There are some things to avoid in a resource name when integrating Microsoft Project schedules with Deltek Cobra 5. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve run into some goofy errors, one of which had me on the ropes for a couple of days. It turns out that certain words and certain characters can create issues that will generate some perplexing warnings at the time of integration.
Let’s start with the ampersand. Tempting as it might be to keep those resource names shorter in your Microsoft Project resource sheet by the use of the ‘&’, you will have the following problem when you Save As… XML.
The example resource name “ABC Computers & Equipment” for example, is a bad choice. Look what happens to this resource name when it gets exported to a Microsoft Project XML file and we look at that value using a plain text tool like Notepad.
When this XML file is integrated with Deltek Cobra, you will see the following in the integration log:
[Warning]Resource code ABC Computers & Equipment on activity 126.96.36.199 could not be found in structure file.
No kidding; it was entered as ABC Computers & Equipment in your resources file. When Microsoft Project exports the XML file it is writing the file to be correctly formatted for web browsers and such. It’s worth mentioning that this will happen with any string that contains an ampersand, so watch out for project names, control accounts, work package and other such items that will be passing their name to the Deltek Cobra system.
Rule #1; never use ampersands in Microsoft Project 2007 (or later) resource names.
The next example is very bizarre, using the characters ‘ AS ’ within a resource name, for example ‘ABC AS Designer 1’, will cause the following:
[Warning]Could not find a base result for ABC AS Designer 1. Cost data not loaded for this resource.
Note that the characters ‘AS’ within a name, i.e. with no spaces on either side, will not be an issue. It only causes this warning when the parser can read it as the word ‘as’. At least, that seems to be case when one examines the evidence. I called this one in to Deltek and they’re looking into it. It was tricky to find too. Working with another Cobra expert, we started by looking at perfectly aligning resource names in the schedule and in Deltek Cobra. The rate names looked good too and there was no apparent disconnect between them. We were even able to assign these resources to work packages manually via the Cobra interface, and they rated out correctly.
Why then, is the Integration Log reporting a problem? After working with me through numerous tests and experiments, my colleague pointed out the fact that the resources failing to load all had ‘AS’ characters in the prefix of the name. This was the ah-ha moment. We got them to load after we inserted an underscore in front of the AS; presumably preventing Cobra from reading the word ‘as’ while parsing the name. Well how’d have guessed it. Therefore…
Rule #2; don’t use the word ‘as’ in your resource names. Or if you must, then put an underscore each side of it. ABC_AS_Designer 1.
I’m now sure there must be other characters that are not advisable in resource names. So to be safe, let’s all stick with never using special characters, abbreviations or potential reserved words in our resource names. That should keep us out of trouble for now.