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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:

Resources are mapped incorrectly

Background

PPO’s Employees entity maintains a pool of resources that is 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:

FAQ_MSP_1.jpg

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

FAQ_MSP_2.jpg

The problem

We have found that users often re-use their project plans. If a project plan has been synced with resources on one instance of PPO and is then imported into another instance of PPO, the resources will not import into PPO at all:

FAQ_MSP_3.jpg

 

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.

This problem is most common for users that have either used PPO previously on another instance, or is currently a user on more than one instance of PPO.

 

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 Employees tab.

FAQ_MSP_4.jpg

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 20MB upload limit per document - the same rule applies to project plans. If a project plan is uploaded that is bigger than 20MB, a time-out error or the following error message will appear:

FAQ_MSP_9.jpg

 

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 20MB to import successfully.

FAQ_MSP_5.jpg

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 are 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:

FAQ_MSP_6.jpg

The fix

This problem can occur due to one of two reasons:

1. 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.

FAQ_MSP_7.jpg

 

2. The user forgot to click on "Select All" when they were importing their project plan. As a result, none of the tasks were selected and therefore no tasks were imported.

FAQ_MSP_8.jpg

 

If the tasks were not imported because the "Select All" button was not clicked during import, no tasks will show even when the tasks global filter is disabled. The way to resolve this is to import the project plan again, this time taking care to select all tasks before clicking on submit.

 

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.

FAQ_MSP_10.jpg

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).

FAQ_MSP_11.jpg

 

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:

FAQ_MSP_12.jpg

 

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.

FAQ_MSP_14.jpg

 

Tasks deleted in MSP are not deleted in PPO

The problem

Users often notice that PPO has more tasks for a project than the MSP plan does. The reason for this is mainly that tasks are deleted from MSP, but never deleted from PPO.

PPO does not automatically delete tasks when they are deleted from PPO. The reason for this is that the user is given a choice whether to import all tasks (by clicking on "Select All" when importing their project plan) or to only select some of the tasks for import.

FAQ_MSP_13.jpg

PPO cannot know whether the unselected tasks have been deleted from the project plan or whether they simply have not been selected for import.

 

The fix

To correct this, the additional tasks must be deleted. This can either be done by deleting the whole project plan from PPO (deleting all tasks) and re-importing the whole plan (this must only be done if no time entries are attached to the tasks and only once MSP has been updated with all the information from PPO), or by identifying the additional tasks and deleting them one by one.

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