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May 22, 2021

Project Ideation with Microsoft Project Online

About This video

Join us as we demonstrate the project ideation capabilities within Microsoft Project Online. Project ideation, or Project Intake, is a mechanism that may be used to get project requests into the project online system. The Project ideation approach is one that involves using a SharePoint list as the location in which requests are entered into the system. In this case, the requests do not show up in Project Online until they have been approved to do so. This method has several advantages including keeping Project Center uncluttered and licensing. The SharePoint ideation list may be very robust as well. Power Automate or SharePoint Design may be used to create a workflow. The workflow would route the request through any necessary approvals. 

What is Ideation in Microsoft Project Online?

Ideation when used in conjunction with Microsoft Project Online and project intake, is a mechanism to bring about idea generation. Ideation is a way to use creativity and innovation in order to discover new solutions.

Ideation typically expands the space with which project requests are submitted to look “outside the box” of solving problems. In this manner, more innovative solutions to problems that affect a user’s experience of a solution.

Ultimately Ideation will help:

  • Get solutions out on the forefront, rather than in the minds of your users and team.
  • Bring to light unexpected and creative ways of doing things (innovation).
  • Step outside the box of what’s obvious.
  • Provide for more options in innovation and problem solving.
  • Use brainstorming to bring together various team members.

Ideation in Microsoft Project Online

In Microsoft’s PPM solution, ideation starts with a SharePoint list. The list is where the submitted ideas will reside as they go through brainstorming sessions and approval process. That approval process will ultimately decide if the idea is pursued in an actual project.

From a technical perspective, that means whether or not the idea request is promoted to a project. Once promoted it will reside in Microsoft Project Online.

Capturing the Idea

The SharePoint list will enable a project intake form that will capture information about the idea. What information is captured is dependent on the information required. Typically this is what the organization needs to know to make an informed decision on whether to act on the idea.

Fortunately SharePoint forms are highly configurable. This lends itself particularly well to satisfying all types of requirements as related to a project intake process for new ideas.

Then comes the workflow

Upon completing the form and submitting the idea request, the next logical step is some type of workflow taking over. The workflow will help ensure the idea is guided through a process of gathering sufficient information. Once gathered, that information will be reviewed by the appropriate persons. The entire process will be facilitated via email notifications.

In today’s environment we now have more flexibility than previously, since Power Automate is now an option for our workflow. Power Automate, known previously as Microsoft Flow, is an automation product from Microsoft that is part of the Power Platform. The product allows users of all technical abilities to build automation into everyday processes.

Which Technology to Use

Whether you choose SharePoint Designer or Power Automate, the workflow will ensure the idea is guided through the organizations review and approval process. If approved, the idea request will be promoted to a project, carrying over any required data from the SharePoint list. Once in Microsoft PPM, a realistic project will either be created from scratch or a template. From that point forward additional project management processes will take over to help ensure the project is executed successfully.

Considerations after promoting the request to a project will be those that are typical of any organization. Resource management considerations will need to determine if the organization has the resource availability to take on a new project. And if so, when may that project start?

Assuming the project plan is created from a template, it will need to be enhanced with the specifics of the idea. Using Microsoft Project and other project management tools, the team will need to get together to determine, define and sequence all the work of the project.


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