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Tim Runcie: I got a good group here today. Melanie, we’re ready whenever you are. So, it looks like we’re hitting 85, 86 folks now.
Melanie: Okay, Melanie here with Team MPUG. Welcome to Microsoft Project’s Seven Misconceptions. Today’s session is a panel discussion and we welcome you to join into discussion. Again, once again, we’ll be sending out the always adorable MPUG to those of you who get involved. Now, I’d like to introduce our organizer for this session, Tim Runcie. Some of Tim’s many, many credentials include the PMP, MCP, MCTS, and MVP. Tim is only one of six Microsoft Project MVPs in North America and has held that title for 17 years in a row. Go, Tim.
Melanie: He’s a seasoned veteran of complex programs, Project management systems, and he works with companies like Microsoft on next generations of Project program and portfolio technologies. Also, as the President and Founder of Advisicon, Tim has written over 38 books on PM methodologies and technologies. Advisicon has also recently added a nonprofit division focused on helping faith-based and 501(c)(3) organizations with implementing and training out available business solutions and providing business coaching or process automation with the mission of serving those who serve. That is wonderful. All right. Tim, I’m getting let you take over.
Tim Runcie: Great. Do you want to give me control? Let’s see, do I make myself the presenter here?
Melanie: I have just given you control.
Tim Runcie: Oops, which screen did I end up sharing? Let me look. That’s always the fun part. No, there’s us looking at us. No, we want that. There we go. Awesome. Well, not to be outdone, but with us today is an honored guest. Nadin, let me just introduce you briefly. I think Melanie’s covered the fact that we’ve been doing this a long time. We love our community. We love Project program and portfolio management. So, that really spans the entire Microsoft and sometimes the non-Microsoft spectrum.
Tim Runcie: But today, as we get in and really talk about what we’re going to dig into, we actually have part of the Microsoft engineering team here. Nadin certainly has been with the Microsoft Project team for… I thought it was more than eight years, but I think COVID just makes everything seem longer from what we’ve done. Nadin, also, for example, works on the backend services. So, that’s a lot of what you all don’t typically get to see, but he makes sure things work. In fact, one of the most intriguing things we found was the whole GDPR launch. He actually helped drive this forward to figure out how to make it work for Project, Project Online, Project Server, all the compliance required. So, these are things that sometimes we users take for granted, but he has been a bright, shining, engaged, energetic resource from the Project team.
Tim Runcie: I am very pleased to have such a deep technical knowledge here today with us to answer questions. But more importantly, he’s a father of two, which is two boys, right? That’s like a full time job in itself. So, I think even with the COVID and all the things that happen, it’s really important to have that balance and things. So, Nadin, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate your time. I’m looking forward for us to really get in and maybe dispel some of the myths, right from the source around Project and what’s happening.
Tim Runcie: All right, so a couple things. Today, we’ll talk about common misconceptions. We’ll start with the seven that are very commonly asked and then we’re going to open it up, of course, to a panel discussion. So, that means if you guys will look in basically the GoToMeeting here, the window, there’s actually a question section. So, if you want to type these in, that will be great and we’ll be calling those out. If we can’t get to all the questions, that’s all right. I will make sure that we get answers or at least do some a follow-up posting for you that we can work from. But again, this will be a fun time.
Tim Runcie: Again, I think it’s helpful sometimes to hear from the Project management side of things how an engineering team who builds software, which a lot of us are engaged in doing for either customers or in our own environments, is that Microsoft is bound by the same laws of physics as the rest of the universe. As much as Nadin would love to build everything, he also has scope, schedule, and budget and managers who are looking at timelines and things that need to happen. So, Nadin, did you want to say anything before we get started here?
Nadin Merali: Nope. Just thanks for the introduction. I’m interested to help answer questions and clear up any misconceptions.
Tim Runcie: Wonderful. All right. So, we’re going to start with these type seven questions. Again, if you haven’t read the MPUG Blog articles, there are postings, there’s comments out there. There’s other great speakers who are going to be presenting around some of these topics and features within Project, as well as the PowerApp world is down here. So, we have this Power platform, talk about dynamics, using Project operations, Project for the web. There’s an Accelerator. There’s more choices now ever today, but we hear commonly that hey, Project is a waterfall tool only. I think that’s a misconception that I just want to hit right out of the gate here.
Tim Runcie: So, number one is Project’s not an Agile tool. So, Nadin, when you hear that, what do you think? I mean, you guys work in an Agile environment, but at the same time, you have an overall timeline. What are your thoughts at least in responding to that?
Nadin Merali: So, Agile is a way of doing things and Project can help you achieve that way of meeting your goals and the way you want to run business. So, I wouldn’t say Project’s an Agile. Project has a lot more stuff. You could do the dependencies. You can use the Project scheduling engine to help you with dependencies. Just because you’re moving things out of more of an Agile fashion, there’s still a ripple effect when you say, “I’m going to do something.” I can’t do this right now. I’m going to move it out later, but what does that mean when things get moved out later? So, I fully expect anyone could do their Agile work using Project.
Tim Runcie: Yeah. If we think about looking at some of the other technologies, we talked about using the right tool for the job, so the Project team actually owns Planner and people are like, “Well, wait a minute, is that a competing product with Project?” No, they’re complementary. So, for those of you that are using maybe an older desktop version, I’m just sharing my screen here is that if you’re using more of the Project online or using the most current version of Project, you really can actually go in and take a look at changing your views into task and sprint boards, right? So, the idea of having a sprint board locally in the desktop or if you’re moving into what we refer to as the Project for the web technology, is that you’re going to have plenty of options to pivot.
Tim Runcie: But what the concept you need to recognize is that whether you’re using the legacy technologies or more of the current ones is that this is a database. JIRA, Azure DevOps, Projects, these all have a database behind the scenes. So, as we want to take these tasks or activities or what we call the demand work, we really do just pivot into a way that says these are flexible, as well as they can also, through Office 365, connect in the Dataverse and say, “Well, listen, if I want to create better Power BI reports at Bridge, my Agile development teams, and they want to look at some time phased elements here, we can compare those as long as we understand what the relationship or the entity, what we call a primary and foreign key.”
Tim Runcie: So sometimes it’s the user ID or it’s the user email address. In the assignment, we can link these things together in views. So, the world really does revolve around being Agile or going through Scrum or Fall, but inherently, you can blend the two together. I see this all the time and I see Teams that will pivot, using Teams and Project and Planner all together to do a complimentary type of implementation. So, very normal. There’s plenty of articles out there and again, I’ve got some other postings if you want to take a look at it, but Agile, sometimes it’s a state of mind, but also, if we get into formal Scaled Agile Framework, other elements is that we do have to work with tasks and activities and assignments.
Tim Runcie: So, again, what is great about Project is it’s got that time phased engine, right? We can actually look at things over time. As impacts or changes happen, they roll out and we want to see that. A lot of Agile tools are just cards, they’re just list. So, this is a great combination between the two.
Tim Runcie: Again, misconception number two, let’s just pivot over into that. I love this little Winnie the Pooh quote here that said, “People say nothing’s impossible, but I do nothing every day.” So, we hear that Project for the web, this new thing that’s come out, this is growing and morphing, but even the Microsoft Project team calls Project can’t be customized. Nadin, you probably know best about all of the mechanics behind the scenes, but let’s just talk about that for a moment.
