Systems and Applications Development in a Project Environment


When you think about building a [Project Management Culture]( “Practice your Profession… Follow the Olympics Example”), it’s easy to focus on just the [methodologies and tools]( “The Value of Tools vs Skills in Project Management”) oriented around project management. How do you manage the project lifecycle (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing)? How do you use the tools, such as Microsoft’s [Project Client]( “Microsoft Project Professional 2010”) and [Project Server]( “Microsoft Project Server 2010”)? 

While these are worthy considerations, sometimes it becomes useful to expand the context beyond a specific project or group of projects, and begin to consider integrating that information into your enterprise as a whole. It is at this point that you should begin to work with systems and applications development teams.

There are several areas such teams can be of use:

## Designing, Implementing, & Configuring Enterprise Project Infrastructure

If you’re just doing small “one off” projects, you can probably get by with a tool like Microsoft Project client, local to your workstation. But once you decide you want to integrate the information from a project into your enterprise, you should consider a tool such as Project Server.

A tool like Project Server helps maintain consistency between projects so the data can be more easily integrated into the enterprise. But there’s a tradeoff: it introduces new infrastructure considerations in the areas of SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server, Project Server, Excel Services, PerformancePoint Services, and a few more esoteric areas largely of interest to the techies.

A systems team with knowledge in these areas will be needed to [set up these environments]( “A Little About AdPAK”) and keep them running.

## SharePoint Site and Workflow Development

Once you’ve entered the world of Project Server, and especially the world of Project Server 2010, you also have the opportunity to integrate into the SharePoint world. Simply creating a project in Project Server gives you the option of creating a SharePoint site where you can store project related documents, discussion threads, issue lists, and various other SharePoint components.

Project Server allows for configuration of custom fields that can be used across projects. Within both Project and SharePoint you can manage the content of these fields, including controlling what information can or must be entered at a certain time in a business process.

SharePoint and Project Workflows can help keep all this under control within the context of your projects.

Needless to say, it’s handy to have folks around who can help you through setting up this process.

## Information Integration

Have you ever looked at thins in your project plan like actual costs, and wished you could just pull that information from you accounting system and plug it into your project plan?

Or maybe grabbing hour estimates from you project plan and plugging it into one of your other line of business applications?

Project Server has a programming interface that allows you to update projects, or pull information that can be plugged into other systems automatically. This is where an application programmer might [save you a lot of manual (potentially error prone) re-entry of data]( “MSP-Rex: Microsoft Project Server Report Extractor”).

## General & Business Intelligence Reporting

BI is becoming an ever more popular buzzword, and for good reason: it helps you [find key information]() without having to dig into all the gruesome details (unless you really want to).

Project Server comes with Analytical Databases out of the box. It also has a BI Center, which is a SharePoint site oriented around accessing the Project Server Reporting and Analytical databases.

There are some samples included in the BI Center, but wouldn’t it be useful to have someone knowledgeable help you out here?

Once again, your applications team can come to your rescue.

## Summary

By now you’re probably saying, “Wow, that all sounds pretty complicated and scary, not to mention expensive.”

You may be envisioning whole squads of nerds descending on your business to put all this together.

The reality is any business large enough to consider enterprise data likely already has some of the expertise in house, and a few well-chosen consultants can help you get over the hump and teach your employees the new systems and development paradigms.

Conveniently enough, [Advisicon]( “learn more about Advisicon”) can provide those consultants.

*[BI]: Business Intelligence


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Advisicon is a Project, Program & Portfolio Management Company. We transform your organization's project management with a mix of methodology and technology that delivers results. Our team specializes in technology implementations, application and workflow development, training and consulting.
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