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MyProjectExpert

May 22
Installing Project Server using AutoSPInstaller

Wow!  For years I have been building PowerShell scripts to install and configure SharePoint and Project server.  It has worked well and have learned a lot about PowerShell in doing so.   However, I recently discovered a tool in CodePlex called AutoSPInstaller.   http://autospinstaller.codeplex.com/

My first reaction to this tool was the same as using SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard.  It couldn't be that good and all being executed behind code.   When I finally looked at AutoSPInstaller and discovered that it was all based on PowerShell.  This perk my interested.

My first few attempts using AutoSPInstaller failed for me and my reaction was not very good.  However, I kept hearing about how others were using it and so I decided to give it another chance only this time, I took a little time in reading the documentation.  After examining the PowerShell code and using the "Build Farm" tool found at https://autospinstaller.com/ and with a successful installation of SharePoint and a configuration of SharePoint Farm; I WAS SOLD.

This is one of the best tools I have seen for building a SharePoint farm and documenting the farm.  And it also configures other useful items to make your farm more robust such as setting up SQL alias and disabling the loop check.  And it works for SharePoint and Project server 2010, 2013 and 2016.  I am consistently build different SharePoint scenarios in my lab and AutoSPInstaller automates the process of setting it up.

One other item, I should mention about AutoSPInstaller. If you want to learn more about PowerShell and see good examples of modules and well written code, then dig deep into the code.  I really like PowerShell and learning PowerShell techniques.  AutoSPInstaller is full of many PowerShell tricks.

Building the SharePoint Farm XML is done by jumping to the https://autospinstaller.com/ site and then clicking "Build a Farm".   The following screen shot are for building a SharePoint farm that configures Project Server on a single server.  My configuration is for the very basics services that project server typically uses such as Excel Services, Secure Store, PerformancePoint Service and of course project server service.  I should point out project server service doesn't always work after the installation and at times I have needed to de-provision and re-provision the project service to get it working.

SPAutoInstaller-Servers.png 

Servers Page.  Its purpose is to define the servers in the SharePoint farm. If only one server is being setup for the farm, then leave servers list blank.  It requires either no servers or a minimum of two servers for the Share Point farm.

SPAutoInstaller-2-Options.png 

Installation Options page.  The highlighted options are important to me.

SPAutoInstaller-3-Main.png\

Farm – Configure the Main Farm Options

General settings for the SharePoint configuration.  I don't like putting real password in the build farm tool, so I put in bogus passwords and replace them once I create the XML file.

I really like the database preview option.   It allows you to have all the SharePoint farm databases prefixed and makes it much easier for the DBA to organize the databases.

The create alias option is a nice feature for setting this up as well.  Makes it much easier to move SharePoint to another SQL server in the future.

I specify only a few managed accounts for project server deployment.  If setting up for SharePoint deployment, I would add all the account in this page.  It validates the username and passwords.

SPAutoInstaller-4-FarmServices.png 

Farm Services is really depends on your requirements.  I will leave it at that.

 

 

Farm Logging screen.  Take the default and change it later.  I had some issues, so now keep it as the default.

 

 SPAutoInstaller-6-RootWeb.png

Root Web Application.  I change this up a little by just setting up a root.

 SPAutoInstaller-7-stateService.png

 

For project server, I typically setup State Service, Secure Store, Excel Services and PerformancePoint Services.  Under the Other option are special settings for project server.

 SPAutoInstaller-8-SecureStore.png

 

 

SPAutoInstaller-10-PerformancePoint.pngSPAutoInstaller-9-ExcelService.png 

 SPAutoInstaller-11-Miscelanous.png

Miscellaneous Components.   Setting up the PDF content type has never been so easy.

 

SPAutoInstaller-12-ProjectService.png 

Here is the final screen.  Word of caution is that the configuring project server doesn't work for me.  I am going to look into the PowerShell and see what the problem is.  In the meanwhile, I would just letting it configure project server. Once it is complete, test to see if it works.  If project server doesn't work properly then do the following

  1. De-provision PWA
  2. Delete the web application
  3. Reboot the server
  4. Create a new Project Server 2013 web application
  5. Provision PWA

Finally, I would like to thank Ivan Josipovic and Brian Lalancette for building and maintaining AutoSPInstaller on CodePlex. You can find out more about these guys at https://autospinstaller.com/Contact

 

Apr 21
2013 Migration error messages of Out-of-box version of Project Server 2010

Migration from Project Server 2010 to Project Server 2013 can be a daunting experience.  The one thing that puzzled me the most was the results from the PowerShell TEST verbs.   There are four test verbs that are used during the migration

  1. Test-SPContentDatabase
  2. Test-SPSite
  3. Test-SPProjectDatabase
  4. Test-SPProjectWebInstance

These are very useful tools that can help you be successful with a migration, but my biggest question was; are these normal messages.   Finally, I decided to find out.  My assumption is that if I built a brand new project server 2010 with service pack 2 and add a couple of projects and resources, then when I migrated to project server 2013, there would be no message.    The following PowerShell test verbs were executed on a plain out-of-box version of project server and though I expected that all the tests would come clean.  They didn't. 

