Microsoft Project Server is the core member of the Microsoft Enterprise Project Management solution, a solution presented by Microsoft to the market as a Project Management tool. The product was first launched as Microsoft Project Server 2002. The main purpose of the product is to have a centralised storage location for all projects that have different types of user with corresponding roles to manage the project’s timetable, cost and resources.
Since the first release of the product to the market, Microsoft had invested in developing the product and adding more members to the EPM solution product suite. It was able to release Microsoft Project Server 2003 and 2007 versions that came with even stronger integration than other Microsoft products such as SharePoint. In 2006, Microsoft introduced a new product called Microsoft Portfolio Server, the software they acquired from UMT Company.
Microsoft Enterprise Project Management Solution also known as Microsoft EPM Solution developed some key areas of Project Management and addressed the following:
Consistency of quality project information across the organisation
Microsoft EPM Solution can support a standard approach in initiating and managing small, medium and large projects and programs. The solution enhances the ability to achieve a defined process. Each project in the Project Server can have its own set of standard attributes, thus providing results with consistency and a regular set of information in which they can base their reports.
Resource Capacity Management and Planning
Microsoft EPM Solution can be used to represent organisational resource capacity by introducing an enterprise resource pool. The centralised resource pool will store resources from availability of data based on calendars and assignments, including project and non-project task assignments and actual work. This combination provides solution to support the management and planning of resource utilisation and capacity.
More efficient and accurate reporting
Microsoft Project Server and Portfolio Server have the ability to produce real-time reports using system-generated data, providing organisations with more efficient and accurate reporting capabilities. It also reduces the required resources needed for the provisioning of these tasks. These include automated and consolidated reporting of projects, programs and portfolios.
Improved visibility and collaboration among project teams
It also provides a centralised project workspace site that is based on Microsoft SharePoint technology and allows the visibility of project artefacts such as project documents, risks, issues, change requests, etc., without the need to manually process request and email these artefacts. It also provides a platform that supports mechanism for communications including team sites, discussion logs, task lists, announcements, etc.
Improved time tracking
It also provides team members with a web interface to capture project task updates and a timesheet interface that will provide a more detailed and accurate time record for each project by focusing each team member’s attention on its authorised activities and task duration.
Better Estimation of Project Delivery
It also introduces solutions to provide estimation of project (optimistic and pessimistic) timeframes. EPM provides project planning and tracking features that will support accurate methods for predicting project delivery dates. When these features are used within the framework of improved planning and tracking processes, project schedules and budgets can be more reliable and can be used as historical data for future projects.
Both Project Server and Portfolio Server are highly configured and customised platform. Organisations can configure them in a way that aligns with their business requirements and expectations. It can configure workflows, object attributes, security model, and reporting. Both applications come with API (applications programmable interface) that gives the ability to extend the application and allows it to provide more functionality. It also allows organisation to integrate Project Server or Portfolio Server with other tools and applications such as the ERP systems.
Microsoft is planning to release the next version of Project Server (Project Server 2010) on the first of half of 2010, the new version will have more enterprise ready architecture.