This week, Microsoft held their annual “Ignite Conference” together with thousands of partners and customers. Although I have attended several of these conferences in the past, I have never experienced this years amount of news in regards to project and work management. In other words, Microsoft shared their brand new vision and direction for their tools supporting anyone dealing with the management of work.
In the coming months, I will go deep on each announcement and the upcoming tools and features. For this post, I will try to keep it at the summary level.
In general I would summarize the news into these four major announcements:
- Project Home
- Modern Project
- Future architecture
This new one-stop landing page for Project Managers was previously announced. However, during Ignite, it was learned that this centralized page will be the center of all types of work, and not just from Project Online. In the future, Project Home will allows users to create and access any kind of work they are responsible for. In other words, you will find projects from Project Online, Azure Boards (previously VSTS), Planner Boards, Roadmaps and Dynamics PSA. I personally see this as a major driver for improved user satisfaction and adoption. Project Home is already released in its first version allowing users to find their projects across any Project Online PWA (within the same tenant).
For me this was one of the most exciting news shared at Ignite. A whole new solution will soon be available in early 2019 under the name “Roadmap”. This solution allows users to “top-down” create a roadmap of strategic initiatives and/or programs or portfolios of work. This loose approach to grouping work of different kind solves an issue that most working with PPM have faced, the ability to visualize a strategy and its direct link to major deliverables.
From Roadmap users can create new roadmaps, assign an owner, add description and much more. It is also possible to add a set of key milestones or deliverables. On top, you can later connect the roadmap with specific projects and work taking place in your “tool of choice” such as Azure Boards, Dynamics PSA, Project Online and so on. This allows for a complete overview on whatever work that is linked to a greater initiative, strategy or driver. Great news for those who are less maturity in their management of portfolios.
The project service (Microsoft Project) is also in for a major overhaul, and completely new architecture, with strong focus on simplicity, performance and security. On top, it will work directly with “Groups” in O365 and allow for great features such as co-authoring etc. During the live demonstration at Ignite, it was evident that performance is something to be measured in the milliseconds, and even when working with multiple users, in same plan, at the same time. Amazing news for those of us, who have learned to wait for a “save” or “publish” job. With simplicity comes a much easier approach to allocating resources to tasks, which also includes externals. As everything is managed in a O365 group, the project team can take full advantage of all the other group/team benefits O365 has to offer.
From what can be seen on the screenshot, its completely up to the project manager to decide whether a Kanban board, Gantt chart or just a simple list view, should be used to plan and track the work. Full flexibility while still keeping the connection and ability to open up the project/work in “Project Professional” – the desktop client.
Attachments can be added to each task or the project itself. This ensures there is a direct link between tasks and any other relevant information, and will ensure a better user experience from the team members in charge of the specific tasks.
The next generation of Project and Work management tools is built on the Microsoft Common Data Service for Apps, which allows for easy integration to systems like SharePoint, PowerApps, PowerBI, Microsoft Flow, Office 365, and Dynamics 365. In other words, Microsoft has decided to take the best functionality and features from different solutions and ensured these are allowed to work together and on the same common database and service.
And here are the promises Microsoft makes with the new change in architecture. What is not to like?
Benefits from the new architecture
- Build and consume solutions for web and mobile with PowerApps
- Automate and integrate business processes with Microsoft Flow
- Put all your data to work with Common Data Service
- Gain insights from your data regardless of where it lives with Power BI
- Customize, extend, and build all the apps you need
- Seamless Dynamics 365, Office 365, and Azure integration along with connectors to more than 200 data sources
Learn more about the changes from the official Microsoft channels (click to be redirected)
These news calls for celebration for any users of Microsoft Office 365 managing projects, work or anything in between. Its all about user satisfaction, allowing for flexibility and still ensuring overview and transparency.