The following examples show the output from PoweShell test commands on a out-of-box version of project server 2010 that is being migrated to 2013.   Project server 2010 was using the classic authentication.

PS> Test-SPContentDatabase -Name $PS2010ContentDBname -WebApplication $URL

Category        : MissingSetupFile 
Error           : True 
UpgradeBlocking : False 
Message         : File [Features\ReportServer\ReportViewer.dwp] is referenced [1] times in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but is not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature/solution which contains this file.​ 
Remedy          : One or more setup files are referenced in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but are not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature or solution which contains these files.

Locations       :

Category        : MissingSetupFile
Error           : True
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : File [Features\ReportServer\ReportViewer.dwp] is referenced [1] times in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but is not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature/solution which contains this file.
Remedy          : One or more setup files are referenced in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but are not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature or solution which contains these files.
Locations       :

Category        : MissingSetupFile
Error           : True
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : File [SiteTemplates\BICENTERSITE\mossbisample.aspx] is referenced [1] times in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but exists only under Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 setup folder. Consider upgrading the feature/solution which contains this file to the latest version.
Remedy          : One or more setup files are referenced in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but are not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature or solution which contains these files.
Locations       :

Category        : MissingSetupFile
Error           : True
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : File [SiteTemplates\BICENTERSITE\ppssample.aspx] is referenced [1] times in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but exists only under Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 setup folder. Consider upgrading the feature/solution which contains this file to the latest version.
Remedy          : One or more setup files are referenced in the database [SP2010V6_WSS_Content], but are not installed on the current farm. Please install any feature or solution which contains these files.
Locations       :

PS > Test-SPSite -Identity $PWA

​Site               : SPSite Url=http://sp2013v6a/PWA

Results            : {

                     SPSiteHealthResult Status=Passed RuleName="Conflicting Content Types" RuleId=befe203b-a8c0-48c2-b5f0-27c10f9e1622,

                     SPSiteHealthResult Status=FailedWarning RuleName="Customized Files" RuleId=cd839b0d-9707-4950-8fac-f306cb920f6c,

                     SPSiteHealthResult Status=Passed RuleName="Missing Galleries" RuleId=ee967197-ccbe-4c00-88e4-e6fab81145e1,

                     SPSiteHealthResult Status=Passed RuleName="Missing Parent Content Types" RuleId=a9a6769f-7289-4b9f-ae7f-5db4b997d284...}

PassedCount        : 6

FailedWarningCount : 1

FailedErrorCount   : 0

 

PS > Test-SPProjectDatabase -Name $ProjectServiceDBname  -DatabaseServer $SqlServer

Category        : Upgrade
Error           : False
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : Upgrader version 15.0.4569.1000 matches stored version 15.0.45691000.0
Remedy          :
Locations       :
Category        : Security
Error           : False
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : Permissions for all existing roles are correct
Remedy          :
Locations       :
 
Category        : Security
Error           : False
UpgradeBlocking : False
Message         : All SQL database roles are present
Remedy          :
Locations       :

​PS> Test-SPProjectWebInstance -Identity $PWA

RuleName  : ProjectBICenterExistenceHealthRule
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:01 AM
Message   :
            The following ProjectBICenters have missing lists: (/PWA/ProjectBICenter, Reports).
Status    : FailedWarning
Results   :
RuleName  : ProjectWorkspacesExistenceHealthRule
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:01 AM
Message   : All projects have workspace webs.
Status    : Passed
Results   :

RuleName  : SiteQueueServicedStatus
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:01 AM
Message   : Service status of Queue: (771b2ec1-944b-4c45-b9ea-25598d3865a7, True).
Status    : Passed
Results   :
 
RuleName  : QueueJobs
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:02 AM
Message   :
Status    : Passed
Results   : {SP2013V6A, SP2013V6A, SP2013V6A}​

RuleName  : QueueMissingTriggers
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:02 AM
Message   : Number of unprocessed jobs in Queue: 0.
Status    : Passed
Results   :

RuleName  : QueueStaleServerGroups
TimeStamp : 4/22/2016 2:33:02 AM
Message   : All Queue Groups OK.
Status    : Passed
Results   : ​

In summary, this is only a list of message that seem normal to me.  I have done many migrations and have ignore the messages and the migration appear to work without any issues.   If you google the messages, there are fixes for most of the messages.

