Please find highlights from Erik Van Hurck’s course – Project for the web: How It Works and What You Can Do With It – being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations, or there may be addition to expand on concepts. You may watch the on-demand recording of this webinar at your convenience.
Project for the web is a modern take on project management tools, built from the ground up with a new mindset and technology. Unlike its predecessors, Microsoft Project, Project Server and Project Online, Project for the web is designed to be easily integrated with other applications such as SAP and SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Planner, and mobile-friendly applications. During the webinar, we will be exploring the current state of Project for the web and its capabilities, including new features recently added by Microsoft. We will also be demonstrating how to create and customize projects within the application. It’s important to note that Project for the web is a continuously evolving tool, with new features and improvements being added regularly. To stay informed about the latest developments, you can visit the Microsoft Project for the web blog and subscribe to MPUG’s newsletter.
Ways to Create a Project in Project for the web
When it comes to creating a project within Project for the web, there are multiple options available to users.
- The most straightforward and quickest way is through the Project Home feature, which allows you to easily create new projects.
- Another option is the Project Accelerator, which is a free application offered by Microsoft that uses a model-driven Power App. This application is designed for the basic program and portfolio management.
- Additionally, there are custom model-driven Power Apps, which are created by Microsoft partners such as Projectum, and offer extensive functionality for specific user bases or customer needs.
- Lastly, there is Project Operations, a Dynamics 365 application designed for service-minded users, focusing on projects with their own hourly rate, budget, and client base.
All these options are designed and developed by Microsoft but can be further extended to suit the needs of the users.
Creating a Project from the Home View
Project Home is the easiest and fastest way to create a project. It allows you to navigate through all the projects that are shared with you, view recently used or reviewed projects, and access specific projects created by you.
When creating a new project, it’s important to note the source, which can be Project (the basic Project for the web instance) or the Project Accelerator, which is a free application offered by Microsoft that uses a model-driven Power App. The source will determine the environment and permission structure.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that users with P3 or P5 licenses for Project will have the ability to create new projects. However, while users with E3 or E5 office licenses won’t have the ability to create new projects, they will be able to interact with the tool and view projects shared with them. This is a change from Project Online and Project Server, where a specific project license was required to access and view projects.
Furthermore, you can also add it to favorites and they can be removed from favorites again, and it pops back up to the recent files. You can also copy the link, of course, which is easy for sharing purposes, but there are better ways of sharing the product.
Ways to Create Projects
Creating a new project in Microsoft Project can be done in a few different ways. To start, click on the “create new” button. Once you click on this button, you will be presented with different ways to create a Project. The first option is the option to create a “Blank Project”, a great option if you’re familiar with the application and know exactly what you want to create.
If you’re new to Microsoft Project or need a little guidance, you can also choose to import an existing project. This is a great option if you have a project that was created in the past and you want to use it as a template for your new project.
Importing a Project
When importing a project, you’ll have the option to choose an MPP file. MPP stands for Microsoft Project Plan and is the file format used by Microsoft Project. It’s important to note that there are limitations when importing a project into Project for the web. Project for the web is a web-based version of Microsoft Project and has some limitations compared to the desktop version of the application. For example, Project for the web has a limitation of a thousand tasks and limited resource capabilities. So if you’re planning to use Project for the web, be aware of these limitations and make sure that the project you’re importing will work within these constraints.
Creating a Project from a Template
In addition to starting from scratch or importing a project, you can also choose to use a template. Microsoft Project comes with a variety of templates that are designed to help you get started with the application. These templates are based on what Microsoft Project had previously, and some of them are pretty old, such as the construction template, which may be more than 10 years old. However, these templates are still a great starting point if you’re new to the application and getting used to what it can and cannot do. They’re a good way to get an idea of what the tool can do and can be customized to fit your needs.
Navigating to the “New Project” option in Microsoft Project, you will see a variety of templates to choose from. Among them, the “Simple Project” template can be very useful, as it provides key benefits such as the ability to plan a project, manage tasks and resources, and customize the plan to meet the specific needs of your project.
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To get started with the simple project template, go to the “Project Home” and click on “New Project”. Select the “Simple Project” template and it will give you a quick overview of what is included in the template. This can be a great starting point for creating your project and can be customized as needed.
Renaming Your Project
Once you have selected the “Simple Project” template, you can begin customizing it to fit your specific project needs. One of the first things you may want to do is rename the project to something more meaningful. To do this, select the title of the project, and a side pane will appear on the right-hand side of the screen.