Nadin Merali: So, one thing people don’t realize and you alluded to it earlier on is that Project is built on the Power platform. I’m going to try to simplify it as much as possible. So, let’s think of it as a database that put this UX layer in front of it, where you can sit there and say, “Hey, a Project needs to have more columns added.” So, we’ll add more columns to the Project table that says, “Hey, I want a status column or a task. I want additional columns like a permit or some other stakeholder on the task.” You can actually sit there and add all these columns in. So, there’s two scenarios. There is the local custom fields, which you can add right into your Project and that’s local to your Project.
Nadin Merali: So, you can say, “Hey, I want to add a permit column and all your tasks, our permit column.” You can choose what kind of value you want it to be, what kind of choice, et cetera. And then your Project has that. You can go ahead and fill that in. That’s easy to help you track your Project. Then there are ways when you go into the Power App, which is what I’m going to call the purple UX, because it has the purple thing to it, is that you can actually add more customizations here that actually lets you change what the database has. You could actually say, “I need to have separate tables altogether linked to a Project.” As you see on the left, you see programs, you see Projects.
Nadin Merali: You can actually create a whole concept of portfolios and look at the programs and/or limit the Projects as you need to. This is very, very customizable to whatever you need. You can drag and drop all the columns you want. In certain respects, this actually provides more customization and configuration that Project Online supported. And then you get the benefits of being able to build Power Automate workflows behind it. So, for example, you could take a Project request and you could say, “It’s ready to go,” marked it as approved. In the background, it gets turned into a Project. Or you could say that, “Hey, I have a list of risks.”
Nadin Merali: You can actually create your own list of risks and issues, whatever you need them to be. You can say, “Hey, when I click a button, that risk turns into a task on a Project.” So that’s now managed in some way by that Project. So, it’s very, very customizable. There’s some stuff about the acceleration. I think we’ll talk about that later. But there is a lot more customization available now than there’s ever been before.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, and I think this is really a hard concept as we’re emerging. So, what’s interesting is, I feel like I’m a dinosaur. I’ve been around since the DOS version of Project. So, we’ve seen it go from DOS to Windows, and the versions that will go from there, and then Project Central server in ’99 and 2000, and then suddenly, SharePoint and Project Server 2002 and ’03 and ’07 and ’10. We’ve seen this evolution and moving into Project Online. So, there’s been 30 years of really beating up on Project the desktop, and of course, this enterprise collaboration component of Project Online in there, but again, database, behind the scenes.
Tim Runcie: So, when Microsoft came forward and said, “Look, we really need to rethink what we’re doing and how we embed projects and tasks together,” one of the things that being a gold partner, it’s like, “Okay, we got to figure all this stuff out.” So, the great thing is we are on the cutting edge and we’re learning. The bad thing is, is we’re on the cutting/bleeding edge, trying to figure it all out. But one of the things that Power Apps has done is it said, “Look, the way that we configure Project Online, where we go into, let’s say, here’s Project Online and we go into server settings. We work with the functionality that’s here,” that was really what you had. It was so prebuilt.
Tim Runcie: There’s a lot of things that are there. But if you wanted to do more customization, it’s much more difficult. It is just a new world. So, the way that we would come in and create custom fields and lookup tables and things like that are now happening in the Power Apps space. So, whether you get the Accelerator or you buy something or you go to Project operations, which again, is a model driven Power App, it’s a new way of learning. So, back when Project Server came out, it was new. We all had to figure it out. Guess what? Power Apps and the Power platform isn’t just one little SharePoint thing and a Project widget embedded inside of there.
Tim Runcie: This is the entire ecosystem that Microsoft is leaning on, both Power Automate, Power BI, and certainly the embedding together. So, again, just embrace the change. It is new. There’s some learning that needs to happen. Microsoft’s still building and figuring it out and hooking up new pieces. So, the strength of the Office 365 Cloud and Project is that the more time that’s in there, the more things that get solidified and made available.
Tim Runcie: So, it’s exciting and talk about all the things that are rolling out, but again, it’s just a different way of managing enterprise relational database information and then automating or simplifying it and it is very open ended. So, once you crossed that threshold of learning how to work in Power Apps, the world’s your oyster. It’s a learning curve to jump into. Go ahead, sir.
Nadin Merali: Yeah, I just wanted to jump in that one. Go ahead.
Tim Runcie: Nadin, go ahead.
Melanie: We have questions coming in. So, Nadin, go ahead and we’ll see if we’re ready to answer some.
Nadin Merali: Tim, I just want to just clarify the word customization because I know it sounds big and scary. People might think that you have to take out that C sharp book off your shelf or developer book. In Project Online, I would say there’s some configuration you could do like you can add custom fields and stuff to your tasks, resources. You can edit the views. I’ll call that configuration because that does not require you to take out any development book or desktop Visual Studio, whatever it is. With the Power platform, there’s a lot more stuff you can do in terms of configuration. As I said, you can use Power Automated to automate your workflows. You can actually easily add columns and new tables all together into the Project app.
Nadin Merali: You can sit there and drag and drop whatever fields, you want to show it on whatever tab you want. There’s a lot more configuration available to you before you would have to actually go into the more very, very customized thing you might want to get done where you then need to get help or pull up that developer book. So, there’s a lot more you can do without even having to being a developer. The Power platform is a low code, no code platform. So, that you can do just phenomenal moment and things you can do without having to be a developer or needing that level of skill set. As an individual worker, it’s pretty cool what you’re able to do by yourself.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, that’s great. Melanie, I was going to take questions after the initial seven, but we can jump in and grab a few now. I just want to make sure we get through at least the seven that we have here. So, you want to just start off with maybe a couple questions and then we’ll just keep going?
Melanie: Well, the first one would just be a note for Nadin. We need to know the IKEA desk. So, I can chat that out to the audience. If you’d like to chat it to the audience, you can do that.
Nadin Merali: Sure.
Melanie: This one is about Jira. Is Microsoft Project with JIRA tool well? What is happening there?
Tim Runcie: I guess the question we’re asking is, is there interconnection? Does it connect directly with JIRA? I’ll have a comment about that, but Nadin, are you able to talk about some of the app integrations that you guys are planning from a Project team?
Nadin Merali: So, I didn’t quite understand the question. What integrations with which apps?
Tim Runcie: JIRA, right? So, JIRA being requirements and an Agile tool that has been around for quite a while there, but are we looking at any connections between any of the product tools with JIRA?
Nadin Merali: So, we don’t have any connections with any external tools today, but as I said, whenever we release new features in Project for the web, all the data stored in the Power platform in the forms of tables and columns and then you can go ahead and build… I believe Power Automate might have a connector there. So, you can go ahead and do whatever you need to that says, “Okay, when a task is marked complete, kick off a workflow, which could talk to JIRA and could talk to any type of tool you want.” So, you could probably extend Project to help you with that, but there is no out of the box connector tool that Project has right now.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, so the Microsoft Team, in terms of having native, built into it that comes with a software package, but there are partners out there that actually do have connectors that will connect JIRA and bring the information. Remember, as we look at either Project Online or Project for the web in this Power platform is that it’s a database, right? JIRA is a database. We can simply connect to the API, pull those things, and in fact, I don’t have time to show you.