 

Jan 02
Project Server 2016 Migration for 2016 Preview Beta 2 using PowerShell

The following PowerShell script provides guideance for migrating Project Server 2013 to Project Server 2016 Technical Preview Beta

​#######################################################
# Author: Michael Wharton
# Date: 01/01/2016
# Description: Project Server 2016 Migration for 2016 Preview Beta 2
#
# Link to Project Server Migration notes
# Start "https://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/gg502590(v=office.16).aspx"
#######################################################
 Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Confirm:$false -Verbose
 Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue  -Verbose
#######################################################
#  Before attempting a migration from Project Server 2013 to 2016
#  Verify that the following are enabled
#  1) SharePoint Farm is configurated and working
#  2) SharePoint Sites and site collections can be created
#  3) Restore SharePoint 2013 Content and ProjectWebApp databases
#######################################################
$SqlServerName        = "ServerName"              #-->  replace with SQL Server name
$WebAppURL            = "http://ServerName"       #-->  replace with SharePoint Server name
$SitePwaURL           = "http://serverName/pwa"   #-->  replace with SharePoint Server name
$WebAppName           = "Project Server 2016"
$ProjectServiceApp    = "Project Service App"
$ProjectServicePool   = "Project Service Pool"
$WSS_ContentDB        = "Temp_WSS_Content"
$ServiceSP            = "domain\ServiceSP"  #-->  replace with service account name
$ServicePass          = "password"          #-->  replace with service account password
$WSS_Content2013      = "2013WSS_Content"   #--> replace name with migrated SharePoint 2013 Content database
$ProjectWebApp2013    = "2013ProjectWebApp" #--> replace name with migrated ProjectWebApp database
################################################################
# Create credentials
$credServiceSP  = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList @($ServiceSP,(ConvertTo-SecureString -String $ServicePass -AsPlainText -Force))
################################################################
# create Managed Account
New-SPManagedAccount -Credential $credServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create Project Service Pool
 New-SPServiceApplicationPool -Name $ProjectServicePool -Account $ServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
#  Create Project Server Service and Enable Project Key
$ProjectServiceID = New-SPProjectServiceApplication -Name "Project Service App" -Proxy -ApplicationPool (Get-SPServiceApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool)
Enable-projectserverlicense -Key "Y2WC2-K7NFX-KWCVC-T4Q8P-4RG9W"
################################################################
#  Project and SharePoint content migration starts at this point
#  Restore Project Server 2013 databases on SQL Server
#  1) 2013 WSS_Content
#  2) 2013 ProjectWebApp
################################################################
# Create Web Application that contains project server collection
$AP = New-SPAuthenticationProvider -Verbose
New-SPWebApplication -Name $WebAppName -port 80 -URL $WebAppURL -DatabaseName $WSS_ContentDB -DatabaseServer $SqlServerName -ApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool -ApplicationPoolAccount (Get-SPManagedAccount $ServiceSP) -AuthenticationProvider $AP -Verbose -Confirm:$false
# Mount WSS_Content converts to SharePoint 2016
Mount-SPContentDatabase -Name $WSS_Content2013 -WebApplication $WebAppName -Verbose
# Review issues found with database
# It's possible that some error may block the upgrade or that you wish to be fix some of the issue before moving to production
Test-SPContentDatabase -Name $WSS_Content2013 -WebApplication $WebAppName 
# Enable SharePoint features for PWA and BI
# Enable-SPFeature PWASITE -Url $SitePwaURL -Verbose   # note: PWA feature should already be enable in the migrated database
Enable-spfeature -identity PWABIODataReports -Url $SitePwaURL  -Force
# Migrate ProjectWebApp 2013 to 2016
Migrate-SPProjectDatabase -SiteCollection $SitePwaURL -DatabaseServer $SqlServerName -DatabaseName $ProjectWebApp2013 -Overwrite -Confirm:$false -Verbose
# Migrate Resource Plans
Migrate-SPProjectResourcePlans -URL $SitePwaURl -Verbose
# Test the Project Instance for issues
Get-SPProjectWebInstance
Get-SPProjectWebInstance | Test-SPProjectWebInstance
Test-SPProjectServiceApplication -Identity $ProjectServiceApp
# Start up Project Server App Web site
Start  $SitePwaURL
################################################################
# General Cleanup - optional
# The initial contentdatabase created during the New-SPWebApplication isn't need and can be dismounted
Get-SPContentdatabase -DatabaseName $WSS_ContentDB -DatabaseServer $SqlServerName -ConnectAsUnattachedDatabase:$false | Dismount-SPContentDatabase -Confirm:$false  -Verbose
################################################################

Dec 29
Configuring Project Server 2016 Beta 2 using PowerShell

The following PowerShell scrips provisions SharePoint 2016 Technical Preview Beta 2.

Warning:  There is no error trapping or testing to determine if something is already in place. My intention with this script is to execute line by line and if an error occurs, then determine the cause and skip or fix the issue.