This side pane provides a number of information fields that you can fill in to provide more detailed information about your project. One of the fields is the “Project Name” field, where you can enter the new name for your project.
Assigning Roles and Permissions
When you’re first creating a project in Microsoft Project, you are automatically designated as the project manager. This means that you have full control over the project and can make changes as needed. However, as the project progresses, you may need to share the project with other team members or stakeholders.
When sharing a project, you can assign different roles and permissions to other people. For example, you can give team members the ability to edit tasks or resources, or you can give stakeholders the ability to view the project but not make any changes.
Setting Start and Finish Dates
By default, the starting day may be set to the current date, but you can change it to a different day if needed. For example, you may want to start the project on a Monday, as it’s a better day to start a new project than starting halfway through the week.
The current duration of the project is based on all the tasks and activities that are included in the schedule. As you add or remove tasks, the duration will change accordingly.
You also have the option to set a percentage complete for the project. This can be useful for tracking the progress of the project and seeing how close it is to completion. The percentage completed is based on the tasks that have been completed and can be set manually or updated automatically as tasks are completed.
In addition to the percentage complete, Project for the web also has a parameter called “effort” which is measured in hours. The effort parameter helps you track the number of hours that are required to complete a task or the whole project. The effort parameter is important to measure the project’s performance and to identify any potential issues that might arise.
It’s important to keep in mind that starting day, duration, percentage complete, and effort are all important parameters to track the progress of the project and make sure it is delivered on time and within the budget.
Customizing the Project Calendar in Project for the web
One of the recent updates in Microsoft Project and Project for the web is the ability to customize the calendar for a specific project. This is a significant improvement over the previous version where we needed to create templates for our working schedule. The default work template in Microsoft Project and Project for the web is set to Monday through Friday for 40 hours a week. However, now we have the option to create alternate calendars for different projects. This can be particularly useful for projects that have unique working schedules, such as working on weekends, or a different number of hours per day.
Creating alternate calendars can be an extensive and cumbersome task, which is why it’s not something that a normal project manager would typically handle. Typically, this task would be handled by a PMO or an administrator who has the knowledge and resources to set up these custom calendars.
In this example, you can see that we have a custom default work week set up for this project. This allows us to easily manage the project’s schedule and work around any constraints that we might have. For example, if you click on Friday as a grayed-out value and click “Apply”, you will see that the finish date changes accordingly. Similarly, if you change the working days to Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the finish date will change accordingly.
It’s important to note that the duration of the project does not change when you change the working days. The duration is measured based on the working days defined in the calendar. So, while Microsoft still expects the application to be used for working schedules, you can still change the calendar to work on weekends if needed.
In case you choose to use a template and select the default work template, you will be back to where you were with the default work days. This feature gives you more flexibility in managing your projects and allows you to work around any constraints that you might have.
Adding a Milestone and Task Dependency
As you can see, creating a schedule using Microsoft Project gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of organizing and managing your tasks. One of the key features of Microsoft Project is the ability to add dependencies between tasks. This means that you can specify that one task must be completed before another task can begin. This is particularly useful for projects with multiple tasks that are interdependent.
Another useful feature is the ability to add milestones to your project. Milestones are significant events or achievements in your project, such as completing a major task or reaching a critical deadline. They are typically zero-duration tasks, which means that they don’t take any time to complete.
To add a dependency between tasks :
- Right-click on the task that you want to be dependent on and select “Add Predecessor”
- Select the task that the current task is dependent on from the list that appears
To add a milestone to your project,
- Right-click on the task that you want to be a milestone and select “Mark as Milestone”
- The task will be converted to a zero-duration task and represented by a diamond shape on the Gantt chart
To change the duration of a task, click on the task and adjust the duration in the “Task Information” panel.
As you may have noticed, the traditional Gantt chart visualization that is commonly used in Microsoft Project is not present in this version of the application. However, it has been renamed to “Timeline” and can still be accessed through the Timeline page. This feature allows you to view your project’s tasks and milestones in a chronological format, giving you a clear overview of the project’s progress and deadlines.
The grid view allows users to add tasks in between or at the end of their project, and it provides a number of columns by default. These columns can be extended by clicking on the “add column” button.
