Saturday, December 12, 2015

What’s new in Project 2016

During the Microsoft Ignite Conference Keynote Address in May 2015, the Office 2016 Public Preview for Consumers and Enterprise customers was announced. The final release is broadly available since the end of September 2015. So what about Project? Here was the official announcement from Microsoft:
Project 2016 is […] available online as part of Office 365. The new service side features […], are being rolled out into Project Pro for Office365 and Project Online right now. The new […] features will be available to on-premises customers in the spring of 2016 when Project Server 2016 is released.
Let’s see those new features in details:

On the Project client
Those features are available with Project Professional 2016 or Project Pro for Office 365.

Multiple and more flexible timelines
You should be familiar with Timeline since the previous versions of Project. You can display the timeline by clicking to the View tab, checking Timeline in the section.

I have created a project plan based on the Software development template, and created the timeline.

Among other new options, the biggest changes on Project 2016, is the ability to create multiple timelines, and for each of them to set the start and end dates.
To add a new timeline, you can right click on the timeline section, and select Timeline Bar, or on the Timeline Format tab, click on Timeline Bar on the Insert section.

The new timeline is added; you just have to Drag & Drop items from the first timeline into the second one. Of course you can add much more timelines.

To set start and end dates for one of your timeline (date range), right click on your timeline and select Date Range, or on the Timeline Format tab, click on Date Range on the Show/Hide section. The timeline should be selected first.

You can now set start and end date, on the Set custom dates section.

Using those new features, you see some differences on your timeline formatting, which makes this much more readable. You can create timeline for time phased or project phased (here I grouped by department).

Tell me what you want to do…
You may have noticed on all Office 2016 applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), on the ribbon a text box that says “Tell me what you want to do…”. In this textbox you can enter words or phrases on what you want to do and quickly get access to features you can use. You can also access help information for any features.

Click on the box, you will have a set of proposed phrases:

You want to Set a Baseline, start typing, select the option Set Baseline, then Set Baseline (or Clear Baseline). As easy as this. Note also the help section.

After setting your baseline, click again on the “Tell me what you want to do…” text box, the proposed phrases are updated based on the context (you just set a baseline).

New themes for Project
Three Office themes can be applied to Project 2016: Colorful, Dark Gray, and White. Youhouuuu J
To access themes, go to File > Options > General, and then click the drop down menu next to Office Theme.
In Project 2013

In project 2016

Office Add-ins
Office Add-ins are available for all Office applications. You can develop your own or get some from the Office Store. Many resources are available on MSDN to create your own. The new point with Project 2016, is that the Add-ins can now read and write project data. Here is how to get Office Add-ins within Project.

On the server side (Project Online)
As written in my introduction, for the time being (December 2015), those features are only available on Project Online, Project Server 2016 on premise being released in spring 2016.

Better control over resource scheduling via Resource Engagements, new resource manager experience and resource Capacity heat maps
One of the main issue a project manager faces when working with resources managed as a pool by a resource manager (i.e. team/unit/department), is the ability for him/her to deal with resource availability and constraints. Discussions between the PM and RM for resources assignment is often informal or done via email, but there was no formal request. Also, RMs might not have clear visibility on projects (missing some data).
Resource engagement is the way PM and RM agree on resource allocations. This is an agreement, we can also say a contract, between the two. Here is the process:

First the resource manager set resources requiring approval to be assigned to projects on the resource center (Edit resource page).

Second, a project manager can request a resource. The time phased request is done in Project Professional 2016 or Project Pro for Office 365. It can contain a percentage of resource work required or a set of hours for the period.
Third, the resource manager reviews the request and accept or reject it. Note that engagements are not fully editable, depending on the change required, the request should be resent by the PM.
Finally the resource can start working, contract is signed J

What you have to remember about resource engagement:
  • Project managers manage resource engagement in Project Pro, while resource managers use only Project Online.
  • Engagements, like it was the case for resource plans, do not impact project schedule
  • Generic or named resources can be requested using resource engagement
  • Resource managers can also create resource engagements without a previous request from a PM

I will go much more into details about this feature in a next blog article: Understanding resource engagements. In this article you will also discover the new resource manager experience using Project Online and the resource capacity heat map.

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