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What are the common problems associated with MSP and how can I fix them?

PPO's bi-directional integration with MSP allows for data to be transferred quickly and easily from MSP to PPO and back to MSP. However, as with any integration, there are some basic problems or errors that present themselves from time to time. This article covers the five most common errors associated with MSP and explains how to resolve them:

Progress in MSP reflects a negative value

The problem

The problem is related to the Date1 calculation introduced when implementing the planned progress % calculation. More specifically the calculation is not being automatically updated to reflect the current date.

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When attempting to import your schedule PPO will display the following error message.

The fix

Set your project to calculate after each edit by navigating to File >> Options >> Schedule >> Enable the "Calculate project after each edit" option.

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It is good practice to check your planned progress % prior to importing your schedule into PPO. Should there be no changes to your project schedule or the planned progress is still displaying a negative value you can manually calculate your project by pressing F9 or navigating to Project >> Click on the "Calculate Project" action button.

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Resources are mapped incorrectly

Background

PPO’s Employees entity maintains a pool of resources that are used by PPO users to allocate Issues, Risks and Tasks. When Microsoft Project (MSP) is used for project planning and the project plan is then imported into PPO, resources recorded in MSP are not automatically imported into PPO as MSP has its own resource pool. However, if PPO’s MSP Add-In is used to synchronise the resources in MSP with the employees in PPO and the resources field is mapped in PPO's System Configuration, then resources can be imported automatically with the user's project plan,  using the Import Tasks Wizard (for detailed steps on how to sync resources, see the following FAQ)

The result of syncing resources in MSP is that every resource is awarded a phonetics key:

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This key corresponds with the employee's key in PPO:

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The problem

The resources are not imported because PPO cannot find an exact match for the resources that are being imported and therefore cannot assign the resource to the applicable task.

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The fix

To resolve the problem, open MSP and connect to the MSP add-in, ensure the current instance's URL is provided when connecting, and then import the resources again from the Import resources tab.

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The employees will be updated, showing the correct employee key and the next import should be successful.

 

Project plan is too big

The problem

PPO has a 50MB upload limit per document - the same rule applies to project plans. If a project plan is uploaded that is bigger than 50MB, a time-out error or the following error message will appear:

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The fix

The following two methods can be employed to reduce the file size:

1. The MSP file can be compressed to a zipped folder and the zipped folder can then be imported into PPO. The size of the zipped folder will need to be under 50MB to import successfully.

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2. MSP accumulates data as and how the users add lines, baseline schedules, update progress and perform other updates on the plan. All the history of all the changes made to the MSP plan is stored within the plan itself, increasing its file size. It often helps to copy the whole project plan over into a new MSP document to clear it of all history. This should reduce the MSP's file size and the new document can then be imported into PPO.

 

No tasks are being imported

The problem

Often when a project plan is imported, no tasks are uploaded:

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The fix

This problem can occur due to:

All the tasks have already been completed, are all marked as 100% and are therefore being filtered out by the global filter.

The way to check this is to go to the Task List page and disable the tasks global filter. If the reason why no tasks are showing is indeed because of the tasks global filter, the tasks should all appear once the global filter has been disabled.

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Progress in MSP does not correspond with progress in PPO

Background

PPO shows the total actual progress percentage and the total planned progress percentage on the project entity.

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These values are calculated based on the information contained in the tasks entity. The values are not being imported from PPO, which allows users who import plans via Excel or captures them directly on PPO, to also make use of planned and actual progress calculations.

 

The problem

The problem is, however, that the total progress percentage as calculated by PPO does not always match up to the planned progress percentage calculated by MSP (for more details on how to set up planned progress percentage in MSP, see the following FAQ).

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The fix

The reason why these values may differ is based on the different ways in which planned progress percentage is calculated.

In PPO, only the tasks where the Task Type is "Task" are taken into account for the planned progress percentage calculation. All project tasks, summary tasks, and milestones are excluded from the calculation by default. However, in MSP, all tasks AND milestones that have a duration will be taken into account for the planned progress percentage calculation. Thus, if a milestone is awarded a duration, this duration will also be taken into account.

The first thing to look for, then, is whether the MSP plan contains any milestones that have a duration awarded to them:

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A milestone, by definition, is a point in time - it should not have a duration. If all the milestones in MSP are updated to 0 days duration, the planned progress percentage on MSP and on PPO should correspond.

If, however, the values still don't correspond, it may be because there are more tasks on PPO (some of them filtered out by the global filter), than there are in MSP. If more tasks exist on PPO, then the project's total duration, as calculated by PPO, will be greater, therefore affecting the planned progress percentage calculation.

To check this, go to the task list on the project and disable the tasks global filter. Check whether the number of tasks on the task list correspond with the number of line items in MSP (remember that the Project Task is shown on Line 0, so there may be a 1 task difference). If more tasks exist on PPO than on MSP, the additional tasks must either be added to MSP and marked as 100% actual progress, or they must be deleted from PPO.

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How to show the Project Task (line 0) in MSP

The problem

Users often notice that PPO has 1 additional task on their task list compared to their MSP plan. The reason for this is that the Project Summary Task was not selected to be viewed in MSP.

The “Project Summary Task” in MSP maps to the “Project Task” in PPO.  The Project Task is also referred to as the “line 0” task and encapsulates the whole project, from start to finish. This Task is identified in PPO as the Task where the sort order is 0 and the task type is Project Task.

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Example of the Project Task on your Gannt View (showing the entire duration from start to finish):

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If you do not insert the Project Summary Task in MSP you also run the risk of having a duplicate Summary Task with the same name as the Project Task.

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Line 0 & Line 1 is the same, showing the duplication:mceclip3.png

The Fix

The below screenshot shows the schedule starting at Line 1.

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On the MSP schedule select “Format” and select  “Project Summary Task”.

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Line 0 which is the actual Project Task will show:mceclip6.png

Validation for required fields

The Problem

In MSP as well as when using the Excel Template, there is a possibility of leaving the Planned Start and Planned End dates empty before importing.  If you try to import with the blank required fields, PPO will show a validation error. 

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The Fix

Update your MSP / Excell document by ensuring that the Planned Start Date, Planned End Date, and all required fields are populated, then re-import.

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