Project management is one of the core administrative functions in both service-based and product-based organizations. To respond to project management demands, Microsoft created MS Project. Since its inception, Microsoft Project has become the tool of choice for professionals around the world. With the introduction of Microsoft Office Project 2003, you have an even better solution for improving the project management function.

The new version includes these key features:

  • Document management with version control
  • Issues tracking and management
  • Project planning, scheduling, and monitoring
  • Project/resource modeling and analysis
  • Resource management for an entire enterprise
  • Risk management tools
  • Task viewing and time reporting through Outlook 2003
  • Time and status reporting

Now, let’s take a look at what you need to know to prepare for an installation.

Components for a Project 2003 implementation
To provide the full range of features offered by Project 2003, you will need to implement several technologies and applications.

Front-end applications
The front-end applications that you need for your implementation include:

  • Project Server 2003—Provides Web-based time and status reporting, Web-based project monitoring, centralized resource management, and project/portfolio modeling and analysis
  • Project Professional 2003—Provides project planning, scheduling, and resource assignment features for project managers
  • Project Web Access 2003—Allows resource managers and project end users to view and edit information appropriate to them
  • Outlook 2003—Allows users to view project tasks and submit time reports

Integrated/back-end technologies
The integrated/back-end technologies that you need for your implementation of Project 2003 include:

  • Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2003 Server—Project Server 2003 must be installed on either of these platforms.
  • SQL Server 2000 with Service Pack 3a—This technology provides a database infrastructure that can handle one project with 100 tasks to thousands of projects with hundreds of tasks for the Project 2003 platform.
  • SQL Server 2000 Analysis Server—This technology enables the portfolio monitoring and analysis within the Project 2003 platform.
  • Windows Share Point Services—This technology enables the issue tracking, risk management, and document management features in the Project 2003 platform. This comes free with Windows Server 2003.
  • Internet Information Services (IIS)—IIS is required because a Web service within Project Server, called the Project Data Service, runs on top of it.

Implementation scenario
The Project 2003 solution is designed to run in a multiserver environment for better performance, scalability, and availability. At a minimum, Microsoft recommends having at least two servers. The first server should include the following components:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • IIS 6.0 (enabled)
  • Windows Share Point Services
  • Project Server 2003

The second server should include the following components:

  • Windows 2000 Server (at minimum)
  • SQL Server 2000 with Service Pack 3a
  • SQL Server Analysis Server (optional)

A server running in a larger environment should include at least a 550-MHz, Pentium III processor with 256 MB of RAM and a 4-GB hard drive. For best performance, I would double the specifications for both the processor and RAM and get at least a 20-GB hard drive.

For those environments with smaller needs, a single server with all the aforementioned components installed will work. A single Pentium 4 server with dual processors and 1 GB of RAM should service more than 100 users easily at one time. If your needs are smaller than this, you can certainly look at reducing the hardware baseline.

For all installations, you will want to refer to the Project Server 2003 Installation Guide for detailed instructions. There are many tasks involved, so don’t be surprised if it takes you a day or more to get everything configured, even a test environment. If you’re implementing anything beyond a single-server configuration, you’ll also want to review the Project Server 2003 Configuration Planning Guide.

Licensing issues
Since the Project 2003 solution involves several Microsoft technologies, you should have a thorough understanding of the impact licensing will have on your implementation. The following provides an overview of client licensing parameters for each product, but be sure to check the Microsoft product pages for special situations.

  • Project Server 2003—Anyone accessing Project Server 2003 needs a client access license (CAL). Project Standard or Professional 2003 comes with a CAL, so a user with these programs installed can view and edit information by default. For non-Project users who need to just view information on Project Server 2003, you can purchase CALs individually. By default, Project Server 2003 comes with five CALs.
  • IIS 6.0 on Windows Server 2003—An unlimited number of IIS CALs is included with Windows Server 2003.
  • SQL Server 2000—A CAL is needed for any access to the Project Server 2003 database in SQL Server 2000. You can purchase user or device CALs; however, you can save money if you purchase them in situations where you have multiple people using the same computer. SQL Server 2000 comes with five CALs.
  • Windows Share Point Services—Although the service is free in Windows Server 2003, it still requires a CAL for each connected user. Windows Share Point Services also comes with five CALs.

Pricing issues
The cost to implement Project Server 2003 can become hefty for small organizations, which typically need to start from scratch. Here’s a quick breakdown of the costs:

  • Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition costs $999. This includes five CALs, which are not necessarily used in your Project 2003 implementation.
  • SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition costs $1,489. This includes five CALs (user or device). You can also purchase a Processor license that does not require any use or device CALs. The price is $4,999 per processor.
  • Project Server 2003 costs $1,499. This includes five CALs.
  • Project Professional 2003 costs $999, but the upgrade is only $599.

Another factor to consider is the cost of implementation and maintenance. However, if the project is big enough in scope, then these initial cost hurdles should be easy to justify based on what you can do with this powerful software. My next five articles will delve further into many of Project 2003’s new features.