Want to know what's ahead with Microsoft Project 2016? At Microsoft Ignite #MSIgnite, Microsoft revealed some interesting new features coming to its desktop client within the next year. These upcoming features are coming to Project Professional and Project Online over the next few months; features that will ultimately be available in Project Professional 2016 and Project Server 2016.
To start out, it is important to stress that Microsoft Project Server 2016 is essentially available now in Project Online. Microsoft has been, and will continue to update Project Online with new features on an ongoing basis. These features will ultimately be bundled as part of the On Premises releases in Mid-2016.
In this post specifically, I will provide a slightly deeper dive into the Project Professional 2016 features that were discussed at the conference. I will go into the Project Online / Project Server 2016 features in future posts.
Project 2016 Preview is available now as a part of the Office 2016 Public Preview. In order to obtain this software you need to be a part of a preview program or change the settings in your Office 365 account in order to download the software. Microsoft has also made available a downloadable version of Office 2016 that is not click to run but I was unable to find a downloadable version of Project 2016 that was not click to run.
I will be doing further testing to see if this software can run side by side with other click to run versions (e.g., Office 2013, Project 2013) but what I heard in the halls at the conference was that it does not run side by side. It does however run side by side with non-click to run software. So Project 2013 or 2010 bought at the store or through your companies licensing program will run side by side fine. The installation was painless, a far cry from the problems I ran into a few years ago when click to run was introduced.
Project Professional 2016 Preview will connect to Project Server 2013 and has a few interesting new features: Multiple Timelines, Resource Engagement Functionality, the ability for apps to write back to the project file and a new interface for interacting with Office apps called the "Tell Me" bar.
The "Tell Me" bar has some interesting potential. Instead of simply asking questions and getting a dialog of canned help text this bar will allow you to interact with the program. As an example asking it how to "Change the Start Date" brings about options for you to modify the schedule right from the results. Clicking on the results brings the exact place you want to go. Microsoft mentioned that they are looking at the possibility of adding in tutorials and training aspects to the "Tell Me" bar.
Multiple timelines look like a great way to customize the ways a Project Manager can display their project data to stakeholders via Email or PowerPoint. A simple click on the Timeline Bar button adds one more timeline to your project schedule. Clicking it multiple times… well you get the idea. These timelines can each be customized with different colors and settings allowing for you to draw attention to specific phases or groups of tasks within the project schedule.
The resource engagement functionality allows the project manager or resource manager to associate resources with projects. Project Managers can request individuals and have those requests approved by a resource manager or the requests can be brought about from the Resource Manager who may be closer to the up to date availability of resources. This functionality was demonstrated and I plan to write a future blog post laying out my impressions and further details as they become available.
As new features become available I will post additional information. I look forward to seeing what App developers can do now that they can scan the entire schedule and write back to the project. These apps will be game changers in the future and help ensure consistent clean data goes into Project Server.