Office 365, Program Framework, Project Management Practice

The latest future of project portfolio management

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Technological innovation and the future share many parallels. Both are unpredictable, both are anticipated with enthusiasm by some (and with apprehension by others) and both come around faster than we ever think possible. The cloud and the great spread of connected devices and apps have transformed the way we communicate, collaborate, and accomplish our tasks. Project management within the enterprise is at the heart of this, and today we are looking at technological advancement and plans for future investment in Microsoft’s project portfolio management solution, Microsoft Project.

At Ignite, Microsoft told us more about how its PPM solution is working with various other Microsoft technologies—including Power BI, the Internet of Things, machine learning and bots. As well as this they also announced a series of updates to the Project Online cloud service and the Project desktop client. Today, we’ll look at the key takeaways you need to know about regarding the future of project management technology.

Visual project management

Project portfolio management today is more visual than ever. Today with the tools and technology at our disposal, we can pull in lots of information and data to help us complete our tasks. But the amount of data is massive and so one of the ways we can draw meaningful conclusions is through enhanced visualisations.

For example, if you are a small retailer who needs to renovate your store, the areas you need to focus on, or the personnel you need to assign tasks to, is all specific data and information that you can collect and use to make your renovation project go as smoothly as possible.

There is a lot of data that’s connected to these tasks, issues and decisions. The information has already been through the project management ringer (i.e. Microsoft Project – Gantt charts, workflows, etc.) and so we can safely say that it’s the right information that lives in the cloud. And from the cloud we can call it down and use the data to help inform our projects. But we also need to be able to make sense of all the information – Microsoft Project breaks down the information into easy to interpret visualizations, allowing you to draw better conclusions faster.

The future of the Project Manager

The whole process of project management is becoming a more inclusive team effort where input is received from everybody. Regardless of your expertise or skill level almost anyone can take part in a project because of the power and data that is available in the cloud, along with machine learning and the IoT. Since the data is already there, increasingly enriched and immediately available, it’s logical to reason that the role of the project manager will be more to do with putting the right people in the right positions to make the most of the data and make the project run most efficiently. The physical work of driving projects will change. It will be a more automated process.

Self-driving projects

Microsoft Project is both a desktop and mobile solution, inherently connected to multiple users, built on Office 365 and connected to the cloud. So, that means in a practical way it is a fully connected experience. Because it’s built on the cloud, updates and improvements Microsoft make to Office 365 and Microsoft Project will be available instantaneously. Plus, all the productivity advantages that you get from Office 365, whether enterprise social networking, document sharing, collaboration or real time communication in Skype for Business – are all built into the PPM solution.

Continuous innovation

What we can take from Ignite 2016 is that business technology and process are certainly not standing still and that’s why Microsoft are continuously investing in innovation and improvements across their platforms and solutions. For Microsoft Project this means:

Out-of-the-box reports

Portfolio dashboards

  • Power BI content – gather visual insights from Power BI automatically, and quickly create pre-built Power BI dashboard for project, cost, resource, etc. using data from Project Online.
  • Leverage industry best practices – gaining portfolio-level insights with dashboards built on industry best practices
  • Drill down for more details – investigate and evaluate specific metrics, like cost variance, for example, to compare projects across similar features

Native apps across devices

  • Data is often complex and can be difficult to interpret but with highly visual reports, insights can be gleaned much more quickly and barriers and pain points overcome.
  • Time reporter mobile apps – now it’s even easier to add time and task entries updates on the move.

PPM integration platform

  • Connect to already made templates – Project Online can now be connected with third party apps, automate workflows and crate flows for external apps. Automating time-consuming (often mundane) processes frees up time for more creative aspects of a project for your team.
  • Integration with PowerApps
  • Simplify and streamline your most tedious tasks by designing an app that takes care of them.

Coming soon

Another interesting aspect to Ignite is what Microsoft see as important next steps and future updates. Microsoft has a commitment towards a more intuitive user experience of the platform. But specifically, we can look forward to:

External users

The ability to share data and project management processes and licenses with external users.

Project desktop updates

There will also be updates coming to Project for desktop, with enhancements to timelines as well as enhancements to accessibility and extensibility.

Team tasks and multi assignment

The idea here is for multiple team resources to be readily available to complete a task. This is a push for more agile working, where resources can be applied or tasks can be completed by anyone if needed.


Program Framework are the Project and Portfolio Management experts. Contact us today to find out how we can help you make the very most from your Microsoft investment, now and into the future.