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The Innovative PPM World – How Microsoft is Changing the Project Management Game
Posted: 11/14/2018
Presenter: Erik van Hurck
Moderator: Kyle

 

As mentioned by Kyle already, I work for the organization called Projectum which is a Western European PPM partner for Microsoft and we’re dedicated to Microsoft so this means it’s not only about Microsoft Project or Project Online but also the other tools that are available in the Microsoft ecosystem where they have a global presence. Our work is based from the Nordic Center but we also attend the sessions in other locations in New York and even outside. A bit about myself. Kyle already mentioned I’m a senior PPM consultant and a Microsoft MVP. I’ve been around for 9 years now working with the Project portfolio management tools and my passion is about educating users, having them work with the tools and solutions that we created for them. I also have a blog, the Project Corner blog and I recently started a YouTube channel. So what happened? What will this webinar be about? It will be about the big change that Microsoft is currently in, in regards to the Project and Portfolio management software. So during the ignite session that was this year in August, there were five items mentioned by Microsoft that have a high impact on how you will perform for portfolio management, project management in the future. So these are Project Home, Project Roadmaps, new Project Service, CDS for apps and the Power Platform. During this presentation, this webinar, we are going to have a brief look at each of these items and I’m going to share quick wins as well as use cases for each of these items. Some of them are already present in your current software if you have a Project Online license, others will become available shortly. Let’s have a start at Project Home. Project Home is a tool that allows users to create new projects, helps you get organized and finds projects of interest as well as giving you the option to “favorite” your most important projects giving you faster and easier access to those projects. Each of these slides, each of these topics has one of these slides and there’s a source that you can log in to download the presentation at the end of the recording and have a brief look at the rest of the slides. Project Home already is available and you can navigate to that and this is an example of Project Home.

 

Project Home has a top section where it has the option of creating a new project and also has a favorites bar it has a recents bar. Currently, it is only showing projects but this will include Azure boards and other applications in the near future. Let’s have a look at the “use” cases for Project Home. Project Home should be seen as an alternative to the Project Center view in Microsoft Project, online or project server and it allows you to show the most recent projects, up to 16 and lets you favorite important projects. It will also include multiple sources like I mentioned before. Currently it’s only Project Online but very soon it will also include Azure boards which was previously known as VSTS and more in the future. There’s also mention about Planner during the Ignite session for instance. Creating new projects will be available for the default PWA. What do I mean by that? The default PWA is the first Project online instance that you created in your tenant. If your organization have multiple PWAs for different departments for instance, one of them was the primary PWA. As soon as you click on create new in this screenshot, that will create a new project in that PWA. Microsoft already mentioned that…already sees that could be a problem— where you want to have a project created in a different PWA, so there is a user voice item about that and Microsoft is looking into giving you the option to create new projects across the different PWAs. These are the current “use” cases and about quick wins, what can you do now currently in the organization? Well, navigate to project.microsoft.com and experiment because Project Home currently is available for all tenants that have Project online. If you favorite your most important projects, it doesn’t matter if you visit 20 or 30 or 40 Projects in between. Those favorite projects are still on top of the screen and you can access multiple PWAs through that one single interface so if you have a project in the HR department which has its own PWA as well as the R&D department which has its own PWA, it is all visible from that one single source, that Project Home environment. As I mentioned briefly before there is new features coming in all the time. Microsoft really is keen on hearing from the community and thereby changing their own game on how to innovate the project online environment, project portfolio management environment. So this is the part for a Project Home. Kyle, are there any questions about Project Home?

 

“This project home functionality and the others you show, are those all specifically for Project Online users?”

 

These are currently all for Project online users…yes, yes all the apps that I’m going to mention or all the features that I’m going to mention will become available for everyone that has a Project Online license.

 

