Microsoft has Released the new Microsoft Project for the Web.
It’s here… What is It?
The new version of Project (some people call it “Modern Project” or as I’ll refer to it, in its short nick name, “P4W”) officially called Project for the Web, is a new product that is being built from the ground up to work completely in the cloud (Office 365 and through any browser) and its focus is to help provide a bridge between O365 Planner and the current version of Microsoft Project/Project Online, sometimes called “Legacy Project.”
At some point in the far future, even many years out, this product may overtake and fully replace the current version of Project Desktop (Professional) and Project Online, but not any time soon.
This new, sleek, and easy to use version of Project isn’t as powerful as it’s predecessor, and that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t need to be if it fits your needs. Many people, struggle with the sheer horsepower and capabilities that the current version of Project/Project Online has. This new version provides the best features being requested that meet the needs of 80% of people today.
Let’s take a look at this new version.
Project Experience Reimagined
When you purchase Project or enable your licensing, you will go to your Project Home Page when selecting this from the web. At this time, you are presented with the choice to start a new project.
This will by default launch Project for the Web. This opens a clean, sleek, new environment that can only be worked in through your browser.
Notice you can immediately just start typing in a Project Name, you have just a few columns (eleven as of right now to be exact) and you can leverage 3 types of views
- Grid View:
- This is the view you see now. Just like a spreadsheet you focus on the data and doing data entry
- Board View:
- This view gives you the Kanban view or a card/post it note type view, commonly seen in Agile Project Management, that allows you to quickly move, drag and drop work assignments and organize the project activities based on groups, people or customized columns (buckets)
- Timeline View:
- This view replaces what has been called in the past (Gantt Chart) view. It is more of a simplistic timeline and gives you a good visual window to work on the project schedules relationships by dragging and moving the bars, tasks, deadlines and relationships
When adding resources, you don’t first build a resource pool, you just draw from your contacts in exchange or Office 365 and they are added. Behind the scenes Project for the Web creates your security group (like we see in Teams and other Office 365 tools) and you can easily continue adding resources to tasks.
Project for the web also notifies you and your resources that you have joined a group/project
I like seeing this as it also gives you options to view the group in Outlook and also stay updated with any new task assignments. This will tie directly into MS To-Do (Outlook Tasks) keeping you abreast of any work assignments that you have and even do it from your mobile devices.
Using the Grid View
The Grid view in Project for the Web is your spreadsheet layout view for you to quickly type, add, modify information about your projects.
You can also easily add more columns to your view as seen below, where you can define what is important for you to have in this view.
Notice that the columns list (pre-defined) has different terms than the Legacy version of Project:
- Dependents (after) ~ is called Predecessor in Legacy Project
- Depends on (before) ~ is called Successor in Legacy Project
- Effort ~ is called work in Legacy Project
This is pretty important as barriers for people who are working on or managing projects, but they aren’t studying to be a certified project manager can be high. Microsoft wants everyone to quickly get in, use this tool without the need for a deeper understanding of Earned Value or Process/Project management lingo.
I’m especially excited around this as the traditional parts of an organization (like finance, marketing) and nonprofit or NGO organizations who are very informal don’t have to learn lingo to quickly manage projects.
You can quickly move columns by dragging them or going in between the columns to resize them
Adding Tasks while in the grid view keeps you moving as you type, so you don’t have to move and grab a mouse. If you are already using your mouse, you can easily just click “add new task” at the bottom left.
And as seen above, you can just as easily manage the hierarchy our outlining of your new tasks, copy, paste or remove them by simply clicking on the ellipsis.
At any time, you can also pull more people into your project, without having to add them to a task.
This allows you to have others collaborate on your project, without having to assign them work. You can, at any time add them to tasks, but you can quickly add, remove your team members and access to your project in just a few clicks.
Using the Timeline (formerly Gantt)
If you prefer using a more visual approach, Project for the Web gives you a Timeline View, which is called in Legacy Project (Gantt Chart).
The timeline view allows you to easily edit and managing links or relationships between tasks as well as copy and move work around in your Timeline view.
You can quickly zoom in or out and you can see the range of duration for any task you hover over (showing you the start and the finish dates)
You can still add resource or mark tasks complete in the view, including quickly having the timeline jump to anywhere a tasks schedule dates are (scroll to task).
If you want to see more details, you can click the ellipsis and open the details and continue managing details that were showing in the Grid view, like effort, bucket information and dependencies.
What you may not notice is that you can now add Notes (Text, Hyperlinks and additional details at the top of the details view). Definitely a similar experience that we have seen, and end users love from O365 Planner.
