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What’s New in Microsoft Project 2013? Part 3: Changes for Backend Users

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Earlier this year, Microsoft released Microsoft Project 2013. Today we conclude our in-depth coverage on each of the most important feature updates. In Part 1, we we introduced the high-level changes to Microsoft Project 2013 and provided a detailed look at Project Online in the Microsoft Cloud. In Part 2, we covered the extensive changes that have been made to the Reporting features, which is the most important change that has been made for front-end users.

While many consider Microsoft Project 2013 to be a light update in terms of the features and functionality, there’s no shortage of changes and updates that are important for administrators and IT departments.

Architectural Updates

Changes to the Project architecture include:

  • As we covered in our article on Project Online, Project now uses a multi-tenancy environment. What this means for your organization is that a single SharePoint Server or Project Server can be used independently by different customers, departments or companies in your organization.
  • Also, to facilitate the move to a Project Online offering, Project offers OData services—the standard protocol for HTTP— for reporting.
  • A SharePoint has been its Workflow Designer, and now Windows Azure Workflow gives your organization added flexibility for running those workflows. You can use it on a single computer for testing and demonstration, on a separate server, or in the cloud.
  • The Project Server Queue has been updated for improved performance. Also, Timesheet jobs no longer use the queue so that now there is a single queue for all services.


SharePoint Integration

Integration with SharePoint is not new, but it has become much tighter and more seamless with the release of Project 2013.

As shown in Figure 1, you can view and update a structured task list in SharePoint only, which includes dates and is linked directly to master task list. When viewed in SharePoint only, it is not shown in the project center.

Figure 1

Blog - What's New in MS Project 2013 SharePoint Task List
There’s the option of viewing a task list in the Project Center, which is a site import of the task list.

You can also synchronize a task list with Project Professional, so that changes can be made in either document with bidirectional updates. Figure 2 shows a task list being edited in Project Professional.

Figure 2

Blog - What's New in MS Project 2013Project Pro Task List

Finally, all data can be transferred to Project Server, so as to promote the task list to an enterprise project.


Project Professional

In addition to the SharePoint synchronization features covered above, there have been various cosmetic changes, including a new user interface. Additionally, there’s a new feature, called late checkout, that allows write only projects to be checked out after they’ve been opened.

Several additions have been made to the information-based features, as well:

  • Scheduling has an added function for showing all predecessors and successors with driving relations.
  • There are new time-phased data fields; eg: baseline work and remaining work.
  • Project Pro reporting has been improved with new reports, integration with Office for exporting data, a report designer, and OLAP cube.


Other Changes for Backend Users

That covers are several of the biggest changes for backend users, but below are other improvements to usership:

  • The administrative settings have been reorganized so that PMO Administration settings are all in one place (the Server Settings page) and IT related settings are all in one place (the Central Administration site).
  • There is now a SharePoint Permission Mode and Project site permissions.
  • Active Directory synchronization has undergone drastic improvements, thanks to smarter scheduling and reduced number of RDB updates. This results in a initial synchronization being 260% faster and recurring synchronization taking place 35x’s as fast (syncs taking a couple dozen seconds instead of several minutes)!
  • Additions have been made to logging and monitoring. Entities that can be tracked through the Log Level Manager are assignments, calendars, queue jobs, objects, projects, TS periods, resources, tasks and templates. The actions that can be performed on these information sets are Add, Set, Get, Clear, Remove and Remove.

Though some information sources may provide a more exhaustive list of anything-and-everything that was touched, these are, in our opinion, the changes that are impactful to organizations. To learn about the updates that are important to Project Managers, see Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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