Tim Runcie: But I’ve got one where we build a little teams app that says, “Hey, bring in some of what’s happening in JIRA, but also bring Project for the web tasks and give us a little dashboard, but I want it embedded in a Teams channel, right? I want to be able to drop it in as a Teams app.” So again, there’s a much more fluid environment to marry these together and I recommend just do a quick search. There’s a partner who actually have connectors out there that do this, so at least from the JIRA perspective.
Melanie: We’re saying about 15% of our audience is using JIRA as well. So, there’s a bunch of sessions on MPUG. You’ll see a Power Automate session coming out in February. So, there is a lot of articles and sessions out here already to help with that. This one, unrelated, I think this is going to come up in your misconceptions later, but someone’s asking the timeline for Project that’s not going away.
Tim Runcie: Well, I think that’s our next question that we’re going to talk about or it’s one of the seven. So, we’ll definitely come back to that one, because that one is a big concern, especially for a lot of us who are diehard Project desktop fans. So, let’s talk about that one a little bit later.
Melanie: Okay, so can you please share tips to include tracking resource and cost.
Tim Runcie: Wow, big subject. Nadin, do you want to just maybe throw some tidbits options there? What do you think?
Nadin Merali: Sorry, I didn’t hear the question. Can you repeat it one more time please?
Melanie: Can you share tips to include tracking resource and cost?
Nadin Merali: Sorry, I’m trying to think this through. So, tips in what way? I’ll let Tim go and have him explain what he’s showing, because that’s how you do it in desktop client.
Tim Runcie: Yeah. So, remember if we have an enterprise, right, so for example, I have an enterprise resource pool, whether it’s client, desktop, or it’s in Project online, or if you want to go into what we call the Resource Center or basically the resource pool in a Project for the web. Certainly, using the Accelerator, the Power apps, you’ll come in and say, “Look, we want to know a standard rate.” So, this is where you can actually have entire tables that say, “This is what it is and what the costs are.” So, the simple mechanics of this is that you got to get a person or a piece of equipment or generic or do a resource booking against a product. We just didn’t have time phase data, which is really anything that has basically a timeline where we assign resources to.
Tim Runcie: And then there’s a contour, whether you have high or low number of hours or whether it’s buttered across. That gives you that derivative to see that. Now, managing them and having people log in and track and update their work can be done in all of the tools, right? So, I can do it in the desktop manually, I can certainly share that. I can put information and share it to clipboard and put it into a SharePoint task list. Project Online has a timesheet function. Let’s see if I can show that real quick while we’re just talking here. I’ll go fast, because we will go in here a lot of areas, but you can have your people task and progress this. Even in Project for the web, people could come in and co-author together in this same plan to come in and say, “Here’s my details, and I can progress this.”
Tim Runcie: So, there’s lots of ways, but ultimately, you got to have a task to call this the demand. I’ve got to be able to see when that’s happening and look at the level of effort or details that are on that activity. So, the detail is for here, certainly coming in from the hours actual remaining. But the management, there’s a lot of flavors of managing that directly of how do you manage cost and resources, but the key is you got to know how much it is or how much it’s going to cost, whether it’s units or materials, and then you have to assign it to an activity.
Tim Runcie: From there, we can begin looking at baselining and derivatives, which are a few things like earned value, et cetera. So, I think that’s probably as deep as we probably should go, because we could spend probably an hour just on that one specifically.
Melanie: That sounds like another session for us.
Tim Runcie: Oh, very easily, very easily.
Melanie: This is a comment from Mark. I see more multi-tools solutions using Azure DevOps for sprints, planning, and execution detail and letting Project track the timeline and cost.
Tim Runcie: Yes, I’m going to talk about here real quickly. I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to bring up Teams. One of the things I love Teams is it’s got lots of options for us to certainly work with. Let me drag this in here because I wasn’t expecting to do a demo environment, but let me bring in Teams. So, I was talking about having a widget, right? So basically, I can embed an app and think of anything that would be a tab or an app as basically it’s a webpage, whether it’s dotnet or it’s Oracle login portal. Teams lets you blend these pieces together.
Tim Runcie: If you’re looking in terms of overall functionality of how do we present information, whether it’s Azure DevOps, whether we’re bringing a DevOps window in here, which I didn’t add, but the idea is I could add Planner, I could have Project, but Teams actually allows you to bring those together. If you have permissions and you’ve got the licensing, all you need to do is click on that information and you’ll be able to load that. I think my machine’s waken up here because I was spinning up my demo.
Tim Runcie: But now, here’s an example of Project online. Here’s an embedded Power BI report. If I wanted to add in a tab, Azure DevOps, a lot of people are just coming in there saying, “Yup, that’s what we want to do.” So, as you pull these things in here, you can add as Azure DevOps. Of course, the ability to have them in the Dataverse talk to each other that’s extremely possible and very doable.
Tim Runcie: All right, let’s continue with our walk through the seven misconceptions. We’re on number two. So, we’re at the halfway mark and I do want to get to some of our panel questions which we have more time for, but let’s keep going here real quickly. So, number one and I think this is good is that Project desktop is going away. I’ve heard this. I’ve actually heard this many, many, many times. I think there’s been a little bit of misinformation. As Microsoft continues to improve their technology, they are coming out with new tools, but maybe you want to talk just about that one fear that I’m hearing from a lot of product manager. I think that’s really important.
Nadin Merali: Project Desktop is heavily used, and there are no plans to make it go away. We’re continuing to support it. You’ll see that there’s still going to be changes happening in there. But as an engineering team, we’re focusing our efforts right now on Project for the web. That’s the tool we’re putting all the new stuff. New, cool features are all going to go into there. So, as I said, Project Desktop is not going in and going away. There’s lots of usage right now and it’s probably one of the number one tools.
Nadin Merali: As I said, we’ll get some updates as Project Desktop client is depending on the Office infrastructure. So, as Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint improves certain features, you’ll see those improvements coming into Project desktop. But as an engineering team, we’re focusing our efforts on making Project for the web the best tool and have the all the features everyone needs to move to.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, that’s exciting, because I see things changed. If you look, there’s actually called a roadmap of what’s going to be released, what the updates are. I don’t know if we have time to talk about some of the new things that we’re rolling out for Project for the web that Microsoft is going to turn on. But these are broadcast and put on the roadmap, but I know that there is well over 20 million people using Microsoft Project Desktop. There is a ton of people using this. It’s been around for a long time. You could run a Fortune 100 company with just one file. It’s really got some legs there.
Tim Runcie: The more you know how to use it, the better you are really figuring that out. But for example, this whole view component just suddenly changed that says, “Well, if I’m in a view, instead of you having to look at just this format option, it changes.” So now it says, “Oh, let me tell you exactly where it is.” So little things like that will appear, but yes, Desktop is not going away. Don’t panic. If I’ve turned it off, there would be an uproar for sure. Still a great tool and still going to be supported. So, you heard it. Nadin, right from the horse’s mouth, there it is.
Nadin Merali: [inaudible 00:27:22].
Tim Runcie: Scalability, let’s talk a little bit about again, thinking of the big picture, that managing resources is hard or is too hard. I hear this all the time. One of the things that I would just say just at a high enough level is managing resources is hard no matter where you’re at, what tool you use, getting people to timesheet. I don’t care what organization you are, it doesn’t matter. It is going to be hard, period into story. Take the technology out of the equation, human systems or human beings are just complex.
