I have been spending the past few days religiously searching for a missing piece to add to my lovely suite of office products: An integrator to link Microsoft Project and Outlook Calendar.
As usual, it met with dismal failure.
Now, why is it so difficult to find a simple add-on to import Microsoft Project to Outlook? Granted, there is an export utility to export the Project data in a variety of formats and an import facility to import to Outlook. However, the process is tedious and cumbersome to say the least.
Take this for example: I tried exporting a long Project schedule (going well into the third quarter of next year) to a comma separated value file. What I came up with is a mapping dialogue asking me to map all the fields with the fields I want. What on earth!!! There are literally tonnes and tonnes of fields in that project and its only been a measly two weeks since I touched Microsoft Project! Dont tell me am expected to know which field to select and which fields not to! Not to mention that its not even a schedule I drew up! Thats ridiculous! (Actually not really but I simply could’nt think of going through all the fuss just to import to Outlook :)). Additionally, I wanted to synchronise the two calendars and importing and exporting with all the mappings to do in between all the time was not something which appealed especially not if the schedule is bound to change on a weekly basis.
So, off I went to good ol’ google and transpired across just the document I need: Integrating Outlook with Microsoft Project 2003 by Technology Associates International Ltd. A nice word document with screenshots and simple explanations on how to carry out the whole process. With a catch:
This paper describes how the Outlook Integration add-in for Microsoft Office Project Web Access makes it easier for you to keep track of tasks that have been assigned to you in Microsoft Project.
Now, what on earth was Microsoft Office Project Web Access? To excerbate the matter further, there was a step which required you to choose the option of Work with Microsoft Outlook and its apparently only available in the Project Web Access. It sounded suspiciously like a repeat of my all to frequent search-for-something-and-end-up-with-nothing senario.
I still decided to give it a try and prepared myself for a long round of googling. To make the long story short, it turns out that to integrate Outlook and Project, you need the Project to be connected to a Project Server via a Web Portal which is the Microsoft Project Web Access. Meaning that there is no way you can integrate a stand-along Project 2003 with Outlook.
Oh why oh why oh why is it that what I need is something which no-one else seems to want?