Project Server 2016, Microsoft's project and portfolio management (PPM) software, is generally available, the company announced on May 5, just a day after the official launch of its cloud-inspired SharePoint Server 2016. The timing is somewhat fitting, considering that both platforms are now tightly linked, speeding deployments and enabling organizations to consolidate the number of systems required to run both.
"In Project Server 2016, all the project data is stored alongside the SharePoint data in the SharePoint content database," wrote the Microsoft Project team in a blog post. "This simplifies the administration of the SharePoint farm since each Project Web App (PWA) site no longer requires a dedicated database that needs to be maintained. This reduces IT overhead and improves the backup and restore story."
Deploying both has also been streamlined. SharePoint Server 2016 Enterprise features a built-in installer for Project Server 2016, simplifying the setup process and eliminating the need for a separate installation.
In terms of new functionality, PWA gains the ability to add multiple timelines to the Project Center or schedule pages. Users can also tweak date ranges and customize how they appear. A new interaction model called Resource Engagements, borrowed from the software's cloud-based counterpart Project Online, helps keep project managers and resource managers on the same page by guiding users through the process of creating and managing project requests and approvals.
The new Capacity and Engagements Heatmap offers resource managers at-a-glance insights about their staffers' availability and commitments, preventing conflicts and scheduling issues that can cause deadlines to slip. Further narrowing the gap between the on-premises software and Project Online, Microsoft has added the latter's unified scheduling engine, which replaces the legacy server-side engine with the new, more browser-friendly Project application programming interface (API).
For Microsoft, it makes sense to integrate Project into its broader productivity software portfolio as it competes with rivals such as Oracle in the project and portfolio management market. As organizations encounter increasingly complex DevOps scenarios and seek to manage the impact of the Internet of things (IoT) on their operations, they will increasingly turn to solutions that make the proceedings more manageable.
Last summer, IDC forecast that the PPM market would grow to $4.9 billion by 2019 from $3.7 billion in 2014. While these figures pale in comparison to other enterprise software categories such as customer relationship management (CRM)—IBM estimated that the global CRM opportunity falls just north of $23 billion when it announced it acquired Optevia in March—project management software solutions will continue to be a crucial part of an enterprise's IT toolkit.
"Global 2000 organizations continue to struggle with the complexity of project, program, and product delivery while seeking to manage economic and political volatility as operational and business needs change and swirl dynamically," stated IDC Program Director Melinda-Carol Ballou in her report. "Agile management of human, financial, and other resources is key. In response, demand will remain ongoing for PPM tools across the PPM segments ranging from IT PPM, service resource planning, and new product development through to capital projects and engineering and construction."