One of the least favourite parts of my job as a software developer is when the project manager comes to me with printout of a project plan done in Microsoft project and asks asks if the plan is okay.
The project plan printout shows a list of tasks, described by a 3-6 word title, along with start and end dates for each task. I am usually asked to look through this and figure out if a) The tasks are taking place in the right order, b) If any tasks are taking place at the same time that shouldn’t be (maybe because they require the same computers, components or people) and if the task estimates sound reasonable.
Making sense of a 100-500 task project plan from this type of list is pretty difficult. It would be much easier to view this as an interactive calendar that lets you view the tasks taking place in a given month, week or day. The other day I found a blog post by Ashish Paliwal on some software to convert a Microsoft Project .MPP file to Google Calendar.
I downloaded the software and spent the morning adding features to it, including
- Task constraints, dependencies and resources now show up in the event description
- Events on the calendar run from the start to end date
- An option to skip tasks that have already completed
The 500+ item project plan I’ve been staring at is now much clearer.
My modified version of the tool is available at github. You can download an executable JAR with my changes from my sourceforge site
To convert a MS-Project .mpp to a Google Calendar just run
java -jar mpp.jar MyProjectPlan.mpp firstname.lastname@example.org
Then select one of the calendars from the list and the tool will update it to include the tasks from your project plan.