Getting started with Project Online

We have a great deal of content available for Project Online, but we do still appear to have a couple of gaps in our documentation around the early experiences – both signing up and the licensing.  This blog aims to show and tell you what to expect, and concentrates on the areas we have found are catching customers out, based on our early support calls.

What is Project Online?  First what it isn’t – it isn’t the rich client app that you run on your desktop.  That is available either to purchase as Project Professional 2013, or as a subscription as Project Pro for Office 365.  Project Online is a cloud based collaboration platform for project teams, where you can save, view and edit your plans, enter your timesheets, report your project status and report across your portfolio of plans – with all the benefits of SharePoint.  The plan editing experience isn’t as rich as with Project Professional – so some of your users may want to also have the client application – other will just need a license to Project Online. 

The experience signing up for a Project Online subscription will depend if you are already a subscriber to other Microsoft services, such as SharePoint Online, or if you want to start out fresh.  If you want to add – then you can go to the Purchase Services option within your tenant administration area (or get your global admin to do it if you do not have access) – the Url will always be the same –  If Project Online is not listed as an option then it means one (or both) of two things:

  • You are not currently running a subscription level that supports the addition of Project Online (Enterprise or Academic at the time of writing)
  • Your current subscription has yet to be upgraded to the release level necessary to add Project Online (Am I using Office 365 after the service upgrade?)


If you don’t already have a subscription and want to start afresh – then get along to

Either way, when you sign up you will subscribe for a specific number of users – and once your site has been provisioned you need to assign these licenses so that users can access the Project Web App (PWA).  The provisioning process will generally be complete within around 30 minutes to an hour – but can sometimes take longer (and is often shorter!) so don’t panic if yours is taking longer.  Once it is complete then the global administrator should see SharePoint (and possibly other items, depending on which services you are subscribed to) listed under Admin.


Initially we will create one PWA site, and it will be created at a location of">https://<tenant_name>  This site will be hard-coded from the Projects link in your users heading bar – or under the … links.  You can create an additional two PWA sites if required – either using the New button in the ribbon and selecting Private Site Collection with Project Web App, or the Project Web App button to add PWA to an existing site collection.



Back to licenses.  Even though the Global Admin will see the listed PWA sites by clicking on the SharePoint link in the above screenshot, in my example I have not given this admin a license – so they will get Access Denied – <user> does not have permissions to access this resource.  Please ask the site admin to give you access, or sign in with a different account.  This same message can mean two things – no license or the site isn’t shared with you (or both).  This is quite important to understand, as initially the only person able to access the default PWA and share with anyone else is the person who signed up for PWA.  For additional PWA sites you can set the administrator account – then they would be the only person to have access and to be able to share.

Licensing happens in Admin, Users and Groups, select the user and then it takes you to the Licenses section (it did for me – you may need to click the licenses link in the left navigation bar).  My screenshot is from my Technical Preview tenant, which also has an Exchange preview too – so I see two sets of licenses.  Project Online comes with the Office Web Apps and SharePoint Online (Plan 2) licenses in this example – your wording may be different – but you only need to check these licenses in one section.


Also while we are on the subject of licensing – any users accessing Project Online need to be licensed users on your system – this includes any external people who you want/need to access the system.  They cannot ‘bring their own’ Client Access Licenses (CAL) from another installation.  For more details contact your local Microsoft licensing specialist – I cannot cover all the nuances of licensing here.

On to sharing.  The Share icon in the top right is the easiest place to give other users access – so for the first time this must be as the administrator who created the original PWA, or the administrator set on any new PWA sites.  Here I am giving access to my new global admin account with Administrators for Project Web App permissions, and I am logged in as myself – as I was the original account on this tenant.


Once users are licensed and have been given permissions then you are all set to start using the tool! 

One final question we get – why no trial button for Project Online?  If you do want to try before you buy – then please head over to Jan Kalis’ blog where he outlines the options available for proof of concept and demonstration environment – and certainly your trial experience would be much more fulfilling if you work with one of our partners who will ensure you get the best out of the experience.

Hopefully this has filled a few gaps, and is a good lead-in to the other documentation we have around the features and getting started with your real use of Project Online.  Here are a few links to other ‘getting started’ documents and videos:


We will be updating documentation as we find areas that our customer are struggling with – and please give us feedback on what other articles you would like to see!