of allowable slides are hard constraints on the presentation; the presenter adds their value by working within those constraints to maximum effect.
In project management, I find great value in building my plans and running the related conversations with reference to the Project Triangle of Triple-Constraints. I’ve described the Triangle previously (see these posts, for example). Being able to identify, quantify and articulate the constraints under which a project must be executed are essential skills of the project manager.
Hands-on with Project Step by Step
To read more about this blog entry's subjects in the two most recent editions of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books, see the following cross-references.
The Project Triangle model
- Project 2013 Step by Step: "A Short Course in Project Management," pg. 505
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "A Short Course in Project Management," pg. 431
May 10th, 2013
In Texas and looking for great content and an opportunity to interact with the largest Microsoft PPM partner in North America? Look no further than the PMI Houston blowout where UMT will be the Project Server torchbearer.
We’re planning on bringing our best topics to the table, with a special emphasis on what’s next in industry-recognized project financial governance. Attend any of our presentations to learn how to architect project portfolio management structures with the global leader in the field.
We don’t just think enterprise project management, we live it.
Filed under: Self Referential
May 9th, 2013
In that last post, I talked briefly about how to perform a functional analysis as a prelude to integrating agile project methodologies into a mixed PPM environment. In this post, I’d like take a closer look at some of the functions and identify examples of where their processes would have to be tailored to interface with an agile governance methodology.
Schedule and Financial Controls
Clearly, one of the first steps in integrating agile project management is flagging your agile projects and ensure they are excluded from many of your current reports. You’ll do this because if you’re tracking stage gate compliance on your other projects, you’ll need to identify a mechanism to exempt these agile projects from that structure – and then develop another report that meets organizational needs to track schedule progress on agile projects. This, in turn, may confuse your report readers who now need to look at multiple report types to understand the different project types.
One potential solution to this would be to roll your reporting up a level. Instead of creating different executive reports for each project methodology, identify what question you’re really asking and whether or not a common report could encompass both methodologies. Often the solution is to aggregate the reporting up a level.
In IT, aggregating your reporting might typically mean reporting not at the project level, but at the application level. For example, I may have multiple projects supporting a specific application. I could then track an aggregated budget for project work that supports an application at the application level to show cost overruns. When I drill into that, I can go to the project level – which would then be tailored by methodology.
Chances are that if you’re the kind of organization that worries about PPM processes, you’re probably tracking resource allocation. I won’t go to far on this topic as I discussed it last week in The Increasingly Misnamed Project Server…..but suffice it to say that your standard resource management tool may not be suited to managing agile projects.
In this case, rather than shoehorning the agile methodology into a tool not suited for it, consider using something more appropriate, provided that the task and work tracking mechanism feeds into your centralized resource management tool. In this case, when paired with TFS for task management, something like Project Server simply serves as a work aggregation tool, and not a work tracking tool. Taking it one step further, the agile delivery can be managed in Excel, then passed via TFS back into the centralized Project Server resource capacity.
Those are but some of the functions that would need to be considered when integrating agile project management into a PPM portfolio. The list goes on and on.
Finally, let’s finish this post where we started…back at the macro level. We’ve now knit a new methodology into our PPM processes. What’s the inevitable end result of this? Well, a more agile planning process. The inevitable result of PPM maturity and functional maturity is to get more granular in the planning process. What you’ll find is that your portfolio of work will increasingly look like an agile project writ large, with a backlog of work and a predicted burndown. Each quarter, work items will be swapped out and reprioritized.
Why is that? Take a look at this presentation from Mike Cottmeyer for his take. If I interpret his slides correctly, once we get to the point of mature PPM, we can estimate our available resource capacity well enough that we can begin to apply a kanban system to our portfolio, i.e. we only allow work into the pipeline when we know we have enough capacity. The corollary to that is that we start to chunk out our work into smaller chunks in order to generate the value possible using the available resources at the time.
As the PPM process becomes more nimble, the operational cost of planning goes down. And as the operational cost of planning goes down, the relative value of the PPM process overall goes up.
Filed under: Portfolio Management, TFS
May 7th, 2013
A short blog post to highlight a workaround to a recent issue we experienced on a Project Server 2010 deployment. When trying to set the PerformancePoint unattended account we received an error:
The account credentials for the Unattended Service Account are not valid. Verify the domain user name and password are correct and that the account is located in a Trusted Domain
We experienced the same error via the UI in Central Admin and via PowerShell. The fix / workaround was quite simple in the end. This particular client had the HP ProtectTools enabled, this blocks any passwords being sent as plain text. We added an <SE>\ tag as shown below in the password string:
Set-SPPerformancePointSecureDataValues -ServiceApplication "PerformancePoint Service Application" -DataSourceUnattendedServiceAccount (New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential "domain\user", (ConvertTo-SecureString "<SE>\password" -AsPlainText -Force))
With this tag in place the HP ProtectTools ignored that fact that the password was plain text and the unattended account was set successfully. This workaround only works when setting the unattended account using the example PowerShell script above. It doesn’t work in the UI.
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