Digital Collaboration on a New Level
Microsoft Project for the web (Pftw) together with the Project Accelerator and Teams create a very compelling Collaborative Work Management (CWM) solution for organizations. Current and future planned capabilities for Pftw and the Project Accelerator provide a complete set of features to accelerate delivery of work and business outcomes for any organization. Since its inception in 2011, the Office 365 cloud is the established leader in collaboration technology for a digital workplace. The addition of Pftw, the Project Accelerator App in Microsoft Teams, provides the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide a Collaborative Work Management solution to all users in an organization.
What is Collaborative Work Management?
Collaborative work management has become an important solution type for an organization to improve the way work is completed and business outcomes accomplished. With the increase in remote work from the global pandemic, the need for strong collaboration and work management is more of an imperative for organizations. Collaborative work management evolved from Software as a Service (SaaS) work and task management solutions. As digital collaboration demands increased for knowledge workers, traditional workplace productivity tools evolved into Collaborative Work Management. In 2019, Gartner defined collaborative work management as products that combine “task, project, workflow and automation capabilities with conversations, content publishing, reporting, analytics and dashboards”(1).
It is important to note that CWM solutions are different than the traditional Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions that manage portfolio, project, resource, and financial management from a top-down perspective and are used mostly by enterprise project management offices. A hallmark of CWM solutions is their easy-to-use experience for non-technical business users that allows work planning and execution in a digital collaboration platform. CWM products empower self-directed and remote teams to work effectively with a degree of autonomy and self-service, within a governance framework of safety guardrails and constraints. Empowering self-directed teams to work with flexibility and transparency improves both team effectiveness and overall enterprise agility.
(1) Gartner, Inc., Collaborative Work Management in the New Work Nucleus, Published 22 October 2019 – ID G00355467
Project for the web and the Project Accelerator
Microsoft Project for web, introduced in November 2019 allows a user in Office 365 to create projects intuitively in a Grid, Board and Timeline views with task in a variety of work modes (waterfall, agile, task list) including if required, dependencies and assignment of tasks to any team member in the organization’s Office 365 tenant. With the use of Microsoft 365 Groups, the rest of the collaboration features in Office 365 are bundled together with a Project for the web provide a complete digital workplace collaboration experience. This includes creating Teams workspaces with Project for the web imbedded directly in Teams.
The Project Accelerator, soon to be part of the default Project App in Microsoft Dataverse, was created to enhance the experience of Project for the web with the Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI). The Project Accelerator provides a foundational application for an organization to plan and track a project, program (and/or Portfolio) inventory with greater detail. The focus on Requests, Programs and Projects is an excellent starting point to obtain real-time visibility into execution of Projects and Programs with individual and summary with status roll-ups. The best part of the Project Accelerator is that can be easily adjusted to meet the specific requirements of an organization. Created as a Power Apps Model App, any Power Apps user with the requisite training can adjust the Tables and Fields that make up the Project Accelerator.
By leveraging the Power Platform, the ability to create notifications and workflows with Power Automate is native to the Project Accelerator. Also, a Power BI set of dashboards and reports already created as part of the Project Accelerator, completes the CWM capabilities. As the market leading Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform, Power BI is an excellent complement to Project for the web and Power Apps in the Project Accelerator. Listed below, are the most important Collaborative Work Management Capabilities and the Microsoft Product Capabilities and Features from Project for the web, the Project Accelerator and Teams that cover the stated capabilities.
One of the primary goals of CWM is to empower self-directed teams to work with autonomy using self-service digital products. By using the Microsoft platform, the product capabilities of CWM are provided in addition to the security and governance of the Microsoft 365 platform. Team effectiveness increases when everyone in the organization can be given access to a comprehensive application platform and the data to report completed work that results in aggregate business outcomes.
The Case Microsoft Collaborative Work Management
Project for the web and the Project Accelerator can be deployed at a department or group level as well as an enterprise level. An organization can eliminate CWM “shadow IT”, reducing spend in external SaaS solutions that are not integrated into the security and application landscape of the Microsoft 365 platform.
Relying in the Office 365 and Power Platform also provides the ability to enforce the necessary level of governance as well as accommodating for business specific requirements that can be addressed through individual Model Apps, Workflows and Reports for different parts of the organization. If an Enterprise Standard for CWM is also desired, it can be met through templates for different types of solutions to drive common processes and data elements for project and portfolio management.
Easy to Get Started
Project for the web (Plan 1, Plan 3, and Plan 5) is assigned to users as an additional product license by an Office 365 Administrator. Product trials for Project for the web are available to test users. The Project Accelerator (Power Apps Model App and Solution) is currently available for download and installation at no cost. It is expected that Microsoft Project Product Team will make available the Project Accelerator as part of the default Project App in Power Apps sometime in the 1st calendar quarter of 2021.
An organization can install the Project Accelerator and make any changes required to the solution and App to meet any specific planning and tracking Requests, Projects, Programs (and/or Portfolio) requirements. The Project Accelerator includes a Power BI pre-built content pack that is also available for editing. With respect to workflows and notifications, a Power Automate Project Request approval workflow is included as a sample workflow scenario for showcasing the workflow capabilities available out of the box.
Every organization that is currently invested in Office 365 and Microsoft technologies needs to evaluate Project for the web and the Project Accelerator. This set of technologies together with Teams and the existing offering in Office 365 will become the easiest and most cost-effective way to increase to harness the benefits from Collaborative Work Management.
OnePlan Solutions is a trusted global provider of digital transformation services and solutions, with expertise in portfolios of products, services, and projects. OnePlan is your “one-stop-shop” for business agility transformation in portfolio management with implementation services, education and training, customer support and advisory services. We strive to maximize your business outcomes and to create the shortest path to value.
In 2019 and 2020, OnePlan was awarded the Global Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year award and finalist demonstrating breakthrough customer impact and solution innovation.
Our numerous Microsoft credentials includes –among others– Microsoft Project and Teams, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, as well as key certifications in the Scaled Agile Framework.