Sitting inside a heater standing the high temperature that has reached 35 degrees Celsius bring a memory up to me the period when I was in Copenhagen for European SharePoint Conference 2013. It was freaking cold at even less than 0 degree Celsius. I consider myself extremely fortunate to see snowfall at the very first time that actually never happened in my country. I didn’t have enough time to extensively get around Copenhagen so only kept my eyes on the two places that most of travelers wanted to visit: Nyhavn and Christiania. Every time I get asked as to what made me impressed during the trip, I always start introducing Christiania first rather than Nyhavn. I’m pretty sure you are too. For those like me who have not known about Christiania pretty much, according to Wikipedia it is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents almost hippies, covering only 0.34 square kilometer. The sign put at the front gate shows a lovely message:
For 100% Enjoyment
We welcome you with 3 simple rules:
That said, even there are creative graffiti-covered walls in the village, you shouldn’t take any picture unless your digital camera could be broken down by crazy hippies living there. Nyhavn is totally different. It is a dreamlike picture that covers statues of national heroes, a calm river, pretty beautiful sunlight and a few colorful things. That was an amazing trip to experience a new culture, people, beautiful and fancy architecture in Copenhagen. I’m sure it is one of my unforgettable trips over the past 22 years I’ve been.
I would like to sincerely thank to my boss Paul Kersey at Availys, Christine and Gero at Program Framework – our partner, Jol Haugen at Microsoft Denmark and European Conference team and other people I might have missed for getting me over to Copenhagen. That’s a huge help and I’m really grateful to all.
Just a couple of lines I’ve wrapped up to make you more curious because introducing those places is not my main purpose of writing this post. So for what?
I had great time with Program Framework team at the conference, as well as many conversations in terms of SharePoint and businesses with guys from various countries. I saw many awesome products and applications built on top of SharePoint platform, e.g. a collaborative multimedia content management in SharePoint provided by QUMU that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rimage Corporation. SharePoint tends not to be as a video storage management because of many complexities on performance load, storage and security. However, QUMU excellently performed a compelling demonstration to many attendees stopping by their booth. Let’s imagine a video clip as a document, you are able to easily share it with your colleagues, filter by metadata or even prevent from downloading from a security perspective. It also delivers live video streaming within SharePoint when your organization needs a video conference for attendees working from difference offices. This product could make a high score in the world of SharePoint market.
Another product potential to rousing enterprises in the world is Foxit PDF Security. It is a Microsoft preferred PDF reader for AD RMS 2.0, SharePoint 2013 especially SharePoint Online in Office 365 environments. These days having a good way to securing documents increasingly becomes a burden to every CIO, especially numerous documents saved and read as PDF files. In addition to the burden, standard regulatory compliances has to be applied in organizations, so a solution that fits that is sorely needed at enterprise/large companies. Foxit’s booth is next to ours so I had a good chance discussing with Wim – the Foxit EMEA Director of Sales – about how hard securing PDF files in an enterprise environment was to reduce risk, as well as facilitate business operation.
Opposite to my booth was iGlobe company based in Denmark. They formerly specialized in Lotus Notes migration to SharePoint but now have more business applications based on both SharePoint 2010 and 2013. I had a short controversial interview with their CEO as to what differences between Dynamic CRM & SharePoint integration and one of their products called iGlobe CRM. Microsoft Dynamic CRM is dedicatedly developed for organizations that need to manage customer relationship. It can be easily integrated with SharePoint by some ways, e.g. Business Connectivity Service, or Document Management integration. Sales team then does have an effective collaboration environment to work on. Similarly iGlobe CRM provides the same features but everything is directly developed on SharePoint platform. As the features are likely the same so we moved forward debating the total cost of deployment, of course including licenses. But we wouldn’t reckon that having both Dynamic CRM and SharePoint would have always total cost of deployment greater than having a CRM SharePoint-based application. It does depend on many aspects of the deployment. I don’t know how much iGlobe spent for such a complex CRM application; however, its total cost could be very high, personally.