Tim Runcie: So, what you have to do is if you’re using this is that there are simpler ways to approach how you set it up. Some of these deal with the methodology, but Nadin, maybe we could pivot over to Project for the web and just talk about maybe some of the things that you think of around just people tracking time, managing a resource, assigning them, working with them collaboratively.
Nadin Merali: I also want to talk a bit more about regardless of what tool you use, as someone who’s doing work, I hate entering timesheets and filling out status reports. I’m only going to respond when someone pings me and says, “Hey, what’s the status on this thing?” So, one thing we are doing Project for the web is that today, I know we’re going to talk a bit more about this in the licensing thing is that we’re going to let Office users be able to go and update the status of their tasks very easily.
Nadin Merali: So, we’re trying to reduce the friction it takes to get me as a user and someone who’s trying to get work done to update the status of what they’re working on and bring it all in one place for me to do. So, that’s work that we’re doing. It’s on our roadmap. We’re looking at launching it in the near future, but I just want to stress that I completely understand that before Microsoft, filling in timecards and timesheets was very painful. So, yeah, that’s all I have to say on that part.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, we talked about something called the task hub. I want you to listen very carefully to what Nadin said. Friction, right, reducing friction. So, the idea of when I do an app mention and I give somebody an assignment in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint is that we actually start capturing tasks. They flow into this section here called Tasks by Planner and To Do. Well, a lot of us have used To Do or use Tasks in Outlook. So, we’re going to be thinking in terms of this [inaudible 00:29:50] that says, “You know what? We can actually bring the things that you’ve been assigned to and put them all in one particular place.”
Tim Runcie: So, this is an exciting concept of, “Hey, let’s just reduce the friction wherever those tasks may come, so that your resources can progress and update those and not necessarily you need to go to three different windows or four different tabs to find this.” So, if you haven’t seen that, take a look at something called Task by Planner To Do and be watching. There’s more to come here. This is an exciting process that’s evolving between managing and letting resources work through that.
Tim Runcie: All right, misconception number five, Project don’t have good reporting. I laugh about this. I think there’s a question out there that says, “Where’s the burnup charts? Where’s the burndown charts? How do we Project velocity with Project?” Boy, there’s reporting elements in lots of places, but Nadin, you can just talk about the reporting maybe from a Power platform perspective, the concept of where Microsoft’s trying to address good reporting.
Nadin Merali: So, as I said earlier when we were talking about customization is that every time we add a new field out of the box in Project now, that field will show up in the Dataverse as a column or table, whatever it is we’re adding. So, once it’s in Dataverse, Power BI has the ability to hook into Dataverse and suck the data out. You can actually build whatever report you want to build to solve whatever information you want to build. The part I want to add to that is that we have a Power BI Accelerator that give you more out of the box reports, because as I said, out of the box Project is a little bit more on the vanilla side. Obviously, we don’t know all the different reports.
Nadin Merali: So, we put this Accelerator to help you get started to say, “Here’s a bunch of interesting reports you’ll find interesting.” And then you can go ahead and take that and customize it further, do whatever you need to do to build those burndown charts or customize those burndown charts, however you want it. And then the Power platform lets you build these embedded dashboards that you could use power up charts or you could actually use Power BI reports and put them right into your Power app. And then we’re also looking at it on it’s on the public roadmap is that just like Planner today has these three or four charts out of the box, we’re going to start giving you the common charts out of the box as part of Project.
Nadin Merali: And then as I said, you can go ahead and customize the data any way you need. One of the benefits of the Power platform compared to Project Online is when we added the field approach online, extra work was required by us to make sure it’s available for OData that you could suck into Power BI. Or now the thing is, if we need to store data, we have to the store to Dataverse. Well, now you have access to it. That’s less work for us to do and you guys don’t have to [inaudible 00:32:29]. It’s all there for you guys to use, which I’m really excited about.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, some of us geeks have dealt with OData going, “Wait a minute, I can’t get everything. I mean, Microsoft, why don’t you just let me into the backend of the database in Office 365? We used to get that when it was on premise.” Well, look, if you want the backend stuff, if you have to have sequel tables and see all that, you could spin things up but store it in Azure. You’ve got to extract your routines. But because we’re in the Dataverse, OData in the past sometimes did have limitations. Now, we have a much bigger, wider architect. If you’ve been watching, I’ve been clicking on the out of the box report packs that are available. So, this is really pointed to the Project for the web and all Projects.
Tim Runcie: So, my work, my timeline, but instead of Microsoft building reporting engines in Excel and then running over to Word and trying to create something there and build something in Project, which they do have product reports through the Desktop, really the idea is let’s put the data, let’s make it accessible, and then let you use Power BI across any tool, because Power BI doesn’t care what tool it is. Microsoft or non-Microsoft, it really is a bridging tool that says, “I can bridge any systems if I can know how to connect them.” Of course, being able to read that data, very helpful. So, I was very excited to see the direction go and then some of the pieces dropping out there in terms of, “What’s our portfolio dashboard?” Oh, well, listen, I can actually set that up.
Tim Runcie: As I begin storing my Projects and managing them, I have good visualization across the board. So, yeah, reporting, definitely a whole new concept of approaching this. And then you can download some of the report packs, which if you go and look at the Enplug Blog, I’ve got the links to GitHub and to the Power BI app store. There’s lots of places you can find them. If you don’t, email me, I’m happy to make sure we point you in the right direction. Nadin, anything else you want to say about reporting, because this is the sexy stuff, right?
Nadin Merali: People have asked this question and that’s why I sent the link out to the roadmap. You’ll see on there that there’s going to be a bunch of charts that we provide out of the box, kind of how we do with Planner, but they’re not going to solve everyone’s problem and that’s where we’ll give you the ability to go ahead and customize it. As I said, the data is all there. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to understand and you can build whatever you need to build to show whatever you need to show people.
Tim Runcie: Awesome. All right. Well, let me wrap up the last couple misconceptions. I think they’ll go pretty quickly. But the idea is that we talk about what’s called the grow up story. I think there’s almost a fallacy is that there was like, “Well, wait a minute. Project can’t grow this direction or Planner can’t grow that direction, but that’s so not true for what’s happening.” While the features may not be fully turned on, for example, if you’re in a Project Online and you want to take this really big, massive Microsoft Project schedule, you want to bring it down into Project for the web. Well, yeah, you can import a Project MVP. So, there are directions you can go, but there is an intent to really help organizations mature.
Tim Runcie: This is the fun part of where we work with nonprofits. They have all the business problems, and they have a low tech, typically a mindset sometimes that says, “Yeah, I can’t understand Project Program and Portfolio Management and all its deep fathom options, because we just need to get things done.” So, how do you scale from your maturity in an organization, whether it’s for profit or nonprofit. There is a stair step that we’ll go through here. So, whether you’re using To Do for task management or you’re working in to do it in Planner and you’ve got work management, now, I have teams that want to work on the same things versus just my own little personal checklist. The idea is that this Project for the web or what’s called Project is going to grow and mature.
Tim Runcie: As Nadin said, the investment is right here. It’s going to be saying, “Look, you’ve got a Power platform. You can configure it almost infinitely, but we’re going to scale and grow.” But not all the features that are in the desktop or online actually exist. So, if you want to go here, it’s there. But the migration story is certainly at the very top end of the spectrum. It gets into something called Project operations. Not every organization is ready for that level of maturity, but again, Power Apps, right, power driven, a model driven Power Apps.
