Introducing Microsoft Project 2016 into your organization can be a project in and of itself. There are a lot of things to consider on your journey. Let me help you out with tips to smooth your ride.
Determine Where You Come From
Knowing your current situation will be very useful when introducing a scheduling tool like Project 2016. Let’s focus on three common scenarios:
- You currently don’t have a scheduling tool in place.
- You’re using a competitor’s product.
- You already have an earlier version of Microsoft Project.
You Have No Scheduling Tool
If you’re currently not using any real scheduling software but perhaps work with Excel or freeware, there’s a good chance you’re not working as efficiently as you could. Now I’m not saying that Excel is a bad product. I covered that topic in an article on my blog back in June. It is, however, no scheduling tool. And freeware always has its limits.
Introducing Project 2016 or its cloud version, Project Pro for Office 365, into an organization that has no previous knowledge of scheduling tools can be tricky. The main reason: the added complexity and structure the tool will bring. Learning a completely new program from scratch can take some time. And Microsoft Project might look like Excel, but it isn’t. Three tips when you’re facing this situation:
- Find a Microsoft partner to help you with the implementation.
- Take an interest in training your schedulers (be they project managers, project management office (PMO) staff or in some other role).
- Focus on the simple things. Don’t start out with resource leveling or earned value management. Yes, the tool can do these things; but your organization will need to build its project management maturity before you undertake them.
You Use a Competitor’s Product
If you currently use a competitor’s product, you’re on your way to successful project (or even portfolio) management. You might even have a structured PMO in place, which is great! But why should you go for Project 2016 instead of the competition? Focus on some key aspects of Microsoft’s scheduling application that sets it apart from the others:
- It has the Microsoft look and feel you know and love — just like any other client application such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
- It delivers integration with other Microsoft tools, such as copy and paste between Office applications.
- There’s a cloud version and a server version available.
Here’s some advice when you want to make the switch:
- Gather the lessons you learned when using the old tool.
- Take the time to write down why you want to switch so that you can look back and say, “Yes, this was what we needed.”
- Don’t dump your old tool experts, but rather train them in Microsoft Project and make them believers. These are the folks who invested time in learning another complex project management tool. They know the ropes of project management and could easily turn out to be your best ambassadors.
You Use an Earlier Version of Project
You already have Microsoft Project? That’s a start. But Microsoft Project 2003 isn’t supported by Microsoft anymore — plus it doesn’t have multiple undo (Ctrl-Z)! On a more serious note, you might be using Project 2007, 2010 or 2013 — great tools to be sure. Implementing the latest version in your organization will only work when you take a close look at those features not offered in the earlier versions of Project. Here’s a short list of the improvements Microsoft implemented:
- New and improved help, called “Tell me.”
- The ability to create multiple timelines and set a custom timespan.
- More Office add-ins with read/write capability.
Regardless of Where You Come From
Implementing a new tool is always exciting. It’s good practice to set your goals and expectations up front and find a partner to help you in realizing them. Training your employees will be another quick win because they’ll work faster and feel more secure using the new application.
Microsoft Project 2016 is a tool with a great community. Just have a look around on this website. There’s a lot of support to help you on your road to Microsoft Project. Enjoy the ride!
Image Credit: tec_estromberg, under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.