Let’s head over to our next presentation segment. Also presented during the late night session, Project Road Maps. Project Road Maps is a soon-to-be-released feature on all online tenants. It will leverage both Project Online and Azure boards right from the start and what it does, it is visually exciting way to combine information from multiple Waterfall and Agile projects. As you might now, VICS now called Azure Boards, is a more agile functionality or tool that we use for agile projects, where Project Online traditionally is your Waterfall basis. Sharing this with co-workers is another important thing I’ll come back to in the moment and this is what it’s going to look like. Where on the main screen you’ll have a program or a road map, which here is called Alabama Solar Farm and on the left side it will have different projects coming from either VICS or Azure Boards or Project Online or more sources in the future of course. You can enter values coming from those projects so the important task will be sent here. Now “use” cases. Road Maps leverages projects across different backend systems and these backend systems…now we know them as the front end systems because we used to work in them extensively. Where Project online is one of the systems and Azure Boards is another one. Right from the start where Road Maps will become available and is currently rolling out. When it’s available, it will leverage both Azure Boards and Project Online. So projects can be combined on a program level. How I see Road Maps working is where Road Map…each Road Map is a program grabbing different projects for that single program coming from either an Agile Source or a Waterfall source giving you cross project dependency checks as well as deadlines in visualization. As you’ve seen before, the software complete is a deadline that is important for all the project. So you wouldn’t want to have that in a single project but you would rather have them on top. Another nice thing about Road Maps is that you can have a colorized. Where red might be an important thing that might not go as planned currently. Orange might be something that you would need to look into and green, everything is good no need to worry. Quick wins with Road Maps. Navigate to the Project Home and see if Road Maps is available to your tenant. This slide is a bit old, there is a different way to go into Project Road Maps and it’s called “portfolio.microsoft.com“. Which now currently gives you the same interface as Project Home so you won’t know the difference other than that there’s a different URL.

Road Maps uses the Office Modern Groups which is very important because this is the new way Microsoft helps you gather your team the easiest way. Microsoft teams uses the modern groups, office applications uses the modern group so it’s very easy to share your Road Map with anyone within your team. You can create Microsoft teams, you can share your files with them and the Road Map will also obviously be available in Microsoft teams as soon as it comes out. Providing program management with a real time high level overview of the program, that is the quick win that you’re going to get right from the start with Road Maps. Now how does this Road Map know the information that comes from Project Online and Azure Boards? It’s using Microsoft Flow and we’ll get back to that later in the presentation. So many more features are coming, just like with Project Home there’s a user voice that you can leverage and with user voice, the community can say what is the most important. One of the things that I added there right from the start is that I would like to see a [?] connection. That currently isn’t available because, well, we’re going to start with our Microsoft only applications such as Project Online and Azure Boards  but I wanted to have zero connection as well so that my currently Agile working development team which uses [?] will also be included in the Road Maps.

 

“Isaac was curious: can the Road Map colors be automated or must it be done manually like the timeline currently?”

 

Great question. Currently, what I’ve seen so far is…demos, that the program manager will set them manually and one more thing to add about that is the project name and the owner are also manually added or can be manually added. So if you want to have a different naming convention for your programming schedule for these kinds of projects, that’s also an option. Currently, the colors, they’re limited to 4 colors: red, blue, orange, and green. These have their own values so blue is for “no value set”, red is for “take action”, orange is for “maybe need some action” and green is for “everything’s okay”. There’s there’s no current situation where that is coming from the schedule where there is a baseline variances for instance.

 

“Can you have a “swim lane” per resource in the Road Map instead of 1 per project?”

 

And 1 per resource so that will be a resource that will work on both projects and agile functionality working across different PWAs as well as different Azure Boards. That is an interesting situation that would look like the team planner which is in Microsoft Project itself. I haven’t seen that currently. What I noticed was that it is very project focused. But that could be something that we should have in a user voice. Currently, I haven’t seen any feature that tells you that it is resource-based.

 

“This is a 2-part question. The first is asking: is there a way to bring planner into the fold? Others programs were mentioned, is Planner one of them?”

 

Yeah, planner is on the road map. Now it’s not coming straight off the bat, it’s not on the MVP but it will probably come very soon and I’m saying it’s probably coming very soon because the guys that invented planner and Microsoft Project online are also working on the road maps so they’re very closely attached to each other and Flow, that’s the tool that’s being used to process the data, that’s coming into Road Maps, is also very closely linked to Planner so it would be a good bet to say that in the near future we will have a solution that includes both Project online and Azure Boards as well as Microsoft Planner.

 

“Is there a way to do modeling? What if scenario’s where I want to change one attribute, such as the finish date for one project and see how it impacts the others.”

 

There’s currently no visual…there’s only a visual dependency, there’s no real dependency between the different tasks or different projects. These lanes, these projects are still separate entities and if you have dependencies within them, you would need to have that in the debase system or the backend system such as Project Online or Azure Boards. I haven’t seen anything about “what if” scenarios and I haven’t seen anything that will give you the option of changing the bar stem cells. This is an output information field so it comes from the backend systems and it will not push anything back at the moment from what I’ve seen.

