Building advanced Project Server workflows with Nintex Workflow for Project Server

Over the past week or two, Microsoft have been quietly uploading all the sessions from the recent Project Conference held in Phoenix to the Project channel on Microsoft Showcase. This morning the Project team officially announced the availability, so I am pleased to announce that the video of Mark McDermott’s and my session is now available for your viewing pleasure. I encourage you to watch it and let me know if you have any questions.

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Finally, the session deck, including notes is available for download at slideshare.net.

Project Conference Session Wrap Up

Today Mark McDermott and myself presented our session on Building advanced Project Server workflows with Nintex Workflow for Project Server. The session covered three main areas where organisations can leverage Nintex workflow within their Project Server environments.

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Demand Management – During the session we looked at some of the more advanced scenarios for building demand management workflows, leveraging some of the Nintex out of the box actions such as state machines and flexi tasks. We also looked at using some of the new V2 features including the Query Project Data action that allows the workflow to query the PSI directly from within the workflow.

Event Driven – We introduced the new capability of Event Driven workflows allowing you to attach a Nintex workflow to a Project Server Server Side Event providing a huge array of new integration and extensibility options for your Project Server farm.

Project workspaces -Finally, we showed how workflow could be provided in project workspaces to support a project team with a number of activities including approvals, routing and custom notifications. We also showed how easily workflows could be extended to integrate with cloud based services such as Office 365.

Try it yourself

We wanted to make sure that you could try everything that we showed in the session yourself, so spent some time building up three detailed ‘how to’ guides each covering a different area. Links to these guides as well as further information on Nintex Workflow, Nintex Workflow for Project Server 2010 and how to obtain trial copies are available from http://bit.ly/pc332.

Building advanced Project Server workflows with Nintex Workflow for Project Server

Last week I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Dux Raymond Sy about my upcoming session at the Microsoft Project Conference which I will be presenting with Mark McDermott of Nintex. Mark and I have been busy putting the final touches to the presentation and demonstrations and have a really great session planned.

Our session is on Thursday 22nd March at 10:30am in room North 222 C. If can’t make it, or even if you can, make sure you follow the twitter hash tags #pc332 and #mspc12 to keep up with the action.

Less than a month until the Project Conference..

imageIt’s been a little quiet on the blog for the last couple of weeks, the reason is that I am head down preparing for my session at the upcoming Project Conference in Phoenix. I am presenting with the Vice President of Sales for Nintex, Mark McDermott on Building Advanced Project Server Workflows with Nintex Workflow for Project Server.

The session will go take you through some of the more advanced concepts with Nintex Workflow and how they can be related in your project server workflows, we will also be touching on some of the new components of version 2.0 of the product and how you can leverage them in your Project Server installation to improve project governance, delivery and accountability. 

For those of you that haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for? There are over 90 sessions being delivered from a mix of partners, mvp’s, customers and the product team.  Registration is still open and available on the site.

If you are coming, our session is on Wednesday 21st, at 5:15pm, the last session before the party, so what better way to start your night at the Arizona Science Center than an hour of workflow immediately prior? Smile 

If you’re not coming, keep an eye on twitter for the hash tags #mspc12 and our session #PC332 for more links to great information.

Are you going to the Project Conference?

I'm speaking at Project Conference 2012In case you have been living under a rock, you may have missed some of the blog posts and buzz that is starting to build about the forthcoming Microsoft Project Conference, being held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on the 19th through to the 22nd March 2012.

The full conference agenda has not been published yet, but at a high level covers:

  • 15 customer-led sessions (representing 6 verticals) where customers share personal success stories using Microsoft Project and Portfolio
    Management (PPM).
  • Project desktop best practices for scheduling, program management, Earned Value, and more.
  • Project Server best practices for Demand Management, Portfolio Analysis, Resource Management, Time Management, Business Intelligence, and more.
  • Key solutions overviews and case studies for Application
    Lifecycle Management, Innovation Process Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Dynamics AX integration, ERP integration, and more.
  • Technical best practices for IT Professionals and Developers.

Last week I was excited to find my session , ‘Building advanced Project Server workflows with Nintex Workflow for Project Server’ had been accepted. The sessions abstract is as follows:

Many organizations have used Nintex Workflow for Project Server to help them build their demand management workflows quickly and effectively. This session will show how your project management processes and governance can be implemented using demand management workflows, integrating workflows with Project Server event handlers and applying workflows in project team sites. We’ll also provide a few other tips and tricks on implementing these processes.

