At the recent Ignite event, Microsoft announced the much-anticipated New Microsoft Project, also known by the following aliases Project For The Web, Project Plan 1 and up until recently Project Service. It gets confusing.
Microsoft Project Background & Evolution
So New Project, is the most recent evolution of Microsoft Project, which was released back in 1984, the same year as the original Terminator – and in that sense, the New Project is to Project, what the T-1000 was to the T-800. End of tenuous link.
Initially, when Microsoft Project v1.0 was launched, the focus was very much on the individual user, to enable them to better plan and keep track their own projects.
Then in 2000 Microsoft released the first Enterprise variant Project Central which for the first-time enabled collaboration between project teams.
In 2003, Project Central evolved to become Project Server and adhered to same release cycle as SharePoint and Office – there were new releases every three years. Project Online arrived in 2013 and for the first time, Project was available in the cloud (Office 365) – albeit identical in most respects to the on-premise variant at the time – Project Server 2013.
That was up until a few weeks ago, the last significant update.
The Case for Modern Work Management
The way in which we work has changed, as has the workplace which features a multi-generational workforce.
When announcing their new vision for work management in 2018, Microsoft stated:
“Over the last few years, the basic organising concept for work—the project—has changed significantly. Once a well-defined set of tasks, people, and milestones, today’s projects take on many shapes and sizes. They can be formal or ad hoc. They can last a few hours or go on for years. They can be assigned to a small group or cut across many large organisations.
As a result, whether we realise it or not, we have all become project managers. And to stay on top of the ever-shifting requirements of our day-to-day jobs, we need tools that are simple enough for anyone to use, flexible enough to support any project type, powerful enough to handle initiatives of any size, and transparent enough to provide visibility across the organisation.”
Because of this diverse set of requirements and a tendency for teams to go and procure any solution (i.e. Asana, Trello, Monday) that ‘plugs’ the immediate gap without a joined-up longer-term view. As a result, you end up with misaligned & disjointed siloes and collaboration between teams becomes difficult, whilst lots of data is pumped out and needs to be manually cobbled together to provide the big picture.
Microsoft, however, are well placed to bring order to chaos through the Office 365 work management platform.
In a nutshell, regardless of the solutions that different teams may be using dependent upon their needs i.e. Project, Planner or Azure DevOps – they can still see their tasks and overall view in one place.
It should be noted that there is a longer-term vision from Microsoft to allow third party apps to feed into this view too i.e. Jira.
Microsoft Project for the Web (New Project)
Microsoft embarked on the Work Management vision over a year ago, with Microsoft Home and Roadmap making an appearance, at the time Microsoft also mentioned the Project Service which has now been officially named as Project for The Web.
Aimed primarily at the ‘accidental ‘or ‘informal’ Project Managers it provides a simple and intuitive interface for users to get started with planning and managing work.
One of the key reasons behind Microsoft Project’s success to date, is the robust scheduling engine which has over 35 years of development behind it – so we’re pleased to see that it has been retained in Project for The Web, behind the new, shiny UI.
Whilst the out of the box capabilities are geared towards informal users, Microsoft have provided the building blocks to enable partners to help create a more comprehensive PPM Platform to satisfy PMOs and power users.
This is achieved through Dynamics and the Power Platform (PowerApps, Power Automate and Power BI), which can allow, for example, the inclusion of governance workflows, capture of financials and resource requirements.
Microsoft Project for the Web
To aid reporting, Microsoft have released a comprehensive Power BI template consisting of 9 reports which can be extended; further reports to merge Project for the Web and Project Online data are on the horizon.
Portfolio Dashboard in Microsoft Project for the Web
Positioning & Recommendation
You may be wondering what this means if you’re looking to implement a new PPM solution and have been considering Project Online; the recommendation from Wellingtone would be to continue as planned – dependent upon your immediate and longer-term requirements.
The initial release of Project for the Web is an MVP (minimal viable product) and whilst it will be extended by Microsoft over time, Project Online is available NOW and caters immediately for mature organisations that need a feature rich PPM solution.
Feature comparison between Planner, Project for the Web and Project Online
As you see from the comparison table and image below, Project Plans 3 and 5 (Project Online) are positioned for organisations with higher levels of maturity and sophisticated requirements. However, by subscribing to Plans 3 or 5, you’re also licensed for Project Plan 1 (Project for The Web).
Licensing Plans for Microsoft Project/Project Online
Whether you are already using Project Online and have colleagues that would benefit from Project for The Web or are looking to implement a new PPM platform – Wellingtone can help.
We can guide you through the process of solution selection by taking you through the envisioning and discovery processes to help ensure the investment in the chosen PPM platform will deliver against the required benefits. Get in touch now.