Microsoft Project and Dynamics 365 Project Operations
Take a look at new project management options from Microsoft, and how they meet your project needs. From integrated experiences with Microsoft Teams using Project for the web, all the way to Project Operations in Dynamics 365 to support the delivery of project-based services with seamless integration into your ERP system, and manage all phases of your projects.
We’ve set out to take our mature project management engine with Microsoft Project, and make project management more accessible to everyone in your organization. George Bullock, joins host Jeremy Chapman, to share project management options for sophisticated projects.
Project for the web
Now use it within the context of Microsoft Teams. Easy to create and manage projects — see completed tasks, track progress, and modify details. Contacts are in Teams, natively, right in your directory service.
Dynamics 365 Project Operations
Project for the web capabilities are embedded within, so core project planning and resource management is the same. Expanded set of capabilities across sales management and project accounting. Easily manage your entire project life cycle, from planning to billing and finance.
02:32 — Project for the web in Teams
04:30 — How to manage a more sophisticated project
06:06 — Project Operations in Dynamics 365
08:46 — Billing capabilities
09:33 — Finance capabilities
09:59 — Set up: Project for the web
10:47 — Set up: Project Operations
11:27 — Wrap up
For more on how to set up Project for the web, go to https://aka.ms/ProjectMechanics
Request a trial for Dynamics 365 Project Operations at https://aka.ms/ProjectOperationsTrial
Try Project for the web at https://aka.ms/TryProjectNow
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- Up next, we look at project management options from Microsoft and how they meet your project needs, from integrated experiences with Microsoft Teams using Project for the web all the way to Dynamics 365’s Project Operations to support the delivery of project-based services with seamless integration into your ERP system to manage all phases of your projects from bidding to billing. So, George, it’s great to have you on.
- Well, thanks for having me.
- And thanks so much for joining us from home today. So one of the most popular topics for Microsoft Mechanics has always been around project management. So Microsoft has this really long history of building tools that span from task management and planning, formal project management, and even business operations. And today though, we wanted to focus more on that sophisticated end of the spectrum. So what’s new there?
- Well, we’ve really focused on making it easier for everyone to manage their work. And if you think about it, most of us are involved in projects every day. They can range from single initiatives that you may be collaborating on with your team, such as this video, actually. Or they can span an entire portfolio of interrelated initiatives and business processes across your organization. And also, there are project-based services that might be a primary driver for your business, especially if you’re in a business like consulting, where you’re managing everything from sales to running the project, as well as post-project billing and analytics.
- Right, and really the more accountability and dependencies involved, the more rigor that you need to be able to follow those projects through.
- Yeah, that’s exactly right. And we’ve set out to take our mature project management engine with Microsoft Project, and make the whole discipline of project management way more accessible to everyone in your organization. For example, Project for the web has been around for a couple of years now and can be used as your go-to tool if project management is your whole job focus. The good news is as an everyday user, you can also now use it within the context of Microsoft Teams. Project for the web and its rich scheduling and task management capabilities are also embedded in Dynamics 365 Project Operations. And by the way, this is the evolution of Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation. It gives you an expanded set of capabilities across sales management and project accounting for Project Operations and starts with sales and quotes, and goes through to planning and running the project and all the way to things like expenses, invoices, and analytics.
- Right, and there’s also good news for IT that it’s built on top of the Power Platform. So you’ve had to deploy things like project servers in the past, all that pain’s going to go away and we’re covering both ends of the spectrum there then for work management. But can you give us a look of all the new tools?
- Sure. I’ll start with Project for the web in Microsoft Teams to show you how easy it is to create and manage projects. The first thing I’m going to do here is hit the plus sign to add a tab and I’ll add project. And you see now when I click into project I can either add an existing project to my team, or I can create a new one. I’ll go ahead and create a new one and give it a name, Marketing Plan, and click Save. And now this project is being attached to our channel and everyone on the team will be able to see it with access to the project. From here, we can start adding tasks. So I’ll add a few for email campaign, audience profile and storyboard. And from here I can also create a work breakdown structure. And in this case tasks 2 and 3, we’ll make those subtasks to our email campaign. And now I can begin assigning people; I’ll assign Adele for now.
- Right, and this is really a big deal because in the past, you’d have to manage another contact list of people that were defined as project resources, and now they’re just there natively in your directory service.
- That’s right, it’s a huge time saver for sure. Also the cool thing is if there’s someone that needs to be on this project that’s in our tenant, but not yet a member of this actual team, I can search for them. So here I’ll search for Brian Johnson and add him to the project. And I can also choose to add him to the team in Microsoft Teams, so he has the full experience including associated chat and files. And so now I have everyone in and I can lay out the project schedule. And you’ll notice there’s a Duration column here by default. So I’ll assign each task the number of days required. I’ll add start and finish date columns, and you can see the project uses today’s date as the default start date. Then behind the scenes, the scheduling engine will automatically calculate the finish date for each task. And now from here, I can add additional fields, including custom fields. And as I add a column, I can choose the data type. In this case I’ll choose Yes/No, and I’ll give this field the name Legal Review and hit Create. And now I can assign yes or no to each of my tasks. And that’s how easy it is to set up your project.
- Okay, but I have to say that was a pretty simple project, but can you show us what a more sophisticated project then might look like?
