October 2020 saw the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations, the latest offering that will enable businesses to manage their project deliveries while leveraging the power of Dynamics 365.
This is not the only tool Microsoft offers for Project Management; Project Operations joins a large family of software, including the very capable Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation, Microsoft Project and Microsoft Planner.
With so many products to choose from, Microsoft recognises the fact that the array of options can be overwhelming or confusing for customers, with some duplication of features and not all products integrating seamlessly with the others. The end goal is to provide a single cloud platform to handle every aspect of a project, from start to finish.
Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation (PSA) has been around since 2016, and already offers a fantastic way of managing projects, including resource management for users and external suppliers feeding into projects, project costing, planning and quoting, as well as all of the better-known features Dynamics is famous for, such as integration with Outlook and Exchange for tracking communications with customers and staff, reporting and dashboards, all available through an intuitive and customisable user interface.
As for the financial side of things, it went so far as to produce journals, actuals and allow you to invoice directly from the app – but most organisations don’t want to bill from project management software, they want it to integrate with their existing billing platform.
Fortunately, Microsoft also offer the excellent Dynamics 365 Finance as a billing platform, so quite commonly PSA would be integrated with it to provide an end-to-end solution. It also contains some crossover functionality with PSA, such as timesheets and expenses management, amongst others.
Microsoft Project has been around for a very long time and remains to be a capable tool; last years’ October release introduced compatibility with the Common Data Service (CDS). This service acts as an out-of-the-box integration layer enabling many different apps in the Dynamics 365 family - and many more via included connectors - to talk to each other and integrate without the need for a separate integration platform such as Scribe or SSIS. It also allows powerful reporting, automation and creation of bespoke desktop and mobile apps to any application connected to it via the Power Apps suite.
Slowly, all of the aforementioned elements are coming together and Project Operations is the next step in this process. Project Operations takes the original PSA and now fully integrates with Microsoft Project Online, meaning changes made in one app can instantly be reflected in the other.
It now offers out-of-the-box integration with D365 Finance, allowing project actuals and invoices to be sent from Project Operations to Finance directly. This means that Dynamics 365 and its separate parts are increasingly interconnected and because this all falls under the Power Apps banner entirely, Dynamics 365 is becoming a one-stop shop for businesses.
Here we have a platform that will service your customers right from inception, when they are first a prospect, through opportunity management, onto sales (be it product-based, professional services, field services or customer support) right through to handling financials at the back end. Data is shared across multiple solutions, meaning you will always have one true customer record with full 360-degree visibility of that customer’s experience with the company on all channels for all services.