Tim Runcie: So, the Accelerator and other things are all moving this direction. So, overall, there is a growth story effect. Nadin, maybe just talk about for Planner to Project for the web, let’s just maybe talk about that for a moment. Going from Planner, going for one of these things to I really love this, but it doesn’t have links for dependencies. What’s the plan?
Nadin Merali: So, we’re looking into how to get people to move from Planner into Project. Is there a way that we can just simply do something like upgrade plans to Projects or whatnot? The other things we’re also trying to do because Project for the web doesn’t have everything Planner has, we don’t want to end up putting you in a state where we upgraded plan to a Project. All of a sudden, you’re like, “Where are my this? Where’s that?” These things are missing. So, we’re doing a lot of work right now to make sure that Project for the web is a full superset of everything that’s in Planner.
Nadin Merali: And then we’re going to start looking at how to get you to move from Planner to Project, because we don’t want you to move you into a state where you’re like, “Oh, well, this feature’s missing, I use it a lot in Planner. This is not what I want.” We want to make sure we have that good experience. We want you into Project and then continue to use Project if that’s what you need to do the software.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, so there is a grow up plan. What’s interesting, I think, just recently, the checklist appeared if you haven’t. Of course, I love the checklist in Planner, but having it with Project for the web, I don’t have to build all the tasks here. If I say, “Well, here’s the time phased area that we’re working on. Here’s my checklist,” now labels haven’t magically appeared yet. But the idea is that as Nadin says, we don’t want to have one system that… Planner is free, right? If you’re in an Office 365 subscription, it’s free. But if you’re going to grow up, you want to take the pieces that work with you. So, there absolutely is that grow up plan set aside for that directly.
Tim Runcie: I think that’s important for people to recognize that there is a path and there are ways to migrate from one area to another. Or if you want to de-evolve, that’s fine, too. But in general, we really are talking about related data base information, but we don’t want to just see us lose the functionality. So, I really appreciate, Nadine, what you and the team have done is saying, “Hey, let’s move forward. We keep all the tools capable to move together. If you want to have an uplift, you’re not going to begin losing some of that functionality, even though we may have to wait a little bit longer for that drop down, import or migrate to appear.”
Nadin Merali: I can’t remember if we talked at the beginning the meaning or before we started, there’s tons of things we all want to build. These are resource constraints that all you guys are managing your Projects, and I can’t build everything. So, there is a balancing act of what we want to build and what we can do right now.
Tim Runcie: Absolutely. All right. Before we take more questions, let’s wrap up with our final conversational misconception is that the Project Accelerator is a Power App with low code or no code to customize. I think this is where we talk about the word customize and configure. I am glad Nadin, you actually called that out earlier, because configuration is just you got to learn how to configure in Power Apps. It’s just a new way to go into the administrative settings and add lookup tables and add fields and see things and same with Power BI. Hey, I want to get my data. Well, where is that data? We’re going to go look over here. Oh, there it is. So, understanding how to put those together.
Tim Runcie: But again, when we get into Power Automate, which we’ll think about the ability to create simple workflows, you can very easily get into where it is not just low code, no code. It will get into high code. You can actually get very deep into some of these. Even in Power BI, you can get into writing docs and there’s a programming type of language inside of this. So, you can go deeper and deeper and deeper and making that happen, but you don’t have to start there. I think maybe you said it well, you don’t need to be a developer to get in and really configure or automate most of the things that you need to do. If you need to, you certainly can. I mean, it goes deeper. It really has legs.
Tim Runcie: A lot of organizations have jumped in and said, “Oh, no code, no code,” and realize that their requirements do require some development type work. So, it’s okay. That’s why we have technical teams and we have development teams, but the skill set isn’t… I need a full stack developer to configure in the Power platform. I really want to make sure someone is technical enough to get in and say, “Oh, I understand how to set up and configure the information that I’m looking for.”
Tim Runcie: So, Nadin, maybe we just talk to this for a moment, because a lot of people have been bitten by Power Apps, because they didn’t realize what they wanted to do was something that did require coding and then they’ll blame Microsoft. Of course, everybody does anyway. You said low code, no code. Well, what was your requirement? So, talk about that for just a moment?
Nadin Merali: Oh, I want to just talk about that as part of this. I just want to mention, I put up a little bit about pluggable Project Accelerator. So, the way you should look at the Accelerator is either A, I could go in and create a bunch of fields, columns, dropping a bunch of things on different views. I create a portfolio thing that I want to on Project. I could add in new columns and stuff. I can drag and drop in here. That’s all configuration that should be no code required. That’s all [inaudible 00:41:53] Power platform provides. What we did with the Accelerator was that… This is something I love and I’ll tell mine in a second, is that we said, “Well, here’s a bunch of different things, a bunch of people might ask for.”
Nadin Merali: Not all organizations need it, which is why it’s not necessarily included out of the box. But here’s a package of someone doing exactly what I just described. We just package them all together and give you one thing to install. And then you can sit there and has a bunch of extra columns, a bunch of extra fields that you may use or you may not use, and then you can go ahead and customize it further. So, just think of the Accelerator as a bunch of configurations that we provide, that you can go in and dump and then customize further. The reason why I really like it is because when I’m learning a brand new tool, I don’t like reading documentation. I find reading both tedious and it drives me crazy, but I like learning by example.
Nadin Merali: So, when you install the Accelerator, we’ve added a bunch of new views, a bunch of new forms and 50 columns that we add to the form, and you can say, “Hey, I understand how this system works.” Okay, now I see all these extra columns. So, let me go add my own. I want to do a new field to Project like business stakeholders or all the type of stakeholder. I know how that works now. I have a bunch of examples to work from. Let me go ahead and create it and add it in. Now, I’m good. I understand how this stuff works a little bit more and then there’s an example of how a flow works. Like I said, you can take a Project request, mark it as approved, and then we’ll create a Project out of it.
Nadin Merali: Well, now you have an example how to create a Project. Maybe you only want that flow to run if I hit a button as opposed to something change to approve. You’d now have a whole bunch of examples to work from, which I think is very, very powerful, because we’re already asking you to learn a new platform, which I know it can be scary. And as I said, I hate reading documentation, but I rather work by example. And then when I get a problem, I’ll go research and find out why it doesn’t work the way I expected. Okay, well, there’s a little thing, a little complication here. That’s where I need to rely on documentation. And obviously, there’s going to be limits to how far the low code, no code solution could take you.
Nadin Merali: But once again, with the Power platform, there is developer answers for the more complex things like logic. Hey, before anyone can change a Project or after anyone changes a Project, I think I can say these criteria must be met otherwise don’t let the change happen. So, there is that ability that if you have access to technical resources, you can customize it even further and do a lot more complicated things to solve your business needs.
Tim Runcie: Yup, I’m just clicking on some of the Power Apps things and let me just speak from personal experience. When Project Server came out, remember this is back when SharePoint was brand spanking new. The engineering team said, Hey, MVPs, we’re going to give you an alpha preview of what this thing is, not even beta, not even release to market.” It was none of that. It was alpha. And then we were looking at it. I was like, “Well, okay, let me get my mind around this.” Sometimes there are generational leaps forward that say, “Look, we’ve moved from the old world or actually sailing into the new world.” This is one of those. So, again, learning.
