In the last post introducing the topic of project management with Enterprise PDM we talked about two extremes in functionality. The simple form of project management is just using EPDM to create a consistent folder structure and some standard files used on all projects. I actually use this myself for managing implementation projects. Here is an example of how it works:
- Right Mouse Click inside the vault and select New > Project (This initiates your Template).
- A dialog box comes up with fields to fill out (this is your Template Card). Typically, customer, project name, description, contacts, etc.
- Click OK and the folders and files are populated.
- Open up files in the newly project folder and update any necessary fields (This could be a project specification). In the case of a Word document, open the document and update all fields to grab data you filled out in step 2.
I won’t go into every detail about how to configure this functionality, especially since there are many options on how this could work. Here are some key components of a basic setup:
- Cards and Variables to capture metadata
- Template card to initially capture information.
- Folder card to store general information about the projects.
- File cards for any unique file types within projects.
- Serial Number to pull the next project number
- Template to build the folder structure and create common files
The most involved part is the Template (and EPDM Templates are pretty simple to work with). In advance of that step, make sure you have a location in your vault dedicated to your new projects, you have created a simple Template Card, and you have a Serial Number to create sequential project numbers. There are also variables that would need to be created. To make things easy, first focus on the folder structure. Go through the steps in the Template Wizard: Template Name, Execute as, Template Cards, Files and Folders, Icon, and Users and Groups. Here is some guidance:
- Template Name: Keep it simple by using “Project/New Project”. By doing this, you also leave room for something like “Project/Notes” or other project specific Templates.
- Execute as: I often use Admin so the permission to use and create information is at a maximum (Sometimes using permissions of the logged in user can be restrictive).
- Template Cards: Here is where you will use the Template Card you created. Typically you will pass the variable values from the card to a temporary holder called a Template Variable. These can be created on this tab by clicking on the Template Variables button and choosing the appropriate options. You will then connect the Template Cards variables to the Template Variable.
- Files and Folders: The left hand side of this tab is where you would build your project folder structure. Make sure you don’t use Current folder and instead have the folders populated in the correct location within your vault (see below). If you RMB on the parent-most new project folder (PRJ-%t_ProjectNum% in this case), go to properties and then to the Copy Variables tab. This is where you can transfer the Template Variables values collected earlier to the Folder Card’s fields. The subfolders will automatically get those same values, so no need to do this for the sub folders. What you can do is set specific permission for each folder by going to each one’s properties. The first two tabs let you define specific user and group permissions.
- Icon: This is simple. Pick one.
- Users and Groups: Here is where you define who can access the Template. Always add Admin. Then I would typically pick the Managers group.
From here, test your new project management Template. It is folder structure only, but a good start. And for some of you, this is all you need.
The next step is adding files to the template. A good example would be a Project Specification or Scope of Work. Let’s use Scope of Work in this case. Edit the definition of you Template. Go to the Files and Folders step. Now select the parent-most project folder (in our case it is PRJ-%t_ProjectNum%). Now on the right side click on the add file button (you should already have a file stored somewhere in your vault that will be your source document). Select the file used as the source document. Have it create a unique name by using the Project Number Serial Number (If you used just a number for your Serial Number, then a good name would be SOW-%t_ProjectNumber%). On the right side of the Edit Template File dialog box you can map your Template Variable to your File Card Variables. Now, if you have the EPDM Variables mapped to the File Properties using attribute mapping, these values can make it into the properties of your files and ultimately into the contents of the document. This is a huge time saver for managing project documentation.
On the left side of this dialog box there are some options to consider such as Sharing instead of copying (good for putting a link to documents such as procedures in the folder). If you are not familiar with these settings, click on the help button in the dialog box.
This is pretty much it. You now have an automated method of creating consistent project folder structure with files and data reuse. Next up, we will look at the Stage-Gate approach to project management with Enterprise PDM.
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