There are a few new things in this script, such as creating the project server services and providing the license key. Also, create PWA with SharePoint sites within this collection.

​#######################################################
# Author: Michael Wharton
# Date: 12/30/2015
# Description: Project Server 2016 Beta V2 Configuration
#   The following must be done prior to provisioning Project Server
#   1. Install Windows Server 20012 R2 and update patches
#   2. Install SQL Server 2014
#   3. Install SharePoint 2016
#   4. Created only the SharePoint Farm as Single Server mini role and do not run wizard
#
#   Start "https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc197280(v=office.16).aspx"
#######################################################
 Set-ExecutionPolicy "Unrestricted"
 Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
#######################################################
#  Provisioning Project Server 2016
#   1. Create Managed Account as SharePoint Account
#   2. Create Application Pool
#   3. Create Project Server App
#   4. Create Web applications
#   5. Create Root Site collection
#   6. Create Managed Path
#   7. Create PWA Site Collection
################################################################
#  Update the following parameters with your values
################################################################
$SqlServerName        = "Beta2016b"
$SharePointServerName = "Beta2016b"
$WebAppURL            = "http://Beta2016b"
$SiteRootURL           = "http://Beta2016b/"
$SitePwaURL            = "http://Beta2016b/pwa"
$WebAppName           = "Project Server 2016"
$ProjectServiceApp    = "Project Service App"
$ProjectServicePool   = "Project Service Pool"
$ProjectWebAppDB      = "Beta2_ProjectWebApp"
$FarmAdminAcct        = "domain\FarmAdmin"   # FarmAdmin Acct
$SetupAcct            = "domain\mawharton"   # Setup Acct --- Running from this account
$ServiceSP            = "domain\ServiceSP"   # Service Acct
$ServicePass          = "password"
################################################################
# Create credentials
$credServiceSP  = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList @($ServiceSP,(ConvertTo-SecureString -String $ServicePass -AsPlainText -Force))
################################################################
# create Managed Account
New-SPManagedAccount -Credential $credServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create Project Service Pool
New-SPServiceApplicationPool -Name $ProjectServicePool -Account $ServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
#  Create Project Server Service and Enable Project Key
$ProjectServiceID = New-SPProjectServiceApplication -Name "Project Service App" -Proxy -ApplicationPool (Get-SPServiceApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool)
Enable-projectserverlicense -Key "Y2WC2-K7NFX-KWCVC-T4Q8P-4RG9W"
################################################################
# Create Web Application
$AP = New-SPAuthenticationProvider -Verbose
New-SPWebApplication -Name $WebAppName -port 80 -URL $WebAppURL -DatabaseName $ProjectWebAppDB -DatabaseServer $SqlServerName -ApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool -ApplicationPoolAccount (Get-SPManagedAccount $ServiceSP) -AuthenticationProvider $AP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create Root SiteCollection - optional - not required but just a good SharePoint practice
New-SPSite $SiteRootURL -OwnerAlias $SetupAcct -Name "ROOT" -Template "STS#0" -SecondaryOwnerAlias $FarmAdminAcct -Verbose
START $SiteRootURL
################################################################
# Create managed path PWA
New-SPManagedPath -WebApplication $WebAppName -Explicit "/PWA"
# Create PWA Site collection
New-SPSite $SitePwaURL   -ContentDatabase $ProjectWebAppDB -OwnerAlias $SetupAcct -Name "Project Web App" -Template "pwa#0" -Language 1033 -SecondaryOwnerAlias  $FarmAdminAcct -Verbose
# Enable PWA features
Enable-SPFeature PWASITE -Url $SitePwaURL -Verbose
Enable-spfeature -identity PWABIODataReports -Url $SitePwaURL  -Force
Set-SPProjectPermissionMode -Url $SitePwaURL -Mode ProjectServer -Verbose  # optional
# Start up Project Server App Web site
Start  $SitePwaURL
################################################################


Aug 31
PowerShell commands for setup of Project Server 2016 in the SharePoint 2016 Techncial Preview

The following PowerShell script can get Project Server 2016 up and running with the new SharePoint 2016 Preview.  My environment is running a VM on a Windows 10 workstation.  The lab environment is a Windows 2012 R2 OS, SQL Server 2014 and SharePoint 2016 Preview.

Set IE to be in compatibility mode and make the site a trusted local site. I used the SharePoint 2016 Products configuration wizard to setup the SharePoint farm and I didn't have SharePoint configure any of the services. Yuk if you do.

There is no error handling in script.  My suggestion is to execute one line at a time and make sure it is succesful.  It a line give you an error, that may be ok. For instance, you may be creating a new managed account and the account already exist, so the can be skipped.