Tim Runcie: Nadin says that there’s documentation out there. There is and there’s also new things that are emerging that there may not be a documentation. So, go to the blogs, go to the chats. I encourage people to reach out and just send anyone of my team a question. We’ll point you in the right direction, because I think what’s exciting is that as information is becoming more and more prevalent, available around what’s there, organizations are building widgets and apps and building this Accelerator and making it available. And Microsoft has already done that to help spur and speed this up together. So, you don’t have to start from scratch and stare at the screen going, “Okay, what is Project Server? Never seen it before.” I remember going, “Oh, my gosh. I have to write a book.”
Tim Runcie: So, we’re writing books right now for training and content. So, people understand how to make that happen, because I think a little light coaching will help you, but there’s a little bit of a mindset shift. So, it is exciting. If you like technology, you just have to embrace that it’s going to change. This is where it’s happening from. So, Nadin, thank you for just explaining bigger picture. I think a lot of people get a little bit scared about what’s there. Okay. Well, let’s switch over to some of the questions that we have. Again, if we don’t get to all the questions, I encourage you, certainly, you can post on the blog or the videos.
Tim Runcie: Well, actually, I know, Melanie will have that up there. You can always send myself an email, happy to answer that. I will also make sure that Nadin and I take a quick pass at any questions that maybe we don’t get to. We’ll make sure that gets put out there on Enplug environment. So, Melanie, would you want to tackle some of the next questions?
Melanie: Yeah, we’ll download this question log and make sure we get the answers back to our audience today, but I did see some people looking to raise hands. If you look at your GoToWebinar control panel, there’s a little hand there. If you raise it first, I can unmute you on our side so that we can hear you. But I’ll read through some of these questions as we go, but again, as soon as you raise your hand, you’ll pop up to the top of my screen. So, if you’d like to participate in the conversation, I encourage that. So, this goes back to an earlier conversation. We use timesheets, this is from Susan, to update actuals. Would we lose anything from going exclusively to Project on the web? The improved functionality integration looks striking.
Tim Runcie: That’s a great question. Well, natively, if you just want the Project for the web without doing something within the Power apps, if you go to Project operations, there is a timekeeping component there, but I’ll let Nadin speak. And then I’m going to talk about what some organizations have done to build a hybrid approach. So, Nadin, what are your thoughts? Just time tracking, time sheet, that’s always a quagmire to get into, but go ahead.
Nadin Merali: So, I talked about status thing a bit earlier, but as for timesheets, there is no out of the box thing that we have for timesheets. Project Operations does have something there. So, the only way to achieve this would be to build a little bit more of your own configuration and Power platform to help track it.
Tim Runcie: Good answer. Again, let’s talk about a hybrid solution. I love thinking outside the box. So, we have some organizations that love Project for the web. What they said is we actually have maturity within the organization that says, “You know what? As we’re working, we just want PMs to quickly get in and build the schedules, right? We want them to be able to have that functionality. But yet, I need the time tracking function that already exists in Project Online.” So, what they’ve done is they’ve actually created very, very simple schedules in Project Online, right? This is the phase that you’re in, or this is the sprint, or these are the features we’re working on.
Tim Runcie: And then what they do is they allow the teams to work, assign, and stay in either Planner or Azure DevOps or a mixture of using Project for the web. When they track time, they just go to Project Online and they just track your time at a high enough level against a resource pool. Others folks will say, “Listen, we’ve got a mixture of people working with Project Online and we have a whole emerging group working with Project for the web. How do we pair those together?” Well, when you use an email address, which is part of your active directory, we can look at work and effort from both systems and bring that into a Power BI report.
Tim Runcie: So, I have a lot of organizations that say, “Oh, hey, I can marry the demand and capacity from the one pool and I can actually bring in all the work and effort and planning directly that’s happening in either tools just by using that email address as a bridge.” So, this is not unsolvable. There just happens to not be a nice clean little widget that you check the box and poof, there’s your timesheet for you Project for the web today. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a partner out there, whether it’s us or others, suddenly has something that’s available for you to track and to use. So, this is a new emerging platform and a lot of easy opportunities to continue to build some of these widgets. Nadin, anything else on that or can we move to the next question?
Nadin Merali: I just want to add one little statement is we don’t have it yet. Like I said, I want to build everything. I need more people.
Tim Runcie: Which is funny as I chat with other partners. So, it’s interesting being a CEO, I get to talk to other CEOs of Project companies. We talk and we share and we help each other out. It’s like a bunch of ranchers that all the ranches are next to each other, but we talked about that, which is we know that Microsoft will be replacing things that we’re doing. So, we just have to keep in mind that this is exactly like you said, yet. So, as there is demand, one of the best things to do is go to the feedback, right? You can submit your comments and put that information both in the desktop and all the tools. We really want Microsoft to hear. You don’t have to run it through a partner or an MVP. Go right there and just post your feedback directly to them. They do read this.
Nadin Merali: Yeah, I want to add to that. When I’m trying to justify to get something built, there is one person on HR. Just to give you the number of PMs on my team, there’s 12 of us. One person, part of their job is to look at all the feedback that comes back, help prioritize it. And then when we do our planning, it’s like, “Well, here’s the feedback. You need feature A, B, and C. Hearing all the feedback, this is what people like, don’t like, or asking for.”
Nadin Merali: That’s a big function in our processing, saying, “Hey, users won’t be able to update their status. They can’t do it. They have read only access. This is a problem for them.” Or people are asking, “Planner has checklists. Project doesn’t.” So, that helps us prioritize the work. I can’t stress this enough, the feedback thing is being used. I’m going to be transparent, you make my life easier when you guys say, “I need feature X.” I go to my team and say look, “Feature X is needed. Here is my argument and proof that it’s needed.”
Tim Runcie: Yeah, that’s great. I’ve got a little app that I’ve written here for this. I’ll actually put Nadin’s home address and cell number. You can call him directly. No, please do fill these out, because that’s the metrics they need to be able to make the business case so they actually use that. So, very helpful. All right, now let’s tackle the next couple of questions. Let’s see what we got.
Nadin Merali: That’s all of Microsoft like Word, Excel, PowerPoint. If something doesn’t work well, I filled in feedback. Now, it’s easier when I’m inside Microsoft and I say, “Oh, this didn’t work in Word or Outlook,” and an engineer can contact me directly [inaudible 00:52:31]. Just you know, we are all looking at this as helping us drive whatever features we want to drive and to fix whatever we need to fix.
Tim Runcie: Yup, you’ll find that under the gear wheel on your admin settings, lots of places to send feedback. You’re right here where this information is posted. So, really, really helpful. It’s also good for us to be reading. Go ahead, Melanie.
Melanie: So, from Julie, does Project for the web or Project Online integrate with DevOps yet?
Nadin Merali: So, the only integration we have today with DevOps is roadmap. So, Project for the web has a feature called roadmap. So, there’s a good view of it. It lets you track work at a high level across different tools. So, what you will be able to do is you’ll be able to connect to Azure DevOps Project and choose whatever item type is. I can’t remember on the top of my head, the different items depending how you configure that.
Tim Runcie: You have sprints.
