As Microsoft closed out the third day of their massive conference in Chicago they have laid out a clear vision for the future of PPM. Twenty-three thousand attendees are navigating the maze of the McCormick Place and the Project related sessions have been packed. This post will summarize the messaging that has been handed down by their team, and I will be diving deeper into some of the changes coming to Project Online and Project Server 2016. Note: All screenshot slides are from Microsoft’s official presentation.
“Cloud First, Mobile First” has been the mantra at almost every session, and Project is no exception. Project Online and Project Pro for Office 365 were key discussion points. Microsoft has now made available as of last week the Public Preview of Office 2016 and this includes Project Professional 2016. Project Server 2016 will be released alongside SharePoint 2016 (expected Mid-2016) and yet key features in Project Server 2016 are going to be deployed to Project Online this year. What users need to understand is that in a world of Rapid Development Microsoft is going to be updating their cloud solutions first and often. Notice the key points in Microsoft's "Changing World" slide.
Microsoft has categorized its investments across three Key Pillars: Desktop Enhancements, Resource Management and IT Value. These represent what Microsoft has spent the most time on when preparing for the next version of Project Server.
Multiple Timelines is a nice feature that allows project managers to further break down their timeline and show it across multiple dimensions. The interface looked to be drag and drop and very simple to utilize. The additional timelines function the same way as the main timeline allowing simple exporting to other applications such as PowerPoint.
App Write back is going to be a game changer for App developers.
Now developers can create Project Add Ins that not only demonstrate what may need to be changed in a Project Schedule but now they can allow the change from the App. This will make apps infinitely more useful in the future.
One of the features that I was most excited about seeing was the more fluent UI. This feature sounds general and I am sure that there are multiple areas where it is improved but one key are I noticed was the search bar at the top of Office Apps. This bar allowed you to use common language to search for functions and have those results be clickable. This is huge for new Project Managers or anyone who cannot find that rarely used item in Project.
Microsoft is laying out an entirely new feature for organizations to take advantage of and they are building it on top of something that has existed for years. The resource plans in Microsoft Project Server are being completely overhauled to now incorporate Resource Manager’s input. Now Project Managers can work directly with Resource Manager to get the right person for their projects. Resource Plans are also brought into Microsoft Project Professional for easy editing and real time sync. This is a topic that I will dive into in greater detail in future blog posts.
In a move Microsoft made approximately six months ago, future versions of Project Server will now have ZERO databases. This is because they have integrated the SharePoint Content DB and the single Project Server database from 2013. This is a clear example of the cloud driving decisions since Microsoft is currently managing all of these databases in the cloud. This also means that every future installation of SharePoint will also technically have Project Server available to be turned on.
Enterprise reporting and enhancements in the Team foundation server synchronizations were discussed but what is really exciting is the ability to leverage Power BI. The natural language dashboard building that creates the query on the fly is the future of reporting. Now your PMO reporting analyst can create dashboards in record time, with little interaction with a Database Administrator while delivering the report that will work across all devices.
There is a lot of information to digest and a lot of walking taking place out here in Chicago. As we take a deeper dive into each of these areas we will have future posts with additional insight. Were there topics you were interested in? If so leave your comments below.