What is Project Online?

Microsoft Project Online is a flexible, end-to-end platform, used across a broad variety of industries to select and effectively deliver the right project portfolios.

Project Online brings together powerful business collaboration platform services with structured execution capabilities to provide flexible work management solutions. It unifies Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) to help organisations align resources and investments with strategic priorities, gain control across all types of work, and visualise performance by using powerful dashboards.

Project Online is built on the SharePoint platform, and it stores data in the SharePoint data store.

How is it licensed?

The available Microsoft Project licensing plans are flexible with both monthly and annual subscription options available to provide you with instant access to enterprise-level project portfolio management features. This short overview will provide clarity on the available Project plans and detailed feature comparison between the licenses.

Some Microsoft Project licensing plans provide access to both Project Online and Project for the Web. For more information on what you can do in Project for the Web, see Microsoft Project for the Web Licensing Plans.

Project Online Essentials and Project Plan 1

Team member functionality for Project Online is available through a Project Online Essentials or Project Plan 1 subscription. Project Online Essentials is a team member add-on subscription for customers who have Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscriptions (detailed below).

Project Online Essentials or Project Plan 1 subscriptions provides team members with access to Project Web App to perform task and time updates against projects managed in Project Online, as well as access to the Project Site to view and update project documentation and RAID logs.

Note: Project Online Essentials does not include Project for the web. Project Plan 1 includes both Project for the web and Project Online.

Project Online Essentials and Project Plan 1

Project Plan 3

Plan 3 is the plan for Project Managers to keep projects, resources, and teams organised and on track. Included within the Project Plan 3 subscription is the Project Online desktop client.

Microsoft Project Online -Project Plan 3

Project Plan 5

Plan 5 is geared towards Portfolio Management, to enable organisations to prioritise project portfolio investments, ensuring strategic alignment and appropriate resource allocation. Plan 5 includes Project for the web, Project Online and Project Online desktop client. Project Plan 5 includes all of the capabilities of Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 1.

Note: Both Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 subscriptions include Project for the Web.

Microsoft Project Online - Project Plan 5

Microsoft Project Plans comparison

Listed below are the features that interact with data in the project Online SharePoint data store. All these features are available in all Microsoft Project subscriptions: Project Online Essentials, Project Plan 3, and Project Plan 5. Although features marked with an * will require additional subscriptions.

Features Description Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5

Project, task and time management

Alerts and reminders Stay on schedule for important upcoming tasks and project events with reminders in Outlook and Microsoft Teams*
Baselines Set project baselines to monitor current performance against past performance using the Project Web App.
Board view Visually track project tasks for improved workflow and status monitoring.
Critical path Visually track the tasks that represent the longest path through the project using the Project Web App. View Only
Deliverable management Track and manage deliverables using start and end dates and automated scheduling.
Dependencies Set and visually track dependencies between tasks.
Gantt view Visually track and understand project dates, dependencies, and assignments on a hierarchical Gantt chart using the Project Web App. View Only
Grid view Plan and manage projects using a hierarchical grid view of tasks using the Project Web App. View Only
Issue and risk management Identify and track issues and risks at the project and task level.
Master projects Group smaller related projects under a single master project using the Project Web App.
Notifications Stay on top of task assignments, status, and important project events with Outlook and Teams notifications*
Project Home Get a birds-eye view of projects that you’ve worked on recently, as well as important projects that you need to monitor closely.
Project versioning Compare different versions of a project with a report that shows what changed between versions.
Summary tasks Plan, manage and track deliverables and phases using summary tasks in the Project Web App. View Only
Task scheduling Use task start and end dates, effort, work, lead and lag times, and dependencies to get an accurate schedule of project dates using the Project Web App. View Only
Task updates Capture time and status with comments on project tasks, non-project work, and non-working time.
Timelines Visually track and understand project dates, dependencies, and assignments on a timeline view using the Project Web App. View Only
Timesheets Team members can enter time and status against tasks, non-project work, and non-working time.
Timesheet approvals Team members can submit timesheets for approval. Resource managers and supervisors can review, approve, and decline submitted timesheets.
Non-working time setup Add vacation, holidays, medical leave, and other nonworking times into your project schedule.


