Although Project provides a conduit for importing resource data directly into the enterprise resource pool from foreign data sources such as .xls or .csv files, I suggest that you promise yourself not to do this. It’s inefficient and potentially dangerous in that you have a much higher risk of corrupting your database with the direct method. Instead, gather your resource pool data in a simple Project .mpp file until you’re certain that the data is ready for importing into the pool.
Using a Project file provides two benefits. First, you have an opportunity to catch bad data characters—data that might be uniquely acceptable to Excel, for instance, but cause Project to choke—without affecting your production database. Second, it’s the easiest way to establish importable custom field and, in particular, outline code data. This approach works when resource data is acquired from a foreign system and is a natural for organizations that have their resource information in existing file-based resource pools or distributed across existing project files that will be imported into the system.
Organizations that already have a resource pool and well-established project management system need only make a copy of the pool for export purposes. Now is a good time to clean up the existing data for typos, name changes, and the like. Add the new enterprise attributes and their values to the resource pool file by mirroring those using local custom fields. These will be available to map in the import wizard during the final import process.
Organizations that have resources defined across project plans, but not in resource pools, should first consider whether there’s enough consistency in the plans to make the effort of obtaining the data worthwhile. The most important consistency to look for is the resource naming convention. If resource naming isn’t consistent across plans or cost rates vary, the value of using them for input diminishes. You also want to verify that they contain enough information to make them worthwhile. Accurate Windows accounts and e-mail addresses are highly valued here. If your plans pass this test, the approach to take is to create a new resource pool from existing projects:
Start Project Professional and choose to work offline. Working offline avoids the possibility that you might accidentally take a publish action or that you might prematurely generate user accounts in Project Server.
Working with the default Project 1 file, from the File menu, open a project plan containing resources that you want to harvest.
Cut and paste from one resource view to the same view in the new pool file.
Next, clean up the data by repairing minor inconsistencies and omissions, and then add the new attributes and values.
If you’re not starting out with an existing collection of Microsoft Project plans, and project management is new to your company, you can find any type of data source to begin with, such as a resource listing in Excel or Access, or you can simply choose to enter your resources by hand. Consider your resource naming convention in light of Project’s default alpha sort, which makes no distinction between a first name and a last name in the Resource Name field.