Whilst we strongly advise against removing resources in Project Online, the guidance is to deactivate them, there may be exceptions whereby a hard delete is required.

We’ve talked previously about one of the major pitfalls when it comes to deactivating resources in Project Online and how to avoid it. That major pitfall occurs when Active Directory synchronisation with the resource pool is in use.  You can read our guidance on how to tackle this obstacle here.

However, there is a different obstacle you may need to overcome when actually removing resources from Project Online. The solution is simple, you just may not be aware of what’s causing the problem.

Here’s the scenario… You’re a Project Online Administrator, a resource/user needs to be removed from Project Online. You know the steps, and you’re feeling confident. You’ve gone into PWA Settings selected ‘Delete Enterprise Resources’ and you’ve located the resource you need to remove. You click ‘Delete’ but you’re presented with this… look familiar?

Delete Enterprise Objects

What happened? You thought you’d followed all the required steps…

  1. The user is not a Project Owner for any projects
  2. The user is not a timesheet manager of another resource
  3. The user is not the default Assignment Owner for another resource
  4. The resource/user is not checked out

However, what you overlooked was to replace them as the Status Manager for tasks in projects they previously owned.

When a project is created in Project Online and an Owner is first assigned, that original Owner will also become the Status Manager for all tasks in the schedule. Changing the Project Owner does not automatically update the Status Manager to the new Owner. The new owner will need to formally accept ownership of the project.

To do this, ask the new Owner to open the schedule in Microsoft Project Professional for editing and follow these steps:

  1. Add the Status Manager column to the view by right-clicking the task name heading > insert new column > select it from the list
  2. Ensure that their name (as the new Owner) is cited in each task (drag and drop is the easiest way to do this)
  3. Hide the status manager column and publish the project.

Completing this will mean that all the task updates will be routed to the new Owner throughout the life of the project. Repeat for all tasks whereby the resource that needs to be removed from Project Online is replaced as the Status Owner.

As the Project Online Administrator, return to PWA Settings, select ‘Delete Enterprise Resources’ and locate the resource you need to remove. You should now be able to successfully delete the resource.

Warning: deleting enterprise resources will delete all their assignment history and should be handled with caution. To preserve historic data, it is always recommended that Enterprise Resources are deactivated as opposed to deleted.

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By: Rachel Goodwin

Rachel Goodwin
Senior PPM Consultant, Wellingtone | An experienced PMO professional; P30 and PRINCE 2 certified, skilled at developing and implementing Project & Programme management methodologies, tools and best practices, with the ability to balance formal processes with pragmatism to drive delivery.

Published: 31 July 2022

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