The quiet removal of My Tasks

One of the big things to happen in Office 365 whilst I was ‘offline’ was a quiet announcement about the removal of the My Tasks capability on your My Site. In case you hadn’t seen it, the My Tasks capability rolls up all tasks that have been assigned to you across SharePoint sites into a single view in your My Site.  I’ve posted on it a few times before with the work management tag and it’s a great capability. What makes it even more powerful from the end users points of view is when you can link it up with Outlook and get all the tasks rolling through into OWA or your mobile device.

Back in September, MS quietly posted a support article announcing that the feature would be deprecated over at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2998445/en-us .

The support article highlights that the Tasks link has been removed from the About Me section of the User Profile page, but can be reinstated easily if you want it back. The support article goes onto state that the capability will remain there for a year before it is removed and considered unsupported.

The article goes onto mention that the Sync with Outlook option is also being removed in the future, but doesn’t make it clear if this is just for the My Site capability or for the whole of SharePoint Online.

‘If you’re currently syncing a SharePoint tasks list to Microsoft Outlook, tasks will continue to sync for approximately one year following this announcement. The personal Tasks page will also continue to be available for one year. After that time, this functionality will be removed and will no longer be available or supported.’

If your using SharePoint 2013 on premises, then none of this matters for now as neither of these changes impact on premises SharePoint farms. If your an Office 356 user, I would be wary of building solutions leveraging this capability in the short term and be on the lookout for inevitable replacement and migration plan in the coming months.

Project Online Improvements

Running an online service is a massive undertaking, especially when you consider something of the size of Office 365. Not only do you need to keep adding new capabilities to the service, but you need to balance this with maintaining the lowest possible Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and ensuring the service is efficient and performant.

The Project engineering team have been hard at work over the last few months performance changes across the service including the Project Center, Creating and Publishing a project, Submitting a timesheet as well as general tweaks etc. over all the tiers of the service. I’m sure we’ll see some of the benefits of this  when the next on premises edition of Project Server comes out and we dig around Winking smile

The Project team posted over at blogs.office.com about these changes and a few more including increased limits for the number of projects in a PWA site (5000 up from 2000) and the number of PWA instances available to be added to a Project Online tenant (7 up from 3).

Service Resumed

Service Resumed

Wow… I didn’t realise that I hadn’t posted for so long. Things have been a little crazy in my day job over the past few months with me moving into a new role but I’ve been keeping my finger on the Project pulse and have some great posts coming up in the next few months.

PS. For those not sure of the picture, it’s a service card that used to be shown on UK TV when the service was down..

Project Lite now available

Project Online has been available for a little over a year now, the first real SaaS version of Project Server operated by Microsoft and available in Office 365. The online service provides all the capabilities of Project Server you would expect, the centralised view of Projects, Resource Management, Task & Timesheet management, Portfolio Analysis and Prioritisation, Reporting and powerful collaboration for a monthly per user fee. Is some cases, organisations don’t need access to all this functionality for all users, specifically team members only really need access to the Task & Timesheet functionality, collaboration sites and the ability to see their project schedules.

Well, Microsoft listened and as announced at the Project Conference in February, have introduced Project Lite, a lighter version of Project Online aimed for just those kind of users which is available as of today (1st May).

image

 

You can read more about Project Lite over on the official Office blog or here.

Quick Start Guides for Project Server & Project Online

I’m a little late to the party with this, but Microsoft have released a number of excellent Quick Start Guides taking users through key concepts in Project Server and Project Online which I thought I would share with the readers of this blog.

Project Quick Start Guides

The quick start guides cover a number of topics and can be obtained from the links below:

Get started with Project Online

Create Projects in Project Online

Track Work with Project Online

Create projects in Project Web App

Track work in Project Web App

App Review–Fluent Pro’s EPM Pulse for Project Online

EPMPulse LogoAt the Project Conference, Microsoft announced some improvements to the reporting capability of Project Online through the introduction of support for SSIS. However, there is a solution available now that will enable you to create powerful dashboards in Project Online from the guys at Fluent Pro called EPM Pulse for Project Online which you can get going in minutes which is available now in the SharePoint app store.

Example Dashboard

Once installed, EPM Pulse will provision an instance within Fluent Pro’s infrastructure that will be used to render your dashboards, which can take a few moments the first time you install. The EPM Pulse instance reaches into your Project Online tenant  and pulls out the relevant data to render the reports.

EPM Pulse Dashboard Provisioning

The app allows you to create multiple dashboards which can be shared or private and cover different timeframes and projects.

EPM Pulse Dashboards

EPM Pulse allows you to choose from a selection of predefined widgets covering Analytics, Financial, Portfolio, Resources, Risks and Issues & Workflow which you can place on your dashboard and move around using full drag and drop. Each widget is added to the dashboard and is automatically configured to pull in the relevant data, but can be further refined to change the title to something more meaningful for your organisation and the look and feel.

Available Widgets

The authors have done a fantastic job of abstracting away the complexity of configuration, whilst still giving the user a huge range of configuration options to make sure the dashboards show the information your organisation needs. Of course it doesn’t end there, dashboards can also be exported to PDF / PNG, viewed in Full Page mode and also shared with other parties.

Fluent Pro’s EPM Pulse is licenced under a subscription with monthly subscription options for users that design dashboards and users that consume the data within them and can be downloaded from the SharePoint App Store.

App Review–UMT 360 Workflow Visualization

One of the most common add-ons to Project Server 2010 environments was the workflow visualization solution starter that provided a graphical overview of where a project was in it’s demand management workflow. In 2013 and Project Online, Microsoft introduced an out of the box workflow visualisation component, which is pretty good at showing the stage transitions, but can be limited if you have more complex processes you want to visualize.

Enter UMT 360 with their Workflow Visualization app, available in the SharePoint app store. UMT 360 takes the excellent visualization component from UMT 360 for PPM product and have spun it up as a stand alone SharePoint app.

When first opened, the app will display all workflows currently configured within your PWA instance and lets you choose which workflow you wish to set the visualization up for.

UMT360 Workflow Visualization - Choose Workflow

Once the workflow has been selected, the app will call into the workflow and pull out the various stages and branches and render a graphics automatically for the workflow. In my simple workflow, I have three simple sequential stages which the app picked up easily.

Automaticall rendered graphic

You can choose to further customise the themes of the visualization or choose to upload your own graphics that will be substituted.

Choose a rendering theme

Once you’ve configured the app, all that’s needed is to add the app part to your workflow overview project detail page via the Edit Page > Add a Web Part.

Add the webpart

Then to see the visualization, open up a Project where the EPT is using the workflow you chose at the beginning and voila.

The final visualization

On the whole the UMT 360 Visualization app is pretty solid, as I was preparing this review there were a few times when the app took longer than expected to render, but that could either be my Project Online tenant, or something that the UMT guys can easily address with an update or a simple progress cue.

The UMT 360 Visualization app is available from download in the SharePoint app store, you can sign up for a free time limited trial, or subscribe to the app for the low price of $1.99 per month.