Agile Tools for Project Online

In the O365 ecosystem agile frameworks are supported within Planner, but also within Project Professional until now. The features in the client are brandnew and provide new planning approaches like scrum and kanban. For the first time of the project client, not the gantt chart is in the focus, but a planning board which can be divided in sprints or by status.

How do I get the agile functionality in my Project client?

You need a streaming client from O365 with a minimum version of 1710 (Build 8625.2055).

How can I create a new agile plan?

You can either…

  • start from scratch and use one of the new templates (scrum project, kanban project, waterfall project):

    Scrum, Kanban and Waterfall templates
  • change the planning methodology within your plan, by selecting the ribbon project and the button agile:Once you click on the agile, a window pops-up where you can select the respective methodology:

    Planning Methodology

Scrum framework

Like it is described in the wizard, Scrum is an iterative and incremental framework where you focus on planning, committing and delivering time-boxed chunks of work called sprints. The scrum framework is the right tool for you, if you want to be agile, but also want to schedule the user stories in form of sprints.

Sprint Planning Board

Once you did select the scrum framework, you will find the respective ribbon in Project Professional:

Task Information

If you click on planning, you’ll find the sprint planning board and the sprint planning sheet. The board is displayed above and enables you to see your user stories in boxes, which can be shifted easily to a sprint via drag and drop. If you double-click on a box, you’ll see further information about the task. This is also the right place to create notes about the user story, for example to define acceptance criteria.

Within the planning sheet you can check your backlog in a tabular form and edit the meta information to each user story, e.g. the sprint mapping, name, planned work, board status, resource assignments and deadline. Furthermore you can see the task summary for each user story, if you did create an agile project out of a task structure of an waterfall project.

Sprint Planning Sheet

Both planning views also exist in a filtered form called current sprint planning board and current sprint planning sheet. You will only see the user stories of the actual sprint. Within the board, you can change the status to next up, in progress and done. The sheet is structured in the same way as the holistic overview.

Current Sprint Planning Board

The button All directs you to the view agile tasks, where you can see all agile tasks, no matter of the sprint or status.

View Agile Tasks

In order to adjust the length, start or finish date of a sprint, select adjust:

Manage Sprints

Kanban framework

Kanban is a scheduling system where you focus on visualizing your workflow and limiting the amount of work in progress. Therefore, the big difference to the scrum planning approach is the missing element of sprints. You just focus on the tracking and execution of backlog items.

You have the following planning views:

  • Backlog board: Overview about all backlog items divided by their status.

    Backlog Board
  • Backlog sheet: Same as sprint planning sheet.
  • Agile tasks: Same as above.

Build-in agile reporting 

The agile features are coming with five reports which can be edited similar to a pivot in Microsoft Excel.

  • Scrum Reports:
Current Sprint Task Status

Gives you insights about the tasks by board status (e.g. backlog, next up) and the remaining tasks.

Current Sprint Work Status

Shows the remaining work by board status and resource, the remaining work on a timeline and the remaining tasks in a table.

Sprint Status

Perfect to check how many tasks are in each sprint and how many hours of work are reamaining/completed in each sprint.

  • Agile reports (can be used for both, scrum and kanban):
Task Status

Displays the tasks by board status and the remaining tasks on a timeline and within a table.

Work Status

Enables insights about the number of actual and remaining hours by board status, the remaining work over time and the remaining tasks.

Further things to consider:

  • If you have never used agile approaches before, get familiar with the framework at first. The Scrum guide of Ken Schwaber is a good place to start. You can download it for free here.
  • Agile is a complete new way of planning and besides the tool perspective, it has a massive impact on the organizations culture and way things are done. Just to use a scrum board instead of a gantt chart is not being agile! E.g. there are roles other than within the classical project management, you need to use scrum events like the sprint planning, daily scrum or the retrospective, effort is estimated in different ways (e.g. with story points). Did you ever heard about something like the planning poker?!
  • Planning with story points is currently not build-in to the agile tools of Microsoft Project, but can be configured.
  • The time tracking of the development team within the PWA and the board status (e.g. in progress, done) is not linked to each other.
  • Per default, solely the project owner (product owner…?) can edit the board, not the scrum master and not the development team.
  • Check out the webinar of Scrum Pulse about Kanban and Scrum to get some brain teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1053&v=jeKM3iDtLrg 
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