Nadin Merali: And then you can bring the items in here. And then you can track them to see how they’re progressing. You may have to put a start date or an end date on it. So, at least it shows up here, but then it lets you track how it’s working. And then this refreshes once a day. And then you can come in tomorrow, see that things aren’t running on time or running late. And then you know you’ll go start that conversation with whoever’s running that particular item that you put on it and go through the Dev Azure DevOps and then say, “Hey, Bob, what’s going on here? Let’s have a conversation.”
Nadin Merali: And then it gives you the ability to also mark things as red that says, “Hey, next status, meaning we should dig into this particular issue why it’s not on time.” So that is the one out of the box tool we have with Azure DevOps. Obviously, Power platform, Power Automate. As I said, if you want to build your own thing and make it more customized and configure it any way you want, the ability for you to do that, that you should feel empowered to be able to do those things to get what you need done.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, a couple things. So, DevOps is exploding, right? So, JIRA really did a good job cornering the market. While Microsoft really began to rethink the future of Project technologies. So, what they did is they said, “Let’s look across all of Office 365.” Suddenly, Planner is released in conjunction with Teams and other elements. DevOps has been rapidly progressing. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of organizations that are saying, “You know what? This actually has all the things that we need to do.” I won’t have time to spin that up and just show it to you. But the cool thing about roadmap is you can share a roadmap with anyone in your organization.
Tim Runcie: It does not require a license, right? So as your part of your Office 365 licensing is that I can share this roadmap. If you have the ability to build it, you can share it as a read only tool. This is allowing you to bring Project Desktop Data, Project Online, Project for the web. It looks at all those product environments and brings them in here as well as adding key dates. I know, Melanie, you’ve got some, I think, some webinars that you’ve done just talking about roadmap, great little immediate and active bridge that works there now. Next question really.
Melanie: This is a related question and I know we have some sessions on this as well. Regarding using Project with Agile methodology, what do you recommend when our BAs and devs use JIRA to manage their requirements and development work? Can I link JIRA issues back to Project so I can use Project to manage the big picture?
Tim Runcie: So, Nadin, go ahead. You want to take a stab at that?
Nadin Merali: So, I believe and this is where I don’t have all the details here, I’m assuming Power Automate has a JIRA connector. So, if JIRA is where you’re managing issues, you could build something that keeps important issues from JIRA into Project for the web, because there’s an issue table. And then you can decide what that means for you in Project. You can do a quick scan of those issues and say mark them as Projects or convert them to tasks, or as part of the important issues, hit some threshold, you can have them automatically convert to tasks. You can decide what works for you. I’m pretty sure we have a connector in Power Automate for that, but I’d have to dig some more into that.
Tim Runcie: Yeah, again, you can think of it this way. JIRA is a table, a series of tables, right? They have an open API. We can actually add it into Teams. If you don’t want to do any programming, you literally can say, “Well, listen, I’m going to have the JIRA stuff right here. We can actually click back and forth.” So, without having to move and integrate, you could just drop it into Teams and have your JIRA stuff in a tab, your Planner board for your accounting and finance teams that will never use JIRA or probably Project.
Tim Runcie: So, the idea is that this team’s environment creates a hub where you can keep them fairly wedded together without programmatically or reading into a Power BI report. So, I think there’s a lot of good flexible options that you have. Again, zero code there, versus building something that says, “Yeah, we want to import and marry those two data systems together.”
Melanie: Thank you. So, we have a question from Ray. I’m confused by the conversation shifting between Project, Project Online, PWA, and Power Apps. Are you assuming that we’re using Project Online and have access to PWA for sharing with non-licensed team members?
Nadin Merali: So, I’m trying to just make sure I understood the question. So, honestly, I talk about Project Online and Project for the web. So, Project Online, if you want to use Project Online as a project manager, you need a license for it, obviously. And then if you want people to come in and see the Projects and team members, there’s a separate license we have called Project Essentials, which allows team members to come in, see the Project information, provide status, same time sheets, all that fun stuff. One subtle shift we made for Project for the web is that you need the same license for Project line. It should also work on Project for the web.
Nadin Merali: But what we said was that instead of you needing a separate team member license that Project Online had, anyone with an Office 365 license can now view the Project. In shortly, it looks like the roadmap says weeks, if not a couple of months, Office users will be able to go into that Project and edit the tasks that are assigned to them and say, “Hey, I’m 50% done.” So that’s why I’m sure, we’re saying, “Office users are basically almost like your team members and can get view access to the Project and limited access to certain updates they can do before they need to actually get a Project license to do more.”
Tim Runcie: Yeah, licensing is very complex. It changes year over year, but let me recap. I’ve had a lot of questions that say, “Well, I went to the Project teams website. I read it and I really still don’t understand what it is.” So let me recap some of the things Nadin said. If you’re using for Project Online, you got to have a license for people to view the information or at least pull it out into a format that they do have a license for it, whether it’s a separate Power BI or we put it into something in SharePoint or Excel or whatever it is. But the idea is we don’t want to multiplex. You need to have something that’s an approved vehicle to read that.
Tim Runcie: However, in Project for the web, Office 365 users can view in read only mode. They can view the Project schedule, not edit but just view it. That is part of the overall licensing. There is no cost for that. Very shortly, there’s going to be an option that says they can also progress assignments, but not necessarily come in here and start changing linking and dependencies. That’s important because the PM needs to retain some level of control. So, these are things that are planned for the rollout and also things that are currently there. We are talking about different products, right? We’re talking about from a Planner, which is free and Product for the web needs a Plan 1 license, Power Apps, the Project Accelerator at some point.
Tim Runcie: If you want to do customization, you’ll need a Power App and a Power BI license. So, the idea is you get the right licensing for what consumption you want to do. But Microsoft is lowering that threshold from a license perspective to allow people to view. Like roadmap, you can see that for free, share that with anybody, and at some point, also progress your assignments, which is really exciting. Because before, we had to make people go into timesheet and some people just don’t want to do that. They like using the Product for the web.
Melanie: So, these next two questions are related. Ron is looking for a feature roadmap for Project Desktop. And then the question after that becomes there’s blog suggesting it will remain until 2026. Are there plans to enhance the tool, because Project for the web is limited and not as robust? So, there’s some fear from some audience members here that Project for the web will replace and not provide the same value.
Nadin Merali: So, we touched on this a bit earlier. There is no plans right now to deprecate Project desktop. As I said, it has a very large user base compared to all the other Project tools. So, there is no plans to deprecate it, not support it anymore. So, let me make sure we’re clear. We’re supporting it right now. But I will say that as for new features and when I say new features, it’d be only for specific thing, new Project management type features, we’re focusing our efforts in Project for the web. We’re prioritizing all the things we’re getting feedback on, like that feedback tool that Tim had shown, and the most used features in Project Desktop and Project Online and putting those in Project for the web. That’s where we’re putting all our new investment in.
Nadin Merali: That doesn’t mean that Project Desktop won’t get new features. They will get the standard Office features. If there’s a new dialog or new types of ways that things are rendered and improvements and security and whatnot that Office gets, Project Desktop gets those automatically. The way the system is built, there’s very little work we have to do. If something improves in Office that everyone shares, we get it for free in Project Desktop. But if there is a new type of burndown chart or the timeline view that’s in Project for the web, there are no plans to bring that down to Project Desktop. The timeline view in Project Desktop is what it is, and we’re not going to spend more time improving it. We want to improve in Project for the web.
