One of our customers, a technical inspection organization, was looking for a solution to structure and manage their numerous projects. The choice was made soon after they came to us for help: Microsoft’s project management solution Dynamics 365 Project Operations, extended by our add-on Project Gantt for Dynamics 365. The company wanted to use Gantt charts in a way that Microsoft’s project management solution alone couldn’t provide.
And this customer isn’t the only one. On the contrary, Project Gantt is one of our most popular add-ons.
Project management with Gantt charts
The business model of the technical inspection organization is to check the safety and functionality of buildings and machinery. Each new work order from a customer is set up as a project in Dynamics 365 Project Operations and managed from there. A new order could be to check the safety of an elevator.
The company uses Gantt charts to structure and coordinate its projects:
First, project manager Pia divides the order “safety check elevator” into work packages: checking the electronics, checking the mechanics, documenting malfunctions, and preparing the final report. Second, she defines the duration of each task by giving it a start and an end time. All work packages are then placed on a timeline.
That way Pia creates a clear overview of all work packages and sees their status at any given time. Comparing the overview with the actual project progress, she’ll immediately know if it is necessary to intervene.
Lines that connect single work packages represent dependencies: the documentation of any malfunctions can only happen once the electronics and mechanics have been checked. Also, the creation of the final report depends on the documentation of the malfunctioning parts. Milestones such as important events or intermediate goals are marked with symbols.
Restricted Gantt functionality in Dynamics 365
For certain areas of project management Dynamics 365 Project Operations is perfect. For instance, it supports Pia perfectly when she wants to assign work packages to the right resources.
Although the solution does offer Gantt charts, they are rather limited and cannot be adapted. They only come with a few columns and there is no possibility to add more specific information. That is why we embedded our add-on Project Gantt.
Advantages of Project Gantt for Dynamics 365
Project managers working with Gantt charts benefit from our add-on in various ways:
- Possibility to individually adapt and extend columns
- Multi-project view
- Multi-customer view
- Filtering options
- Controlling mode with colored KPI indicators
- Quote generation based on the Gantt structure
- In-line editing
- Seamless integration with Dynamics 365 environment
On checking her Gantt chart in Project Gantt, project manager Pia not only sees the default info (duration, start and end date), but also details about the projects and work packages: the number of sold, estimated, requested and worked hours as well as information whether a task still needs to be assigned by her or whether she needs to process it in any other way. To define work packages in even greater detail she can easily add columns or edit existing fields at any time.
The app’s controlling mode gives Pia the option of displaying the status of project KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in different colors:
- Green means: everything is fine.
- Red signals that something is not going according to plan, e.g. maybe a work package exceeds the budget or time limit.
Quote generation based on the Gantt structure
Based on the project structure, Pia or a sales colleague can effortlessly create a new quote. Since Pia had previously divided the work order into smaller work packages and planned them, she can now make a precise estimation of the duration and costs, and create reliable quotes.
Multi-customer and multi-project view
Another advantage Project Gantt has over the out-of-the-box Gantt functionality of Dynamics 365 Project Operations is the possibility to look at multiple projects and multiple customers in one view. That enables managers to get a quick and comprehensive overview of all running projects. Various filtering options help you see what is important to you, for example projects within a certain period or from a certain customer.
In Project Gantt, Pia can set up new projects at any time. She can also alter existing project structures by adding work packages, creating milestones, assigning resources and changing the duration or dependencies.
Implementation of Project Gantt
The technical inspection organization receives new orders every day. That is why project manager Pia needs to go back and forth constantly between different areas within her command center Dynamics 365 Project Operation: to set up new projects, to assign resources and, of course, to create and monitor Gantt charts. To ensure she doesn’t have to leave Microsoft’s project management solution even for the latter, Project Gantt is embedded in it. As with any out-of-the-box feature of Project Operations, she can simply click the respective tab to open Project Gantt.
In this particular customer case, we implemented Project Gantt right from the start together with Dynamics 365 Project Operations and adapted it to the customer’s needs.
However, Project Gantt – like all our add-ons – can be integrated into your Dynamics 365 environment later, too. Talk to us!
A Gantt chart is a tool used in project management. It shows work packages and their dependencies on a timeline.
A Gantt chart helps project managers to keep an overview of all work packages within a project and to deliver within a given time frame.
Project Gantt is integrated natively into Dynamics 365 Project Operations or Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation. To open the app, navigate to the tab “Projects” and select “Project Gantt.”