Once you’ve completed a project, it’s likely that you will no longer need immediate access to it, and you may want to hide it from being displayed in the Project Center and visible in task/resource assignment views. Archiving completed projects reduces the “clutter” in these views as well as preventing users from making changes to projects that are no longer active.

Archiving Options

There is no standard method for archiving projects in Project Online, instead, we have identified a number of options that can be applied depending on your organisational needs:

  1. Use Enterprise Custom Fields to hide projects from being displayed in the Project Center
  2. Create an Archive Security Category
  3. Download the Project artefacts and store them as an offline record

With options 1 and 2 listed above, the ‘archived project’ will still exist within the PWA site collection, enabling archived projects to be easily restored if/when needed. These options are better suited for organisations that are well within the recommended data storage thresholds and where there is more likely a requirement to restore an archived project within the existing PWA instance.

Note: To avoid performance issues, Microsoft advise not to exceed 30,000 projects per PWA site collection. However, they also advise that the project sites for these projects must not exceed 2,000 sites in any one site collection.

Option 3 is more suited towards organisations with much larger volumes of projects that need to free up space within the site to remain within the recommended data thresholds. By removing the project and related artefacts that are no longer actively used to a separate storage device, the project entity within PWA can then be deleted.

Each of these options, their benefits and concerns, will be now explored in more detail.

Steps for Closing a Project in Project Online

Regardless of the archiving approach, when a project is completed, the Project Owner should first take appropriate action to formally close the project by following the steps outlined below:

  1. Process all updates from team members. If you are updating the project on a regular basis, this should have already been done, however, it is worth double-checking that there are no outstanding task updates to be approved in the Approval Centre.
  2. Update the Project Status Date. The Project Status Date should indicate when the project was last updated, hence, should be set to the project closure date.
  3. Remove any remaining work. Ensure that all tasks/resources don’t have outstanding work assigned.

Either insert the ‘Remaining Work’ column into the Gantt chart view:

Insert 'Remaining Work' column in the Gantt Chart View in Project Online

Or go to the ‘Work’ table and reduce all ‘Remaining Work’ to 0

The 'Work' Table in Project Online, reduce all 'Remaining Work'

Update % Completion. Ensure that all tasks, including milestones and constraints, are showing as 100% complete.

  1. Remove project tasks from My Tasks, Timesheets, and Resource Assignments view: apply the following changes to prevent new task updates on closed tasks:

Insert the ‘Locked’ column in Microsoft Project and set all tasks to ‘Yes’.

Insert the ‘Locked’ column in Microsoft Project and set all tasks to 'Yes'.

Save, Publish and Check in the Project. Ensure that this is completed successfully.

Helpful Tip: In some cases, the effort may be tracked at the project level. To prevent users from logging effort into the project, apply the Locked column to the Project Summary Task and set it to ‘Yes’.

Locked column in the project summary in Project Online

Reopen the project in Microsoft Project. Insert the ‘Publish’ column and set all tasks to ‘No’, this will ensure that the closed project tasks do not pull through to timesheets.

Save, Publish and Check in the Project. Ensure that this is completed successfully.

Save, publish and check in the project in Project Online

Option 1 – Use Enterprise Custom Fields

If you’re just looking to hide completed projects in the Project Center, a really easy way to archive projects is to create a ‘Project Status’ Enterprise Custom Field (ECF) and add it to the Project Details/Information PDP (Note: Wellingtone include the ‘Project Status’ ECF as part of the default configuration).

As an Administrator, you’ll need to populate the ECF with a Lookup Table with entries such as “In Progress”, “On Hold”, and “Archived”.

The next step is to create a custom view in the Project Center that filters out all projects that have “Archived” selected in the Project Status ECF.

Create a custom view in the Project Center in Project Online

All projects are still within PWA, end users just won’t see the ones marked as “Archived”.

Whilst this approach is by far the simplest, projects are still visible if opened directly from Project Professional (Ms Project > File >Open).

To ensure end users cannot make changes to projects that are no longer active, Administrators should consider going one step further and create a security category to hide “Archived” projects from all relevant users. This is discussed in the next section.

