Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Exciting times for Project Online!

We are living exciting time for Project Online. I have to say that things have been a bit quiet the past few years. Indeed we had the resource engagements feature and new reporting capabilities with PowerBI, but since a few months, we do have some interesting announcements, showing us that Microsoft is giving a second youth to Project Online. Our entire community is excited by this trajectory and I wanted to share some topics which were announced at or around the Ignite Conference in Orlando (interesting session to replay).


This first new feature emphasizes what I'm telling from years and years since I'm deploying MS Project / Server / Online. MS Project is NOT a task management tool, especially when you're using it in an Enterprise context. It is meant to manage a portfolio and bring visibility on your workload and the project progress and health. Not to manage 2-hrs meetings or granular tasks. Of course you can do it, but I'll be tedious and it requires a high level of expertise with the tool. And from my experience, if you try to manage a 3000-tasks plan with dependencies, resources and timesheets, it won't last for long. Thus I always advice to use if necessary a Sharepoint list or any other solution to manage a backlog of activities. Planner came to fill this gap in O365 environment but still it wasn't linked in any ways to Project. 
Now this integration does exist, still in v1, but the momentum is there, MS will go on improving this integration. From now, this is "just" the ability to send a task from Project to Planner with a hyperlink, but we do wait for a both-way integration to roll down and up the assignments and (actual) work for example. 
It brings then the question of the timesheet: if the actual work is rolled up from Planner to Project, how is the timesheet dealing with this feature. Remember that the actual can be forced to come from the timesheet. Then we come to another exciting direction, talking a while ago with some guys from the product group: sending the timesheet application out of Project at O365 level so it can be plugged on Project, but also Planner, SharePoint, etc...
Didn't I told you that we were living exciting times...?


This is a huge WOAA!! A v1 Agile integration in MS Project (for Insiders Fast build 16.0.8625.1000) has been released. Here is what I can share with you. I would have liked to tell you more and propose a quick demo but I couldn't test it myself yet.
  • Use Agile in MS Project
    • Project Managers can use simple, visual task boards that support Scrum, Kanban, or custom workflows
    • Visually manage your projects and tasks using agile-style views
    • Plan work in iterations using sprints or choose a Kanban-like workflow to track ongoing status and limit work-in-progress
    • Customize workflows to meet your project's tracking and reporting needs
  •  Choose your work style
    • Project managers can choose whatever methodology makes sense: agile, waterfall, or hybrid.
    • Manage task-oriented projects using agile-style views
    • Use Gantt views for projects that require upfront planning, resource balancing, and critical path analysis
    • Manage sub-projects within a larger project using agile-style views while using a Gantt view for the overall project

  • Maintain Transparency
    • PMO can centrally manage different types of projects with governance and visibility
    • Maintain governance of standards and processes across teams and projects
    • Gain visibility across projects whatever work styles are being used to manage them
    • Use out-of-the-box and custom reports to report across projects or focus on status specific to agile-style workflows


The first PBI report pack was an incredible enabler for pushing sexy reporting capabilities. It also helped the community to better understand PBI features and how it could strength Project Online added value. With this new report pack, Microsoft is going further, providing 11 pages mainly focused on portfolio and resources. Paul Mather, a fellow MVP has already written an exhaustive post so I give him credit.


Microsoft Teams is quite a new member (1 year old) in the O365 family, but MS has already announced that it will be replacing Skype for Business, which has already took over Lync. Note that Teams allows integration through tabs with Planner and PowerBI.

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  1. Thank you for sharing these great news, any update perhaps on time tracking app for android?


    1. Thanks for y our comment Naser. Unfortunately I have no news about an availability date for the Time Reporter app on Android.

  2. Where can we find more information about Agile integration? I'm coming up blank on my searches.

    1. Hi Jacob,
      I couldn't test it myself. This is still under being deployed in the MS Project channels. We should have the first insights in the next couple of weeks.

  3. Great summary, can't wait to try my hands on the new features!