*** Update 8/3/2018 – There have been some UI changes in this feature set – all functionality remains but names and navigation changed to aid use of these features – see https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-task-boards-in-microsoft-project-online-desktop-client-1b9b44d7-fd8e-4b3b-ab94-2b97deb9945b#bkmk_makeyourprojectagile for details. ***
Today sees the announcement from the Project team of the new agile capabilities in the Project Online Desktop client, which, along with the recently released Planner integration gives project managers a broad choice of working style when managing their projects – using an agile approach with Scrum and Kanban, or a hybrid approach with these mixed in with the more traditional waterfall approach. For full details please see the blog post at https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/10/30/introducing-new-ways-to-work-in-microsoft-project/ and the “Use agile in Microsoft Project” feature article.
For more information on the Planner integration see “Streamline cross-team work with the newly integrated Project Online Desktop Client and Microsoft Planner.”
Some of you will already have seen the agile capabilities if you are in the Office Insiders channel – and the features will be coming to our monthly targeted channel (aka first release) over the coming days, and then for our customers in the deferred channels you will see these features next year. We are also renaming our release channels – and what we had called Deferred will be called Semi-Annual channel – and you will see the features next July 2018, and the First Release for Deferred will be called Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) and you will see the new features a few months earlier in March 2018.
Technically the best way to think of these new features is as a new set of templates, views and columns available to allow more flexible options for managing your projects. For example going to the normal Gantt chart view you can add the column ‘Agile’ which is a Yes/No field. When set to ‘Yes’ then these tagged tasks will show if you switched over to one of the new agile views – Scrum or Kanban. Same tasks – just displayed in a different view. In the Scrum views you can set a task to be delivered in a specific sprint – in Kanban you would choose to categorize the task as Backlog, Next up, in progress – or your own categories. You can also show the columns such as the sprint or spring start/finish dates in the other project views – but be careful when looking at dates. If you are planning in scrum then best to use manually scheduled tasks and not use (or at least don’t show in your working view) the project start/end dates. The specific sprint has its own configured date range which isn’t tied to any of the scheduling dates. If you entered scheduled dates then these would not affect the sprint – likewise changing the sprint will not change the scheduled dates – hence the suggestion to keep with just one of the other.
One other support tip is for adding sprints – as this has raised a few questions with the early users. You do this via the Adjust Sprints option – where you can generate new sprints through to a custom date, for example – and here I’ve also changed a couple of the lengths to 3 weeks over the local holiday period at the end of the year.
One final point – this feature is only released for the Project Online Desktop Client – basically the client that comes with the Project Online Professional or Premium subscriptions – so you will not be getting these features with Project Professional 2016 (sometimes referred to as the perpetual license, or msi install product) or indeed Project Professional 2013. You will also not be able to use these features when connected to Project Server 2016 even if you are using the subscription client. As the server does not know how to handle the additional information in the plan we block the functionality unless you are just working with mpp files or are connected to Project Online.