Microsoft presented some interesting statistics in their Project and Portfolio Roadmap session during the Ignite Conference:
- 20 Million Users are using Microsoft Project
- 10,000 organizations are using Microsoft Project
- A new user is added Every 20 seconds
- Microsoft is the market leader in PPM software
This set the stage for the plans Microsoft laid out for the next year that I spoke about in my PPM Roadmap Post. In this article I wanted to go into a bit more detail on the upcoming features coming to Project Online over the next few months; features that will ultimately be available in Project Server 2016. To start out, it is important to stress, again, 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 Premise releases in Mid-2016.
Resource Management / Resource Engagement
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 manage the resource assignments more closely.
This functionality means changes to both PWA's resource center as well as new screens in Microsoft Project Professional 2016. The screenshot above shows the engagement information for a resource within Project Professional. This screen is tied to the Resource Plan tools. If you took advantage of Resource plans in PWA this functionality will seem familiar yet different. The Project Manager can now set a generic resource and request, from a resource manager, a named resource for a specific time period. This occurs in real time with no need to close and re-open the project schedule. A project manager will have a refresh button to see if any of his requests have been approved.
These resources (generic and named) will most likely benefit from the best practice of using a common role field to link named resources to generic resources. Role fields should be utilized to categorize resources in a manner that will match the generic resources in your templates. (e.g., IT Project Manager (generic resource) has a role of Project Manager which is the same role Stan Smith (named resource) has within the organization).
PWA now has a Resource Request screen which shows, very clearly the commitments that each resource has against specific projects.
New heat maps quickly and easily display the over and under allocations of resources for the resource manager. Along with these changes the resource center screens have been updated providing a more modern look and feel to the resource capacity and allocation graphs and tables.
The process flow and how this can be configured for various organizations still remains to be seen. The functionality was demonstrated at the conference but is not yet available for preview. How this will work with organizations with weak Resource Management processes, SharePoint vs. Project Permission modes and how conflicts will be resolved remains to be seen. Overall though this is a piece of functionality that clients need to help solidify their resource management processes
The Great Database Consolidation - Part II
Microsoft has once again consolidated the Project Server databases. This is no surprise for those who keep up with the infrastructure of Project Online but for those who will take advantage of Project Server 2016 this change has a lot of opportunities.
The Project Database is now a part of the SharePoint 2016 content database. This means that whenever you install SharePoint 2016 you have the ability to "turn on" Project Server. (Assuming you have the proper licensing and infrastructure setup).
This change is a perfect example of Microsoft learning firsthand the trials and tribulations of managing a cloud environment. The multiple databases have an associated infrastructure cost. Microsoft has found and is passing along the efficiencies they have learned to the next version of Project Server. If Project Online did not exist, this change would most likely never have occurred.
In my next post I will talk about PowerBi and how it will revolutionize dash boarding for Project Server data and possibly go into detail on some of the workflow improvements that are coming to Project Online. What are you most excited about in Project Server 2016? Did you miss the conference? Check out the replay here.