 

So on to the next section where the new Project Service is coming in and the new Project Service is probably the biggest thing in coming to Project Online or Microsoft Project as a whole. The new Project Service and there’s a whole lot of text here. For starters, it’s probably not going to the name New Project Service project because what is new, right? If it’s 10 years old, are we still going to call it New Project Service? Probably not. It’s also called Modern Project or the New Project Management Service and it is a first tile design. It’s based on the cloud or is created from the cloud and it will give you the full power Project desktop app in the near future and the near future is somewhere in the second half of 2019 probably or maybe even the first half, who knows. It’s born in the cloud so teams can always access the same data and teams here does mean Microsoft teams. So again, this service is born in the cloud, modern and will include a lot of information and…

 

More on the New Project Service can be found in this link here that I’ve added. This is a presentation and takes roughly, I think it was a presentation for 3/4 of an hour, maybe an hour in total where it was presented and I would highly recommend you watch this after the session because during this session, you get a live demo of what the New Project servers can do and for a person that was working with Microsoft Project and project server for a long time, 9 years already, this really hits the spot. There is for instance, there’s no more need for a check-in or a publish and save anymore. “Use cases”. What I’ve seen so far is there there is an option to co-author across multiple locations and currencies in the new Project Service. So you would be able to open up a Microsoft Project plan in Europe and one in America and work simultaneously within that one single schedule. There’s no need to save or publish, it’s automatically introduced to the CDS and I’ll get back what the CDS is in the next section but it is very fast, it is co-authoring and for when it starts, I would advise first time or casual project managers to use it because what I’ve seen is that the new Project Service is basic project management. I haven’t seen anything about baselines yet, I haven’t seen anything about dependencies yet so from the start this would be the casual project manager that would like to work with the New Project Service. Experts users, for example Dynamics PSA or Microsoft Project online will probably like to wait until more features become available and again more features will become available based on what the community wants in the user voice.

 

So quick wins, there’s no more check-ins/check-outs. No more save and publish, it’s leveraging co-author possibility. There’s no more build team rules meaning that everyone is available in that project right from the start. It’s leveraging something that’s called the unified resource schedule solution and then this is a Dynamics CRM solution or Dynamics 365 solution. Everyone who is in the [?] will automatically have the option to be a part of the team within the New Project Server project. That means that as soon as that person is entered, entering that project, that person is also a member of the Microsoft teams and of any other place which uses the modern groups. It’s built on top of the project scheduling engine which comes from Microsoft Project and project online and is using Dynamics functionality. So it’s using the rich capabilities that you know from Project online as well as financial and resource dynamics we know from PSA. So what is a good benefit from the PSA side of life? Financials now have the option to have a resource that has a whole lot of different hourly rates as well as different currencies so you can have Yen, dollars to Euros next to each other. That’s not a problem based on the unified resource scheduling solution and more features are coming. I already mention that there’s currently no user voice yet but that will come in the future and then you will have the option to have a community to vote on what the New Project Service will look like in 2 years from now.

 

“How will this effect resource breakdown structure?”

 

Very good question because this new Surface will use a Dynamics feature for resources. I’m currently not sure how this will effect…I’ve seen a slideshow where resource information comes from the dynamic side of life and scheduling information comes from the Project Online side of life so probably, Microsoft is very keen on knowing this themselves and they probably have a good solution for it but currently I have no idea how the resource breakdown structure will walk through it as well as how permissions will walk through it or licensing for that matter. That information hasn’t been disclosed yet by Microsoft.

 

So let’s dive to something that’s a bit more technical, where we’re going to look at the CDS for apps or the common data service for apps..lets you securely store and manage data that’s used for business applications standardizing, customizing and it’s secure cloud-based storage of your data. Basically, what does that mean? That means that everything from now on that uses Dynamics 365, Office 365, mobile apps, web apps… Project Online should be there somewhere or the New Project Service, will be leveraged from the common data service which is a common database that contains values that will be usable throughout the different applications that you have in your environment. “Use cases”. With the CDS for apps developers have an option of a common interface data structure to build their customizations on top of Microsoft business applications. So there’s an easy document library for everything across different apps making lost in translation situations…less. The Power Platform, the thing that we’re going to talk about next, leverages on top of CDS for apps and so does Dynamics PSA, Road Maps, the N ew Project Service, a lot of other things like Planner, making it fast and easy to use and across your environment to interface with. Quick wins. Well, I got this from a docs.microsoft.com because quite frankly I haven’t used the CDS for apps myself yet. So it’s easy to manage, it’s secure, it uses the Dynamics 365 data. Rich metadata, logic and validation and a productivity tools which basically means this is a Microsoft environment based on Azure with a per-user security topic as well as…well it’s leveraging the graph obviously also. Now this is a very technical and kind of Cloudy part of the presentation and the main thing to take away here is that there is a common data service that will leverage a whole lot for Microsoft where it’s easy to pick and choose which software you’re using such as Dynamics or Office 365 and it uses the same taxonomy. For instance, willful for addresses, for naming conventions, for names for telephone numbers, all that stuff.

