Does Project Insight Import & Export all of my Data from Microsoft Project?
Project Insight imports as much information from the Microsoft Project file that maps to similar functionality in Project Insight. The import feature is a utility to assist in the data entry process for projects and templates previously created in Microsoft Project. It is not intended as a substitute for the responsibilities of project managers to enter and maintain correct project scheduling information in Project Insight. Project Insight imports and exports all of the durations, work hours, assignments, percent allocations (using MS default flat percent allocation contour), and predecessors lead and lag time and up to five task splits. Project Insight imports the project default calendar, but does not import work calendars for resources in the MS Project file, since each user in Project Insight has their own default work calendar which other projects depend on. Project Insight does however export the resources’ work calendars upon export.
For most files, the MS Project file and Project Insight will have the same dates, durations, work, assignments, and percent allocations with minimal differences. Occasionally there are slight differences in these values because when Project Insight imports a project from MS Project, the schedule is recalculated using the Project Insight schedule algorithms, and when projects are exported from Project Insight the schedule is recalculated using the Microsoft Project algorithms. Project Insight follows the "Project Management Book of Knowledge" best practices for scheduling as does MS Project, therefore the schedule algorithms calculate extremely closely. One of the main differences in the algorithms is that Project Insight bases the dates on Greenwich Mean Time and converts the time into the local time which MS Project uses on export and import. Sometimes this can cause slight differences. In general, most differences are not noticeable.
There are fields in MS Project which are not supported in Project Insight and there are fields in Project Insight which are not supported in Microsoft Project. For example, Project Insight has two fields for rate; where as Microsoft Project has one field. MS Project also has an overtime rate; where as Project Insight does not. Project Insight keeps track of actual time entered into the time and billing system. Microsoft Project keeps track of actual time based on % work complete. Project Insight keeps track of hours complete as well, but calls them work hours complete, not actual hours. When importing and exporting, Project Insight allows the user to select some of the fields that could be updated. For example, when importing you may choose to import the % complete and actual start and end dates for tasks, or you may choose not to. If you skip it on the import or re-import, Project Insight will keep all of the original values that were entered by users of Project Insight. Custom fields do not carry over between MS Project and Project Insight.
Microsoft Project Tasks with Resource Assignments with 0 hours (0% Allocation)
MS Project handles tasks that have a resource assignment on the task with 0 hours causing percent allocation to be 0, differently than Project Insight. In Project Insight you may have a task that has duration greater than 0 days, for example 1 day, and still have a resource assigned to it with 0 hours. Microsoft Project does not allow this, and converts the task into a milestone with 0 days of duration no matter what the duration is set to. This can cause a discrepancy in the scheduled dates of your project because Project Insight will allow the task to have a duration which causes the subsequent successors to start after the finish. In MS Project, the same task’s successors would start at the same time the task is scheduled to start.
Can I Import & Export then Re-Import?
Yes you may import, then export then re-import a MS Project file into Project Insight with the following caveats: First, MS Project uses a field called "UniqueId" to give each task a unique number within the file. This field is an integer field which continues to increment for each task you add to the project. For example, if you add a task to the file, its unique id will be 1. Then when you add a second task it will have a unique id of 2 and so on. If you delete a task, then the unique number is then gone and not used again. Project Insight uses this field to keep track of the tasks that you have imported. This is how we are able to map the tasks from the original file into Project Insight. So if you export the project from Project Insight, we also assign the tasks in Project Insight to the unique id that each task is within the Microsoft Project file. So when re-importing from the original file, or re-importing from an exported file, you must always have the original Microsoft Project file you used to create the project the first time, or you must have the original Microsoft Project file that was created by Project Insight when you export. You may not copy and paste the tasks out of the file created by Project Insight into another file and successfully re-import the project.
Task Splits Consistency & Partially Completed Tasks with Actual Start Dates
There are several consistency issues related to tasks splits between MS Project and Project Insight. First, in MS Project you cannot manually create a task split that is less than one day, for example a split of 4 hours. You can level tasks in MS Project which will cause splits, but normally even those splits are done on a day-by-day basis. In Project Insight you can have splits that are as short as 15 minutes or less. The recommended use for splits if you are using MS Project is to never split tasks by less than one day.
Another issue with task splits is that in MS Project if you have a partially completed task, and you set the actual start date back or forward from its scheduled dates in MS Project. MS Project will split the task, since the completed portion is in the past. Project Insight does not split tasks that are partially completed and/or adjust the dates of tasks when the actual start date is entered because each task owner may not be the project manager and if each task owner set an actual task start date that was different than the scheduled dates and setting those dates were allowed to change the scheduled dates, then the Project Manager would not be able to effectively manage the project. Essentially each user would be able to adjust the schedule. The reason this is not an issue in MS Project is because the only one that is adjusting an MS Project file is the PM themselves. MS Project files do not support the real-time collaborative updating of tasks, the way that Project Insight does.
Importing Projects Leveled in MS Project
Project Insight does not currently support importing projects that have been leveled in MS Project. Project Insight will automatically use the "early start" and "early finish" dates for tasks that were leveled in MS Project, unless you select the option on importing to "set constraint dates on tasks previously leveled by MS Project". If you select that option, Project Insight will set the start date of the task equal to the leveled start date, creating a date constraint which is supported in Project Insight.
Preserving Project Insight Cross-Project Dependencies
Tasks with predecessor tasks to other projects cannot export this predecessor relationship from Project Insight to Microsoft Project. The Project export will instead place a constraint of "Start No Earlier Than" on the exported task with a date equal to the calculated date of the task. Making changes and re-importing to Project Insight will retain this updated constraint type, so you may want to remove the "Start No Earlier Than" constraint from the Project file prior to import or edit the Project Insight task for removal of the constraint type following the import. The predecessor relationship to the task in the cross-project dependency will remain in Project Insight.
MS Project Import/Export with Custom Work Calendars Limitations
Project Insight supports hierarchical work calendars inheriting from the default system, a user’s personal calendar, the project calendar or a different custom work calendar. MS Project does not support a tree of custom calendars, only a parent child relationship between work calendars of a resource and a base calendar. When Project Insight exports work calendars to MS Project, the hierarchical tree of work calendars must be "flattened" into a single base calendar. Because of this limitation within MS Project, Project Insight does not import updates to existing work calendars from MS Project into Project Insight. Project Insight does import new base calendars from MS Project that do not already exist in Project Insight as a custom calendar. Changes to resource work calendars within MS Project are not supported upon import. Bear these limitations in mind when using MS Project import and export functions from Project Insight.