Project Online: Where did the Last Connect column go?


*** Update 9/12/2016 – See https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/brismith/2016/09/12/project-online-how-do-i-find-who-is-using-project-online/ for a potential workaround to get PWA access information ***

We have had quite a few customer calls on this topic – so getting more information out there.  A while ago, due to some performance problems we dropped the Last Connect column from the Manage Users page on Project Online.  This field used to show the last connect time for the user.  To be honest it was not 100% reliable anyway as we will update this data even if a user tries to connect but no longer has any permissions – but it was obviously used by many customers as a quick check on their active users – as many of you opened support cases when you found that it was gone.  To remind you what I am talking about here is a screenshot of my Project Server

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Some of you may be thinking what could possibly cause performance issues by displaying a single column on an infrequently used page?  The issue wasn’t so much displaying the data as the collecting of it – and this was being set on every page load and caused contention on the table it was being written to.  We are investigating how we can make something similar available again as it had been so useful for our customers.  Another question we had was why weren’t customers notified, but this wasn’t a long planned update but a rapid response as a result of serious performance concerns. I’m not aware of any workarounds to get similar information, and I’ll update when I have more information on what form the possible replacement for this functionality might take.  One idea is to add to the Reports on the Admin center.  Thoughts?

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Comments (10)

  1. Paul Mather says:

    Hi Brian,

    Adding information to the Admin usage reports would be a great addition but PWA admins probably won’t have access to see that information as they won’t have access to the Tenant Admin Center. They would have to request the reports. In the solution, it would be good if the PWA admins could access the reports on demand.

    1. Hi Paul, good point, and I expected I might get that response. Is the information really needed by non tenant admins? Most use cases I have seen for this data relates to licensing/usage, which would be controlled at the tenant admin level.
      Best regards,
      Brian.

      1. Paul Mather says:

        Hi Brian,
        I think it is useful for both the tenant / license admins and the PMO / PWA admins. All of our customers who raised this issue to us have all be PWA admins. They find it useful to see who is regularly accessing PWA.
        Paul

      2. Sorry Brian, I agree with Paul. I tend to see tenant admins delegate the project licensing to the Project Admins, unless there is a policy and I don’t see that very often. What about just adding it to the reporting tables (I know, easier said than done).

      3. Kelvin Kirby says:

        Yes I am completely with Paul, Larry and Christoph on this. In fact going one stage further it is often the case that in some large companies that will not give Tenant Admin to Project Admins, yet some of the key control for Site collection creation and control of permissions mode is at Tenant Admin level. That’s very frustrating if you are in a large company and you can’t get hold of an Office 365 Admin to make changes. This happened only yesterday where several new sites were created last week, but the permissions mode wasn’t correctly enabled and we could not enable migration of configuration from one tenant to another (using FluentBooks) until that had been done of course. I would MUCH prefer to see all control over Project related admin (inc site collection management and creation and licensing) within the domain of the Project Admins, and of course at that level we can control features/permissions at that level using SubAdmin roles. In nearly all of the cases we have come across in medium and large companies it is always the PMO/Project Admins that dictate to the Tenant admins and billing admins how many licences they need and of what type. Tenant Admins are often simply IT “gatekeepers”, but the real control is and should be at Project Admin/PMO level. Maybe there’s a way to have Tenant Application Admins perhaps ? where certain Project Admins would then be able to administer the bits they need at Tenant admin level but only for Project SKU’s ? Just thinking out loud…. 🙂

  2. Hi
    I would like to have it again where it has been – in the user list. And in the tenant level too, because in the userlist I can see how many people accessed PWA yesterday or last week but only the aggregated value and not per day as the reports do.
    If it was disabled because of performance issues and you say that collecting the data was the problem – you will have the performance issue again if you collect the data again and put it in the tenant level.
    So probably it is the data collection that needs to be modified and not the display of data?

    1. Of course you are correct Christoph – the data collection is the thing we need to fix, but that also leads to reconsidering where to surface the data. For other Office 365 services they are using the Admin portal – but I tend to agree with you, Larry and Paul. Probably the IT admin controls top level Exchange and SharePoint – but there is a lot more devolved admin requirements for someone who heads up a PMO – as we have heard with some of the admin features even for an on-premises installation of Project Server. Central Admin isn’t really a convenient place for these. I’ll make sure you feedback gets to the Product Group – but UserVoice is a good place for feedback too https://microsoftproject.uservoice.com/forums/218133-office-365-project-portfolio-management-ppm
      Best regards,
      Brian.

  3. Kelvin Kirby says:

    Hi Brian, It kind of begs the question as to why this had existed for so long before it was identified as a performance issue. I think there must be a way to poll the relevant data more infrequently and find out who last connected and (approx) when ? We are bombarded with questions about this since the last connected column was removed, because it provided a way for customers to know WHO was actually using and accessing Project Online (and if they were not accessing it, then they could consider redeploying the license). From a partner perspective being targeted on performance based on consumption, this field was especially useful for identifying such consumption and last connected times. From both a partner AND a customer point of view I think restoring this (in some form) would be especially useful. I certainly get asked about this every time I’m on site with a customer and I know many of my guys do too. Would be great to get this resolved soon, one way or another. Is the performance issue only on larger scale deployments ? Maybe it could be switched on or off (and automatically switched off above say 1,000 users)? We’ve not seen or experienced a performance issue in the past with this even on our largest deployments so it would be great to understand the specifics of the issue so those of us in the partner community might be able to offer further suggestions ? Many Thanks

    1. Hi Kelvin, Project Online runs different code and has a scale far different to anything you will have done with Project Server 2013 or 2016. This wasn’t a polling issue, but a writing issue. We have certainly heard that the need for the information is there and the replacement in some form is in the backlog. If you haven’t already then you could add a vote to the User Voice comment on this very topic – https://microsoftproject.uservoice.com/forums/218133-office-365-project-portfolio-management-ppm/suggestions/14773167–last-connect-column-no-longer-shown-in-project-o. I also tend to agree with the idea that PPM has some PMO type admin needs that probably don’t have any parallel in the other services in Office 365. I’ll certainly give this feedback to the product group.
      Best regards,
      Brian.