Attachments Attach documents, images, and other files at the team, project, or task level. Manage these attachments in a central library at the team or project level.
External team members Collaborate with people from outside of your organisation by granting them access to view and interact with your projects, tasks, and documents*
Project sites Create and customise a hub for collaboration and documents for a project.
Microsoft Teams integration Column 2 Value 27

*Use of Teams requires an Office or Microsoft 365 commercial subscription.

Demand Management

Project request approval workflow setup Build the workflows you need to evaluate, prioritize, and approve incoming demand.
Project request forms creation Capture important data about incoming demand to help you evaluate and prioritize new work.
Project requests Track, manage, evaluate, and prioritise incoming demand from within your organisation and from external customers and partners.

Resource, programme and portfolio management

Project costing and budgeting Compare planned progress and budget against actual time and costs using the Project Web App. View Only
Project team setup Manage a project team by adding and removing members, setting allocation levels, and adding external members.
Resource capacity views View resource capacity at the project, team, and organisation level.
Resource costing Track and manage the resource costs of your project. View Only
Resource engagements (bookings) Project managers can submit requests for resources by role, skills, or name. Resource managers can review requests and assign the best resources available.
Resource capacity planning Track and manage resource capacity at the project, team, and organisation level.
Roadmaps Build visual, interactive roadmaps across projects from Microsoft Project Online, Microsoft Project for the web, and Azure Boards projects*
Portfolio analysis and prioritisation Identify, select, and deliver project portfolios that best align with your organisation’s business strategy and maximize your return on investment (ROI).
Dashboards/portals Understand status, prioritisation, and more at the portfolio, program, project, task, team, and resource level with real-time interactive dashboards.
Work, generic, and material resources Add resources to a project, such as work resources like people, generic resources like carpenters, and materials resources like computers and cement.

*Users with a Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscription can submit resource engagement requests. Project Plan 3 users cannot review, fulfil, or approve resource engagement requests.
*Users with a Project Plan 5 subscription can review, fulfil, and approve resource engagement requests


Out-of-box reporting Use pre-built reports to understand project, program, portfolio, and resource data.
Custom reports Understand the data important to your organisation by building custom reports based on out-of-box reports or from scratch.
Dashboards and portals Build custom dashboards and portals to help meet specific organisational needs.

*Access to the Project Reporting Server (OData) requires a Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscription

*Reporting for Project Online using Power BI requires a Power BI license.

Customisation and integration

Custom branding Customise your Project deployment using your own brand, logo, and colours.
Custom fields Add custom fields at the project, task, and resource level to track data important to your organisation and projects.
Formulas Calculate and capture important data using formulas across tasks and projects.
PowerApps Build and consume solutions for web and mobile (through OData) with PowerApps*
Workflows Automate and integrate business processes (through OData) with Power Automate*
Microsoft 365 integration Collaborate, manage documents, and more using familiar Microsoft tools and applications*

* Building custom PowerApps applications that access Project Online data requires a separate PowerApps subscription

*Access to the Project Reporting Server (OData) requires a Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscription

*Microsoft 365 integration requires an Office or Microsoft 365 commercial subscription.

Security, user, and service management

Active Directory integration Build teams from any member of your organisation’s Active Directory*
User management Manage user and group roles and permissions at the project, team, and organisation level.
Service administration Plan, install and configure, maintain, and extend your Microsoft Project environment as part of your Office 365 environment.

*Active Directory requires a separate subscription.

Next Steps

As a Microsoft Gold Partner we work with clients to support them with their Microsoft Project Online deployments, futhermore as a Cloud Solution Provider we can also provide guidance on Project licensing and offer flexible subscription options.

If you’d like to understand which Microsoft Project plan(s) would best fit your needs then please contact us and we’d be happy to chat through the options.

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By: Rachel Goodwin

Rachel Goodwin
Senior PPM Consultant, Wellingtone | An experienced PMO professional; P30 and PRINCE 2 certified, skilled at developing and implementing Project & Programme management methodologies, tools and best practices, with the ability to balance formal processes with pragmatism to drive delivery.

Published: 1 October 2021

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