Integrating Rational Focal Point and Rational Project Conductor


The goal of the integration between Rational Focal Point and Rational Project Conductor is to communicate vital information regarding business decisions made at the portfolio level to the project managers tasked with managing and executing individual projects.

Projects in Rational Focal Point approved for execution are sent to Rational Project Conductor. Project managers plan and execute the projects. Portfolio Managers review their portfolios periodically. Each project in the portfolio reports its progress against its goals. Projects in execution may track according to plan or differ due to many reasons including resource availability or complexity of the task. Project execution progress is accessible to Rational Focal Point via the integration.

The link between the portfolio and project managers is a key tool for portfolio managers to use in managing their investments.

Overview of the Integration

Rational Focal Point is used to manage a set of software and IT projects as a portfolio of investments. Projects are evaluated, analyzed, and rated. For example, Portfolio managers want to know which projects will meet strategic objectives at the lowest cost. They need to track how well they are meeting those objectives by selecting and implementing an optimal set of projects, which ideally maximizes the available resources.

Projects approved for execution are sent to Rational Project Conductor. Relevant information about the projects must be clearly communicated to the project managers who will be responsible for executing those projects. Project managers will execute the project using the criteria provided: a target start and end date and the scope of the project. Scope is defined in terms of business needs with a proposed effort – the amount of time expected or budgeted to fulfill the need.

Project managers will create a Work Breakdown Structure and assign project profiles or actual resources, and create a schedule. Developers will work on tasks and fill in timesheets to record their progress. Schedules are automatically updated, tracking actual work accomplished against the planned schedules. The project manager will be able to compare the proposed, planned, and actual schedules against the targets set by the portfolio managers.

Portfolio managers keep track of all projects in execution and in the pipeline. They will retrieve updates from each project to monitor progress. Periodically, they will do portfolio level reviews of projects against business and market conditions, using the information they have about the projects in progress and new projects that need to be considered.

Rational Focal Point and Rational Project Conductor provide two important but separate functions in the management of projects. Each handles a large amount of data relevant to its purpose. There is some overlap in the information and the integration handles the communication of the data between the two products. This information is exchanged, while each product maintains focus on its discipline.

1.0 Scenario

The goals of the integration are:

  • Perform tasks in the right tool with the right data – portfolio review in Rational Focal Point, project execution in Rational Project Conductor
  • Share significant decisions and data automatically
  • Limit duplication of data

The first release of this integration transfers project specifications from Rational Focal Point to Rational Project Conductor to create a project. This is a one-time communication of data to Project Conductor. After the project is created in Project Conductor, changes to the project must occur in Project Conductor, and are reported to Focal Point via an update. Additional changes to dates or scope cannot be pushed from Focal Point to Project Conductor. Data transferred is limited to project Target Start and End Dates and Business Needs and Effort estimates.

Rational Focal Point may obtain project status at any time for review purposes. Rational Focal Point can aggregate project status data.

Getting started with the Integration

  • Notes on Servers:
    • Focal Point and Project Conductor need to have separate application servers
    • Focal Point and Project Conductor can be installed on the same server, or two different servers
  1. Set up Rational Focal Point:

    More details are available in the Rational Focal Point Installation Guide.

    1. Install the prerequisites:
      • Java 1.6
      • Application server – Tomcat or WAS CE
      • Database – PostgreSQL, DB2 or Oracle
    2. Configure the DB
    3. Install Focal Point
    4. Start the server
  2. Set up Rational Project Conductor:

    More details are available in the Rational Project Conductor Installation Guide.

    1. Install the pre-requisites:
      • Rational Installation Manager configured with a pointer to a repository
    2. Install Rational Project Conductor (default uses Tomcat and Derby)
    3. Configure DB2 or WAS, if desired
    4. Start the server
    5. Configure Project Conductor environment, plus create calendars, users, etc.

      Or …

    6. Enable the Sample Data users, enable trial licenses for sample users and enable JazzAdmin privilege for at least one user
  3. Configure the integration in Rational Focal Point:

    A Focal Point workspace must be configured to communicate with Project Conductor. You may specify one or more Project Conductor servers, and a set of attributes must be mapped to a set of required aliases along with a set of optional aliases. These steps are performed as a Focal Point Administrator.

    1. Add an integration connector:
      1. Select Configure > Integrations in the left column.
      2. Click Add connector

        Create Integration connector

      3. Select a view for which to enable the integration. Note: you will be able to integrate only from views for which you have created an Integration connector.
      4. Click Add Server and input a URL in the form and give it a name.

        Add Server

      5. Click Save.
    2. Set the Focal Point server address:
      • Optional but recommended
      • This step allows URIs to objects in Focal Point to be created correctly in RPC.

        FP Address

  4. Configure the project module.
  5. Configure the business needs module:

    Define aliases for the information to be sent to create an RPC project, or to receive updates from the RPC project.

    The tables below contain the set of possible aliases. A few are required, the others are optional.

    List of supported project aliases:

    List of supported project and business aliases:

    List of supported business aliases:

Step-by-Step Scenario

From a Focal Point project

From a view that has an integration connector:

  1. Set the project target start and end dates, name, and description.

    Focal Point project Name and Description

    Focal Point project Dates

  2. Add business needs. For each business need, you must set a non-zero Effort. In this example, the attribute Estimated Man Hours is mapped to Effort.

