I’ve been a Microsoft Project Server consultant and trainer since 2002. One thing that I (and my colleagues) have felt is that there appears to be no clear direction to where this software was heading. Case in point, Project Server has been married directly with SharePoint Server from a software, business and marketing stand point to this day. It originally made sense because SharePoint is used as the platform of choice for Project Server.
But when you think about it, Project Server is really a Line of Business (LOB) application. Even the definition from Wikipedia “…critical computer applications perceived as vital to running an enterprise” would suggest it.
Project Server also maintains its own database and security permissions of centralized Users, Groups and Categories. It’s not managed by SharePoint at all, which could be another reason to be labelled as an LOB application. The biggest problem with Project Server is the partner/customer’s perception that it’s just a matter of installing the software. After all, if you’ve worked with Project Standard, just how difficult is it really to deploy and use Project Server, right?
What I tell people is that it’s relatively easy to install in 1 to 2 days. But it’s the pre-planning, configuring and testing that takes the longest time. Because Project Server is a clean slate with nothing really configured. There are no custom lookup tables, fields, views, workflows, business drivers, etc. when it’s been installed. Now that can also be a good thing, in the sense that Project Server doesn’t tell you how to manage your projects. But as I explain it to customers, they need to think deploying Project Server is like deploying an ERP package like SAP, PeopleSoft or even Dynamics AX. It takes little time to install, but a lot more time to configure.
I once had an IT Manager that was a student in my classroom and who also had that same perception. He thought his team could deploy Project Server over the weekend and then have his PM start managing his IT projects on Monday morning. Well after attending my course, he walked anyway with a lot of more questions. He needed to get answers even before he thinks of double-clicking Setup.exe. So he promptly cancelled the weekend deployment and scheduled pre-planning sessions with his teams.
The Case for Dynamics PPM
Right now, I see the problem is when people hear Project Server, they immediately think that it’s either a “Project Thing” or a “SharePoint Thing”. When it really needs to be perceived, sold and marketed as a “BUSINESS THING”. I believe it can be possible would be to rebrand it under the Microsoft Dynamics product group as Dynamics PPM.
Project Server gets a fresh, clean start. It can be marketed in Office 365 as PPM Online or a standalone product as PPM Server 2016. You would only need to change two SKUs from the products listed at: https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/compare-microsoft-project-management-software
If you think about it, it makes good business sense moving Project Server over to the Microsoft Dynamics product lineup. You already have the following Dynamics products: CRM, AX, GP, NAV, SL, Marketing and Social Engagement. Rebranding Microsoft Project Server to Microsoft Dynamics PPM will re-align and re-energize the product that my fellow consultants and trainers love. It will also make it easier to properly market to the business decision makers and not the technical decision makers.
I’m really hoping that Chris Capossela still has a soft spot for Project product team since he was the General Manager from 2001-2003. I would really love to see him make this rebranding happen. It would definitely give a clear direction and send a strong message to the business community.
I am hopeful that it will at least start a discussion.
Just my 2 bits