Importing Cost/Schedule Data

The Import mechanism demonstrated here is one of two methods of importing process element data into TeamFlow from another application. For simple data transfers, you may wish to use the Copy Data / Paste Data commands on the Edit menu.

The TeamFlow distribution kit includes two spreadsheet files which are used here to demonstrate the Import data facility. If you have Microsoft Excel® on your computer, you may follow along using the file "IMF.XLS." If you have Lotus 1-2-3® on your computer, use the file "IMF.WK3."

Pull down the File menu and select the Import Data item. The Import window will open. The first time you run the Importer, most of the data fields will be blank and the message box at the bottom of the window will read "Not connected to a Server."

TeamFlow's import/export facility is oriented like a spreadsheet with process elements arranged in rows and the individual data items arranged in columns. This window is where you tell TeamFlow what row to associate with what process element and what column to associate with what data item.

First we have to locate the spreadsheet from which to Import data and the server application which created the spreadsheet. To do this, click the Find A Server button.

Locate the file imf.xls or imf.wk3 in the "\SAMPLES" directory and click the Open button.

TeamFlow fills in the Server Name and Server Topic for you. The Server Name is the name of the application (in this case Excel) which is associated with the document file you selected. The Server Topic is the full path and name of the document file you selected.

The last message in the message log area at the bottom of the Import window tells us we must start the server application. If you have Excel or 1-2-3 on your system, click the Start Server button. The application will start and will display the spreadsheet.

The data is organized with process element titles in column A (included for reference only - we will not be importing them), Tags in column B, Durations in column C, Budget Costs in Column D, and Actual Costs in column E. Data begins in Row 2 and extends through Row 31. The Tag values match the process elements in the IMF.TMF model (which is why we asked you to load the supplied version of the model).

Return to TeamFlow without exiting Excel or 1-2-3 by using the Windows alt-tab keys or via the Windows 95 Task Bar. The message window tells us that the server has been started.

Make the following changes to the Import window. When you are through, the window should look like the one pictured below.

Your Import window should look like this:

Click the Import button. The data transfer takes place directly between the two applications using the Windows DDE facility. The status, including any errors, is recorded in the scrolled message area at the bottom of the import window.

Because we have enabled the TeamFlow Scheduler, TeamFlow attempts to create a schedule using the imported Durations. You may have already noticed in the earlier figures that several of the arrows form a loop. Most conventional project schedulers cannot tolerate the presence of a loop in the flow logic. The TeamFlow scheduler is more forgiving. It simply identifies the arrow which causes the loop (or loops) and ignores it. It warns you of the presence of loop-causing arrows and highlights the ignored arrows in red.

Once the import has completed, your Import window should look like this:

If the server application does not respond to the DDE commands, make sure it has its DDE facility enabled. In Excel, pull down the Tools menu and select Options. Click on the General tab. Be sure the Ignore other applications switch is turned off.

Once the import has completed, click the OK button to close the import window.

Continue with Lesson 2.

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Last Update: October 24, 2005