Project 2013 No Server, No Sharepoint, Updating Tasks From Assigned Resources Through Email RRS feed

  • Question

  • Ok,

    I have searched high and low for this type of information and Im surprised after all these years that no one has asked or requested this type of information?

    I am a consultant, with my own version of Project 2013 to track how I run Projects.  This is the tool I use.  So this being the case it makes no sense for me to spend millions of dollars for Project Server.  I am just one person useing this as my tool of choice.

    My issues are:

    • I create and assign a task to a resource with a name and an email address.
    • I litterally have thousands of tasks with hundreds of assigned resources (People) with an email address.
    • I need to update weekly all my task!!!  The entire point of using Project 2013 as a tool!
    • However it appears Microsoft needs to make this very dificult to do. If I have to manually email all these people with task and manually ask them for an update, then manually update all these task then whats the point of even bothering using Micrsofts Project 2013?  It is useless.
    • I need a way to automate these updates without having a Server.

    The Question no one seems to be asking is this?

    • Is there a way to update task through email, (Outlook), Why cant I send emails with a table of tasks assinged, request update in the task table, then the assigned resource sends me back the email with thier updates and I can automatically update my Project Task?

    Am I the only one who has asked this or thought of this?  Or are my expectations to high? I cant figure how Microsoft could ever expect a single user of Project even with only one project with 50 to 100 task listed to have to get on the phone or emal every single person manually, and manually update every single task every single week? I have used other Project type apps and they all have a way of sending emails out to assigned people to get task updates automatically.  Only Project doesnt!  Why?

    Thursday, January 15, 2015 8:46 PM

All replies

  • Tobor,

    I understand where you are coming from, however, I cannot think of a product that did not use some custom code or a some kind of web application to do this type of stuff. MS Project 2013, as a desktop product is purely for planning, just like Excel cannot send emails, bring back updates etc., without some custom stuff.

    There are few ways I can think of:

    1) You could place the MPP file in a shared location (like One Drive), and all team members could update the file, if thye als have MS project.

    2) You could export project into Excel, and then collect updates and then improt the updates back into project. Described here:

    I have not tried this in 2013, but the technique should work with may be some modifications.


    Prasanna Adavi, Project MVP

    Blog:   Podcast:    Twitter:    LinkedIn:   

    Thursday, January 15, 2015 10:11 PM
  • Thanks Prasanna,

    Really for the amount of money I have to pay for a Product that should have some way to update tasks.

    Think about this for minute.  I believe Project 2007 was able to do this ,,,, that made sense.... 

    Really ponder this question:  What is the purpose of Microsoft Project for a single user?  Does anyone ask these questions prior to development?

    The reason for Project to exist is to TRACK TASK!  THATS IT! Why would anyone want to track any type of task, hundreds of task MANUALLY?  It does me no good for me to be the only one tracking task.  It does me no good for me to be the only one looking at the task schedule.  Great, so IM THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS WHATS GOING ON? 

    So I ask this question.

    If this is the case then what is the point of tracking anything if it cant be shared or updated in some way or another?  Microsoft Project is useless as a single use product!

    Here is the kicker....

    I can purchase Outlook for a lot less, I can track any and all task, assign task to anyone with an email, I can assign and schedule task through Outlook and place an alert, set it as an appointment through the Calendar, change and assign start and end dates, and get updates through email on any task, calendar, anything.... Why then would I waste ANYTIME OR MONEY ON A USELESS TASK TRACKING PRODUCT LIKE PROJECT?  It does not do anything?  Outlook does a thousand times more than Microsoft Project!  Does that make any sense to anybody?  All Microsoft Project really is... is a stripped down Calendar/Task from Outlook with no ability to email, or communicate in any way shape or form with other people who are assigned the work.  What ends up happening is Microsoft expects single users to purchase Project Server?  Are you crazy?  This is the single reason why Project does not sale!  If Microsoft would go back to sales metrics of Project 2007 they would see a decline till now that will reflect this problem.  Its really a simple fix.  Sales would triple.  Until there is a solution it makes way more sense for me to use Outlook, schedule work task on others calendars and have them send me an update weekly through an automated spreadsheet through Outlook.  From there all the reports exist in Excel.  Why do I need Project anymore?  BTW  I have been a MS Project user since its inception....  SO IM not new to it... what a terrible waste of time, resources, and lack of vision for just a simple powerful addin that was removed after 2007.  Single users like myself will never purchase Project Server just so we can send emails with assigned task for an update,,, silly?

