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Using Local Calendars in the PPM Platform

by Raphael Santos, Microsoft Project MVP

Working as a PPM consultant offers me a very good opportunity to interact with many different clients, which have diverse needs and requirements. A couple of weeks ago I received a very interesting request from a company I am engaged with, regarding the utilization of custom calendars by their project managers.

Before we deep dive into their request, it is important to provide some background: by default, the PPM platform does not allow project managers to configure their own calendars when connected to PWA. The logic behind this restriction is simple: as we are using a platform to centralize and standardize our project management practices, it does not make sense that project managers can use in their projects elements that are not part of the global configuration.

If a project manager tries to modify the default calendar or create a new calendar when connected to PWA, the options will be grayed out:

Figure 1: Change Working Time Dialog

However, there are some unique scenarios in which we should be more flexible and change PWA’s configuration to allow certain things that were not planned. And here we go back to my client’s requirement.

They are a large service provide company, working in the metallurgical industry. Their work consists on machine revitalization, also known as retrofit. They have clients all over the United States, as well as in other countries in both Central and South America. In their project management process, as soon as new retrofit contract is signed a new project is created on their PPM platform (in their case, Project Online).

As their projects will happen in the most diverse cities, it is very common that the schedules are developed taking into consideration particularities and restrictions imposed by clients, including things such as local holidays, plants that will be temporarily closed for maintenance, unavailability of key staff members that are involved in the project and so on.

When we have scenarios such as this, it is very hard to keep the administration of the company’s calendars under Project Online’s admin responsibility. Worse, even though we would like to keep the standards and ask Project Online’s admin to create the calendars as they are requested by project managers, we should consider if this is a worth effort, since most likely the calendars will be used exclusively in each project – which means that in most of the cases they will be useless for other projects.

To allow project managers to create their own calendars based upon the requirements they have, as a PWA admin, navigate to PWA Settings. Under the Operational Policies section click Additional Server Settings. Then, in the Enterprise Setting subsection, make sure to check the Allow projects to use local base calendars option:

Figure 2: Additional Server Settings page

Click Save. Once this option is enabled, project managers will have the ability to create their own calendars:

Figure 3: Change Working Time dialog (creating a new Calendar)

Project managers will have the opportunity to create their calendars as a copy of an enterprise calendar (so they can take the advantage to include all the existing exceptions) or create a new blank base calendar:

Figure 4: Create a new calendar dialog

In this example, let’s say that the project will happen in Brazil, so we need to use the national holidays that are stablished for the country. We can then create a new base calendar and add the exceptions as needed:

Figure 5: New local calendar created

To wrap-up this post, I just wanted to make some considerations:

  • Even though project managers now have permission to create local calendars, they are still not allowed to modify anything in the enterprise ones
  • Local calendars are only available in the project in which they have been created
  • Project managers won’t be able to add their local calendars to Enterprise. If they try it, they will receive the following message:

Figure 6: Unable to add calendar to Enterprise

So, tell me about your experience working with calendars in the PPM platform. Have you ever needed to create local calendars in your projects? Feel free to reach out and let’s chat.

About Raphael Santos, Microsoft Project MVP

Raphael Santos is a PPM enthusiast, with expertise in providing Microsoft Project, Project Online and Project Server solutions. He has worked in several projects to implement PPM tools, including countries in Latin America (Brazil, Peru and Argentina), in the United States and in Africa. He is also a trainer, with more than 10 years of experience in teaching users on how to use Project Management tools in a more productive way. In 2016, Raphael was awarded with the MVP title by Microsoft, in recognition to his contributions in the Project Management community.

About Sensei Project Solutions

Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2017 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, focuses on bringing Instant Productivity to your team. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations be more productive so that they can achieve their greatest potential. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner and Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) with the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Sensei offers a complete set of services and products for a successful Microsoft PPM deployment. Our guiding principles for Proactive PPM follow best practices and industry standards aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Gartner, enabling organizations to manage resource demand, obtain business intelligence that facilitates better decision making, increase business effectiveness by easily connecting people, and become self-sufficient with PPM processes and solutions. In short, Sensei helps organizations achieve Instant Productivity.