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Topics: Agile, Communications Management, IT Project Management
Sharing of MS Project File with customer organisations?
Network:679



Hi All,

Would anyone have this scenario regularly?

My projects are usually for customer organisations - so I have to often juggle internal and external project cost rates. For proper planning and analysis, I have to refer to the internal costs and therefore this figure is front-and-center in my Resources tab in MS Project.

For customers, I generate views of the MS Project file (Gantt chart, task lists, project calendar) on PDF and/or spreadsheets. This is primarily scheduling information and is usually adequate for the purposes of internal project planning for the customer organisation.

However, I have had a couple of customer PMs stringently requesting me to share the MS Project file, itself. When I tell them it has sensitive data - they request me to delete such information and share the file anyway. Now, this is not an issue if it were a one-time exercise -- but in constant rebaselining and rescheduling scenarios (especially when projects are progressively elaborated), creating a desensitised version every time is painful.

How would/have you you deal with such scenarios? Thanks!
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Network:3587



I think you should tell them smoothly that you cannot do it anymore and it is time-consuming.

I am sure it is not part of the contract but you still need to check your obligations.

Sometimes we have to say NO.
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1 reply by Karan Shah
Apr 27, 2018 9:52 PM
Karan Shah
...
It definitely is not a contractual deliverable - but it does seem to be a very petty issue to take a stance over.

I can appreciate their viewpoint - if the plan is built in MSP and if they want to run their own simulations, a PDF or spreadsheet version is not going to help them.
Network:10345



Yes precisely, I would make sure it's in the contract that you can't share it. Or do you have a project team member or admin that can cut the sensitive data out, get your approval, and then send off?
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1 reply by Karan Shah
Apr 27, 2018 9:54 PM
Karan Shah
...
In cases where project admin folks are available, yes, have delegated the task without qualms. But there are projects where the budget doesn't justify a separate administrator. It's more for this scenario.
Network:498



I would recommend sending/sharing with them the plan (minus any sensitive information). I think it was you (Karan) in another post discussing the need to have a better communication plan...and this is a good example of that. I would highly recommend NEVER getting on the 'other side' of customer satisfaction, it's something that is beneficial to have and very difficult to get back. Going forward, add this additional effort/time/cost to your expected project costing.
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1 reply by Karan Shah
Apr 27, 2018 9:56 PM
Karan Shah
...
Ha ha. Hoisted on my own petard.

No, the point is correct - there is never any question of not sharing. the question is whether there is a more efficient and less painful way to share than going into every version and stripping out sensitive information every time.
Network:722



As Meade has suggested, build the costs for having this done by a PCO or project analyst into future contracts but you might want to investigate whether the enterprise/online version of the MSP solution provides greater flexibility when it comes to hiding information.

Kiron
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1 reply by Karan Shah
Apr 27, 2018 9:58 PM
Karan Shah
...
That's a good thought, Kiron. we do have the enterprise version of MSP. Will check if it has options to control visibility of certain data.

I guess the sticking point will be that most customer PMs have only the standard version. Maybe there's a way around that - I can't be the only PM who's come up with this question.
Network:679



Apr 27, 2018 1:34 AM
Replying to Kevin Drake
...
I think you should tell them smoothly that you cannot do it anymore and it is time-consuming.

I am sure it is not part of the contract but you still need to check your obligations.

Sometimes we have to say NO.
It definitely is not a contractual deliverable - but it does seem to be a very petty issue to take a stance over.

I can appreciate their viewpoint - if the plan is built in MSP and if they want to run their own simulations, a PDF or spreadsheet version is not going to help them.
Network:679



Apr 27, 2018 2:36 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
...
Yes precisely, I would make sure it's in the contract that you can't share it. Or do you have a project team member or admin that can cut the sensitive data out, get your approval, and then send off?
In cases where project admin folks are available, yes, have delegated the task without qualms. But there are projects where the budget doesn't justify a separate administrator. It's more for this scenario.
Network:679



Apr 27, 2018 8:18 AM
Replying to Meade Rubenstein
...
I would recommend sending/sharing with them the plan (minus any sensitive information). I think it was you (Karan) in another post discussing the need to have a better communication plan...and this is a good example of that. I would highly recommend NEVER getting on the 'other side' of customer satisfaction, it's something that is beneficial to have and very difficult to get back. Going forward, add this additional effort/time/cost to your expected project costing.
Ha ha. Hoisted on my own petard.

No, the point is correct - there is never any question of not sharing. the question is whether there is a more efficient and less painful way to share than going into every version and stripping out sensitive information every time.
Network:679



Apr 27, 2018 8:22 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
As Meade has suggested, build the costs for having this done by a PCO or project analyst into future contracts but you might want to investigate whether the enterprise/online version of the MSP solution provides greater flexibility when it comes to hiding information.

Kiron
That's a good thought, Kiron. we do have the enterprise version of MSP. Will check if it has options to control visibility of certain data.

I guess the sticking point will be that most customer PMs have only the standard version. Maybe there's a way around that - I can't be the only PM who's come up with this question.

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