    Friday, January 16, 2015 8:10 AM
  • Tobor,

    Wow! Part of me says I shouldn't bother responding since you apparently are already entrenched with your view on Project but I feel a couple of things need to be clarified.

    First, Project is NOT simply to track tasks. If that's all you have every used if for, then you've been wasting your time and money since day 1. As you note, Outlook, Excel and probably a host of other applications can do that. Project is a dynamic planning and scheduling application. You can't do that with Outlook nor can you do it with Excel unless you trick it out with a complex scheduling add-in.

    If your "schedule" is a large compilation of unrelated tasks, then yes, Outlook or Excel might be a better choice. However, if your "schedule" is indeed a large project with dynamically linked tasks and multiple resources, then Project is clearly the best choice.

    Second, there is an upside and a downside to automatic updating. If the whole plan is extremely benign (known fixed tasks that are not subject to change), then some method of auto-update might be useful. However, if the project is a normal linked network that is subject to unknowns (this is probably 99% of all projects I've ever seen), then having a whole slew of users blindly updating their small part of the larger plan would be disastrous. Someone (i.e. project manger), needs to pull it all together and manage the project. For example, Joe updates his task through the automated system but he neglects to tell Larry, whose effort is dependent on Joe's that Joe's task has slipped and it will impact Larry's task.

    If you have a large plan with lots of resources, a much better approach to updating is to have periodic status meetings (or some other type of coordination), to review the plan and determine the best course of action to resolve problems. Auto-updating cannot do that for you. And you don't need Project Server to do this.

    Project 2010 and Project 2013 do have the ability to send out emails. Look at the quick access toolbar (normally at the very top of the window). If the icon for E-mail is not currently shown, add it. I've never used this feature, but it is available.

    My view.


    Friday, January 16, 2015 4:19 PM
  • The ironic thing is, a previous version of MS Project had this very feature! An ActiveX? control was sent via email for people to update their tasks!

    Don't remember what release it was, but it was at least 10 years ago.

    I could use this old feature again, as i sure, could many others.

    • Edited by handy guy Tuesday, May 3, 2016 3:31 PM
    Tuesday, May 3, 2016 3:27 PM
  • Yes, but the world has moved on. How many email systems are there? How about the cloud? The number of email clients?

    There is no email based system that will work with even a small percentage of what's out there. ActiveX itself is now old technology for good reasons.

    For you, Project Online is probably your best bet for you and key resources. For the rest I personally would use VBA to create multiple Excel update sheets to email and more VBA to automatically update Project from the update files.

    Still involves work, but as John said, a good PM has to spend time checking and analysing updates otherwise you get garbage in and garbage out.

    Rod Gill
    Author of the one and only Project VBA Book

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 10:18 AM
  • Part of me says don't get involved, but I think I need to re-assure you that some of us have been quite happily using MSP in stand-alone mode for 20 years, and in spite of the occasional bug/glitch, using it very productively.

    The more I know about it, the more I admire the original authors who wrote it from scratch.

    If you don't like it, don't use it. If you can find a better alternative that is better suited to your needs, then use that instead, and please tell us what it is.

    MSP is an implementation of the critical path method. That alone makes it valuable and useful. There are millions of installed licences for MSP so I don't think they have to worry much about sales.

    The root cause of the vast majority of problems with the use of MSP arise from user error, or user mis-understanding of what it does, what it is for etc.

    I have a current project which is the construction of a $10M apartment building over a duration of 12 months. It has about 4000 tasks. Each week I move the status date to Thursday 17:00 and update whatever has happened in the previous week. The hard part is getting sensible progress reporting from the guy who is supposed to be recording the facts on site, and telling me what the actual start dates/times were, what the actual durations were, and what the estimated remaining durations are. The weak link is the human beings and the management system, not the software.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 10:54 PM