Late last year, our development team Digital Cookie put the finishing touches to the timesheet module in our project management and control information system (PMCIS). The scope of which did not include an integration with Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project.

Over the last 6 months, we’ve taken a step back to thoroughly research how this integration might work for both packages and just last month, we have successfully developed and tested an interface from Microsoft Project to PMCIS.

Several people have asked us how this interface works and so this article aims to articulate the interface and it’s applications.

In coming months, we are looking to upgrade our company network so as a fitting example, lets begin examining the interface in all it’s glory!

Our initial program developed in Microsoft Project

A simple project in it’s own right, however made complex by the fact that there are plenty of small fiddly services hanging off our infrastructure.

We begin by developing the WBS in PMCIS:

Creating the Work Breakdown Structure

Here, our structure is simple yet functional for reporting purposes. We note down the WBS ID’s that PMCIS has generated and capture them against the activities that we wish to report. We then take these identifiers and insert them against the tasks we wish to syncronise:

Using Text1 to Setup the Syncronisation Process

We utilise the Text1 custom field in Microsoft Project to inform the Macro which tasks we wish to include in the syncronisation process. The system is flexible enough that we can syncronise summary tasks or a full schedule. Any task identified as a milestone is handled by PMCIS and displayed as a milestone.

We then push the information to PMCIS using a Visual Basic (VBA) macro:

Using our VBA Macro to Push Data to PMCIS

A dialog is then provided which displays the relative XML calls to and from the web service, handled server side with some neat PHP scripting.

We then are able to see our activities populated in PMCIS:

Tasks now showing in PMCIS as a result of a push from Microsoft Project and our VBA Macro

Also included within this PMCIS module, is a simplified Gantt chart to enable users to view the project's timeline:

PMCIS Gantt Chart

We can then start assigning resources to activities within Microsoft Project to enable the timesheet solution in PMCIS. We start by creating reosurces and utilise the Email Address field in MS Project:

Creating a Microsoft Project Resource

We then assign the resource to the activities we wish that user to book to:

Allocating resources to tasks

We then use the Macro to push task and resource assignment data across to PMCIS:

Pushing resource assignment data from MS Project to PMCIS

In PMCIS, we can then review the activity assignments and confirm that we've setup the tasks in PMCIS to receive time bookings:

Reviewing user assignments in PMCIS

The integration script has now enabled us to provide even more flexibility to our clients and projects. We can create a schedule and associated budget, transfer it to our system and capture actuals in a controlled manner. Included within our timesheet module is a suite of reports that enable actual data to be dropped out into Excel, thus enabling earned value reporting.

The power and flexibility of this package is immense. It is scalable and can be applied to projects of any size or scale.

Stay tuned for more updates on PMCIS and in coming months, we will be writing more as we further develop our Primavera P6 interface!

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