Option 2 – Archive Security Group

Create a Security Group

This approach requires the Administrators to first create a security group that contains all users except for administrators. To create a security group:

  1. Navigate to PWA Settings and under Security, click Manage Groups > New Group
  2. In the Group Information section, type something such as ‘Non-Admin Users’ in the Group Name box
    Group information section in Project Online
  3. In the Users section, in the Available Users box, select the names of all users that are not administrators, and then click Add to move them to the Selected Users box
  4. Click Save

Create a Security Category

Once the Administrator has created the ‘Non-Admin Users’ security group, the next step is to create an Archive security category. During this process, the administrator chooses which projects to archive by including them in this category. To create an Archive security category:

  1. Navigate to PWA Settings and under Security, click Manage Categories > New Category
  2. In the Name and Description section, type ‘Archive’ in the Category Name box
  3. In the Projects section, select ‘Only include the selected projects’ and then add all completed projects (i.e. Project Status = “Archived”).
    Only include 'selected projects' in the Projects SectionNote: Be sure NOT to select any of the checkboxes listed under the available/selected projects. Doing so may create permissions issues on other projects and resources.Note: Only once the Project Owner has prepared the project for archiving (i.e. followed the steps for closing a project in Project Online as well as updating the ‘Project Status’ ECF to “Archived”) should projects be moved into the Archive Category.
  4. Add all the views to the category
    Add all the views into the category in Project Online
  5. In the Permissions section, click Non-Admin Users and add to the ‘Users and Groups with Permissions’ box
    5. In the Permissions section, click Non-Admin Users and add to the ‘Users and Groups with Permissions’ box
  6. Under Permissions for the Non-Admin Users (Group), select the Deny check box for all permissions6. Under Permissions for the Non-Admin Users (Group), select the Deny check box for all permissions
  7. Click Save

With the additional security group and category in place, the “Archived” projects will no longer be accessible to Non-Admin users directly from Project Professional.

Option 2 would be the recommended approach for organisations that are not restricted by the PWA and SharePoint subsite data thresholds, and where there is more likely a requirement to restore an archived project within the existing PWA instance.

Option 3 – Offline Records

For organisations looking to remove the project completely from the PWA site, the approach would be to download the completed project artefacts and store as an offline record in a separate data store.

A PWA project is composed of a Schedule, the Project Detail Pages and the Project Site. All of this data will need to be extracted before the project can be deleted from the PWA instance.

Schedule

Save the Project as an.MPP file. Do this by opening the project from PWA in Microsoft Project and save a local copy. It’s recommended that you save the project with all custom field data. If you need to recover the project at a later date, the MPP file can be opened in Project Professional while connected to the PWA instance. It can then also be saved to PWA if required.

Note: Using this method will break any deliverable, issue, and risk links between the project and the corresponding project site.

Project Detail Pages

Whilst some Project Enterprise Custom Fields (EFCs) are saved as part of the.MPP file, not all ECFs will be stored. It is therefore recommended that a record of all the ECFs associated with each Enterprise Project Type is extracted from OData.

The OData feed can be accessed from Power BI or directly from Excel. The data should be presented in a consistent format.

Project Site

Each Project Site list, e.g. Risks, Issues, Actions etc, are easily exported to Excel. The contents of the project document library can be moved or copied to another location.

Once the project data has been downloaded from PWA, it should be stored in a standardised file structure, and timestamped, to ensure project data is searchable and retrievable as efficiently as possible. Once this is complete, the project can then be deleted from PWA.

Project Archive Folder Structure

Whilst the approach outlined above is manual, depending on the client environment, it is anticipated that some of these steps could be automated.

As discussed previously, option 3 is more suited towards organisations with much larger volumes of projects that need to free up space within the site to remain within the recommended data thresholds. By removing the project and related artefacts that are no longer actively used to a separate storage device, the project entity within PWA can then be deleted.

However, there are some considerations with this approach:

  • Security – by removing the data from the primary storage, i.e. from within the PWA instance, the security model is potentially compromised. Administrators will need to consider how the project archive can be security trimmed to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Version History – when moving/copying document files from the Project Site, it’s important to note that any document version history will be lost, only the latest version of the document can be downloaded. Similarly, if any multi-line text fields deployed in any of the Project Site lists make use of the ‘Append Text’ feature, then only the latest update against that column will be included in the data export.
  • Restoration – whilst it is possible, restoring offline records back to PWA would be far more time consuming than if the project still existed as a single entity within the PWA instance.

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