Two of the most exciting enterprise-level features added with the release of Microsoft Project Server 2002 and Microsoft Project Professional 2002 are Enterprise Global and the Enterprise Resource Pool. The organizational benefit of these two features, which improve on features in previous versions, cannot be overestimated. It was once very difficult to provide usable standard views and tools and very time-consuming to track use of organizationally pooled resources, but this capability is now part of the product. PMO organizations now have effective tools for ensuring standards for viewing and working with data and for the use of resources in enterprise project management. Here’s a look at how Project Server 2002 and Project Pro 2002 work together to support Enterprise Global and Enterprise Resource Pool.
The solution, part 1: The Enterprise Global
Project Server/Project Pro fixes issues in Project 98 and 2000 with sharing resources and the Global.mpt file by building enterprise features right into the Server product. The Enterprise Global is essentially a semi-hidden project in the Project Server database that contains the views, toolbars, filters, and macros that the administrator wishes to make available to every Project user across the organization.
Every Project 2002 Pro user still has a Global.mpt file on the local machine that acts the same way it did in Project 2000. The file still stores the customizations that a user makes to the application and any macros or custom views. However, when Project 2002 Pro is opened—in addition to opening the Global.mpt file on the local machine—it connects to the Project Server database and gets the items stored in the Enterprise Global project and makes them available as well.
In this way, individual users can still save their customizations and preferences, and the organization can make sure all users have the same views and other items available. More importantly, users can easily keep these items up to date because every time that Project 2002 Pro is opened, the Enterprise Global is checked for the most current version of the items in the file.
For an example of how this saves time and effort, let’s examine how an organization might distribute a new version of a VBA macro to 200 project managers. In an organization using Project 2000, it would require e-mailing an mpp file that contained the new code and a “distribution” macro that would insert the code into the users’ Global.mpt file. Each of the 200 users would need to run this mpp file on their machines. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be up to date.
There are several similar ways to distribute the new code but each comes with serious drawbacks and most are time-consuming and hard to verify. Using Project Server and Project 2002 Pro, this whole process is reduced to the administrator opening the Enterprise Global file, deleting the old version of the macro, replacing it with the new version, saving the file, and closing it. From that point on, all 200 project managers will have the new macro the next time they open Project 2002. This process also caches the enterprise elements so that if the project managers go offline, they can still have access to the last set of cached elements from the Enterprise Global.
The solution, part 2: The Enterprise Resource Pool
As with resource pools from Project 2000, Project Server has a project in the database that contains all the “enterprise” resources, but that is where most of the similarity stops. This new architecture doesn’t require projects to open the whole pool every time they open. A project manager adds resources to a project from the Enterprise Pool using the Team Builder dialog. Figure A shows this dialog as it is used to add two resources from the Enterprise Resource Pool to a new project.
This project now essentially contains linked copies of these resources (Aidan Delaney and A. Francesca Leonetti). Each time the project is opened, Project 2002 Pro updates the linked copy it holds with the most up-to-date information about the resource from the Enterprise Pool. Every time the project is saved, the updated information about how much work has been assigned is updated in the database and linked to the Enterprise Pool.
The whole process is deceptively simple. There is a connection between the individual projects and the Enterprise Pool but it’s not a constant link in which both projects have to be open at the same time. It’s a dynamic update that occurs only when the project is opened and closed. This makes the transfer of data very fast, particularly when compared to the way resource pooling was done in Project 2000. Having more than 100 enterprise resources assigned to a project adds only about five seconds to the opening time. This time is not dependent on the number of other projects the resources are assigned to as it was with the old pooling scheme.
A similar project using resource pooling in Project 2000 would have taken at least several minutes to open and it was not uncommon to see resource-pooled projects in Project 2000 take more than five to 10 minutes to open.