#######################################################
# Author: Michael Wharton
# Date: 08/31/2015
# Description: Provision Project Server 2016 Beta
#   the following must be done prior to provisioning Project Server
#   1. Install Windows Server 2012 R2 and update patches
#   2. Install SQL Server 2014
#   3. Install SharePoint 2016
#   4. SharePoint 2016 Products Configuration Wizard
#######################################################
 Set-ExecutionPolicy "Unrestricted"
 Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
#######################################################
#  Provisioning Project Server 2016
#######################################################
#   1. Create Managed Account as SharePoint Account
#   2. Create Application Pool
#   3. Create web applications
#   4. Create Root Site collection
#   5. Create another database for PWA (Beta_ProjectWebApp)
#   6. Create PWA Site using Beta_ProjectWebApp
#   7. Provision Project Server App by enabling the PWA feature
################################################################
$SqlServerName        = "Beta2016B.LAB.LOCAL"
$SharePointServerName = "Beta2016B.LAB.LOCAL"
$WebAppURL    = "http://beta2016b.LAB.local"
$SiteRootURL  = "http://beta2016b.LAB.local/"
$SitePwaURL   = "http://beta2016b.LAB.local/sites/pwa"
$WebAppName         = "Project Server 2016"
$ProjectServiceApp  = "Project Service App"
$ProjectServicePool = "Project Service Pool"
$WebContentDB       = "Beta_PWA_WSS_CONTENT"
$ProjectWebAppDB    = "Beta_ProjectWebApp"
$setupAdmin  = "LAB\mawharton"
$setupPass   = "Password#1"
$ServiceSP   = "LAB\ServiceSP"
$ServicePass = "Password#1"
################################################################
# Create credentials
$credSetupAdmin = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList @($SetupAdmin,(ConvertTo-SecureString -String $SetupPass   -AsPlainText -Force))
$credServiceSP  = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList @($ServiceSP ,(ConvertTo-SecureString -String $ServicePass -AsPlainText -Force))
################################################################
# Create Managed Account
New-SPManagedAccount -Credential $credServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create App Pool
New-SPServiceApplicationPool -Name $ProjectServicePool -Account $ServiceSP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create Web Application
$AP = New-SPAuthenticationProvider -Verbose
New-SPWebApplication -Name $WebAppName -port 80 -URL $WebAppURL -DatabaseName $WebContentDB -DatabaseServer $SqlServerName -ApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool -ApplicationPoolAccount (Get-SPManagedAccount $ServiceSP) -AuthenticationProvider $AP -Verbose
################################################################
# Create Root SiteCollection
New-SPSite $SiteRootURL -OwnerAlias $SetupAdmin  -Name "ROOT" -Template "STS#0" –Verbose
# Check that the Root site collection opens
START $SiteRootURL
################################################################
# Create managed path PWA
New-SPContentDatabase -Name $ProjectWebAppDB -DatabaseServer $sqlservername  -WebApplication $webAppname
# Create PWA Site collection
New-SPSite $SitePWAURL -ContentDatabase $ProjectWebAppDB -OwnerAlias $setupAdmin  -Name "Project Web App" -Template "pwa#0"
################################################################
# Create Project Service App ---  Service must be created before PWA feature can be enabled
New-SPProjectServiceApplication –Name $ProjectServiceApp  –ApplicationPool $ProjectServicePool –Proxy -Verbose
################################################################
# Enable the Project Service feature
Enable-SPFeature pwasite -Url $SitePWAURL
################################################################
# Set Project Permission mode to Project server
Set-SPProjectPermissionMode -Url $SitePWAURL -Mode ProjectServer
################################################################
# Start up PWA
START $SitePWAURL
 
Jul 28
Ten Reasons to run Project Server 2013 on AZURE instead of On Premise or Project Online

When thinking about using Microsoft Project Server for your PMO, your first thought may be to run using Project Server on premise.  As you think of other option, the idea of using Project Online may be effective as well.  You then start asking questions and find hosting companies like BemoPro and Project Host can manage project server.  But there is another option for running project server and that is running project serve in AZURE.

Ouch my head starts to hurt. Another option to weight into the mix of project server solutions.  And so, I started my list of why it may be good to run from project server on AZURE versus running on premise.  At first I didn't think it was a good option, but as I understand more about the platform and its abilities, I realized that it's a really good solution.

My list of why I like running project server 2013 on Azure.

