Microsoft has recently announced a new vision for its popular project portfolio management (PPM) solution, Microsoft Project. In this post, we will look at what this new vision entails and explore the pros and cons of Microsoft Project in its new form.
The modern world of projects
With over 20 million users worldwide in over 10,000 organizations, Microsoft Project has been around for over 30 years. It was first released in 1984 for DOS; and it made its first appearance on Windows in 1990.
The world of business has changed a lot since then, and project management has evolved too. Over the years, Microsoft have added more and more functionality to Microsoft Project to meet the demands and expectations of its customers. But in recent years, the rate of technological change has accelerated at such a pace that Microsoft Project has began to fall behind some of its competitors in terms of its relevancy in the digital workplace.
Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, described the changes to project management in recent years:
“Once a well-defined set of tasks, people, and milestones, today’s projects take on many shapes and sizes. They can be formal or ad hoc. They can last a few hours or go on for years. They can be assigned to a small group or cut across many large organizations.”
The new vision for Microsoft Project is to make it more flexible and malleable for project managers who need to “stay on top of the ever-shifting requirements” of the modern workplace.
So, what’s new?
Microsoft has announced several exciting new features for Microsoft Project – some of which are available now, others will be rolled out over the next 12 months.
The introduction of a ‘Home’ page is perhaps the most significant of the new changes. Home gives users a central place from which to view and manage all the projects that are currently on the go. From Home, users can create projects.
Home is available today.
Roadmap provides a “cross-functional, big picture” view into all projects that are in progress. It provides a detailed timeline for multiple projects (including key dates and milestones) that can be accessed whether using Microsoft Project or Azure DevOps. It is Microsoft’s attempt to make portfolio management more “simple, visual, and intuitive”.
Roadmap is available early 2019
Project Management Service
Microsoft say that the new Project Management Service will help project managers create projects and will be accessed from the Home page. Other than this information, there’s little else announced about it so far – definitely one to keep an eye on.
Project Management Service will be available in the first half of 2019
The pros and cons of Microsoft Project
Let’s look at the pros and cons of Microsoft Project and its new vision.
- More visibility over projects – the modern workplace calls for flexible agile working. Project managers need greater visibility over their projects to ensure they can keep on top of everything.
- Even better integration with Microsoft apps – users working across different apps want to be able to switch between them seamlessly and to bring information from one app to another. By helping users navigate between apps, users get a better experience that will help productivity and improve project results.
Although these changes seem like positive steps, is it really doing enough to ensure that the needs of the project manager are met? The same issues remain that have always dogged project management, especially when it comes to resource management.
- Advanced features require training – Due to the wide range of features on Microsoft Project, it can be clunky, confusing, and unintuitive to use. Training is required to help users get to grips and to carry out sophisticated tasks. Other solutions provide a much better user experience.
- Not built for resource management – Microsoft Project tries to do too much, and, unfortunately, this means that its resource management functionality is not as streamlined as dedicated software, which can provide greater results.
- Lacks in-depth real-time reporting and analysis – Microsoft Project does have lots of reporting tools, however, it does not provide the quick and easy visibility that comes with some of its competitor solutions.
Why resource management is vital
Organizations need to put resources first – as it is your resources, namely your people, that actually get the work done. Therefore, it is ultimately resource optimization, i.e. how you allocate your resources, that will determine whether a project succeeds or fails. The only way to do this is through dedicated resource management software. Tempus Resource is award-winning software purpose-built for resource management. Featuring a powerful and sophisticated set of capabilities, Tempus Resource offers project managers everything they need to plan and execute projects in the modern workplace. Tempus Resource offers:
- Simple adding and importing of data
- 100% visibility over projects
- State of the art modelling and forecasting
- Powerful ‘what-if’ analysis
- Integration with all major PPM tools, including Microsoft Project
You can read more about Tempus Resource’s functionality here.
To learn more about Tempus Resource and how it can help you improve resource utilization for the projects at your organization, get in contact with us today.