The importance of Active Directory

One of the my roles in my last position was to set-up and manage Project Server 2010.  As I had never used Project Server (2010 or any other version) this was quite an undertaking.

One of the first things I looked at was the configuration of the users and the resources.  In Project Server parlance a user is someone who can access the system and a resource is a person, object or material that can be allocated to a task within a project.

As the company was small ( less than 50 people) and we did not have the need for objects or materials as resources, all resources and users were pulled in from Active Directory (AD).

This was easy enough to set-up but the maintenance of AD was, as with most companies I have worked in, not rigorously monitored.  The main impact of this was that the weekly update from AD inevitably made some users “inactive”.  The result for the users was that they would be unable to log on to Project Server.  For Project Managers, if they were importing projects (as we were) then there would be numerous warnings about resources being inactive.

Another role that I had was to set-up and manage extranet sites to allow clients to download, upload and enter information important to projects.  Often, when a new site was set up, a new AD user was created.  The users, by default would have an expiry date set.  As expected, when the expiry date was reached, or soon after, there would be a call from the client letting us know that they could not log in to the extranet.  Of course, these calls would come at the end of the day just as the client was about to spend some time after normal office hours doing some work.

A report on users that will expire in the coming month would be advantageous for managers of extranet users and a weekly report on the users in each of the Project Server groups would be useful for the Project Server Administrator.

The moral of the story is to maintain Active Directory as rigorously as possible as the consequences can be severe.