 

Best thing that is on the topic board now is the Power Platform? What is the Power Platform? It’s the apps called Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. They’re called together, the Power Platform. Creating apps, using apps. It’s very easy and…it’s a new kind of apps that’s going to be created. One app platform for both Office 365 and then Dynamics 365 which were previously two separate entities within Microsoft. So if we visualize this, Microsoft Power Platform contains these three items and these three items are all used within Dynamics, Office and Project. Based on the commentator service for apps and data connectors can be leveraged there as well and at the core, it’s Azure. So it’s all based on an Azure database, it’s all based on the cloud, it’s all very very fast. Much, much faster than Project online currently is and then I guess current users are familiar with how fast Microsoft Project Online is, right? So “use cases” would be contained in these three words: measure, act and automate. Where measuring is done by using Microsoft Power BI. BI is an ideal situation where you can leverage reporting capabilities so you’re going to be able to measure your data, take action on that. And take action on that using the Power Apps. It’s a way for a non-developer to create an application and look at that too. And automate is a way for Microsoft to create workflows between different applications and these are applications within the Microsoft universe but also outside. Microsoft Flow helps you connect a workflow. One of the things that I used to do is, where if there’s a Twitter handle with my name on it coming in, I would like to have an email and I would like to have a mention of that Twitter account as well as that tweet in an Excel sheet. Excel sheet is on OneDrive and that OneDrive gets synced to Power BI so I have an instant, nice report on that Twitter account or that tweet. Create new interfaces that are mobile and responsive. Yes, all these three items are very responsive so if you’re looking at it on a desktop or a mobile phone or a tablet or Windows help or Microsoft Service, doesn’t really matter, it’s all available and it’s all very responsive and looking into what resolution you have on your screen. Quick wins. Everyone in the organization can now design apps using that Power Apps. It’s very responsive, very nice, clean way of designing. You won’t need to know any basic codes and you will be on your way creating your app. For instance, on the SharePoint list, that’s the best basic first app that you design. It’s built on top of the CDS that we mentioned before and gives the user a lot of flexibility, so it gives you the option to grab information from different sources and people that are familiar with Power BI know that there is a whole lot of sources available for you as well as through CDS for apps of course. More features are coming in all the time. Power BI for instance has a monthly update and there’s always something nice for people to look into and all 3 have voting sites as well or might have voting sites that are coming up. Some of them use PowerUsers as a voting site, others have user voice for instance.

 

So for completing the presentation now, I have a slide with all the voting references. So the New Project Service doesn’t exist yet so it doesn’t have a user voice page as well as the CDS for Apps. It doesn’t have a page yet but there’s one for Project Home, Road Maps, Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. And now one of the questions might be, “why is Microsoft flow not called power flow?”. I have absolutely no idea but these links will be available in the recording, when the recording is available you also have the slide that you can head over to these links, to vote. Other links of interest is of course, well, the MPUG website. You found that because you are here. More about me, The Project Corner Blog and the YouTube channel as well as my employer, Projectum. Before we head over to the special offer, let’s have a brief look if Road Maps currently is available because Microsoft said that it will be coming available very soon and was rolling out today, so let’s have a look. This is a live environment which is my personal environment. And you can head over to project.microsoft.com and will pick up your user account. Currently this is Project Home. And has the option of going to Project. But it doesn’t have the Road Maps yet. They’re a different website that I already mentioned and it’s called portfolio.microsoft.com. This slide is already available which basically means that Microsoft is looking into this. Let’s see if it refreshes on there something different here. Nope, just contains projects. Briefly about project column, here are the favorites. Favorite projects…you can remove that favorite project, you can head over and star one of these and it will become available as part of the favorites. You can click on one of those again, it will give you another favorite. Currently it tells you which kind of item this is, Currently, there’s only project, project online. But Azure Boards will become available as well and that’s my best guess that the Planner will be in there as well. Here it lets you know when you accessed this latest and for this one, I know this is one of the test environments with a colleague of mine. This one is my personal environment and this one is one of his another colleague of mine. Going to the Microsoft Project web app will head you over to the primary PWA environment that you have. offer.