I have been hard at work with some awesome demonstrations that will show off the capabilities of Nintex Workflow for Project Server and am counting down the days to getting over to Phoenix and talking shop Smile

Nintex Workflow for Project Server V2.0 Beta First look

I know I promised no more Nintex posts for a while, but this week, Nintex announced the availability of the first beta of Nintex Workflow for Project Server 2.0, the latest version of the popular Nintex Workflow for Project Server product and I just had to post!

Version 2.0 provides a number of enhancements to the existing product, including the following changes to the demand management components:

  • Change Enterprise Project Type from within the workflow;
  • New Publish project workflow action – Provides the ability to publish the project that the workflow is associated with, ensuring that project information is kept up to date in the Published Database;
  • Query Project Server (also available in Site / List Workflows) – Provides a direct interface to PSI methods that query or read data from Project Server; and
  • Update project properties (also available in Site / List Workflows) – Update project properties using site and list workflows.

Query the Project Server PSI Workflow Action

If the ability to query the PSI from within the workflow wasn’t compelling enough, version 2.0 also boasts one other new feature, which I think will be a game changer, the ability to associate workflows to the Project Server Event Handler engine Smile .

Manage Event Driven Workflows

Through using these new Event Driven workflows it is now possible to create workflows and then associate them to the Event Handler engine within Project Server. Some of the uses that come to mind immediately including:

  • Create a simple audit workflow that logs who published, edited or updated a schedule to a SharePoint audit list;
  • Alerting the resource manager whenever one of their resources are added to a project schedule via a workflow task and alert;
  • Synchronising a lookup table with an external system, or a SharePoint list when the list is updated or checked in; and
  • Alert resource managers when new users are created in PS requiring an RBS to be assigned.

I have only had a couple of hours to play with the beta, but can already see some pretty compelling reasons and scenarios for use. Stay tuned for a couple of cool walk throughs in the coming weeks.

The Beta is available to all Nintex Partners.

Disclosure: I am an employee of OBS, a member of the Nintex group. However, this did not inform this post, I really think it’s a great update to an already great product.

Using Skip to Stage with Nintex Workflow for Project Server

I recently had a customer ask me how to use the Skip to Stage functionality of Nintex Workflow for Project Server. Now I know I have done a few Nintex posts recently, but I promised them I would post this for the greater good of the EPM community Smile (and will lay off Nintex for the next few months).

In case your not aware, the Skip to Stage capability of Project Server allows an administrator to skip a workflow to a particular stage, usually as a result of modifying the existing workflow, or swapping to a different workflow and needing to skip over some of the business logic or steps.

Workflow - Stage to skip to

Sam Chung wrote an excellent blog post on this over at the Project Programmability blog back in February 2010, and the same concepts apply to Nintex. Consider the flow chart below which outlines a simple Project Server workflow scenario.

Project Server Workflow

Should the administrator wish to skip this workflow to the the execution stage, and skip the approval, it is not possible as the workflow has not been coded to allow it. This is where the Skip To Stage information comes into play. When an administrator chooses to skip to a specific stage using the Server Settings > Change or Restart a workflow, the workflow is initiated with two pieces of information:

  • the Skip To Stage parameter set to ‘True’;
  • the Stage UID of the desired stage to skip to is passed through.

In the workflow, if logic is added to check for this, then it is possible to bypass the business logic for the stage and skip over. The Project Server workflow engine is clever enough to determine if the stage being skipped to is the stage in the StageUID and will stop the skipping there (however the same caveats that apply for a Visual Studio workflow apply and if the required fields for a stage being skipped are not completed, the workflow won’t skip).

Project Server Workflow - Skip to stage

 

Now to incorporate this into a Nintex Workflow for Project Server couldn’t be simpler, all that is required is to use the ‘Set a condition’ action to do a check on the Skip To Stage context variable, and then branch to the approval / flexi task (as below) if the value is no, or to skip over the approval logic if the value is yes. In the screenshot below, I have also added a ‘Set Status Information’ so I can log to the workflow that the skip is happening.

Nintex - Set a condition

 

The Skip To Stage information is stored within the Workflow Context, so when setting up the ‘Set a Condition’ action, make sure you pick the Workflow Context.

Configure Action - Set a condition - Workflow Context

Finally, as mentioned in Sam’s original blog post, you need to ensure you have selected the Always Wait option in your Set Stage actions.

Configure Action - Set project stage

If you don’t do this, the workflow may continue to skip past the requested stage.