Microsoft Project for the web: Project and Portfolio Management un-incumbered

Microsoft Project for the web: Project and Portfolio Management un-incumbered

  • 23 January,2020

Project Online (and Project Server) are core tools to support project and portfolio management (PPM) and currently provide capabilities that Project for the web is yet to deliver.

Over the last 4 years, while in the process of understanding customer problems and identifying how and where Project Online will help, I’ve witnessed several re-occurring pain points.

A sledgehammer to crack a nut?

Based on your PPM maturity, you may not need all the elements that Project Online offers. Capabilities, for example timesheets, sit around gathering dust for customers as the level of toolset usage and maturity grows to where it is required.

Additionally, if you’re not building large / complicated schedules, the use of the Project desktop client could be overkill. Some customers simply use the Project Web App schedule view to track basic milestones, and that’s perfect for them.

Documents on Project Sites? But not everyone can see them.

“Only the PMO and PMs that have licenses for Project” I’ve seen this a fair bit and straight away it shuts down the relevance of the Project site as a team-based repository of documents and typical RAID items. CPS has built central repositories to hold controlled documents for clients that can then capitalise on existing SharePoint licensing for all users.

Reporting non out of the box lists

Project Online is hard wired to pull the out of the box risk and issue list columns into the reporting schema, and whilst CPS can be creative in changing labels etc, what can be achieved is fairly limited.  The answer is either cross site querying (which doesn’t refresh in the Power BI online service) or by having a warehousing tool such as our edison365datastore. edison365datastore will sync any selected list into an Azure SQL DB of your choice along with associated Project data. This enables a great reporting repository for your portfolio.

Maintenance of associated SharePoint Lists

“Can we just add these 3 columns and 2 views to all of the Risk lists on the project sites”? Yes, manual hand cranking is a solution, while PowerShell is your friend when there is volume. Just be aware that there is effort and constraints to have to code these kinds of updates.

How Microsoft Project for the web can liberate you

Project for the web provides a strong capability for simplified Project scheduling. You can co-author projects schedules, and you don’t have to worry about check-in and out or publishing. Why is co-authoring so cool? If you have a project made up of work packages, each work package manager can be updating their part of the bigger plan simultaneously!

Out of the box the functionality is focussed around scheduling. Resource management will develop in early 2020 and this is great as it is because 1) the level of simple plan that clients require, and 2) the fact the everything else, RAID lists, Project descriptive data etc, is different everywhere CPS works; enabling customers / CPS to start from scratch (or use a solution starter like workhub) and add to the core model exactly what’s required while not having to work around the constraints of existing lists etc.

Collaboration is key. A project now resides in an Office 365 group. This means that it can also be turned in to a team within Microsoft Teams. All of a sudden, the Project Site as you/we know it is destined for the bin. Resources added to the project are added to the team and so everyone can work together within that team. The underlying SharePoint site acts as the document repository and project conversations are recorded forever in the chat capability. Power Apps for RAID and the project can easily be added into the team.

Project for the web is extended to deliver against your requirements by using the Common Data Service (CDS). This allows CPS to create new data entities for whatever is required whether it’s Risks, Issues, Product QMS, or Product Launch Schedules; the CDS entity will allow the right data to be captured and related back to the project. All the information is in one entity for all projects, making cross site querying a thing of the past while allowing you to easily query all your data.

What about advance analytics? The CDS allows you to synchronise your data out to an Azure SQL data warehouse.

The use of CDS entities allows the creation of project team related Power Apps to enhance the tools for team members and to build on the provided model driven app. This has the potential to really help streamline the user journey as it’s mobile ready with sleek apps while providing the bigger model driven apps for the PMO and Project Managers.

In Summary

Project for the web has opened a whole new world of potential for customers to get the right amount of system to support their needs. CPS can help you to analyse your business problems and take you though the journey of deployment and adoption required to make a successful transformation.

Why don’t you get in touch and start the conversation?