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Management Demands Answers
It's the moment every project manager dreads. You look at the tasks remaining on your team's list and realize you aren't going to meet the deadline. Your budget is on the line and your stakeholders are demanding answers.
How did you miss such key milestones? Why is the timeline so off track? How do you motivate your team to keep going now?
It's common for projects to veer away from their original plan. But if projects are slipping from your grasp, look into project management software.
Microsoft Project Online offers all the key functions a project manager will need. Don't let your next project fail. Keep every detail in one place with a program like Project Online.
Why Microsoft Project Online?
As a project manager, you may be using a project management tool already. The issue with a lot of online tools is their lack of depth.
They may focus on task management but lack dependency tracking and reporting across projects. You may be able to add team members to tasks but not single out one team member's full list of responsibilities. You may have to attach multiple apps to one platform to get all the features you need.
This isn't the case with Microsoft Project Online. It's designed to be an all-in-one project management tool accessible via your browser.
And MS Project is part of the Office 365 suite. That means you can connect it to other Microsoft tools you already use. Think Word, Excel, and Microsoft Teams.
Learning how to use Project Online can take some time. But there are great MS Project courses available to walk you through its features.
Speaking of features, MS Project ticks all the boxes. Project management tools shouldn't be clunky and difficult to navigate; you just need a certain set of tools. After that, it's knowing where to find them.
Tasks and Durations
The primary feature of Microsoft Project Online is tracking tasks, deadlines, and dependencies. Your default view will be a Gantt chart when using the desktop client Project Professional, or one of several configured Project Center views in Project Web App. For the desktop that's where you will input details from your project plan and update tasks. The Project Center views are primarily for read-only analysis of the organizations multiple projects.
Start by adding each of the tasks your team needs to complete. You can assign start dates, end dates, and team members to each task. Once all your work breakdown structure has been created, critical path(s) will be automatically determined.
For complex projects, you'll need to add dependencies. Whether your relationships are start-to-finish or finish-to-finish, you can add them to your tasks with a simple click in the Gantt Chart or Table view from the project online desktop client.
This will help you see any gaps or improbable relationships within your project. You'll be able to more thoroughly analyze your timeline to make sure everything lines up.
The ability to mark milestones needs to be a key part of any project management tool. With MS Project Online, you'll do this either in the desktop client, or by using web-editing in Project web App. From there, you can track three separate milestones at the task level.
You can also star certain tasks or name them according to different milestones. If you prefer, you can also color-code your tasks. Each color can represent milestones, phases, or deliverables.
Sharing project files between team members, supervisors, and stakeholders is essential. Project Online has both import and export features via the SharePoint Online-based Project Site. These allow you to download your project documents to share them.
If your teammate gives you a report on their progress, you can upload that document as well. Access your files through a tab at the far right of the toolbar.
Toolbars and Navigation
Two toolbars will help you maintain excellent portfolio management. The top toolbar will offer you different views.
The default project view is the Gantt chart, but you can also view your tasks in a list or sheet. You can choose to look at everything in a dashboard layout, too, or within a calendar. The final tab on that toolbar is your file tab.
Beneath that, you have a second toolbar. This allows you to complete functions like exporting documents or adding hyperlinks. This is where you add teammates to tasks or change task colors.
Along the left-hand side, you'll have access to Project Center for viewing projects across the organization grouped by project attributes (think program, portfolio).
Benefits of Project Online
The whole point of using a program like Project Online is to make your management tasks easier. You'll be able to make more informed decisions and improve your team's productivity. You'll also be better equipped to forecast potential risks.
But one of the biggest benefits of using Microsoft Project Online is the lack of hardware. You don't have to download any programs to your computer. You don't have to dedicate precious hard drive space to use it.
You'll be using the Microsoft Project web app, accessing it from your browser. All you'll need is a strong internet connection to use its cloud-based features. And you'll receive updates faster than you would if you had the downloadable program.
Project Online Pricing
For the basic web tool, you should expect a monthly cost of around $10. This option is limited, not allowing you to make reports or share access with other devices. Depending on your subscription you may have access to many other features.
For the full product with all its bells and whistles, you'll need to budget $55 per user, per month. In-between, you have a cost of $30 per user, per month for a product with most of the features. See the Microsoft website for full pricing information. Two of these options includes Project for managing project schedules.
The difference between the mid-tier and the full product comes down to a few features. The former won't have a resource manager, portfolio optimization, or a way to manage demand.
Using Project Online
It's worth taking the time to learn Project Online so you can streamline your projects. Just think about how much better it would be to keep all your project files, tasks, and details in one place.
You may be looking into Microsoft Office Online but aren't sure how to use it. If that's the case, our training courses cover all the ins and outs. To learn more about our offerings, visit our training offerings page.