Introducing The Project Clan – A Guide to Differentiate Between Project, Project Online, Project Professional for Office 365 and Other Similar Terms

Posted By Posted by: Dan Stopher on September 3, 2014

Microsoft’s decision to embrace the cloud has been a game changer resulting in many more organisations being able to embrace Microsoft’s’ Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solution suite and realise the related benefits.  However, new terms have caused confusion with some of my clients so I have put together a simple explanation of key terms.

  • Project  – Microsoft’s desktop project management application.  This could be Project Standard, Project Professional, or Project Professional for Office 365.  It’s something of a catch-all term to describe the stand-alone tool that they use to build a Gantt chart and manage a projects tasks and schedule.
  • Project is also sometimes used by Microsoft to describe its entire Project and Portfolio Management product set – be it the Project desktop application, Project Server, or cloud-based Project Online.
  • Project Professional differs from Project Standard in that it supports interaction with Lync, Project Server and SharePoint. When Project Professional is purchased using the Microsoft subscription model (i.e. paying per-month or per-year), it is known as Project Professional for Office 365.  Project Standard is not available on a subscription basis.  While the purchase model may be different, once purchased, Project Professional for Office 365 is installed locally and can be used as per other Project versions (i.e. you don’t not need to be connected to the internet to use it).
  • Project Server is the Microsoft enterprise software product that provides Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) capabilities that are not available when just using Project.  Project Server purchased on a subscription basis from Microsoft is branded Project Online.  Project Server purchased on a subscription basis from EPM Partners is branded EPMonDemand. EPMonDemand provides access to configurations and functions not available through Project Online.  These include:
    • Data is stored and managed in Australia in world class data centres (data sovereignty is maintained)
    • Additional reporting functionality is delivered using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
    • Enhanced support for custom solutions including line-of-business systems integration’s
    • Finer control over diagnostic logs, data and system upgrades
  • Enterprise Project Management (EPM) is how Microsoft used to refer to Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) – i.e. the management of projects, portfolios and resources across the organisational enterprise.  Typically this will involve the deployment of Project Server (i.e. on premises), or cloud-based Project Online or EPMonDemand, and may also include the use of Project Professional or Project Professional for Office 365.
  • Project Web Application (PWA) – Regardless of how Project Server is purchased/deployed, the user interface to the PPM functions is via the Project Web Application (PWA.)  PWA is accessed by entering a URL into a browser such as Internet Explorer.  PWA provides access to additional project and portfolio management capabilities that are not available in Microsoft Project.  Such functions include:
    • Collaboration on project artefacts like risks, issues and documents
    • Program and portfolio-level management functions
    • Enterprise resource management
    • Project governance and approvals
    • Business intelligence – dashboards and reports

PWA also comes with a scheduling engine.  While Project’s scheduling has a number capabilities not available in PWA, many organisations find that its scheduling tools entirely satisfactory and do not need to use a desktop Project.

  • The Project Site – the project site refers to a SharePoint location (a site) dedicated to a particular project.  The site provides users with the full range of SharePoint collaboration features such as document version history, discussion boards, and places to capture project artefacts like risks and issues.  Users familiar with SharePoint will immediately recognise a Project Site’s SharePoint look and feel and general functionality.

Hopefully that helps clarify things a little. If you have any comments or suggested additions to the list please complete the below form.


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