Microsoft Greatly Expands Capacity of Cloud-Based Project Online

Microsoft has massively increased the number of projects this cloud service can manage for its enterprise customers.

Cloud Project Management

Project Online, Microsoft's cloud-based project and portfolio management offering now supports up to 30,000 projects, a six-fold increase over the former 5,000-project limit.

The upgrade means larger organizations can now create and manage more projects on the platform without resorting to workarounds that add complexity and can hamper productivity. Microsoft has also switched to a new project site creation scheme, said the company.

Project sites serve as collaboration hubs within the cloud application. "Before, there was a limit of 2,000 project sites," explained the Microsoft Project team in an April 3 announcement. "If you wanted more, you had to split them into multiple Project Web App (PWA) sites, impacting team productivity. Now, there's a one-to-one relationship between projects and project sites."

For example if a division or business unit creates 4,000 projects, it can create the same number of project sites, according to Microsoft. Organizations can further use Project's enterprise project type to set a destination for project sites, streamlining the project creation process, they added.

Microsoft has also made performance enhancements that improve the product's responsiveness in certain cases.

Now in the Project Center interface, users have the option to disable Gantt charts and collections of task called rollup groups, allowing users to reach the project data faster. Previously, it would calculate project information like total cost in aggregate, slowing the time it would take for the page to display fully. Other performance tweaks include a faster, behind-the-scenes project listing process and custom filtering options that can serve as shortcuts for quickly reaching a desired piece of information.

"We also released OData performance enhancements to decrease the transmission time for retrieving data from project reports," added the Microsoft Project group.

"This is particularly helpful if you use SQL Server Integration Services to transfer data from Project Online into your own warehouse," enabling customers to download all their data once and periodically pull changed records to keep their projects updated.

Also this week, the software maker announced an update to Planner that adds flexibility to tasks are assigned among workers. Launched last summer, Planner is the company's answer to Trello, Blossom and other visual team and project management tools.

"As of today, Microsoft Planner users can assign multiple people to a task—a feature that tops the list at planner.uservoice.com," blogged the company. "Now, users can assign more than just one user to a task in Planner, and every user that is assigned the task will see it on their My Tasks page."

Microsoft has been steadily adding new functionality to its project management software portfolio as workforces increasingly expect anytime and any device access to their business apps.

Last September, the company released the Office 365 Project Time Reporter for iOS in the Apple App Store. The app allows workers to check in on their Project Online tasks and record their latest progress, add new assignments and submit timesheets.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...