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Integrating Visio 2007 and Project 2007

Office 2007

Summary: Microsoft Office Project 2007 and Microsoft Office Visio 2007 provide integration capabilities that previous versions did not provide. You can take advantage of these capabilities by using a combination of native features and COM add-in features. (8 printed pages)

The GotDotNet User Sample: Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS enhances integration between Microsoft Office Project 2007 and Microsoft Office Visio 2007.

Important noteImportant

This article walks through how to use the Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS. You must install this sample in order to do the tasks specified in this article.

The tool adds a menu item to the Project 2007 user interface. It also adds an additional solution to the Visio 2007 user interface that includes a template, a stencil, and several automated features.

The Visio Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solution uses standard Visio diagramming features, such as groups and connectors, together with new Visio 2007 functionality, such as AutoConnect. The Visio EPM solution also provides the following tool-specific shapes to use for creating a process flow diagram or a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) diagram:

  • Project Group. Represents the highest-level shape, which encompasses multiple projects

  • Project. Represents all phases, tasks, and milestones within a project

  • Phase. Includes all tasks and milestones, such as a summary task in Project

  • Task. Represents an individual work item; used when you create a process flow diagram

  • Milestone. Signifies the completion of a major task or project event

  • WBS Task. Represents an individual work item; used when you create a WBS diagram

  • Task Connector. Enables you to represent the critical path in process flow diagrams or to create predecessor relationships and successor relationships in WBS diagrams

The following sections discuss the features provided in the Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS tool, focusing on how these features are used in the client versions of Project and Visio.

This Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS tool provides you with the ability to create a Visio process flow diagram that displays the critical path style from a Project schedule.

The tool reads the Project information, opens the Visio EPM solution, adds shapes to the page, populates them with property information, and represents the critical path of the project by using connectors between phases and tasks.

The following information from the Project schedule is added to each task-level shape:

  • Start date

  • Finish date

  • Duration

  • Percent complete

  • Name

To generate a Visio diagram from a Project schedule

  1. Open Project 2007 and create a project schedule, adding at least one task.

  2. On the Visio Process Flow menu, click Export Project Plan to Visio Process Flow Chart.

  3. In the Visio Connector for Project/EPM Process Flow dialog box, click Finish.

The tool starts Visio and creates a WBS process flow-chart from the schedule information. The flow of connectors in the diagram represents the critical path.

Figure 1. Visio process flow diagram

Visio process flow diagram

Clearly diagramming the critical path for a project is a highly effective reporting tool for communicating the critical elements necessary to complete a project. Using this tool, you can more easily generate the necessary view and gain visibility into this important project management process.

Using this feature, you can create a Visio WBS diagram that represents the task hierarchy, task information, and interdependencies of a specific project. After building the diagram, you can automatically generate a Project schedule.

To generate a Project schedule from a Visio diagram

  1. In Visio, create a Visio EPM diagram. On the File menu, point to New, point to Schedule, and then click Visio EPM.

  2. On the View menu, click Shape Data Window. Displaying this window provides easier data entry into each shape while you create the diagram.

  3. From the Visio EPM stencil, drag a WBS Task shape onto the page. This represents the first summary task in the schedule.

    Figure 2. Visio WBS diagram and Shape Data window

    Visio WBS diagram and Shape Data window
  4. Give the task a name by selecting the shape and typing a name. In the Shape Data window, populate the task with start dates and end dates, and with duration and percent-complete information.

  5. From the Visio EPM stencil, drag the second WBS Task shape onto the page, and then repeat Step 4.

  6. From the Visio EPM stencil, drag a Task Connector shape onto the page and connect the summary task to the sublevel task.

  7. Using the techniques in Step 3, Step 4, and Step 5, continue to build a WBS diagram.

    Figure 3. Completed WBS diagram

    Completed WBS diagram
  8. On the Project Management menu, click Create Project Plan from WBS. The Visio MS Project Task Creation Wizard opens.

    Figure 4. Choose data destination

    Choose data destination
  9. On the MS Project Task Creation page, click Browse, navigate to the location where you want to save the Project file, type a name for the file, and then click Save.

    Figure 5. Browse to file location

    Browse to file location
  10. In the MS Project Task Creation Wizard window, click Finish.

  11. Project starts, the newly created file is populated with the information from the Visio drawing, and then the newly created Project file is saved and closed.

You can now open Project and open the new schedule.

Figure 6. Resulting Project schedule

Resulting Project schedule

This feature provides options for if you prefer to build work breakdown structures graphically. A graphical view of a WBS might help communicate the structure and relationships between higher-level tasks and lower-level tasks.

The Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS tool also enables you to generate a schedule from a Visio process flow diagram.

To generate a Project schedule from a Visio process flow diagram, use the same steps you used to create a schedule from a WBS diagram, but instead of building a WBS diagram by using WBS Task shapes, build a process flow diagram by using Phase, Task, and Milestone shapes.

Similar to the WBS diagram, use the Task Connector shape to represent the critical path flow through the phases and tasks.

To generate the schedule, click Project Management, point to Process Flow, and thenclick Create Project Plan.

Using a process flow diagram gives you the flexibility to create a diagram first and then generate a schedule from that diagram. A graphical view of a project's critical path is a very important tool for helping to ensure the completion of a successful project.

After you generate a Project schedule from a WBS diagram or from a process flow diagram, you can automatically update the diagram to reflect the current percent-complete status of its corresponding Project schedule file.

