Thus far, the SharePoint conference has been full of conversations surrounding the Project Server and how it fits into the vision of this release cycle. From the pre-con session, to mentions in the keynote and a full set of sessions, Microsoft has proven that it is committed and will be coming out strong with their new release.
I had the opportunity to chat with both Chris Crane, Director of Product Marketing for Project and Visio and Jeff Teper, Corporate VP from the Office Division, responsible for the new release of SharePoint, concerning some of the new features available. In these discussions, we not only discussed the new features, but also future visions for the product.
Built for the 90% of Project Users
One conversation from the event that continues to stick with me is that of the importance in making Project Server available to users that don't currently have the resources -- or access -- to the tool set.
Project, while being a very successful business for Microsoft, is only touching on a small part of its potential. With this release, they hope to overcome that gap and bring down some of the entry point barriers. This happens in many places, the investment required to fully utilize the tools in Project Server doesn't always align with the organization.
In fact, many organizations see Project Server as a great tool they may eventually take advantage of, but, in the meantime, utilize another solution -- such as basic SharePoint sites -- to manage their projects. The plan is to eventually grow into the more complex features available, but the plan is typically underdeveloped and results in slow forward motion concerning the new tool.
What makes this release of Project Server so great is that it is aimed at the organizations described above. The tool now makes this concept of “growing up” into advanced solutions part of the everyday process. If you start a project using a simple SharePoint site and then later decide additional controls are needed you can easily incorporate all of the content when you go through the process of creating a new Project site. In fact, when you click to create a new Project site it will ask if you are starting from scratch or if you need to link it with an existing site. And the beauty of this is that since the features are all based on SharePoint, a task list remains a task list. Users won’t really see that they have moved to a new solution because it will be consistent with what they were already using. A solution that allows you to add additional complexity without upsetting the apple cart for the users, YES PLEASE!