Nadin Merali: That being said, hopefully, you will find Project for the web meets or exceeds what you used Project Desktop for. We’ve already started supporting the ability to import your MPP files from Project Desktop to Project for the web. A little caveat, there are limitations on the number of tasks and whatnot, but you can start importing them. As we get more and more feature parity with Project Desktop, those limitations will disappear. For example, Project for the web only supports 500 tasks. Today, we’re working on increasing that limit significantly. So, if you import a task for a Project more than that, you’ll run into some issues. But if your Project has less than 500 tasks, it should import relatively fine.
Melanie: Thank you. It’s from Rebecca. I’m asking on behalf of the world. When can we spellcheck in Microsoft Project? I currently use the desktop version.
Nadin Merali: I did not know that there was no spellcheck.
Tim Runcie: I hardly ever look at it. There’s a table where you can go, anyway. If we’re talking desktop, you can actually tell what columns when you… Function seven will run it. So, here it is in the desktop. You just want to tell it what columns you needed to go look at and that’s important. So, you actually go in and you define which columns. I believe that’s under File Options. Wow, I’m scratching my brain here for proofing. Here we go. So, again, there is autocorrect available, just like you have in Office. Again, this is renaming saying, “Hey, Office piece really lives across Office applications.” But again, here’s where I can come in in the Desktop and actually add, “What do I need to actually have fields that are checked?” So that’s available on the desktop.
Nadin Merali: Just to add, Tim, if you could go back to Project Desktop, I want to try this out and see if it works. The last menu option to the right of Gantt chart format, it says tell me what to do, in the menu bar at the top. Can you click in there? Can you type in spell? So, if you can’t find it, you can look in there and then click. So, if you go back to spelling, it was the first one. We just had spelling. Yeah, if you can’t find something but you see other Office apps having it… I can’t remember what this tool is called. Tell me I guess is what we call the tool. And then that will tell you, “Hey, spellcheck, you can just print it here in Project Supports.” If you hover over spelling, it told you F7 was a shortcut as well.
Tim Runcie: It’s a fast search that looks at both menus, options, command. So, if I said, “Hey, I want to know how to do format,” it doesn’t tell you how to do it. It just tells you a click on it. It’ll take you exactly there.
Nadin Merali: Yeah. This is something as I said and just get this image. This is something all Office apps have. So, Project gets it for free.
Tim Runcie: Yup.
Melanie: So, this will be an MPUG how to article. Gather up, there’s so many questions here. So, we’ll have to wrap it up soon, but let’s get to this one. Any plans to integrate risk management tools, or will it always be an add in, example, Full Monty?
Tim Runcie: Yeah, Monte Carlo, some of these things that have complex calculations and structure around that. So, Nadin, they’re asking about other apps that actually do very advanced risk management tools and components.
Nadin Merali: So, it goes back to one of my earlier points, which is I have a bunch of users alternately use Project. I don’t have enough feedback that says, “What if Monte Carlo analysis are important enough?” I need that more than some other feature for us to prioritize and do that work. So, that’s the data I need to say that we should do that. As I said, it might be something we leave to our partners like Tim to build and fill the gap. And then when we see enough usage, we will go ahead and take that on as well.
Melanie: This is one more about addition to Project for the web, are there plans to add critical path and baseline?
Nadin Merali: So critical path shift-
Tim Runcie: It’s there. Hold on, hold on. Let it go. Here it is. When you want to go to your filter, you can tell it to turn on your critical path. You got to be in the timeline view. Let me zoom back in so we can actually see our tasks. And so, there’s my schedule, and I’ve been goofing around with this for a while. When you go into your timeline for Project for the web, you’ll come into the filter and you tell it to show critical path. If I haven’t marked things down, you’ll start seeing the critical path up here.
Nadin Merali: And then baselines is a feature we’ve had a lot of feedback on. Now, it’s really high in the list. It’s just a matter of getting to it.
Tim Runcie: You know what’s interesting? I’ll just talk a little bit from the conversational side. I’ll say, “Hey, why aren’t we giving you baselines? We want baselines.” They said, “Well, do you want to fix work, fixed units, fixed duration? Do you want predecessors, successors? Do you want lag or later? Do you want baselines first?” The engineering team is really good about surfacing the features. So, again, use that smiley face to send the feedback because they are taking user voice and pulling that in. Again, while a lot of us advocates are championing it because we use it, sometimes, there are things that from a volume perspective that might outshadow an advanced Monte Carlo risk simulation, whereas hey, look, we just have baselines, that’d be a great place to start. So, keep it up.
Melanie: You okay with one more?
Tim Runcie: One more, we probably need to wrap up here.
Melanie: Misconception number eight, Project will never get a hammock test type.
Tim Runcie: Will not get what? Sorry, I didn’t hear that.
Nadin Merali: Hammock.
Nadin Merali: I can’t remember which one hammock is now.
Tim Runcie: You can do this in Project Desktop, right? In Project Desktop, you can actually paste and have it just supported. I have not even seen that in the list for Project for the web. So, if somebody wants to reach out to me, I think I’ve got my little mini video where it’s out there. I can show you how to do it in Project Desktop, but that’s where you can do it. I haven’t seen that feature surfaced in the list for Product for the web or at least it’s not high on the top things that are getting done for P4W.
Nadin Merali: The fact I have to look it up and remember what it is, I will tell you it’s not something I’ve heard a lot of feedback for.
Melanie: This is just one fear. Is the timeline ability in MS Project Desktop going away? I hope not.
Nadin Merali: So, as long as we continue to support Project Desktop, it will continue to be there.
Melanie: Okay, wonderful. I have so many questions here, but I know we’re running about 15 minutes over. I’ll share the questions log with you and I’m happy to get all these answers back out to our audience today. I would love to get you on the hook to come back again as well.
Tim Runcie: I think in a couple months, there’ll be some exciting new things to talk about. We’ll just look at scheduling something that into the new year. That’d be wonderful. By the way, he’s stepping away from his crazy busy workload to be here. So, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
Nadin Merali: Thank you for running this thing as well, Tim. I like hearing the feedback and getting rid of some of these misconceptions.
Tim Runcie: Well, let me do this. Let me wrap up real quickly. So, again, thank you, everyone, for your time. This is exciting. You probably read my articles or see my team’s presenting. So, if you have questions, just reach out, let us know. We do this for a living, but at the same time, we’re passionate to make sure you guys aren’t stumbling. So, anything that helps is a good opportunity. Again, thank you, Nadin, for your time. Melanie, let me hand this back to you and we can conclude for today. We’ll tackle these questions and see if we can put a post out there with answers.
Melanie: Thank you, again, Tim and Nadin. It was an excellent session. Thank you for being open to these questions on the fly. A big thank you to our MPUG community. There is no community without you. Thank you for choosing MPUG to grow your skillset today. I’ll be sending MPUG swag to everyone who has questions today. So, update your address for me if it’s not on MPUG, or you can chat privately to me right now.
Melanie: The PDU activity is up on the screen for you after we close out. Again, following today’s event, we’ll send a link to this recording and a quick survey. Please always let us know what you think of the format and the discussion today. Thank you again. Again, I will leave the PDU code on the screen for you. Thank you again to our presenters.
Tim Runcie: Thanks, everyone. Bye now.
Nadin Merali: Thanks.