  1. Purchasing of hardware is not required.  Selecting only the VM size that is required keeps the cost down and can easily be increase as usage increases.
  2. Setup is real easy.  Azure provides a SharePoint Farm Installation wizard that basically sets up everything you need to install and run SharePoint and Project Server.  The wizard setups three virtual machines; domain controller, SQL Server and a SharePoint virtual machine. With a simple click of the mouse and about 60 minutes, SharePoint is up and running.  The next step is to download and install project server to complete the setup and then project sever is ready for your company to use. 
  3. Migrating databases to Azure project server is both possible and much easier.  Azure provides methods for exporting and importing files into Azure.  Once databases can be more to the cloud, then SharePoint content and project server databases can be configured into SharePoint.   If later, you don't like the AZURE solution, the databases can be moved back down to premise.  Migrating to Project online requires the use of third party tools or manual importing of single projects.
  4. Testing and other staging databases can be setup using Azure VMs as well.  Cost saving here to because hardware is not purchase, use smaller VM to keep costs down and shutdown the VMs when they are not used.  Storage costs are still accruing because data is saved but CPU and other miscellaneous costs are not occurring when the CPU is shut down.
  5. SharePoint and Project Server 2013 is stable and doesn't get new features and updates.  While it's a good marketing plug for Project Online to get the most recent upgrades and features. The fact is many organizations like stable platforms and don't like changes on the fly.
  6. SharePoint and Project Server 2010 can run in Azure VMs.  This option takes more work than running the Azure SharePoint Farm wizard as mention above, but the VMs can be setup and configure to run SharePoint and Project Server 2010.
  7. Writing project server reports is going to be easier because you still have full access to the SQL server database and will be able to access data that is not possible when using project online. Report writers can also use 3rd party reporting tools, because they can be installed on the VMs.
  8. SQL Server tools such as SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services), SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services), SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services) are available and developers are familiar with using them.
  9. Feels like you have more control of project server because you have access to SharePoint Central in the Azure VM giving you more features to enable or disable.  Also, you have access to restore and backup project schedules and other functions that you don't have when using Project Online.
  10. Running project server on Azure is a lot more fun.  This is mostly fun for me because it's a new way to look at project server.

So now we have another option for PMOs to think about when deciding where to run their project server.  It's just something to think about.  Call me if you have any questions.

Jun 24
PMO Strategy, Accurate Report Data and Server Setting Decisions

Every PMO (Project Management Office) is different.  Those of us who have been in the project management industry or who have worked within many PMOs will tell you the same.   Go to any PMI local chapter meeting and talk with your colleagues about their PMO and often their PMO is quite different from yours.    PMOs range from very strong and structure to very weak and perhaps even unknown in the organization.   Each PMO has four or five key requirements that drive their makeup and for the most part they vary quite a bit from company to company. 

However, there is one requirement that most all PMOs require and that requirement is "reporting to upper management".  Over 85% of PMO survey will indicate that "reporting to upper management" is key to most PMOs. So the first thing that comes to my mind about reporting is "How accurate is the data?" Valid report and good data go hand-in-hand. Upper management want accurate reports for making the right decisions.

There are many elements for setting up a PMO and much of this is done by configuring project server.  Also, for the most part configuration settings can be changed on the fly.  The tracking method is one of the configuration settings and though it can be changed, it's best not to.   The main reason for not changing once decided is that when projects are created, they have the tracking method properties set.  If the tracking method changes on the server, the method does get changed in projects already created and this may cause confusion.   In fact, changing the tracking method is basically having project server in "Free Form".

Microsoft project server and online have a four methods ways to track projects.  All of the methods feed back into the project schedule. Some are more exact than others and though they do a good job; we will into a few other settings to make the data more accurate.   The options are set in the "Task Settings and Display" under the "Server Settings".

TaskSheetSettingView.png 

  • Percent of work complete.   This option is used by many companies and may be the best selection for their culture.  It provides a good read on how a project is progressing and provides good feedback of what is complete and not.  The main drawback of using this option is that actual work and actual costs is often not accurate.  Depending on the task type used and the skill of the project manager, the actual work can be inflated when the duration is extended or when a task is marked 100% complete which creates actual work from planned work.
  • Actual work done and work remaining.   A better option than above and actual work is more accurate.  My only issue with this option is that it doesn't require time periods and doesn't have to be done a recurring cycle. Determining if a week is skipped cannot be determined.
  • Hours of work done per period.  Again this is a better option than both options above.  It requires using time periods and thus makes it easier to determine if time is entered each week.  If actual work is not track weekly, it's easy to lose work done.  This is the best option of the three for measuring actual costs, work and scope is achieved.   As much as I like it, there is a better solution called SEM (Single Entry Mode) that we is discussed later and when this is enable, it turns on hours of work done per period.
  • Free form is the final option.  It may be best for organizations that have weak PMO and cannot define a standard.  Because of the inability of a PMO to define a tracking standard, this option would be my very last choice.

A few other configuration that should be considered for obtaining accurate data for reports is to check the checkbox that forces everyone to use the same tracking method.   Consistency and governance are key factors for increasing data accuracy.

The option "Only allow tasks via Tasks and Timesheets" should be checked for data accuracy.  This forces actuals to come in from their inputs and it prevents project manager from creating actual work by marking tasks 100% complete. 