- Yeah, absolutely. Here I have a project for Cafe Grande 2000, and this one’s further along. So you can easily see completed tasks with green check marks and strikethrough texts. The tasks that are behind schedule are highlighted in red and tasks due tomorrow are highlighted in beige. So I’ll mark a few of these tasks complete. Now, if you look at this one here for Identify online opportunities, you can see that it has a dependency on defined launch goals, and I can easily modify all the details of this task from here. So now I’ll close this out. And of course, one of the most visual ways to track progress and view dependencies is through the timeline. And this is a great view that shows all the project tasks, how they’re related to each other, and when they’ll be completed. If I want, I can modify each task on the timeline by sliding them to the left or right, and I can shorten or extend their duration as well. Now, if I click into any of these tasks on the left, it gives me the details behind them, as you can see with this one. So let’s close this out and go to another useful view that we have here, which is the Board view. And this lets you categorize tasks by buckets. And it’s really easy to drag tasks between buckets. So I’ll drag a few of these tasks over into their corresponding buckets. Now we get a better idea in this case of the phases each task belongs to.
- So this is going to look pretty familiar, I think, to a lot of people in project management. Even you have no prior experience, it’s going to be easy to onboard, and the different views are going to give you options then for tracking their progress. This is great for managing everyday products, but you also mentioned before how we go beyond this with Project Operations in Dynamics 365, especially if you’re selling and running project-based services, but what does that experience then look like?
- Yeah, let me show you that. And the first thing you’ll notice is that because Project for the web capabilities are embedded within Dynamics 365 Project Operations, the core project planning and resource management is the same as Project for the web. But Project Operations goes far beyond this. It comes with a suite of capabilities that can help project leads, account managers, and project accountants more easily manage the project life cycle. So starting with deal management, Project Operations has robust estimation capabilities. As you can see here, the team for this project uses generic resources, so project managers can create accurate estimates. Account managers can then take these estimates and link them directly to project quotes, helping them create far more accurate quotes for their customers. Clicking on the Sales tab now, we can easily find the link quote. Now in the Profitability Analysis tab, account managers can even use these estimates to identify the potential gross margin for the project.
- Okay, so then once you’re ready to move forward with the project, how does Project Operations help you then assign the resources to carry out all of your planning?
- Well, project leads can now use the Schedule Board to easily see who is active on other projects, and if people with the needed skillsets have available time to staff the new project. So in this view, project leads can search by role, skillset, location, and a number of other valuable filters. And for this new project, they’ll need a site foreman who has a lot of project management experience. So after searching, we can see that Peter has plenty of free time to devote to this new project in the upcoming months. Then once you’ve selected your team and the project is kicked off, you have workflows in place to simplify time and expense management. In Time Entries, project team members can quickly add their time sheets by importing their hours from their current project or by simply manually adding them in. And for Expenses, we have two options. First, team members can submit their expenses using this simple experience here. If you want more advanced capabilities like OCR for receipt capture, we have an option for that as well to save time when submitting these expenses. Project Operations also integrates ERP capabilities for things like material sourcing. So here, for example, this project team is working to refurbish and rebrand a number of cafes. They’ve identified that they need to equip these cafes with all new equipment, like new coffee machines with material usage. So I’ll go ahead and add our A100 model in this case. And they can easily make sure the expense is accounted for and eventually invoiced to the customer.
- Okay, and I know that it can also be a challenge once you move into the billing aspects of a project, so what billing capabilities then come with Project Operations?
- Yeah, so we’ve just introduced a new feature, actually, that lets project leads define whether certain tasks of a project should be complimentary or not chargeable to the customer, like a proof of concept or pre-sales activities, while the remaining tasks may require a fixed fee or time and materials billing. So for this project, we can change just the planning activities to be complimentary. And project leads can even bill multiple organizations for different sets of tasks under the same project. Now switching to the Tracking tab, project leads can use this table you see to easily track the project from both an effort and a cost standpoint, and this helps make sure the project remains under budget.
- From a project accounting perspective, are there some additional finance capabilities here as well?
- Yeah, there are. Project Operations helps accounting teams manage all the financial aspects of a project, from project costing, to invoicing and revenue recognition. With Project Statements, for example, project accountants can monitor the latest project financials and make sure the project’s on the right track. As you can see here with profit and loss and also in this tab looking at consumption.
- Okay, so this is a really great set of integrated project management capabilities across Project for the web and Project Operations, but what do they take then to get set up?
- Let’s start with Project for the web and what I showed in Teams. So once your users are licensed, it’s really easy to set up. Because first, under the covers, we’re using Microsoft Dataverse, which provides a scalable and secure managed data layer as part of the Power Platform. And we provisioned this with a default environment as part of your enterprise Microsoft 365 subscription, so no architecture or servers to manage. Now, optionally, if you want additional compliance and control, or you want to scope usage across different departments, you can set up named environments and deploy Project for the web into those. For more on how to do that setup, you can go to aka.ms/ProjectMechanics.
- Okay, so what about Project Operations, what deployment options then do you have there?
- Well, depending on what you have now, there are a few paths you can take. First, we have a simple Lite deployment option. And then we have Project Operations for resource and non-stocked materials scenarios for when you don’t carry an inventory of materials or resources. And finally, we have Project Operations for stocked and production order scenarios. To help you determine which deployment is best in your case, we’ve created a deployment questionnaire with five questions. Once you’ve answered the questions, it’ll recommend a deployment option for you. And from there, the Begin Setup button will direct you right to the Lifecycle Services to enable it.
- Thanks so much, George, for walking us through all the options for detailed project management, whether you’re working in Teams or across multiple divisions inside your organization, but how can people then learn more?
- The great news is you can try both solutions for yourself. I recommend requesting a trial for Dynamics 365 Project Operations. You can do that at aka.ms/ProjectOperationsTrial. And for Project for the web, you can visit aka.ms/TryProjectNow.
- Awesome stuff, and of course, keep watching Microsoft Mechanics for the latest tech updates. Subscribe if you haven’t already, and we’ll see you next time.