Microsoft Stack Part 4: Project Management

Microsoft: Project Management Applications

Project

Project is a project management software that is available through the cloud, known as Project Online, and on premises, known as Project Server. It enables project managers to plan and organise projects, assign and schedule tasks, track and monitor progress, manage budgets, analyse workloads and generate reports. Project comes with pre-built templates of a range of project management documentation, which reduces the time wasted on starting these documents from scratch and allows users to focus their efforts on more valuable tasks.

It is also possible to build custom templates to suit specific project types, or that could be used across multiple projects.

Project has a range of functionality that users can utilise. For example, users can easily track the availability of resources that an organisation has at its disposal. Each resource within an organisation is given a calendar that lists its availability and Project is able to schedule tasks based on these calendars.

Some of the main functionalities are:

  • Planning & Scheduling
  • Project Timeline View
  • Collaboration
  • Reporting
  • Resource Management
  • Multiple Projects
  • Different Views
Image result for microsoft project 2019

An additional bonus is in dealing with ‘What If’ scenarios. It’s common to be asked how timelines can be changed (usually to bring them forward) – Project allows you to easily go back and modify the criteria (eg resource availability, parallel-pathing of tasks, etc) to see if a more appealing scenario could be an option.

Project Online, the cloud-based solution, is available on a per-user monthly subscription plan with the options for the Essentials, Professional and Premium packages. It also integrates natively with Office365, for seamless working. This allows the various Office365 applications to be included and utilised for their functionality

Project Server comes in two versions, Standard and Professional, and is available for an upfront fee.

Planner

Image result for microsoft planner logo 2019

Microsoft Planner is a project management solution which allows has a range of functionality to assist project managers in their role, for example creating plans, scheduling and distributing work, tracking progress and managing time. Using Planner enables project teams to easily share their documents to the whole by uploading them to a central repository, which allows organisations to increase collaboration, transparency, coordination and team working.

Much like the other applications in the Microsoft family, users benefit from Planner’s close integration with other Office 365 applications, such as Outlook, SharePoint and Teams.

Planner uses task cards arranged into columns, with a set of columns forming a ‘board’ for a project. This allows the tasks to be viewed visually at a high level, being able to easily see how/where they are included in the project.

A common use for Planner is in Incident Management. For example, there could be columns for New Issue, Evaluating, In Progress, Closed. Tasks raised would be progressed through the different stages, and would be allocated to an individual to take control of.

Planner is available on the following Office 365 subscriptions: Enterprise (E1, E3 and E5), Education, Business Essentials and Business Premium. It is not available for personal use.

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