At this point, your basic tracking method is in place and accurate data is feed back into your project schedule.  However, there is more that can be done to ensure accurate data and valid reports.  Taking data accuracy a step further requires using timesheets.

Timesheets is provides the most accurate data in your reports and at the same time has the most opposition.   Task sheets can look like timesheets, but just saying "Timesheets" makes everyone feel like they are on the clock.  Timesheets provides the PMO more information and better information than task sheets.   Timesheets also implies a weekly submission of work done each week and because of weekly and regularly submissions of time, we get better and timely data. 

For example, a person may work ten hours on a project.  The next week they work zero hours.  When timesheets are enable, PMO usually require forty hour to be reported. The person submits ten hours of work on project and thirty hours on other non-work tasks.  When timesheets are part of the PMO monitoring cycle, the project manager can determine if resources have submitted their work efforts.  In this example, if no work was done for a week, the resource still submits a timesheet showing forty hours of non-project work.  The project manager then can determine, the resource didn't just forget submitting time.

Timesheets can be a separate process for submitting actual work. When I refer to timesheets, I am actually referring to SEM (Single Entry Mode).  SEM puts task sheets and timesheets on a single form making it easier for resources to enter time for tasks on project schedules and admin task for non-project work.  SEM is enable in the server settings under the "timesheet Settings and Defaults".  The screen shot below shows the bottom part of the form.

TimesheetSettingView.png 

As you can see from the form there are other configuration settings.  Checking the "Single Entry Mode" does several things.  First the timesheets and task sheets are combined on a single form and it also sets the task setting to "Hours of work done per period".   There are other options that need to be thought thru and studied.   Also, defining the governance of approval and when timesheets are submitted must also be defined.  However, it this point the key project server configuration have been made for getting the most accurate date for reports to management.

In summary the key points for PMO strategy and project server governance.

  1. Reporting to management is the key requirement for most PMOs
  2. Reports need accurate data on a timely manner.
  3. Single Entry Mode provides PMO with the most accurate data for generating management reports.
  4. The PMO must determine the level of accuracy that works best for their culture and management.  

 

Apr 27
My First PowerShell Summit in Charlotte, NC

Wow! What a week...or part of a week. Windows PowerShell Summit North America 2015 was here in Charlotte, NC this past week. It was three days of deep dive learning about PowerShell 5.0

I meet all the big names in PowerShell scripting.  Jeffrey Snover, Jeffery Hicks, Don Jones, Ed Wilson, Lee Holmes, Jim Christopher and Jason Helmick.  These guys really have it together and are making some great strides in using PowerShell and the new features in PowerShell 5.0 Preview.

Plus I learned a whole lot about PowerShell.  I discovered better ways to organize my scripts using Modules and Functions.   It seem obvious now, but the summit brought all that knowledge into my face. 

Some of the other exciting news was.  The PowerShell Gallery is an open source PowerShell scripts and modules that can provide more tools to your tool bag. The PowerShellGallery and GitHub are open source repository for building new scripts.  Your scripts can submitted and vetted by Microsoft and if they meet right stuff, the scripts can be part of the PowerShell Gallery. 

It's been around since PowerShell 4.0, but I finally got a handle on what DSC (Desired State Configuration) and how it can help me do my job.   DSC basically is a file of attributes that you system needs and if something changes it can put it back.  For example, let's assume that your IIS has application pools are configure to use a service account and the service account is disable or changed.  The DSC will set it back.

I also found a few skills PowerShell user that have configured DSC to install software.   It's very powerful and the new release will have even more.

The three day PowerShell Summit was well worth the time and money and look forward to attending next year in Redmond.

Mar 30
Capturing Task Details using Timesheet Comments has Many Limitations

Recently I had a client who was interested in using the timesheet comments for tracking additional details about work done for their clients.  The client was using timesheets for billing and wanted their consultants to provide additional details about the work done using comments.  In their particular case timesheet comments meet their requirements.  For this client, the timesheet comments worked and at the time I thought it was great solution.  However, after playing with the solution, I discovered that many factors can cause the comments to be overridden.

It turns out that when a project manager or a timesheet manager approves time, the manager is prompted to send a comment back to the resource.  It is at this point, the project manager's comment or blank comment, over writes the existing comments.   For my client, the solution worked well because they were not statusing, however most of my clients do statusing, so I decided to dig deeper into this issue.

As I dug deeper into the database to understand timesheet comments, I discovered that the server configuration was also playing a big part in how and when timesheet comments are over written. The following are few scenario statusing in which timesheet comments are not overridden:

  • SME is enable and the resource timesheet manager and resource are the same and the project managers does not approve time for statusing.
  • Task Manager is enabled and resource is auto-approved
  • Task Manager is disable and resource is approved by timesheet manager
  • Sometimes Fix Approval Routing is enabled to prevent timesheet line approval

I have tested many combination of configurations keep finding that most configuration will over write the timesheet comments after an approval. You may find my scenarios list above may not be correct and my response is, "somewhere in the project server configuration is has affected the comments".

