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What’s new in Project 2016

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We are excited to announce availability of Project 2016. This release includes significant updates to Project Professional, Project Pro for Office 365 and Project Online. Project 2016 delivers on some of the most requested capabilities: Resource Management and Resource Capacity Planning. Supporting these key capabilities are enhancements such as new Resource Engagements, a brand new experience for resource managers, and Capacity heat maps. Project 2016 now provides an end-to-end experience for managing and optimizing your resource utilization.

In addition to resource management, there are a host of improvements and new features to help you be more productive with Project, such as improved timelines, Tell Me integration and full support for Office add-ins.

Resource Engagements

For project managers, securing resources to ensure your project is properly staffed has always been a challenge. With Project 2016, it’s now possible to systematically request a resource, and once approved, lock that resource to guarantee it’s available.

Creating an engagement and submitting it for approval sets off a simple workflow that enables the resource manager to approve or reject the request.

The project manager will always have an up-to-date view of the status of their requests from within Project Professional 2016 or Project Pro for Office 365. Once a locked resource is assigned to a project for a duration of time, managers of other projects will get notified if they try to overbook a resource.

The resource manager experience

The resource manager (or line manager) is a people manager who may not want to use the full Project client. To allow the resource manager to collaborate with the project manager, Project Online now has an area for the resource manager to view and approve or reject all proposed resource contracts. In addition, the new resource views allow the manager to understand the capacity utilization of their resources at a quick glance.

Resource Capacity heat maps

Ensuring that the resources are well utilized and productive is a key strategic need for any company. Project 2016 introduces the Capacity heat maps and a brand new set of intuitive reports to enable at-a-glance visualization of resource utilization. Both under- and over-utilization of resources can be problematic, and both can be seen quickly with the new heat map.

Timelines

Communicating the project schedule is a critical part of any project manager’s job. But for many audiences, a Gantt chart isn’t the best way to visualize the schedule. More than ever, a timeline is the best way to communicate how a project’s lifecycle lays out. With this in mind, we have overhauled the Timeline feature to include multiple timelines, each with different start and end dates, representing a user-defined set of tasks and milestones.

There are several rich features in the new Timeline visualization, including:

  • Independent start and end dates for each timeline.
  • Drag and drop between different timelines.
  • Save to PowerPoint with editable objects.

Tell Me

With so many features in Project 2016, wouldn’t it be great if you could just ask where a certain feature was, instead of having to hunt for it? With Tell Me, you can do just that. Better yet, the answer that Tell Me provides is a live button, so you just have to click the answer and it will do as you ask. It’s a huge time saver.

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Read/Write Office add-ins

Office add-ins are extensions that you can download from the Office store that add functionality to Project. This means that Microsoft and its partners can continuously and easily deliver new features so you can customize Project to your tastes. With Project 2016 release, Office add-ins now have full Read/Write access to the project you are working on, providing richer extensions than have ever been possible.

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Availability

Project 2016 is immediately available online as part of Office 365. The new service side features, such as Capacity heat maps, are being rolled out into Project Pro for Office 365 and Project Online right now. When you choose to activate these features, we will automatically upgrade all of your existing Resource Plans to Engagements. The new resource management features will be available to on-premises customers in the spring of 2016 when Project Server 2016 is released.

Enjoy the new Project!

—Howard Crow, principal group program manager in the Project engineering team

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