Project Online – a compelling case for moving Project Management forward

Following the trend over the last few years away from native installations, Microsoft have now made their project management solutions available in the cloud in the form of Project Online. It’s a compelling option for Project Managers; more than simply moving MS Project onto the cloud, it offers full compatibility with SharePoint and integration with the whole Office 365 suite. With a facelift, a raft of new features and increased flexibility, it sits well with the all inclusive philosophy Microsoft envisage for the modern workplace.

While Project Online will be a logical choice for new subscribers, users with established project management software would be right to ask whether investing in the newest outing of MS Project offers any significant improvements for them and their business. In this post we’ll be looking at the most exciting features of the solution and explore what it can offer to different sets of users.

With Project Online, the aim has been to offer a tool that will streamline, simplify and socialise project management. Out are elaborate and confusing sales plans, confusing interfaces and systems that require advanced training. In are accessible working environments, real time reporting and connectivity from devices anywhere in the world.

Integration of Project Management across Office 365

Experienced users of MS Project will instantly notice some big changes in the look of Project Online, not only in terms of its design but also with its integration with Office 365 and SharePoint. Fitting nicely on top of this platform, Project Online meshes seamlessly with the Microsoft universe and the practical outcomes here are very attractive for users.


By speaking directly to Office 365 and SharePoint, Project Online can have a big impact on a business and your control over the progress of work. Project managers will be able to update lists and visualise the task completion rate of colleagues. Having this kind of oversight should have a significant impact on your ability to keep track of developments. Knowing who’s doing what, when things need to happen and where resources are found is essential for successful project management.


Placing their project management tools on the cloud is a smart move by Microsoft as it will also allow users to download Apps that will help with their specific needs. That’s great news because it means it should be much easier for you to modify the program for your own specific project needs. Further, placing Project Online on the Cloud cuts out the need to weigh down your servers with heavy programs. This is particularly attractive for SMEs and offers the flexibility to choose plans which reflect their needs. Not a bad offering.


New look


Since the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft have thrown their full support behind Tiles. Intended to display a clean cut user interface, they’re ubiquitous in Microsoft’s more recent products. It’s no surprise therefore that they have been incorporated into Project Online, and this will make it easier for new users to find their way around the platform.


The design of Project Online is all about simplification. Setting up new projects, outboarding, provisioning and ramping up are all much more simple to do, and again, this will open up project management to colleagues who may not have had advanced training. Popular aspects of MS Project have been retained, while common gripes have been replaced and improved on. To make finding work easier Project Online automatically opens up your most recent projects and being on the cloud, it works well in different browsers. It’s these kinds of added touches which make the system a pleasure to use.


Democratisation of Project Management


Perhaps the most striking feature of Project Online is that it encourages more collaborative, open and accessible project management. By being placed on the cloud – rather than in one colleague’s hard drive – the process of assigning tasks can be opened up easily to colleagues. It’s now easier to comment, discuss and edit the way in which a project is run. With permissions, staff involved in a project can participate in and view how a project is coming along. This not only lets them see what they need to be doing, but also means they will feel more involved in the success of ongoing work.


Project Online being integrated with SharePoint draws many of the benefits of this platform into project management work, and specifically it includes Lync. Discussions around the progress of a project, the allocation of resources and questions and queries can be discussed in real time with colleagues across your organisation. No longer will project managers be faced with situations where they must allocate resources and tasks from on high; they will now be able to discuss work in real time.


Business intelligence


Any Project Manager will tell you that the possibility of making decisions based on fact rather than shots in the dark is a game changer. Business intelligence is more important than ever these days and Project Online is a field leader when it comes to providing real time reports and stats to Project Managers. It compiles statistics which will tell you what resources you have and where they are in real time. As a result you can be confident that your project management decisions will be the best you can make on the evidence available.


The evolution of Project Management

With cloud based solutions looking increasingly to be the future for enterprises, Project Online makes a compelling argument for shifting your project work onto the cloud. Offering a wide range of improvements and facilities for businesses both large and small, we think Microsoft are offering a real game changer.

Article by Christine Stone, Program Framework