Imagine you are a running a program containing five separate projects. The following “step by step” guide will help you set up a Roadmap for managing your projects. Obviously, the laid out scenario is fictional, but it might be closely aligned with your own situation if you manage a program at your organization.
The example we will consider has five active projects that are managed by three different project managers. Within Roadmap, you have the option to name a different “owner” for each project. In our case, we will name the Project Management Office (PMO) employee that is assigned to assist the three project managers as owner. This will make life easier because as a program manager, our owner will have just one person to talk to instead of three.
Four of the projects were created using Project Online, and one with Project for the Web. In a real life situation, you might have projects coming from an Azure Boards environment as well. That’s ok! You can even connect the Agile world to your program, if needed.
In the steps that follow, we’ll start with the creation of the five projects. The projects might already be available in your situation, and if that’s the case skip to Step 2.
Step 1: Creation of Projects in Project Online and Project for the Web
Projects using Project for the Web are created from the Project Home page. For a Project Online project, you will need to navigate to the specific PWA site.
A new Project for the Web project is created by clicking on “New blank project” (#2 in the image above).
Adding a suitable title, some tasks, and a milestone to the Project for the Web (P4W) schedule will result in the following Gantt chart:
Keep in mind that currently Project for the Web schedules are light weight, meaning that the tool doesn’t support complex scheduling practices such as splitting tasks or assigning different allocation hours for different resources on a single task. You have a say in what Microsoft develops next through UserVoice.
Complex schedules based on templates designed by your organization and containing meta data can be created through Project Online, however. There are also third party tools such as Power PPM that leverage the Common Data Service (CDS) data layer to allow for meta data capturing.
For the sake of our example, we will create four schedules in Project Online. We are guided to our default PWA environment by navigating to Project Home (www.project.microsoft.com) and clicking on Go to Project Online (#3 on figure 1).
From here, we have the option to create different types of Enterprise Projects, each containing its own schedule template, generic resources, and meta data.
Let’s create one IT project, one RnD project, and two Construction projects totally the four referred to above.
Once we completed the creation of all the projects, we see them show up on our Project Home screen. We have the option of pinning one or all of the projects to our Favorites, if we like.
Step 2: Creating a New Roadmap
From the Project Homepage, create a Roadmap from the dropdown option next to New blank project.
Instead of adding new rows right away, we will start by giving the Roadmap a name and assigning the owner.
From here on, you will have Roadmap available from Project Home. You can also add this to your favorites if you like.
Step 3: Adding the Projects
From the ‘Program 1’ menu, we have the option to add Projects by clicking on Add Row.
When clicking on Add row (#1 on Figure 10), we are presented a new side pane with a row name (#2), Owner (#3), and Connection option. If we do not change the “Untitled row,” but instead choose to connect to a project, the name of the row will take on the name of the actual project. If we choose a name for ourselves, we can give it any name that we find descriptive for the project.
I can select Project to get both my Project for the Web and Project Online schedules.
On the next page, you will be informed about permissions that are required to connect the schedule. For Project for the Web, these settings will consist of Project and CDS.
The last page in the connecting activities shows a selection option for “phases” and “Key dates.”
Once these values are selected and we click on “Add,” the Roadmap will show our project as well as the PMO employee (Mirjam van Hurck), the selected “phase,” and the “Key date.”
Please be aware that Roadmap is a tool that is designed to assist portfolio and program management activities. Therefore, you will not see the phrase “Task” or “Milestone” in this application. Tasks and milestones are project management terms, but a program manager is more interested in the high-level progress of projects within a program. That’s the reason why I haven’t included all tasks from the P4W schedule.
In Roadmap, we also have the option to include the whole schedule as one bar starting from the project start date and ending at the project finish date.
Let’s add the Project Online schedules, as well, and see what our Roadmap looks like afterward. Be aware that because we used a different source to bring the project in, a different permissions approval is required.
For Project Online Projects, there is another way to add a Project to Roadmap. Because this option is in PWA itself, it is ideal for a project manager that needs to report up to the program manager.
After adding all projects to the Roadmap and including the relevant Phases and Key dates, we are ready to begin analyzing the program.
Step 4: Adding Program Key Dates
Next, include program specific key dates. These are apart from the schedules and the focus areas that we already have in our Roadmap.
A Key Date can be added by clicking on “Add Key date” next to “Add row.” A little pop up screen opens and shows us three fields. A title, date, and status are all Roadmap needs to provide you with a new Key Date.
The result of this action will be a little pin on top of the Roadmap, in the color that you set earlier as a status indicator.
These key dates don’t reflect on row (project) specific deliverables, but are designed to give you program deliverable indicators.
Step 5: Updating the Rows
Because Mirjam (the PMO) is assigned to each Roadmap row for the five projects she is managing, she will be editing the individual statuses. It is up to the organization to decide on this because a project manager can do this as well. Basically, everyone with access to the Roadmap can change the values, so decide on the protocol your organization will be following ahead of time.
The only thing the PMO needs to do is update is the status of each row. This can be done using the menu that appears when clicking on an item.
Note: the “Open details” button doesn’t really provide much more options other than that of removing the item from the row.
After updating all items, the Roadmap becomes even easier to analyze.
These status values don’t flow from Project or Project for the Web though, but this can be considered a good thing if you have a different definition of “at risk” than your project managers. Regardless, I would argue that it might be a good idea to clearly communicate on this.
Step 6 (Optional): Use Power BI or Create Flows to Analyze the Roadmap and Update Status Values
Because Roadmap is a collection of entities on CDS, we have the option to create Power BI reports for further analysis. Here is the download link to a Power BI template that you can use to analyze your Roadmaps. Credits for the PBIX files go to Paul Mather.
Paul Mather also provides an excellent blog post about creating flows that will update the Status values based on the data from Project Online. You can find the article here.
I hope you’ve found the above steps for setting up Roadmap helpful. I’d love to read your feedback in the comments below.
For more info on Project for the Web, join the new Project for the Web Group.