Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Microsoft Project 2019 Agile: Working with Sprints Project - 1



In January 2018, I wrote an article for Agile features in MS Project 2016. Since then, a number of new features have been added and also, quite a few changes have happened for the Agile features in the latest release of MS Project software, i.e., MS Project 2019.

The new features are customizing cards on a board which can give you a number of information, the ribbon changes with sharper icons, board filtering, setting %complete on a board’s columns or workflow states, Sprint navigation, moving a backlog item to next Sprint etc. There are also security and non-security related updates and fixes.

Now, at the highest level, we have mainly these two changes:
  • The Scrum project template has been renamed. It’s now called Sprints Project.
  • The Kanban project template has been removed. The Kanban related features can be utilized with the Backlog Board and Backlog Board Sheet views. 
You can run also run a Kanban Project with the help of Task Board and Task Board Sheet views of MS Project 2019. However, the Task Board Sheet view has Sprints available in the default fields. A Kanban project does NOT have Sprints at all. Hence, it may confuse you. 

Nevertheless, our current article is about Sprints (used in Scrum framework) and hence we will see more on it. A Sprint is at the heart of a Scrum project and hence I’ve two-part series discussing how to use Sprints with MS Project 2019 Agile. In part – 1 of this series, you will know on:
  • Using the right Build and Client to get the Agile features
  • Creating a Scrum project with Sprints
  • Planning with Sprints
  • Adding a Sprint
  • Removing a Sprint
In the next part, we will see additional functionalities. Now, let's proceed with our installation, using the right build and client.

This series: Part - 2 ]


1. Ensure to Have the Correct Build and Client
To work with Agile, you must have the right release(s). Agile features work only with MS Project Online Desktop Client. Hence, ensure that you are with this edition. This is Project Plan – 3 as noted in Microsoft’s site. This is basically MS Project’s Professional edition.

To check the plans, use this link:
https://products.office.com/en-in/project/compare-microsoft-project-management-software

Check the Try now option given in the above link, and install the software, which is quite easy. Now, MS Project 2019 Agile features works both with monthly releases and semi-annual releases for Online Desktop Client.

Monthly Release

For monthly release, I’ve used the below version.




Link for monthly releases, refer this link:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/officeupdates/monthly-channel-2019

Semi-Annual Release
For semi-annual release, I’ve used the below version.




Link for semi-annual releases, refer this link:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/officeupdates/semi-annual-channel-2019

You can also try the semi-annual target releases and I believe it work as well. The good thing about knowing these builds/releases is that you aware about the fixes, new features, enhancements etc. coming for MS Project software.

As noted earlier, if you are using either of the above two releases, then you will get the Agile related features in MS Project 2019. Next, after your installation of Online Desktop Client, do confirm that you have the right build installed for your desktop client. To check the build in your installation of MS Project 2019, go to:

File -- Account -- About Project 

The details of the build will be shown as below.

The build I’m using is Version 1910 (Build 12130.20410) and it’s from monthly channel.
To ensure you are using MS Project Online Desktop Client, go to:

File -- Account -- Product Information



As shown above, it informs that we are using a MS Project Online Desktop Client.

2. First View with Sprints Project
To plan with Sprints, start with File – New after opening the MS Project client. Next, select the Sprints Project template. It’s shown below.



This will result in opening the Sprint Planning Board view, which is an inbuilt view of MS Project 2019. By default, the planning board will have 3 Sprints, i.e., Sprint 1, Sprint 2, and Sprint 3.



As you shown above in the Sprint Planning Board, you have 3 sprints listed by default. And you have two tabs now dynamically enabled on top. They are Sprint Tools and Task Board Tools.

3. Planning with Sprints
Now, let’s plan with the Sprints. Let’s say you want to add a few more sprints or remove a sprint or rename a sprint. To do so, go to:

Sprint Tools -- Sprints tab -- Sprints group -- Manage command. 

This is shown in the below figure.

You can also use the Manage command from Project tab as shown below.

When you use this command, MS Project will launch the Manage Sprints window. Here, you have the 3 Sprints noted with the properties of a Sprint such as name, length, start, and finish. The Sprint list is shown below.


All the above sprints are shown with their properties. You can change the date of the Sprints by simply clicking the date field of the selected Sprint, which is shown below.


When you change the date of an earlier Sprint, it will automatically update the dates of subsequent Sprints.

4. Adding a Sprint
To add a Sprint, you need to click on the Add Sprint button in the bottom-half of the Manage Sprints window. This is highlighted in the above screenshot under Section 3 – Planning with Sprints. You can decide on the Sprint start, duration. The duration can be in weeks (w) or elapsed weeks (ew). You can also increase/decrease the duration of any Sprint here.




Next, when you hit the Add Sprint button above and then click OK button, a new Sprint will be added. You can add as many Sprints as you need for your project. In our case, I’ve added two more, i.e., Sprint 4 and Sprint 5. The new set of Sprints are shown in the below Sprint list.


Now, when you go to Sprint Planning Board view, you will have all the 5 Sprints listed in the view, which is shown below.

5. Removing a Sprint
Like addition of new Sprints, you can also remove a Sprint from your project. To do so, again take the help of Manage Sprints window. Next, select the Sprint you want to delete and hit Delete button on your keyboard. This will pop-up a message.



When you hit the OK button above, it will remove the Sprint from the Sprint list and also in the board view. For this series, we will be continuing with the five sprints created.

In part – 2 of this series, you will know how to rename a Sprint, changing the Sprint durations, how to populate tasks in Sprints, various views related to Sprints, Navigating across Sprints etc. 


Videos Courses on MS Project:




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