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Learn About Microsoft Project Server

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/2/2010

Microsoft Project Server is an Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solution that stores project data in a central location, provides and manages user access to that data, and generates management reports. Organizations use it to manage and collaborate in all types of projects.

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    What is Microsoft Project Server?

    Through a centralized interface, Microsoft Office Project Server provides EPM services that help control and allocate resources, manage tasks and time usage, collaborate on programs and projects, provide intelligent reporting, administer EPM policies and strategies, store project materials, manage budgets and costs, and integrate other system resources. Microsoft Project Server also provides a framework for resource allocation and forecasting and the evaluation of project quality based on a variety of metrics.

    Microsoft Project Server accomplishes EPM using three primary components: Project Web Access, Microsoft Project Professional, and the Project Server itself.

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    Project Web Access

    The Project Web Access (PWA) component of Project Server is the centralized browser-based interface to the entire range of management and collaboration capabilities available in Project Server. Through its Project Center, the status of all programs, portfolios, and projects can be reviewed. It displays project schedules and statuses, displays the progress of projects vs. project plans, shows what actions are currently in process, and compares the project cost and earned value against budgets.

    The Resource Center in PWA provides a way to manage workload and resource allocation across the enterprise. It shows what’s going on with resources at present, but also reveals resource trends and forecasts. This interface facilitates collaboration between project managers and other managers in the company to make sure resources on hand are being utilized efficiently and that future resources will be available when needed.

    Data analysis and reporting is also provided through PWA that supplies management with pivot charts, data cubes, and other graphical representations of the organization’s performance.

    Proposed projects and activities are managed in PWA, allowing users to collaborate on new ideas and possible projects before they come on line as a scheduled project. Also, many aspects of the server are administered through PWA’s server settings page. In short, PWA is the primary interface for Microsoft Project Server.

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    Microsoft Office Project Professional

    While the browser-based PWA is the primary user interface for Project Server, Microsoft Office Project Professional is installed locally for use by administrators, portfolio managers, and project managers. This interface with Project Server is used to create and update project schedules, build task lists, assign initial resources, and create baseline schedules. Visual reporting and cube charts are also available to project managers through this interface. Administrators use the Project Professional interface if they need to build a calendar, build a formula, enter rate schedules, and perform a few other miscellaneous tasks.

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    Project Server Components

    The underlying architecture of Project Server is configured by mapping a company’s business methods into the system. This section of Project Server integrates with SharePoint Server, SQL Server, and other enterprise resources to utilize all available data sources. Also, developers can use .NET to create customized applications that input data directly into the server architecture. The extent to which a company’s business practices are defined will determine how well Project Server is programmed on the back-end and will have a lot to do with its overall effectiveness.

    The security model for Project Server is also configured at the architecture level as well as database creation and maintenance. Administrators here also create calendars and custom fields, enterprise resources and time management methods.

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    Caution on implementation

    As you can tell from this introduction, Microsoft Project Server is replete with functionality that is scalable to any enterprise. Therefore, a thorough review of your existing business model, and enterprise project management plan is warranted prior to initiating an orderly and efficient implementation of Microsoft Project Server.