With Project Online in the cloud, a flexible solution for project and portfolio management, Microsoft has made it easier for organizations to manage both individual projects and project portfolios. In tandem with Project Professional, project managers, project teams, executives, and the Project Management Office can leverage features tailored to their unique roles.
Project Online addresses three levels of project and portfolio management complexity. On one recent client implementation, for example, we tackled three core requirements, each for a separate audience:
- Project Team: Team collaboration and task management
- Project Manager: Create and manage detailed project plans, compile weekly status reports
- PMO/Executive: Portfolio management, summary and detailed view of all projects
Project team members are busy working through their individual tasks, and may be less concerned with Project Online’s advanced tools and features. Their primary requirement: a centralized location to review assigned tasks and project related documents, get work done, and provide updates to their progress. With Project Online, the Project Manager is able to meet those needs by creating a project site, sharing it with project team members, and assigning tasks accordingly. Further, with integrated Skype to facilitate discussions and SharePoint task management, Project Online seamlessly enables team collaboration. As team members update the project site task list, the task list is automatically synced – which means that when the Project Manager opens the Project Plan in Project Professional, they have instant visibility to the most current information.
Project Managers’ primary objective is getting the project completed on time and on budget. As such, some of their advanced needs include maintaining and reporting on project budgets and burn down rates, assigning tasks to resources, reviewing and approving time, and maintaining detailed project plans. Depending on the complexity of the project, a Project Manager can edit timelines, add predecessors, group summary tasks, and add milestones, all within the project site in Project Online. For more detailed management, the PM need only open the project in Project Professional to perform tasks such as advanced scheduling, resource leveling, and generating dashboards for reporting, which can then be added to status reports in Word, PowerPoint, or Excel as needed.
PMO and Executives
Executives and the PMO are focused on the big picture. They require visibility to all projects across the organization, no matter how simple or complex, in order to ‘see the whole field’ and make informed decisions on which projects to prioritize, and how optimize the utilization of people and resources. They need to view not only project progress, but also risks, KPIs, and budget utilization. In Project Online, the Project Center provides a view of the portfolio of projects as well as individual projects. From here, users can check projects in and out, set project permissions for individual resources or groups, and establish a resource plan for each project. Project Online also provides the capability to run ‘What if’ scenarios based on business drivers, costs, and time, which can then be compared and analyzed when prioritizing projects.
Maximizing your Project Online Investment
In addition to the tools that help everyone involved with the project make the most of their time and effort, Project Online delivers full project and portfolio management (PPM). Some of these capabilities include:
- Demand Management – Capture demand (work proposals) and streamline project initiation by using a SharePoint list and creating multistage governance process workflows.
- Resource Management – Manage resources in Project Online to accurately measure resource utilization and align with organizational strategy.
- BI and Executive Reporting – Provide real-time data via accessible dashboards for executive stakeholders.
Microsoft continues to roll out new capabilities for Project Online customers. In December, they announced the new Office 365 Planner, which offers team members a sleek, visual way of organizing their tasks. More recently, they announced the acquisition of several apps and add-ins, and we expect more to come. Stay tuned for more details as Microsoft continues to further improve the Project Online experience.