Using the Board View (Being Agile with Boards)
If you like the simplicity of using Kanban, White Boards with Sticky Notes or using AzureDev Ops or Jira cards for quickly moving tasks, work and assignments around, then look no further, Project for the Web delivers a Board view just for that.
You can group or change the view (just like you do in O365 Planner) to present the cards or tasks and managing them by dragging and dropping.
In this next example, you can see I’ve set up some sprints and also a “Done-Done” bucket (because you never know if something is done, until it’s done-done… ?)
You can still edit your dates, mark them complete by checking the little circle and see the tasks moved to a completed section of your bucket.
What I found rather endearing is when you click the circle to mark a task complete, if you have your sound on, it makes a little chime (called sonic indicators)… like every time you get a task complete, an angel gets its wings. ?
At some point through the User Voice channel we should lobby the Microsoft Project engineering team to create a score/leaderboard for those who accomplish the most tasks (see the future Advisicon Power BI blog for more on this one… ?)
Simplicity in Design
Project for the Web is designed for simplicity and ease of use. You don’t have to build a separate resource pool first, setup complex security groups, spend days learning how to configure enterprise templates and custom fields, views and groupings.
You just turn it on and start working and adding resources and assignments. No need to save, publish, check in or check out. This allows for multiple people to be working in it at the same time (coauthoring), which is standard with Office 365 now and is an expected feature for web-based technologies.
This re-designed experience is just what the end user needs. Quick, efficient, not complex, yet powerful enough to create dependencies and links allowing work to move forward and backward in time as you progress your schedule.
Leveraging Office 365 Security Groups
Later we will have more advanced topics around security, but I wanted to answer the initial questions around how Project for the Web handles security.
Project for the Web is using Office 365 Groups to handle its security. This is the same model that is now becoming standard in Office 365. It’s robust, easy to manage and aligns with the rigorous security standards set forth by Governments, Agencies and other security organizations.
What I also like is that if you are using both Project Online (Legacy Project) and Project for the Web (Modern Project), you can leverage tools like Roadmap (above), that come with project and actually have 2 different security models, but bring information together into a single view based on your permissions to see, share or show project information.
Integrate Project for the Web with Teams & Power BI
One of the key values of any software or technology is the ability to leverage Machine Learning and predictive analytics to improve performance. The best way for this is through reporting. Now while you have many tools that can generate reports. Microsoft’s Power BI already has a report pack you can use for both Project/Project Online (Legacy Project) and now for the Modern Project experience with Project for the Web (P4W).
Here is an example of the native Power BI report pack available for you to connect and use in reading from both your current Project Online (Legacy) AND your new Project for the Web (P4W).
If you notice on the left-hand side, there are different tabs (these used to be on the bottom of the report window) so you have multiple types of reports as shown below, where it focuses on the Resource Assignments Report.
Microsoft’s goal was to continue supporting the using of their new platform CDS (Common Data Service) to enable Project teams and customers to help continue to get and surface visibility to work, tasks, issues, risks and other related items from Project schedules, regardless of what version you were using.
They are supporting multiple scenarios of Project since this out-of-the-box template is a starting place you can continue building and growing your information or fine tuning this in the standard Office 365 tools.
How to Get Started?
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us directly for a free/no-cost demonstration, conversation or to just have us help you think through how you would use this with your existing Project Online instance or if you are a first time user of Project.
We can help you map out what is the right version and approach that fits your organization or personal needs.
What is fun about this is, that Microsoft Project for the Web will continue to grow in capabilities and features over time.
As a Gold Microsoft Partner, Project MVP company, we will know what the latest updates are and also what is coming so you can plan ahead and maximize what will work for you.
As teachers, trainers, coaches and technologists we love helping our customers leverage better tools and technologies with best practices.
I hope to speak with you about this latest release to the Project, Program and Portfolio (PPM) family of tools.
~Tim Runcie, PMP, MCP, MCTS, MVP
About Advisicon Inc.: Advisicon is a project management and software implementation company that specializes in helping companies develop ways to streamline and manage their processes, systems and, portfolios.
Advisicon specializes in blending project management and technology. Everyone does projects, programs and events, but they don’t always use the best tools or software for the job. Our mission is to deliver technology, tools and training to maximize impact, productivity and purpose.
Companies of all sizes have been entrusting Advisicon experts to manage their Project, Program and Portfolio systems for over 25 years. We are a Gold level Project Partner with Microsoft. Our headquarters are located here in Vancouver and we care about our local community as well as our PM community of practice! Call us at 1-866-36-ADVIS or fill out the contact form for a free consultation or demonstration.