Deep Dive into Timesheet Comments

Determine to find a good solution for timesheets comment, I decided to take a deep time into the data flow of timesheet line comments in the project server database.   My thinking at the time was the comments are saved somewhere in the published database or a transaction log file had a history of the comments.  My theory didn't pan out as I hoped.

When a timesheet is created; the published database table MSP_TIMESHEET_LINES is updated with a record for each line in the timesheet.  Each time a timesheet updated and saved, then the timesheet line data is replaced with the saved data from the form into the MSP_TIMESHEET_LINES.  Comments are also saved and updated each time a save occurs.

In the example, below a comment has been added to each line in the timesheet.

TimesheetComment1.png 

After saving the timesheet, we query the PUB.TIMESHEET_LINES and find the following results. Each time a timesheet is save, the comments can be found in TS_LINE_COMMENT field from the PUB.MSP_TIMESHEET_LINES table.

TimesheetComment2.png 

At some point in time user submits their time by clicking SEND and "Turn in Final Timesheet".  The timesheet ribbon provides an option to include a comment and then the timesheet is forward to the timesheet manager.  Several things happen at this point.

First of all, the comments in the PUB.TIMESHEETS_LINES are the same as before.  Second, we find new records inserted in the table DBO.MSP_TIMESHEETLINE. I have also seen with different project server configurations, that the save operations saves records in both tables at times.   While watching both the PUB.TIMESHEET_LINES and DBO.MSP_TIMESHEETLINE tables and performing an approval, I found that the approval often over writes the timesheet comment with notes like [mwharton: 3/30/2015] which is the name of the resource and timestamp of the project manager or timesheet manager.  Once that happens the timesheet comment is useless if the purpose of the comment was to record details about work done that week.

Conclusion about using Timesheet Comments

Capturing additional details about work using timesheet comments has many limitations.  Most project server configuration can cause timesheet comments to be over written. If you are only using the Timesheet feature of project server then this featur may work for you.  Timesheet comments are saved and generating detail work reports using commentes may work fine.  However, if statusing is part of your governance or if the project server settings is set to SME (Single entry mode) then approvals is going to overwrite your comments and the timesheet comments will be lost.  

There is one hope that can make this work for all scenarios.  Project server provides server side event handlers that can be used for capture your timesheet comments. The [Timesheet Submitted] event handler can be used to capture the timesheet comments and then write them into a separate table before other approvals override them.   A little time and money is needed to be invested in creating this solution because it requires custom coding and connecting the custom code to the event handler.  Seems complicated but there are some great coding examples found on MSDN.

Send me your comments if you have found a better solution to manage timesheet comments.

Feb 10
Don't run Distributed Cache Service with Project Server Service

I ran into a small performance issue when running Project Server Service and Distributed Cache Service on the same server and wanted to pass this info to the group. Some of you may find it interesting.

After installing and configuring SharePoint 2013 I have noticed that Distributed Cache Service is enabled by default.  I never thought much about what it does until recently. While reading about the purpose of Distributed Cache services, the article stated that Distributed Cache Service should not be running on the same server that runs Project Service, Excel Service, SQL Server or Search Service.   What?  I'm I the last person on earth that just found this out?  I hate to be the last to know this things!

Distributed cache service is used for with SharePoint services such as Newsfeeds, OneNote client access, Security Trimming, Page load performance and Authentication.  It also grabs 10% or more of physical memory, which can an impact on performance.  The cure to remove is easy. Simply stop the services using SharePoint Admin or PowerShell. I stopped Distribute Cache service on my SharePoint servers and project server does seem slightly more responsive.

So as a best practice when installing SharePoint using the SharePoint 2013 Product Configuration Wizard or when using a PowerShell cmdlet that uses New-SPConfigurationDatabase (by default Distributed Cache services is started) is to stop the Distributed Cache Service after the SharePoint farm is provisioned..  Also the New-SPConfigurationDatabase cmdlet has a switch called –SkipRegisterAsDistributedCacheHost that prevents the distributed cache service from being load, so I have included this switch in my PowerShell scripts.

Here is a reference link about Distributed Cache Service https://technet.microsoft.com/library/jj219572(office.15).aspx

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 About this blog

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Welcome to My Project Expert site.   This site is dedicated to the implementation and deployment of Microsoft Project Server and the governance required for a successful PMO.

It's mostly my field notes as I find new tips and tricks or perhaps clear up some information that I find confusing.

Michael Wharton, MVP, MBA, PMP, MCT, MCST, MCDBA, MCSD, MCSE+I, MCC2011 and 2012