Becoming a Project Server admin is tough. You have to simultaneously become an expert in project management methodology, SharePoint, Project Server, Business Intelligence….it’s undoubtedly quite a challenge. It’s a bit easier if you have the resources of corporate IT to rely upon, but there’s no guarantee that outside of the usual realm of SharePoint skills, they’re ready to support you in configuring and managing Project Server.
When I first started managing Project Server implementations, I put together a short document that I could leave with newly minted administrators – basically a cheat sheet to available resources. A couple of years ago, I realized that this sort of document was best off as a blog post, which I could then point my clients to. This represents the latest version of that content, refreshed for the 2010 release.
Please see below for my recommendations for getting up to speed on administering Project Server 2010…
Recommended Reading List
There are a lot of good books available these days and even more material available online. If you have an unlimited budget, I’d recommend buying every book under Project 2010 on Amazon. If you don’t have an unlimited budget, I’d recommend the following at a minimum – and not just for your shelf, but read through them.
- Administering Microsoft Project Server 2010; Chefetz, Howard & Zink
- Managing Projects with Microsoft Project Server 2010; Chefetz, Howard & Gatte
- Forecast Scheduling with Microsoft Project 2010; Uyttewaal
Read the Blogs
There’s a lot of good information being produced in the blogosphere these days. If you haven’t gotten into the habit of subscribing via RSS to a selection of blogs, you really need to. I have been using Omea Jetbrains for years, but any number of tools are out there for both PC, cloud and mobile OS.
Here’s my list of blogs worth monitoring.
At least three of those blogs are rated as “must read” as they pretty much represent the official voice of the product team:
- Christophe Fiessinger’s Blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/chrisfie/
- Brian Smith’s Blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/brismith/
- The Project Blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/project/
Many of the bloggers are also active on Twitter. If you monitor Twitter, watch for the following hash tags: #PMOT, #MSProject and #ProjectServer. If you are not active on Twitter, feel free to check out this automatic service that pulls the latest relevant Tweets each week.
Monitor The Newsgroups
The Technet newsgroups are the best resource of free Project-related information on the Web. Questions posted are typically answered in less than 24 hours by volunteers from around the globe – including yourself if you so choose. Start your day with a cup of coffee and a quick perusal of the latest postings.
Project and Project Server Newsgroups: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/category/projectserver2010,projectprofessional2010
Project Server & TFS Integration Forum: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/tfsprojectsrvint
There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not the forums are downloadable for offline viewing and posting. The latest tool for doing so is the NNTP Community Bridge, but whether or not it is supported seems to change by the week. If it is working, you can download the posts each day to Outlook Express or another tool of your choice (like Jetbrains.)
As Project Server is married so closely to SharePoint, you may also have to keep the SharePoint forums on your favorites list:
Note however that you should ensure that any questions posted to the SharePoint forums are strictly SharePoint related. Posts mentioning Project Server in any context often get transferred back to the Project Server forums.
You may also add the Technet search engine to your IE search box to speed up your search for information.
In addition to the newsgroups, some of the LinkedIn Groups are also gaining in popularity. Take a look at LinkedIn, but some of the active groups I’ve identified include:
- Collaboration and Project Management
- Forecast Scheduling (Based on the popular Microsoft Project text of the same name)
- Microsoft Project Professionals Network
- PPM – Microsoft Project Portfolio 2007
- Project Server 2010
- Project Server Consultants
Join the User Groups/Local Communities
Subscribe to the Microsoft Project User Group mailing list. Watch for local events or pertinent webinars.
Attend (or at least get on the mailing list) of your local SharePoint User Group – most cities have one. Watch for relevant sessions and networking sessions.
Engage your local chapter of the Project Management Institute. The monthly sessions may not be specifically pertinent to Project Server, but you’re guaranteed to run into other folks attempting to implement the same thing. Chapters often offer subsidized Microsoft Project or Project Server related classes.
In case you missed the announcement, try to attend the 2012 Project Conference which was announced only a couple of weeks ago.
Build a Virtual Environment
Nothing replaces having a full virtual environment to play with, and to break if necessary. Work with your local technical resources to provision a Hyper-V environment on your local laptop, or failing that, on an available development server. Despite the dire warnings, you don’t really need top of the line hardware to run a virtual sandbox. As far as I can tell, pretty much any machine with 8GB of RAM and a 64 Bit OS will suffice. Note that you need Windows Server 2008 to run Hyper V, but if you’re stuck with Windows 7, could probably get by with the Sun Virtual Box using these instructions from Rolly Perreaux.
If you’re comfortable doing so, go ahead and build your own environment with a Technet Professional subscription. The Administration book referenced above will walk you through the process.
Get An Operating Framework
Since you will be the Project Server service desk, or will be interfacing with your corporate service desk, it behooves you to get up to speed on best practices in keeping the lights on and in managing changes. There’re a couple of flavors out there, but the ideal scenario would be to get ITIL Foundations Certified or up to speed on the Microsoft Operations Framework. I can’t speak to MOF, but the ITIL Foundations class is easily accessible and quite beneficial to non-techies.
…and that’s my list. Out of curiosity, I Tweeted a request out to the Twitterverse, and some last minute useful additions to this list include:
- Learn to know and love the ULS logs (@alexanderb)
- Develop simple but effective Resource Breakdown Structures (@jeff1er)
….which I think both would make excellent subjects for future posts. What about you? Do you have any suggestions for content I may have missed?