Project for the Web was released at the end of 2019. Since that time, Microsoft has added new features to the application on a regular basis. In this article, I’d like to share two NEW features and one additional feature that is sure to make every Project Server/Project Online project manager want to switch to using Project for the Web today!
Read Only Access for All Office 365 Users
At the time of the writing of this article, this feature is being implemented for all tenants worldwide. In fact, you can view the roll out progress on this website: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/project-for-the-web/office-365-user-view-access-to-project-and-roadmap.
Once this feature is fully implemented, it will be a lot easier—and cheaper—to share your Roadmap or Project for the Web plans with stakeholders and team members.
Roadmap and Project for the Web both utilize Office 365 groups to add resources to the project team. This is great because it provides an opportunity to for increased collaboration. PMs will be able to add people to the project team by creating a new Team or Channel in Microsoft Teams, for instance.
From Teams, you can create a tab that is a full screen Project for the Web or Roadmap interface. Use Power Automate Flow and you’ll be able to create such a tab automatically.
Thanks to this “read only access” for Office 365 licensed accounts, project managers and team members can now share their real-life schedules and Roadmap program/portfolio with various stakeholders.
I’ve spoken with a fair share of project managers, and one thing that keeps popping up is a desire to re-use old schedules from previous projects. This used to be a frustration for me because I’m the consultant building templates for them so that they don’t have to copy their own old projects.
Needless to say, I’m still an advocate for the use of templates over old schedules. One reason is that changes in a company’s way of working can be better leveraged through (new) templates. However, with Project for the Web, you now have the option to quickly copy another project.
When you click Copy project, you have your new schedule on screen and, within a moment, you will see the Board and Timeline views appear.
No Check In or Check Out Requirement
This feature is not new to Project for the Web, but it’s worth including in an article on three things you are going to love about this application. If you are a user of Project Online or Project Server, you are familiar with the need to check in/out of a project.
You also know that, during a session, no one else can edit the schedule you are working on. This might frustrate users and delay progress because maybe a PMO employee needs to update your meta data, or a scheduler wants to update your schedule and because of the check out situation, that’s not allowed.
Imagine that you edited the schedule, but didn’t save yet, and someone forces a check in/out of that project. Now you are stuck with error messages and the changes are lost!
With Project for the Web, you won’t have these issues anymore. There is no check out or check in process required because all changes are saved right away. And, there’s no need to close the project before someone else can edit it, because Project for the Web supports multiple users editing a schedule at the same time.
There isn’t a difference between save and publish anymore, either. That’s because there are no save and publish actions anymore! All changes are directly stored in the CDS database backend!
Bonus feature – CDS and Extensibility!
With the CDS database in the backend, Project for the Web can be used as part of a bigger picture. Model driven Power Apps are a great way to get your organization’s needs aligned with the schedule. Currently Microsoft offers a training course called “Project App in a Day” through the partner ecosystem. If you are interested in getting a better understanding of what Project for the Web is and how it can be extended to include more, this would be an ideal starting position.
Get in touch with your local Microsoft contact and ask about the Project App in a Day (PAID) program and if it’s offered nearby where you live. If you’re in the Netherlands, you might even meet me in “digital person.”
I hope you agree with my pick of new and existing features to love about Project for the Web. Project for the Web really is a great way to quickly create a schedule to work on, and it’s a bit more than what you would get with Microsoft Planner. Additionally, you’ll skip the struggle of working through a full enterprise solution such as Project Online.
If you want to make a mark on Project for the Web yourself, you can do so. Head on over to https://microsoftproject.uservoice.com/forums/914203-project-for-the-web, and vote on any of the 386 current feature requests or create a new one. Microsoft’s product team is looking at the UserVoice page on a regular basis, and they do consider what is listed there to fill the backlog on new features that are coming out in the application.
And, stay tuned! MPUG is working on a new website, which will feature groups to discuss various relevant topics. A Project for the Web group for discussion will be coming soon.