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Growing a Project Management Culture with Project Server & Team Foundation Server

2014 February 2

As many of you know I just recently had a baby girl.  With this bundle of joy, I not only get little to no sleep, but every day it is a new adventure.  Oh the highs and lows of parenthood.  One thing that I am thrilled about is the fact that each day she is learning new things and whether she wants to or not, she is in a constant flux of learning and changing.  Watching her start to see, visualize her curiosity and comprehend that an object is something that she can grasp, then grabbing (and of course putting them right in her mouth), is quite comical.

So how does this have anything to do with Project Management, Project Server or Team Foundation Server you might ask?  Well it struck me, as I was putting Rachel into her car seat for the first time, that not every new experience, tool, safety device or contraption she is coming across is met with excitement or eager anticipation.

In fact we as human being tend to not like change.  The mere fact that a new technology is available (like Project, Project Server or Project Online) may provide great benefit, but in an organizations culture, it may be met with resistance and hostility.

I snapped this picture after putting my daughter into her car seat.  She definitely was not sure about what was going on and what her “Senior Management” was making her do…

Rachel Runcie

Rachel Runcie

You see, I think that no matter how good a tool is, our organizational culture needs to be taken into account.

One area of excitement for me is the fact that most development teams or developers utilize Visual Studio and may be leveraging Team Foundation Server to manage multiple people working on code, code modules, checking in and out code (like a SharePoint library version control) and updating the tasks, assignments, agile iterations, sprints and other related information around this work right in the tool.

Team Foundation Server is very important to large development teams and when a Project Manager comes in and says, “OK”, I need to get an update in my project schedule, there are in many cases huge disconnects between the granular level of detail being tracked by the technical or development teams and the rollup and resources/demand planning needs of the Project Manager.

So how do you support your growing PM culture, but not necessarily thrust another new technology at them?  Well Project Server 2013 and MS Project 2013 (Project Pro Online as well), have a connector that allows you to push down tasks at a high level into Team Foundation Server (TFS) and to receive updates (granularly or rolled up to MS Project Tasks), without the need for developers to only work in project.  Essentially by allowing developer to stay and work in the tools they know and are comfortable with, you can still pull rollup data based on tasks and work into Project, and manage a schedule without forcing change onto your technical team.

Of course there is also great value in planning in project and then pushing tasks down into TFS to be broken into more modular, iterative and very detailed activities, all of which can be assigned to the dev team, while returning updates back to MS Project still at a high level.  You can see this in the picture below, where I pushed tasks from Project directly into TFS.

In the next screenshot, when you turn on the connector, Project adds a Team Tab to the ribbon with key tasks you can sync, link and review information from Team Foundation Tasks.

Team Ribbon

Team Ribbon

I always am working with Projects with various levels of details, in this next screenshot, is an example where I have created a high level Project schedule and am looking at having my technical team breakout the details in TFS, but only have their progress, status updates and hours roll back to a higher level of detail.

Project Schedule

Project Schedule

Now the developers and build out subtasks or details.  So no uber detailed schedules for a PM to manage and no Development team members having to translate granular activities into a high level waterfall schedule.  The connector between these 2 technologies helps to maximize the ROI of both tools.

Water Fall Schedule

Water Fall Schedule

So instead of getting the cultural resistance or it taking a long time to get actual updates, if you are using Project Server (on-premise), Project Professional and your technical or development teams are using Team Foundation Server (TFS), you have a golden opportunity to help grow your PM culture by allowing the tools to work together.

The best thing about this, is that it is FREE.  Yes FREE.  Meaning that if you already have a paid version of TFS/Visual Studio and Project/Project Server, you can integrate these two without any additional software cost.

I encourage the PM’s and PMO managers out there to think about their organizations culture and if possible leverage this to help you.

Especially if you are working in an agile environment.  By the way, if you are, here is a link to a Webinar I did showing how to use leverage Agile Methodology with MS Project and Project Online.

Not every developer looks at new technology with amazement, excitement or wonderment.  My daughter may have my genes and love for technology someday, but she definitely doesn’t always endorse or support new concepts or contraptions.

I urge you to check out the TFS connector.  To help you, here are some links and helpful information.

I look forward to hearing from you about your experience with these tools.

If you are coming to the Project Conference, come see my talk on TFS and Project Server.  If you missed the conference, there will be recordings out there.  Feel free to reach out to anyone here at Advisicon to get you plugged in.

Happy PM’ing and growing your Project Management Culture.

Warm regards,

~Tim Runcie, MVP, MCTS, MCP, PMP

the_author

Tim Runcie is the President and Founder of Advisicon, a Project Management consulting company with a global headquarters based in Vancouver, Washington. Advisicon specializes in training for project management best practices and the use of Microsoft’s project management tools like Microsoft Project, Project Server, and SharePoint.