In many organizations, the definition of a project and how work is managed has changed.
No longer the purvey of qualified project managers working with complex software, projects are owned by every team.
Projects can take days or months, be managed by a small team or by a large cross-functional team, or delivered by remote teams.
The tools and processes used to deliver projects have also changed, with light-touch applications becoming more popular.
In this post, we’ll explore Microsoft’s cloud-based offering, Project for the web. We’ll cover the basics of the app and how to plan a project with the tool.
What is Project for the web?
Project for the web provides simple, powerful work management capabilities and can be used by project managers and team members to plan and manage work of any size. – Microsoft
Launched in 2019, Project for the web is a light, browser-based project management tool from Microsoft.
With this tool, teams can plan and manage projects using three views: Grid (work breakdown structure), Board, and Timeline (Gantt).
Using Roadmap, senior executives and managers can track multiple projects in a single timeline.
Project for the web offers more functionality for managing schedules than Planner but is not as complex as Microsoft Project.
Project for the web is built on the Power Platform; data is stored in Common Data Service.
The application is also built on Microsoft 365 Groups with the same membership and security options. As you’ll see later on, task assignments are based on groups.
Log into Project for the web at https://project.microsoft.com/ or via the Microsoft 365 app launcher menu.
Project for the web is not included in Microsoft 365 subscriptions. The following plans include Project for the web, with pricing starting at €8.40 per user, per month:
- Project Plan 1 (Project for the web only)
- Project Plan 3 (Project for the web, Project Online, and Project Online desktop client)
- Project Plan 5 (Project for the web, Project Online, and Project Online desktop client).
Read-only licenses are also included with certain subscriptions.
What’s included in Project for the web?
Project for the web is suited to light projects, teams who are new to project management, and individuals who manage projects from time-to-time.
Let’s take a look at key features in Project for the web.
- Web-based: Manage your project within your browser from any location or device. Updates are automatically saved as you work.
- Real-time co-editing: With co-authoring, multiple team members can update tasks at the same time. There is no need to check the project in or out or to close a project to allow another user to access the content.
- Home: The home page displays recent projects, favorites (projects and roadmaps), projects created by you or shared with you, and projects from Microsoft Project.
- Roadmap: A custom dashboard of multiple projects displayed as a timeline.
- Project Views and Methods: Project teams can easily switch between Waterfall and Agile methods in the same project. The Grid view is based on a traditional work breakdown structure, with tasks and subtasks. The Board view supports Agile and Kanban methods, with a similar interface to Planner. With the Timeline view, tasks and dependencies are rendered as an interactive Gantt chart.
- Task dependencies: Unlike Planner, project managers can set dependencies between tasks.
- Reorder tasks: Re-order tasks with simple drag and drop functionality or group tasks under a summary task.
- Customize Columns: Add, remove, and re-order columns in Grid view.
- Copy projects: A recently introduced feature that allows project managers to copy existing project sites.
- Microsoft Teams: Add a link to the project plan in Microsoft Teams.
In the next section, you’ll see how to plan a project to install new meeting rooms with Project for the web.
Plan and manage a project with Project for the web
- Start by navigating to Home in Project for the web. Click ‘new blank project’ at the top of the page. This action opens a blank project template in Grid view.
- Next, add basic details to your project. Click ‘untitled project’ to open a side pane with dates, duration, and % complete.
- Start adding tasks. Don’t worry about the order of tasks or subtasks – it’s easy to update the list later on.
- Update the out-of-the-box task list with more columns. Use ‘Add Column’ to update the list with % complete, start date, finish date, and depends on. You can also create a custom column field and re-order the display of the columns.
- Before assigning tasks to the team, you may wish to tidy up the list. Drag and drop tasks into the correct order.
- To add a subtask, right-click on three-dot ellipses and select ‘make sub-task’. Note – you cannot add duration or owners to a summary task
- Next, add dependencies. As I’ve added the column, ‘Depends On’, I click into that field beside the task and select the predecessor.
- Tasks can also be edited by clicking the ‘i’ on each task to open the side pane or by using the Board view.
- Now, it’s time to create a project team and assign tasks. As mentioned above, Project for the web uses Microsoft 365 groups for sharing. This means you’ll need to create a new group or use an existing group for tasks. In this example, I have created a new group with four team members.
- Select the task and click the ‘Assigned to’ field to access the list of group members. Click the relevant individual (s) to assign the tasks.
At this point, you have planned your project, created tasks, and assigned work to the team.
As the project progresses, you can continue to work in Grid view or switch to Board and Timeline.
Board is a visual way to manage tasks by buckets. The cards display the task, duration, due date, and owner.
Completed tasks are indicated by a strikethrough in Grid view or are categorized as ‘Completed’ under the relevant bucket in Board view.
Use the Timeline view to track progress and dependencies in a Gantt chart. Change task dates, durations, and dependencies with drag and drop functionality, or edit each task individually.
Use Roadmap in Project for the web
Roadmap is an easy way to see track multiple projects in one place. Users can add or remove projects as needed, making it easy to customize the view for stakeholders, departments, or by time period.
Users with Project Plan 3 or 5 can create and share roadmaps.
To create a new roadmap, navigate to the home page in Project for the web and select the drop-down arrow beside ‘new blank project’.
Click on ‘untitled roadmap’ to open the side pane. Update the name of the roadmap and search for the first project you’d like to add as a row.
Next, add tasks to the timeline and assign an owner.
Add additional projects by selecting ‘add row’.
In this view, you can update the status of each task to help users quickly understand the health of the portfolio. Below, tasks flagged as green are on track whilst tasks marked as yellow are at risk.
In her free time, she enjoys a challenging session at the gym, tucking into a good book, and walking the beautiful Galway coastline with her dog.