 

“Can you confirm which of these features are available now and for those that aren’t available yet, is there an ETA from Microsoft on when to look for those?”

 

So far an ETA on all of these items, Project Home is currently available for everyone that has a project online license. So head over to project.microsoft.com and it will be available for you. If that’s not the case, contact me and we’ll have a look together. Project Roadmaps is scheduled to release very, very, very soon and the latest estimate I had was today but probably it’s more in the line of next week. The New Project Service, when it was announced at Ignite, Microsoft said it would be available the first half of 2019. That’s something to look forward to in 2 months from now. CDS for apps currently is available, it is currently available in version 1 and Microsoft is rolling out CDS for apps version 2 which is needed for Project Road Maps to work so probably they are intertwined with each other and seeing as Road Maps is expected to arrive this week or next week, I would say that CDS for apps version 2 is already available for most people. The way to find that out is by going into your Dynamics environment and looking for a CDS. The Dynamics users are probably already using it. The Power Platform is also already available so Project online is available…Power BI is available, PowerApps is available and Microsoft Flow is avaibale. And all of these will be leveraged on the CDS for Apps very soon and probably that will also be 2019, first half the year.

“What’s your recommendation on organizations moving to Project Online versus desktop?Pros/Cons”

 

So for now, with the New Project Service coming on, it still is a best bet to go with the solution called Project online when you are ready as an organization to plan your project’s portfolios and programs. As long as you’re looking at just having people adding schedules once in a lifetime or two times in a lifetime, there’s no real need to use Enterprise Solutions but but as soon as you want to leverage your project organization and you want to consume data from there, generate reports on top of your portfolio, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to do that using just the Microsoft Project platform which is a desktop application which doesn’t use a combined resource pool for instance. There’s no portfolio selection functionality in there, there’s no link to Power BI for instance. As soon as your organization has, I would say roughly around 30 projects or more and and a resource pool of 50 people or more, I would highly recommend leveraging the tools called Project online or Project Server for your organization. If you’re using Project Online, you automatically get a license for Microsoft Project so there’s another incentive. Where if you’re used to working with Microsoft Project professional, the desktop client, you’ll still be able to use that rich client to work with Project online as well so there’s no real need for any Enterprise to think there’s an “either/or” situation. As soon as your organization is ready to take the next step and and work with a portfolio overview of all the projects that you have in your organization, it’s really the best bet to go with Project server on Project online.

 

“(Does) Project Online licensing include Power BI or is that an extra service?”

 

Power BI and Project Online are separate licenses. What you want to know is what kind of licensing structure your organization has. There are different levels and they are called Enterprise agreements and from E-5 and above, Project online professional is included for every user. So you might want to look into that. Power BI has a different licensing structure and Project Online licenses don’t grant you access to any Power BI.

 

“With regards to Project online or these new features specifically, if there’s any case studies available? Real world use cases. Are you aware of any others?”

 

For Project online, Power BI and in the things that are here already for a long time, there are “use cases” that you can find on the Microsoft web site or any of the partners such as Projectum, has free nice use cases for Project online for instance. Right on the main page so projectum.com. Use cases for Project Home, Project Road Maps, and the New Project Service, they’re not there yet because all the tools have been around here…for Project Home, it’s been around here for roughly two months so there’s no real use cases here. And then for the other tools, they’re not there yet so there’s no use cases yet, there’s no case studies or best practices. That’s probably coming in the next couple of months, maybe 3 months, maybe 6 months for a new project service. And for the New Project Service, my colleagues and I at Projectum are very keen to work with that New Project Service as soon as possible so if you’re in an organization that’s in the experimental mindset and would like to experiment the New Project Service with us, please also send me an email and I hope we can explore some things together, maybe we can extend a discount for that solution as well. So no real use cases yet for the new things but use cases abundant for Project online. Thank you all very much for taking the time to get away with me to explore what new innovative ways Microsoft is thinking about exploring project and portfolio management. Once again, my name is Erik van Hurck, I am a senior PPM consultant and MVP and my email is on the screen now. Once again my employer is Projectum and I hope you will enjoy the the recording after this and watch out for new articles coming.

 

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