One of the key features of the grid view is the ability to use percentage complete buckets, which can be combined with the board view to give users an agile view and mindset. Additionally, the grid view includes options for dependents, effort, outline number, and priority. These features provide users with more in-depth information about their project, such as the depth of their schedule and the importance of certain tasks. The grid view also allows users to extend the information they see by using labels.
It’s important to note that labels in Microsoft Project are customized for each specific project. This means that if you create a custom label for one project, it will not be extended to other projects unless you edit the label for each individual project.
Critical Path in Project for the web
The critical path is a term used in project management that refers to the longest chain of tasks that determines the end date of the project. In Project for the web, users can see a visual representation of the critical path in the calendar, specifically in the Gantt chart view.
By adding tasks to the timeline, the duration of each task affects the end date of the project. The longest task in the timeline drives the end date and is considered the critical path. By navigating to the filter and selecting “critical path,” only the task that drives the end date is selected and boxed in. The critical path can change if the duration of other tasks is altered.
In the current iteration of Project for the web, the timeline is the only place where users can visualize the critical path. However, users can also navigate to the grid view and select “is this critical?” in the filter to see which parts of the project are critical.
Story Points in Project for the web
In Project for the web, backlogs and sprints can be viewed in the board view, which is aligned with agile methodologies. The duration of tasks can be seen, and with recent updates, sprint options with durations of a month can be added. Story points, however, are not directly represented in the application. To represent story points, you can create a custom column as a number and roll it up to summarize at the project level. Story points are just a separate number with no interaction with the rest of the schedule, but you can group or filter on other values such as risk level.
How to create a story point column in Microsoft Project for the web:
- Navigate to the grid view in Microsoft Project for the web.
- Create a custom column as a number value.
- Name the column “Story Points.”
- Create an additional layer and name it “Project Level.”
- Make the project tasks subtasks under the “Project Level.”
- Assign story point values to the project tasks. For example, a task named “Create Project” could be worth 20 story points.
- View the board view and group or filter the tasks based on the assigned story point values. Note that the story points are separate from the percentage complete value and have no interaction with the schedule.
- You can look at the board view and group or filter tasks based on the story point values, but note that story points are not a value that can be filtered on.
Note: Story points are just a numerical representation and do not need to represent the effort.
In conclusion, Project for the web is a modern and innovative project management tool developed by Microsoft. It offers a range of options for creating projects. Project for the web is continuously evolving with new features and improvements being added regularly. Stay informed about the latest developments by visiting the Microsoft Project for the web blog and subscribing to MPUG’s newsletter, articles, and webinars.
Project for the web Frequently Asked Questions
Calculation is not currently an option in custom fields. The available field types are text, date, and number, which are flat values. However, the functionality can be extended using the power platform, such as project operations
Yes, the information in labels and custom fields is copied when copying a project in Microsoft Project as a template. However, progress and assigned users are not copied, to ensure the original project’s progress does not carry over to the copied project, and to accommodate a potentially different project team.
When you copy a project in Microsoft Project for the web, you will get a duplicate of the original project with all its components, including labels. The copy will have the label “Copy” added to its name to differentiate it from the original.
This will preserve the original project’s start date, finish date, calendar, and custom fields such as labels and risk levels. However, it is important to note that the progress will not be copied over.
The back-end of Microsoft Project for the web is powered by Dataverse, a web-based database warehouse application. The database structure of Dataverse can be extended with APIs to enhance the functionality of Microsoft Project for the web. The third session of the webinar will go into more depth about Dataverse and its capabilities.
Yes, there is a time-limited trial option available for Microsoft Project for the web. The trial subscription is for 30 days and a minimum of 5 licenses is required for P3 or P5. Most of the features can be performed with a P3 license.
No, resources in Project for the web are individual named users, not resource groups. Project for the web is integrated with Azure Active Directory and can only search and assign actual users with an Office 365 subscription.
Project for the web is not the same as Project Server or Project Online. It is a cloud-based project management tool and has limitations compared to Project Server and Project Online, which are its close relatives. Project for the web has a limited custom field and no centralized resource pool. However, Microsoft is investing in improving its functionality, and it has a bright future. Project for the web is not enterprise-ready yet, and there will be a deep dive into this question in next week’s session to determine what is needed for it to be enterprise-ready.
You can view a visual representation of the critical path in the timeline in Project for the web. You can also filter to show only critical tasks in the grid view.
No, effort and story points are not the same in Project for the web. You can create a custom column for story points, but it does not have any interaction with the schedule or effort.