The great Office Server smorgasbord
- 13 September, 2007 10:26
We take a look at how MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007) and Project Server 2007 combine to give project managers a better handle on team management.
This isn't a review of the Office Project 2007 client, but we'd be remiss if we didn't run down a few of its newer capabilities before moving to the server. The 2007 client incorporates the new ribbon-style UI contained in most of the other Office 2007 client applications. This is intended to make the UI easier to learn for new users and faster for experienced users, but we're only lukewarm on its success in those endeavors. The new ribbon doesn't seem to decrease complexity as much as it simply reorganizes it. Features and concepts will still need to be learned, and experienced users will still need to figure out where those same functions are located in the new UI.
You'll find two basic flavors of the Project client (Project Standard 2007 and Project Professional 2007) bolstered by a third (Project Web Access 2007) once you've installed Project Server 2007. Only Project Standard can be run as a stand-alone client application with full functionality. Both Professional and Web Access require Project Server on the back end -- Professional so you can access all its features, Web Access so you can access it at all.
Standard and Professional carry most of the same features for basic project management, including project editing, all the calendar views and task creation capabilities, etc. Web Access really only allows Gantt chart views and task creation at this level, though if the OLAP capabilities provided in the new Project Server 2007 appeal to you, then Web Access is the only UI that will let your users access those features.
Where Standard and Professional begin to differ is in team management. Only Professional gives project managers full resource management features, including team assignments, collaboration support, and specific things such as timesheets. Also, only Professional can make use of the capabilities provided by SharePoint when it and Project Server are combined for better back-end data access.
Customizability, however, is a mixed bag, so shop carefully. You can customize Project Standard to a certain degree using Visual Basic for Applications. However, only Project Professional and Web Access can make use of the much beefier API offered by Project Server. Additionally, should project managers want to use the new Server's permissioning capabilities, they will have to turn to Professional and Web Access as well. Finally, Project Server can only be administered from the Web Access UI, unless you've combined it with SharePoint, in which case it can largely be managed from SharePoint's central administration screens.
For the most part, Microsoft has ensured that Project Professional is the required client version to make use of Project Server 2007. While the Web Access UI is somewhat functional, it's really only good as an executive-style viewer of team project data and as a feature add-on to the fat client interface. Project Standard is good only for single-user project managers.
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