What Can the New Microsoft Project and PPM for Power Apps Accelerator Do for Modern Project Management?

The new Microsoft Project for the Web (Project Plan 1), offers an additional Microsoft 365 cloud service for planning projects and tasks – in addition to Project Online and Planner. This new service is targeted at users involved in collaborative work management who plan simple rather than complex projects.

The price of Project for the Web (Project Plan 1) is $10 per month (source: Microsoft). If you already have a Project Plan 3 (previously Project Online Professional) or Project Plan 5 (previously Project Online Premium) license, the new service is available at no extra cost.

With the Project for the Web Accelerator / PPM for Power Apps Accelerator, Microsoft now provides a free enhancement, e.g. for program management. More detail at the bottom of the page.

Easy Way to Get Started in Modern Project Management

Microsoft Project for the Web (Plan 1) offers an easy-to-use range of functions which will be expanded in the next years. The functional scope was designed to enable a future migration from Project Online to the new Microsoft Project Plan 1. Until then, Microsoft recommends using both products in parallel based on the projects’ complexity.

Project for the Web still has a long way to go before providing the same functionality as Project Online. However, Microsoft is continuously developing the new cloud tool (roadmap of planned changes). 

First on the list is the now available import of Project Desktop MPP files with the following possibilities (as of 6/2021):

  • Project: Project name and start date are imported.
  • Tasks: Tasks are imported with the correct hierarchy, the start and finish date, the duration, the effort, the completed effort and the percentage of completion.
  • Dependencies: All Finish-to-Start dependencies are imported.
  • Constraints: The constraints ASAP, Start No Earlier Than and Finish No Earlier Than are imported.
  • Custom fields: Up to 10 local custom fields per MPP file can be imported.

The table below shows further limitations in comparison with other tools such as Project for the Web Accelerator, Project Online or TPG ProjectPowerPack.

The available functions currently focus on simple scheduling.

  • You can create summary tasks, tasks and milestones and link them with end-to-start relationships.
  • You can also specify the duration in days, the effort in hours (completed + remaining = total) and % complete.
  • The formula for converting duration to effort (and vice versa) uses an eight-hour day and this begins as soon as a person is assigned. If more than one person is assigned, the effort is increased but the duration remains the same.

Comprehensive scheduling with different link types or intervals is not available yet. Moreover, the critical path and the task drivers cannot yet be displayed in the same way as in Project Online. Baselines and costs are not yet available. Up to 10 custom fields per project can be created locally. In this context, the following field types are for instance available: Text, date, number (decimal), Rollup possible (with additional information), Yes/No, selection field.

Arguments in Favor of Project for the Web

Modern Views

The new Microsoft Project offers a nice mix from traditional and agile best practices. The Timeline view displays a Gantt chart and the Board shows all tasks as cards with status and additional information.

Co-Authoring: Collaboration on a Project Plan

One of the key advantages of the new service compared to Project Online is the ability to work together on a project plan, which is referred to as “co-authoring”.

Carefully delegating parts of the plan to individuals can simplify the planning work. All members of the Microsoft 365 group belonging to a project may edit the schedule simultaneously. Changes by other users are shown immediately. This allows for teamwork while building the schedule.

Simple Resource Management

The resources in Project for the Web are derived from a new or existing group in Microsoft 365 Groups. There is no resource pool for cross-project planning as in Project Online. Capacities or costs of resources do not exist at the moment.

If several people are assigned to an activity, it is not possible to differentiate who is responsible for completing each part. An app for time reporting is currently not available.

Assignment and time reporting may be integrated with Dynamics 365 in the future. Specific information is not yet available.

TPG ProjectPowerPack – Enhancement for Project for the Web

Quickly implemented, best-practice solution for multi-project and portfolio management. Significantly greater functionality than Project for the Web due to its enhancement with Microsoft 365 standards.

Learn more here

New Technical Base

Unlike Project Online, Project for the Web is not based on SharePoint but rather on Microsoft 365 Groups and the new Dataverse (formerly CDS). This provides users with a platform that can be extensively adapted to their individual requirements using Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate. New tables such as risks, issues and other lists can be created and analyzed in connection with the new service’s projects and tasks.

However, you will need separate licenses to edit and use Power Apps and Power BI and Power Automate making this option considerably more expensive.

In Project for the Web, the following limits are sufficient for small to medium-sized projects and should not be a problem for simple use cases:

  • 500 tasks
  • 20 links per task
  • 600 max. number of task links (predecessors)
  • 20 people per task
  • 150 max. number of persons
  • 10 levels with summary tasks

Report Pack for Power BI

From day one, Microsoft offers a free report pack for Power BI with a number of useful reports. Some of them display portfolio level information across all projects.

Project Online and Project Server Remain Available

Project Online will be available and maintained in terms of security and performance. Microsoft says that it will continue to fully support it.

Users can therefore rest assured that their investment is safe and continue to use Project Online with all its functions for company-wide project and portfolio management in building their environment.

For local installations, standard support for Microsoft Project Server 2019 will remain available until September 1, 2024, and extended support until July 14, 2026.

The projects from Project Online and Project for the Web can be accessed via Project Home and can be jointly analyzed in Project Roadmap and via Power BI.

According to the latest information, there are currently no plans to integrate it with Planner or Project Desktop Client, contrary to the announcement made in 2018. However, Microsoft wants to integrate the features that are most frequently requested in User Voice. So, this integration may happen someday after all.

Beginning Oct. 28, 2019, the services will be named as follows:

  • The new Microsoft Project is included in the Project Plan 1 subscription
  • A subscription Project Online Professional will now be called Project Plan 3 (includes also Plan 1)
  • A subscription Project Online Premium will now be called Project Plan 5 (includes also Plan 3 and Plan 1)
  • A subscription Project Online Essentials has been renamed to Project Plan 1 and includes the former Essentials and current Project for the Web

Our Evaluation of Project for the Web

Project for the Web offers an easy and attractive entry to the world of classic project planning in combination with agile work management.

It offers a timeline with linked tasks and a board view – a combination that makes a lot of sense in terms of usability and acceptance. The possibility to work in parallel on a schedule is highly welcomed by users from agile methods. So, if all you want to accomplish is simple scheduling for a small team and you don’t need any resource management features, timesheets and such, it should be sufficient for your needs. We look forward to seeing which functions Microsoft will implement next.

TPG ProjectPowerPack – Enhancement for Project for the Web

Quickly implemented, best-practice solution for multi-project and portfolio management. Significantly greater functionality than Project for the Web due to its enhancement with Microsoft 365 standards.

Learn more here

Project for the Web Accelerator / PPM for Power Apps Accelerator

PPM for Power Apps Accelerator is a free enhancement for Project for the Web. It is a preconfigured Power Apps instance opening up the following additional possibilities:

  • Change management with overviews on risks, issues, changes, status reports, KPIs, control (Governance)
  • Idea management
  • Program management

If required (provided the necessary know-how is available), the solution can be adapted and enhanced to meet individual requirements. An enhancement of this kind with many additional features is TPG ProjectPowerPack.

Compared to Project Online, PPM for Power Apps Accelerator still has a lot of limitations (e.g. a maximum of 500 tasks, reduced link types, missing baselines, etc.).