There are other excellent products from world renowned Microsoft Gold Partners such as AvePoint, AgilePoint, Nintex, K2, Dell … many of you may have already known.
Again, what is the main purpose of writing this article? It doesn’t look like a recapitulation of the conference.
As of listening to salesman at booths during the conference as well as coordinating with Program Framework team, I have been seriously wondering how those Microsoft Partners manage a complex project of SharePoint-based application/product or an implementation of SharePoint-based intranet portal in particular. I then dramatically think about Microsoft Project Server because it could fit such complex SharePoint projects.
Why Project Server for SharePoint project management?
I honestly don’t have pretty much experience on Project Server, but used to be contracted by Microsoft Vietnam to write a book covering Project Server 2010 administration. Let me theoretically explain why Project Server fits SharePoint project management at just a few points. I’m of course not going to introduce all Project Server has.
Built on a business collaboration platform – SharePoint
Technically speaking, Project Server must be installed on a server that already has SharePoint enterprise edition installed, so it combines SharePoint capabilities to provide a flexible project management solution for teams of all sizes.
One of the first things beneficial for every project manager is that it provides an easy accessibility of projects. That said, all members regardless of where they are, or mobile devices being used can open their browser to view what is happening on projects, milestones, statuses or so on. That’s absolutely very important because nowadays offshore outsourcing that could reduce operating expenses, immigration cost etc… is the most common trend.
Next, as you have to build a development environment for SharePoint developers working on, why aren’t you considering utilizing SharePoint at all? I mean if you need a 3rd-party PM tool, does it have the ability to integrate with SharePoint to handle something, e.g. managing resources that are already in Active Directory repository, or synchronization with Outlook that helps notify when your project has risks that urgently need mitigating. Additionally, your mix-level developers can be more familiar with SharePoint because simply they have to use and practice SharePoint day-to-day.
In a nut shell, as built on SharePoint, Project Server can utilize all of what SharePoint has. At the end of the day, many of us know Microsoft does a good job in bleeding every cent we earn, but it will pay off for us when properly used.
A complex SharePoint project is supposed to involve many people spreading various roles, at the first thought flashing in my mind. For example, an infrastructure guy would be responsible for architecting a sustainable infrastructure, building a standardized environment including the three environments: Development – Staging/QA/Test – Production and maybe high availability in case the project requires. A SharePoint architect would hold a design of entirely solution architecture.
Project Server provides a feature called Enterprise Resource Pool that enables project managers easily define resources at a centralized location. In addition to resource management, Project Server can synchronize with Active Directory so authentication is closely controlled. More importantly, you don’t have to invest money for building a federation infrastructure to federate multiple different identity providers. This surely saves a lot of money. In case you are using other external systems like Oracle identity provider, or resource management software, Project Server still supports by providing the ability to connect to those.
Resource Assignment and Resource Availability provides a visual and intuitive picture of who are available to work on a specific project. For example, if a SharePoint developer has to leave for bereavement, you can flexibly assign his tasks to another experienced one that has the same skills defined before.
Team Foundation Server Integration
People might be struggling to use both Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Project Server because TFS does provide many collaboration features for software development team, such as Version Control, Work Item Tracking, Test Case Management, Build automation… Imagine if your development can smoothly plan and work on TFS through those features while project managers and team members can easily share project document, information; collaborate together and participate in project activities from a same project at a centralized location. Microsoft provides Project Server Integration Feature Pack to help make the integration happen.
There are many more features on Project Server I don’t really have enough time to cover. You should have to consider Project Server if your intention is to look to succeed on building a big SharePoint-based application. The following references may kick your creative ideas off:
- Why is Microsoft Project Server 2010 Important?
- Microsoft’s Project Online takes PPM to the cloud
- Microsoft EPM Solution Guide
- What is EPM?
- Get Started with Project Online (Overview)
- Team Foundation Server and Project Server Integration
I would love to discuss on how to use Project Server and Team Foundation Server to complete large SharePoint projects/implementaions. Please feel free to leave you thoughts out on this article or contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.