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When Dynamics 365 Project Operations joined Microsoft’s suite of cloud-based business solutions, you may have wondered how it differed from previous project management apps. For example, D365 Project Service Automation (PSA) precedes D365 Project Operations. And then there’s Microsoft Project, Microsoft Planner and D365 Finance & Operations - all of which also offer some project management capabilities.

But what makes D365 Project Operations so different? And what prompted Microsoft to add yet another project management solution to the family?

What is Dynamics 365 Project Operations and who is it intended for?

Microsoft describes Project Operations as the application designed to connect your professional services business, end-to-end. So, you can handle projects from the quoting stage all the way through to financials.

This will help you gain the visibility, level of collaboration and agility required to drive success across the organisation.

Thanks to its wide range of features and functionalities, D365 Project Operations can be used by various employees across different job roles. This includes:

  • Project managers
  • Sales managers
  • Resource managers
  • Account managers
  • Finance managers/project accountants
  • Operations managers

Why was Project Operations developed and released?

Microsoft project operationsPhoto by Mikael Blomkvist

As mentioned earlier, Microsoft already had a well-established collection of project management solutions. In addition to D365 PSA, Microsoft Project and Planner, D365 Finance also offered project management capabilities.

So, why add another to the stack?

D365 Project Operations offers functionalities that the other apps don’t offer individually. For example, Microsoft Project comes with planning and scheduling capabilities - but PSA doesn’t. PSA, however, offers advanced sales and delivery functionalities. And D365 Finance obviously offers project management accounting, time and expense management features.

Project Operations offers all of these features (arguably the best of breed capabilities of the three aforementioned apps) in one solution. So, there’s no need for you to invest in and work with multiple apps.

This means:

  • Improved productivity and process efficiency as there’s no need to switch from one solution to another
  • Better data visibility as it’s available in one place (one source of data truth)
  • Unlocks cross-team, departmental and function collaboration as the solution can be used by more employees from different departments

And then there are more features, such as:

  • Gantt charts and drag and drop functionality to further improve project planning
  • Accounting functionality, thanks to integration to Dynamics 365 Finance
  • Dual Write functionality with Microsoft’s Power Platform to ensure data is seamlessly integrated between your finance and operational systems

By putting together the best features of the three existing project management tools (plus a few extras), Microsoft has created a ‘complete’ solution to help drive efficiency for professional services firms.

What are the key features of Project Operations?

Professional services industryPhoto by Vlada Karpovich

Project management

Ensure your project management team can access the exact tools they need to succeed. This includes:

  • Customisable dashboards
  • Interactive Gantt charts
  • Work-breakdown structures
  • Ability to create accurate estimates for labour and expenses
  • Built-in insights into how projects are progressing (e.g. the ability to track planned-to-actual consumption) so you can make timely decisions

Resource optimisation

Thanks to a smart scheduling engine, Project Operations can help you assign the right people/resources to the right task at the right time. Using insights such as the employee’s skill, availability and location, your project managers can:

  • Maximise resource utilisation
  • Improve internal productivity
  • Improve project success (and customer satisfaction)
  • Better anticipate resourcing needs

Internal productivity tools

Ensure your team are spending more time on value-added activities and less time on tasks, such as admin. For example, time and expense submission can be manual-heavy and time-consuming. This can lead to data inaccuracies which can affect future project planning and forecasting and cash flow.

Project Operations simplifies time tracking and expense management. Users can easily submit, approve and reconcile time and expenses wherever they’re located (e.g. if they’re out in the field, they can use the D365 mobile app).

PSA softwarePhoto by Alena Darmel

Communication tools

One centralised solution means your team and customers can quickly and easily access the information they need, whenever they need it. An integration with Microsoft Teams, for example, also enables better internal and external communication.

Profit forecasting

A unified sales management dashboard allows your team to easily view product and project-based opportunities. All in one place. This can help them:

  • Prioritise deals
  • Highlight at-risk deals and take prompt action
  • Identify the potential profitability of deals

D365 Project Operations - the ultimate addition to Microsoft’s project management family

As you can see, despite the similarities, Project Operations does differ from PSA. It’s a worthy addition to Microsoft’s project management family.

To read more about Project Operations, its features and how it can benefit your business, click the button below to download our solution factsheet.

Learn more

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