    Business needs

  3. Click the Create in Rational Project Conductor icon to send the project to Project Conductor.

    Create icon

  4. Enter the User name and Password to log in to Project Conductor.

    Login dialog

  5. Select a Program, an Owner for the Project Conductor project, and a Calendar.

    Select program, owner and calendar dialog

  6. Click the Create button. The project is created.

    Successful creation message

From this point on, changes in Project Conductor are reflected in Focal Point based on actions occurring in Project Conductor. Follow these steps and watch the changes.

From Project Conductor

The Project Manager plans and executes the project:

  1. Open the Work Dashboard.
  2. Select the project.

    Project created in RPC

  3. Select the Details tab.

    Project details in RPC

  4. Click the links tab on the Details page and notice the link to the Focal Point project.

    Project links contain FP link

  5. Click the dropdown on State and select Start Working. The state changes to In Progress.

    Project Details change state

From the Focal Point project

  1. Click the Update from Rational Project Conductor icon to receive an update from Project Conductor.

    Notice that the icon has changed to an update icon.

    Project Details change state

  2. The Implementation State is now In Progress.

    Also note that the Link to Project in Project Conductor field now contains a URI. This is a link to the Project Conductor project.

    Updated project

From the Project Conductor project

The project continues planning and execution. Operations that will be performed include:

  1. Plan the project.
  2. Assign resources.

    Assign resource

    The updated schedule might look like this:

    Project Schedule tab

  3. Create work breakdown structure.
  4. Assign tasks.
  5. Developers perform tasks and create timesheets.
  6. Project Leads may approve timesheets.

From the Focal Point project

  1. Click the Update icon to receive an update from Project Conductor.
  2. Changes to planned start and end dates, percent complete, and actuals for the project and each business need will appear in Focal Point.

    Project Dates updated

Notes on the 1.0 Scenario and Implementation

  • Name and Description are sent from Focal Point to Project Conductor. They may be modified from Project Conductor, but changes to these fields are not included when Rational Focal Point requests an update.
  • From Focal Point, you are required to choose a Program in Project Conductor in order to send the project. You must login as a user that is able to see the program that should contain the new project.
  • Rational Focal Point project state and Project manager project state are two different fields. We do not send Portfolio manager project state to Project Conductor. Rational Focal Point will get the Project Conductor project state, on update.
  • Business Needs in Focal Point are mapped to Summary Tasks in Project Conductor. We assume that the Project Conductor Process Spec defines a Summary Task work item type. If it does not exist, the project creation in Project Conductor will fail.
  • Summary task work items in Project Conductor can be changed to Story work item types. A user that would like a Story work item may change the type from Summary Task to Story in the Details page for that object. In the future, we could determine which work item types are available, then provide the choices to the user to select the desired type for Business Needs.
  • Users may create additional Work items in the WBS at the same level as the Summary Tasks created for Business Needs. The dates and effort for these work items will roll up into the project schedules. When Rational Focal Point obtains updates, it will only update the Business Needs that it sent originally. It does not show the additional work items in FP-PpM, but the project schedule will include the additional work items.
  • We create two baselines in the Project Conductor project. The first records the Focal Point project’s view of the target start and end dates. The second records the project’s schedule after the summary tasks are created. The rollup of the summary tasks dates may change the project target and end dates.

Limitations of the 1.0 Scenario and Implementation

It is desirable to send project financials (costs) to Project Conductor. For the first release, charge codes in Project Conductor may be created manually.

Business conditions and market demands may change, changing priorities and requiring reallocation of resources. Rational Focal Point cannot send updates to Project Conductor.

It is desirable to transfer more data from Rational Focal Point during project creation, including risks and issues. Risks identified by Rational Focal Point are not transferred to Rational Project Conductor. The set of risks identified by the Portfolio Manager may be different from the set of risks identified by the Project Manager. The Project Manager should be aware of the Portfolio Manager’s concerns. For the first release, the Project Manager may navigate to the list of risks recorded in Rational Focal Point by navigating the link to the Focal Point project stored in the Details page of the Rational Project Conductor project. The risks may be entered manually into the the Rational Project Conductor risks tab, if desired.

Rational Focal Point would also like to receive resource data from Project Conductor for analysis and decision making.

The process is limited. There is no process for handling change requests from either side. Project Conductor does not initiate communication to Focal Point.

Notes on Project Conductor users

  • All users are presented for login and for project owner assignment. They are not filtered.
  • The user logging into Project Conductor is the creator of the Project Conductor project. This user must have Jazz Admin privilege and a Project Manager CAL.
  • The user chosen to be the project owner must be a user with Project Manager CAL. If the user has only a Contributor CAL, the project will be created and the user is assigned as owner, but the user will not be able to do anything.
  • The user chosen to be the project owner must have an assigned calendar.
  • The owner field is not modifiable. It will only be set upon project creation. If the wrong user is chosen as owner, remove the user from the resources assigned to the project. Assign the correct program manager and project manager as resources to the project. These users must have Project Manager CAL. These users will be able to perform planning operations.
  • There is no single user directory service between Portfolio and Project Conductor.
  • You must login on every operation (create and update) to Rational Project Conductor.

Known problems

You must specify a non-zero Effort for every Business Need associated with the Rational Focal Point project. If the Effort is 0, a summary task mapped to that business need will not be created. The operation will report that it created the project successfully without those summary tasks. You may create the summary task manually in the Project Conductor project, but it will not be linked to the Business need.

If you incorrectly configure both the Target and Start date aliases, you will receive an “Internal Error” message.

Rational Focal Point stores a URI to the Project Conductor project. This link will take you to the Project Conductor Work Dashboard, but does not expand the tree to highlight the project. You have to manually navigate to the individual project.

About the author

Shirley Hui is a Senior Software Engineer on the Rational Project Conductor development team in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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