Optimizing Drilling Schedules with Microsoft Project Server 2010 (Part 3) – Creating the Visio File

This is part three of a series on optimizing drilling schedules in Microsoft Office Project Server 2010 and surfacing the data in a Visio map.  In this case again, I owe credit to Visio guru, David Parker, for a couple of tips in a blog post on how to get maps out of Bing – and to Rob Schneider an Edinburgh-based Microsoft Project consultant and Executive Secretary of the Scottish Oil Club, who helped me out with some of the concepts.

My goal here is to marry Project Server data via an Office Data Connection with a graphical representation in Visio.  This example will be for mapping portfolio information to oilfield drilling rig schedules, but the same principles may also be applied to mapping project data to departments or phase data to pipeline construction maps. 

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Click on the following links to see previous postings:

Part I – Developing the Prioritization Matrix

Part II – Leveling the Rig Schedule

Creating the Visio File

The first step is to get a map into Visio.  That’s relatively easy.  Just walk down to your local Cartography Department, call up the GIS folks, or in a nod to our sponsor, Bing it.  Since I am doing this on the cheap and dirty, let’s just grab a map of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska from Bing.  I could use any map I want, but it just happens that I did some work up in Prudhoe Bay last year, so I am familiar with it.

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Get the map looking the way you want it, and then select the print option.  Right click on the map at the bottom of that screen.  You’ll note the icon in the center representing the bustling metropolis of Deadhorse, Alaska.

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Select Save As Picture, and save the map to an appropriate location on your machine.

Open up a blank Visio file, and paste the map into the file as a background picture.  Crop as needed.

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Now, we need to find the right stencils.  In this case, I found some illustrations of well heads and offshore platforms on iStockPhoto and removed the background using the free Paint.Net graphics editing program. (instructions here). 

I inserted the resulting images into the Visio drawing, right clicked on the stencils menu to create a new stencil, then dragged the picture into the stencils menu.  To get the custom Visio shapes to display data properly, I also had to implement the workaround documented here: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/923596?p=1.  (Thanks to James W. from the Visio newsgroup for providing this link.)

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The resulting picture appears here.  (Note that any resemblance to real well locations is purely coincidental.  This is just a proof of concept exercise.)

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Now we need to prepare our ODC file with the correct data.  (Instructions in a previous post).  Note that for this example, we will filter on Department (an Enterprise Custom Field) and only display the Project level data.  Once I’ve done that, I add the external data using the Link Data to Shapes command in the Data menu bar and get the resulting diagram.

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This also allows me to click around on the Visio document to display Shape Data on other key metrics such as a maintenance backlog, open tasks, or any other rolled up Project level fields I may desire.

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From there, it’s a simple matter of saving the file to the server as a Web drawing.

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And now we have a simple, effective report on wellhead data pulled directly from Project Server.  We’ve surfaced the next drill date on the map itself, and relegated the “drilldown” well information to the Shape Window.  It’s then a relatively quick step from there to mashing up this data with production data in other systems, and displaying that on the same easy to use dashboard.

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