This example uses the WBS diagram and the Project schedule file from the previous sections.

To update the status of tasks in a Visio diagram

  1. In Visio, open the WBS diagram that you previously built. Click Project Management, and then click Get Task Status. The Get Task Status Wizard appears. Choose the source application you want to work with. For this example, choose MS Project, and then click Next.

    Figure 7. Choose source application

    Choose source application
  2. On the Get task status from MS Project page, choose the source from which to get information. For this example, choose .Mpp file (Local Copy), and then click Next.

    Figure 8. Choose data source

    Choose data source
  3. On the MS Project Task Creation page, click Browse, select the Project schedule file, click Save, and then click Finish.

    Figure 9. Browse to a file location

    Browse to a file location
  4. On the Microsoft Project Task Creation page, click Finish. The tool opens the Project schedule, reads its task percent-complete information, and changes the color of tasks in the WBS diagram that are 100 percent complete.

Figure 10. Task status successfully updated

Task status successfully updated

Representing updated status on a WBS or process flow diagram from information maintained in its associated Project schedule saves time and provides project managers with an excellent status-reporting tool.

Project managers often must create high-level reports from Project schedule information. Integration between Project and Visio enables you to more easily create a Visio Timeline diagram that represents milestones and intervals from a Project schedule.

To create a Visio Timeline diagram from Project data

  1. In Visio, create a Timeline diagram. On the File menu, point to New, point to Schedule, and then click Timeline (US units) or Timeline (Metric).

  2. On the Data menu, point to Insert Data Solutions, and then click Timeline to start the Import Timeline Wizard.

    Figure 11. The Timeline menu

    The Timeline menu
  3. On the Import Timeline Wizard start page, click Browse, navigate to and open the Project schedule file from which you want to create a timeline, and then click Next.

    Figure 12. Select a Project file to import

    Select a Project file to import
  4. Select the task types to include. For this example, select Top level tasks and milestones, and then click Next.

    Figure 13. Select tasks to include

    Select tasks to include
  5. Select the shapes to use for the timeline, milestones, and intervals. Click Next and then click Finish.

    Figure 14. Select Visio shapes

    Select Visio shapes
  6. Using shape control handles, reposition the milestone text, and then add a background and title to enhance the timeline's appearance.

Figure 15. Completed Timeline diagram

Completed Timeline diagram

With a few simple steps, you can create Visio Timeline drawings from Project schedule information. A Timeline report provides a level of detail to project participants, such as project sponsors and stakeholders, and enhances project status communications.

PivotDiagrams, created from Project data, are useful for creating different views of complex data. In the following example you take a simple Project file for building a deck and view the resource data in Visio, using PivotDiagrams.

To create a Visio PivotDiagram from Project data

  1. In Project 2007, open a Project schedule file.

  2. On the Report menu, click Visual Reports.

  3. Select the Visio template you want to use for creating the PivotDiagram. For this example, click Resource Status Report, and then click View.

Figure 16 shows the Gantt chart view of the Project file. The tasks in the project have both labor resources and material resources assigned to them. In this Gantt chart view, the cost for materials and labor are combined and displayed for each task.

Figure 16. Project 2007 file for building a deck

Project 2007 file for building a deck

Figure 17 shows the resource sheet from the Project file. Materials are identified at the unit level. Within each task, the numbers of units of each material are specified.

Figure 17. A resource sheet created from the Project file

A resource sheet created from the Project file

Figure 18 shows the dialog box that is displayed when you click Visual Reports. Note that there are numerous Visio and Microsoft Office Excel templates from which to choose.

Figure 18. The Visual Reports dialog box

The Visual Reports dialog box

Figure 19 shows a portion of the Visio PivotDiagram that is created when you click Resource Status Report.

Figure 19. Visio Resource Status Report created from the Project file

Resource Status Report created from Project file

Figure 20 shows the menu that appears when you right-click the pivot node. Use this menu or the PivotDiagram window to control the various views of the data.

NoteNote

The shortcut menu displays a limited number of categories of data. Although it is easy to pivot by using the shortcut menu, the PivotDiagram window provides more capabilities and lists all data categories and totals.

Figure 20. Right-click the pivot node to use the shortcut menu

Right-click the pivot node to use the context menu

To create the pivot node view

  1. Right-click the top-level node labeled Total, and then click Type.

  2. Right-click the node labeled Material, and then click Tasks.

  3. Right-click the node labeled Deck, and then click Tasks.

Figure 21. Alternative PivotDiagram view of project data

Alternative PivotDiagram view of project data

This view of the project data separates the material costs and the labor costs at the first level. The material costs are then further separated for each task. Figure 22 shows a similar diagram, but at the lowest level the material costs are displayed by resource, a useful view for determining how much of each material item is needed.

Figure 22. PivotDiagram showing material costs by resource

PivotDiagram showing material costs by resource

Effective project management requires using visual diagrams such as work breakdown structures, GANTT charts, and timelines. Visio provides tools for accessing Project timelines and for accessing Gantt chart data from the Visio Data menu. From Project, there are several Visio templates available that use the Project Visual Reports tool for creating Visio diagrams. The Visio Connector for Project/EPM/SPS provides additional tools that enhance the integration between Project and Visio.

Since 1997, Visimation has helped companies improve their productivity by providing visual software tools to ease business and technical tasks, and offered a broad range of consulting services focusing on Microsoft Office Visio as a platform for rapid development of efficient Automation programs.

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