One thing Edward Snowden has taught the world is this: Never trust the US Government or any other government for that matter! US intelligence is into everything they can get their hands in or as the saying goes, can “force their elbow into,” including software applications or datasets owned by US‑based organizations.
I believe this is why Microsoft’s PPM (Project & Portfolio Management) Cloud strategy (see here) is failing, and why it is still failing even after Microsoft has built datacenters in countries across the world. One of the main problems is that Microsoft still cannot guarantee that the data NEVER travels via US-based Internet points (IP-addresses). This allows the CIA to eavesdrop on our Cloud data. Only if a firewall is put around an entire country (as we saw China do), can there be some level of protection from curious foreign intelligence eyes.
This is why I think that:
- Project Online has been adopted at such a low rate outside the US (i.e. the rest of the world): I have had numerous conversations with clients in Canada, and have learned that they are not allowed to buy or will not buy subscriptions to Microsoft Project Online. This is true for Canadian Federal Government departments, government agencies, large Canadian companies, and even medium-sized Canadian companies. If this is true for Canada, it is likely also true for the rest of the world.
- Project Server installed on-premise is a much more viable proposition for any organization outside of the US.
In hindsight, Microsoft created its own downward spiral:
- All Microsoft PPM partners were forced by Microsoft to ONLY sell subscriptions of the cloud-based Project Online since about 2015. Project Server for on-premise was discontinued at the same time.
- Microsoft PPM partners failed to sell Project Online because nobody outside of the US trusts Microsoft (or the CIA) with their trade secret data, intellectual property, inventions, or even timelines for their inventions (i.e. Microsoft Project schedules).
- As a result, Microsoft saw a huge decline in their PPM sales revenue stream. Microsoft wondered why and started to dis-invest in Project Online and dis-invest in Microsoft Project (now called ‘Project Online Desktop Client’). By the way, who came up with that?
- Desperate at this juncture, Microsoft has begun to develop new products: Planner (that does not integrate well with Microsoft Project), Project for the Web (a mickey mouse tool without much business value), and Project Operations (a competing product from the Microsoft Dynamics development group).
- The marketing of all these offered products is now so confusing that nobody understands them any longer. MPUG recently featured an article entitled, Cloudy Conditions: Clarifying MS Project’s Plans and Pricing Structures on the topic. Cloudy conditions, indeed!
- We have not seen a major upgrade in Microsoft Project or Project Server functionality since 2010, the year the new ribbon interface and many new features were introduced. Let’s not forget that is ten years ago now!
- Microsoft has not developed any significant new features in Microsoft Project since 2013 (seven years ago!!) even though their promise was that if we adopted Project Online, we would get a continuous stream of new features. In my view, this turned out to be a false promise, even though Microsoft would argue it’s because Project Online did not sell enough subscriptions.
Again, in my view Microsoft basically destructed their own Microsoft PPM business line of products and profit center for Microsoft Project and Project Server. Given the fact that there are an estimated 30 Million users of Microsoft Project worldwide, the user community is large and vibrant. The PPM market is potentially profitable in my opinion, if Microsoft makes a U-turn in their PPM strategy sooner rather than later.
So, how can Microsoft get out of this downward spiral, you may be asking. I’ve listed below my five “shoulds” for Microsoft at this juncture:
- Microsoft should define a new strategy for its PPM division.
- Microsoft should start investing again in their on-premise PPM products: Microsoft Project, Microsoft Project Server, and Microsoft PWA (Project Web App).
- Microsoft should re-instate the three-year development cycle for their on-premise PPM products and develop a major upgrade for 2022.
- Microsoft should listen more carefully to its PPM user community: There are over 400 new feature suggestions on the UserVoice pages for Microsoft Project (see here), so there surely isn’t a lack of ideas.
- Microsoft should listen more carefully to their Microsoft Project MVPs who interact with more MS Project users every year than any Microsoft program manager or developer ever will. Last year, I gracefully declined Microsoft’s invitation back into the MVP program, simply because in the seven years I was an MVP, Microsoft never gave me the sense that they heard what I or other MVP’s were trying to tell them.
Microsoft Project and Project Server deserve to be resuscitated by Microsoft! I think it has been difficult enough for Microsoft Partners in the PPM space these last few years, and I’d like to see Microsoft Project users rally together to encourage Microsoft to change its course in the PPM space.
If you agree with this opinion, please express your support in the comments section below. If you disagree, please explain why. Thank you!