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Microsoft Ignite for Project Managers (Who Stayed Home)

Microsoft's Satya NadellaWho says you have to go to a Microsoft event to participate? Between the “Ignite on Demand” recordings, #msignite tweets and ample blog posts from Project and SharePoint fans all around the world, even if you weren’t among the 20,000 expected attendees at Chicago’s McCormick Place, you could still feel like you were. If you haven’t had the time to keep up, MPUG has done it for you. We’ve monitored news, videos, observations and twitter feeds to bring you this best-of compilation.

WANT MORE? MPUG had “four on the floor” at Ignite, those being the feet that belong to trainers and consultants Cindy Lewis and Christine Flora. These Microsoft Project experts presented “Highlights from Microsoft Ignite” an MPUG members-only webinar. Learn more here.

Project and SharePoint 2016

Project and SharePoint attendees were probably most thrilled to see the next generation of their toolsets in action. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft released public preview editions of Office 2016, inviting people to try them out and give the company feedback. That release, according to Stephen O’Connor at Paragon Solutions, includes Project Professional 2016. (O’Connor added that Project Server 2016 would be released alongside SharePoint 2016 in mid-year next year, even as some useful features from those future versions would also surface in Project Online later this year.)

Multiple timelines in the next Project

Multiple timelines

In a blog entry posted from Ignite O’Connor shared details about several aspects of the new Project that he likes:

  • Multiple timelines, which will let you break down a timeline and display it across multiple dimensions and export it to other applications, such as PowerPoint. As O’Connor wrote, “The interface looked to be drag and drop and very simple to utilize.”
  • An overhaul of resource plans to allow editing of plans in Project Professional and to encompass input from the resource manager. “Now project managers can work directly with [the] resource manager to get the right person for their projects,” he noted.
  • Enhancements to reporting, particularly the ability to use Power BI, an enterprise freemium business intelligence environment. “Now your PMO reporting analyst can create dashboards in record time, with little interaction with a database administrator while delivering the report that will work across all devices,” O’Connor said. He also added that the interface includes a heat map capability to direct you right to the problem areas.
  • Elimination of the Project Server database. The lone database has been integrated with the SharePoint Content database. As O’Connor interpreted, “This is a clear example of the cloud driving decisions since Microsoft is currently managing all of these databases in the cloud. This also means that every future installation of SharePoint will also technically have Project Server available to be turned on.” (“Good riddance to the project file!” added Darren Hale (@darrenhale).)

Power BI will let your PMs do some interesting analytics

Power BI

If you want to see the source material for yourself, kick back and enjoy the on-demand videos from these popular sessions and others just as relevant at myignite.microsoft.com/#/videos:

BRK2136, the Project “keynote” featuring Microsoft Director Sajan Parihar, Senior Program Manager Mike McLean and Group Program Manager Howard Crow. You’ll find the slides under the “Related Documents” header.

BRIK2134, a customer panel featuring St. Luke’s Health System and TE Connectivity. How about a few of these stats offered by Microsoft Fanboys (@MSFanboys)? TE’s 6,000 engineers have between 5,000 and 7,000 projects with 1,200 project managers. St. Luke’s has 50 PMs.

BRK3143, a step-by-step process to follow in deploying Microsoft Project Online and Server.

For more recommendations check out this roster from EPM Partners.

Cool Tools Popping from Microsoft

Attendees had the chance to see some lesser known Microsoft tools that aren’t getting the attention that a mega-feature such as Cortana receives.

Joe Wroblewski (@JoeWro) and Joe Karnes @Karnesjoe) were both impressed by Microsoft’s Office 365 Delve and Office Graph.

Delve bubbles up content from the enterprise through Office 365 that’s “most likely to be interesting to you right now.” For example, you can click on co-workers’ names or pictures to see what documents they’re working on right now (presuming they’ve given permission). Wroblewski sees the potential for Delve as “interesting for social enterprise project management.” One useful application for Delve is to help you find who within your behemoth organization has just the information or knowledge you need for a given topic.

Within Delve, the workmap function gives managers visibility into how engaged individual members of the project team are by assessing how many related emails they’ve sent and when, how many meetings they’ve referenced and when they’re working. As Windows IT Pro (@WindowsITPro) noted, workmap “lets people see who is (or isn’t) talking to whom [and] how that affects overall project progress.” If it bugs you that a co-worker is shirking his or her duties on the project, workmap will ensure there’s no place to hide.

Office Graph maps relationships among people and information by pulling from email, social conversations, meetings and SharePoint and OneDrive documents. As Karnes pronounced, “Project managers will love it.”

Office Graph exposes content and interactions across Office 365 within the enterprise

Office Graph

Lisa Schmeiser at Windows IT Pro also likes Clutter, a tool that can help PMs stay on top of vital emails. This one learns how you use your Outlook email in Office 365 and adjusts its behavior accordingly to manage your email for you. As Schmeiser explains, “users teach Clutter what email is important and should be looked at immediately.” Eventually, it figures out “what belongs in the inbox and what gets shunted to a Clutter folder for more leisurely perusing later.”

Third-party News

CPS, a UK Project and SharePoint consultancy, took advantage of Ignite’s timing to announce three new apps. Navigator App, available now, allows PWA users to quickly navigate to key areas of the system from the home page such as the plan, issues and risks. Help App. coming soon, contains links to documents and videos to help Project Server users with “everyday tasks.” And Agile App, also coming soon, allows for agile project management through Project Online.

ProjectHosts, which hosts deployments of Microsoft Project Server, SharePoint and related applications, announced a new program that allows independent software vendors with add-on applications to deliver their solutions through a FedRAMP-compliant cloud, making it easier for them to sell into U.S. federal and state agencies that require that level of security adherence. The company also said it was delivering a new SharePoint administration service to provide managed access to user management, support and configuration.

Parting Thoughts

In case you still wish you could have made it to Ignite in person, MPUG shares these parting thoughts from IT maven and author (and professional grump) Don Jones: “The food in Chicago was miserable… The venue should ideally be closer to evening things to do, and ideally closer to more hotels… The constant yelling and herding at Ignite 2015 will remain one of its hallmarks…” Sure, he had some positive stuff to say about Ignite as well on his blog here, but this MPUGer is glad she stayed home. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some popcorn to microwave and a streaming presentation to tune into.

Did you attend Ignite? The rest of us want to know what you liked and learned!

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1 Comment
  1. For a busy practitioner who has not been “keeping up” with the latest developments, is there an article that lays out the big picture for the SharePoint-Project ecosystem? Who is offering the best “transition” training (MSP Pro to cloud everything)?

    Thanks for the good work, I am off to catch the Ignite videos.

    John W.


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