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Step by step guide to synchronize your Excel Sheet with OpenProject

OpenProject is the best Excel alternative for project management. Importing your issues from Excel to OpenProject makes it easy to get started.

As we have written in our plog post OpenProject: The collaborative Excel alternative for project management there are quite a few limitations to use Excel for project management. Not being able to include other project collaboration functionalities is just one limitation to mention. Looking for an alternative to Excel often brings the question how to import the data from Excel to a new software.

Many companies that lack of a real project management system use Excel Sheets to track their tasks, requirements, bugs, risks or whatever needs to be tracked within a project. In order to easily get started with OpenProject for web-based, collaborative project management, there is an easy way to import all issues from an Excel list to OpenProject.

Setting-up the Excel list

1. In order to upload your tasks from an existing Excel list to OpenProject, you need to go to OpenProjectExcel on GitHub.

2. Click on the green Clone or download button.

3. Choose the option Download ZIP.

download-excel

4. Then, you need to extract the ZIP file and open the OpenProjectAPI Excel document.

open-excel

5. Next, within the Excel document you are asked to Enable Editing.

6. Enable Content to activate macros within your document.

enable-content-and-macros

7. Enter settings (URL and API-Token) and choose a project (and optional a work package query) which you want to synchronize your data with.

choose-project

URL: the URL of your OpenProject instance.
API-Token: can be generated within your OpenProject installation ->My Account -> Access token. Generate a new API token and copy & paste it to this form.
Project: this is the project identifier which can be found within the project you want to synchronize -> Project settings -> Information. It is also shown in the URL if you open a project.
Query ID (this field is optional): enter the ID of a work package query within a project with that you want to synchronize your Excel list.

8. Set as default: enable to remember the settings as default.

9. Accept to start the synchronization.

10. You need to select a minimum of columns to start with the synchronization. For column selection, click in the header and open the drop down which opens next to the regular drop down icon: Select the following column headers at a minimum:
Updatestatus
Lock Version
ID
Subject

Additionally, you can select as many other columns that should be synchronized – always by clicking in the header and selecting the drop down icon which appears next to the regular icon. You will have all fields available, incl. custom fields.

Important: make sure you have all fields that need to be synchronized from your Excel list also available in OpenProject. Some might be created beforehand as custom fields in OpenProject.
Attributes that do not exist in the selected project within OpenProject are NOT available in the headline. They cannot be selected in the header (via the drop-down). Neither can you just create a new column with an attribute that does not exist in OpenProject. This will generate an error message.

Copy and paste all data accordingly from your existing Excel list to this sheet.

select-column

11. Important: Ctrl + B will open the synchronization module to choose between the following options:

Ctrl-B

Download workpackages: intitially downloads all work packages from the selected project (and query).
Upload / update work packages: makes changes to the work packges, e.g. adding new work packages or changing any information. This option needs to be chosen in order to initially import and existing Excel list.
Show chosen project: Opens the settings to adapt URL, API key, project or query ID.

Congratulations! You can now synchronize your data between Excel and OpenProject.

Excel-OpenProject-synch

12. To synchronize hierarchies (Parent and child relations), insert the column Parent within the header of the Excel Sheet as described above (screen 10).

To add or edit a new parent-child relation, you have two possibilites:

A) You can add a child to a work package when you enter 4 empty spaces (press 4x Shift) before typing the subject of the child work package.

insert-children

Expert tip: it does not have to be empty spaces (default 4 empty spaces) to separate the next hierarchy. You can also take a „-“ and for the next hierarchy „—“. But the disadvantage is that the hyphen will also be displayed in the work package subject. Therefore we recommend the spaces, because they will not appear in OpenProject.

13. Pressing Ctrl + B and selecting Upload / update work packages will open a window to define a new character for setting a parent-child-relationship (default is 4 empty spaces).

Click OK when the screen for the Search characters (screen 13) appears. The IDs in the Parent column will then be automatically updated.

Search-character-parent

Pressing Cancel will ignore the Hierarchy – no matter what has been inserted. This is relevant for option B:

B)  you can edit the IDs in the parent column manually. If you have edited the IDs manually in the parent column, just click Cancel when the above Search character option (screen 13) appears. Then, the hierarchy will be updated according to the IDs in the column Parent.

14. The parent-child-relation will be displayed in OpenProject.

Parent-child-OpenProject

Hopefully, this will save you lots of time to import all your old Excel To-Do lists and get started with OpenProject for project management.

Have fun!

5 responses to “Step by step guide to synchronize your Excel Sheet with OpenProject

  1. Daniel Chou says:

    Will this work though Libreoffice as well?

    1. Birthe Lindenthal says:

      At the moment this plugin is developed only for MS Excel. But it would be great to have a Libreoffice plugin as well in the future.

  2. Dave says:

    Am I completely missing how to add new tasks or phases? I connected the Excel file to my blank project, worked my way through a few errors (wrong Estimated Time format, etc), but nothing ever shows up in my project after I click Upload. I thought maybe it wasn’t connected to the project or server correctly, but I can add a sample task and click Download and it goes right onto the bottom of that sheet. Then I can edit that particular task and edits show up when I upload. But none of the other lines show up. Something in the Updatestatus field I have to enter? Right now they are all blanks.

    1. Dave says:

      Disregard, I worked it out.

      1. Birthe Lindenthal says:

        Thanks, Dave. Let us know if you have any further questions.

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