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What is Dynamics 365 Project Operations?

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Dynamics 365 Project Operations is a Microsoft application for the Dynamics platform that is designed to connect sales, resource management, project management, and project finance management in one application.

Dynamics 365 Project Operations is a Microsoft application for the Dynamics business platform that is designed to connect project sales, resource management, project management, and project finance management in one application.

Project Operations is an evolution of the existing project management and accounting modules inside Dynamics 365 Finance as well as the previous Project Service Automation (PSA) solution found in the Sales CRM from Microsoft.

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Quick Guide on Dynamics 365 Project Operations Functionality

To help your evaluation, this Quick Guide provides a comprehensive comparison between the functionality found in Project Operations and Adeaca Project Business Automation (PBA) for D365. Find out if D365 Project Operations is right for your company.

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D365 Project Operations Limitations

Why Project Operations Doesn’t Work for Most Complex Project Companies – The 20% Rule.

Microsoft built Dynamics 365 following the 20% product design rule, which means that it builds ~ 20 percent of the functionality required for a business sector or industry expecting to meet most of their needs. The 20% product design rule stems from the Pareto Principle that says 80% of any given effect comes from 20% of the effort put into it.

That is why Microsoft has such a large partner network. Microsoft provides the highly scalable and extensible underlying business platform and then expects expert partners, like Adeaca, to extend the platform to meet the bona-fide needs of the customers.

Project Operations is not a Project Business System

With the 20% rule approach, Microsoft has built Project Operations to meet the needs of a wide swath of customers who have some project management requirements in their business. However, this will not work for most project businesses, or highly project-driven companies.

Download the Project Business Automation Quick Guide to learn more about holistic project business systems.

If you are looking to solve serious problems in your project business, such as problems with cost control, project scheduling and resource planning, risk management, project estimation for large and/or complex projects, Project Operations likely will not meet your needs. That is because Project Operations is not really a project business system. Project Business Solutions or Systems is still a burgeoning category of business solutions and poorly understood by nearly everyone.

The first thing to do is to learn if you are a project business. Then you will have a better idea of what type of solution will meet your needs.

Article: What is Project Business?

Compare Dynamics 365 Project Operations

To dig deeper into Microsoft’s Project Operation’s  capabilities, we decided to compare it to our own Adeaca Project Business Automation solution, which is meant for project business. Our comparison dives into the key capabilities that project-driven companies need.

Our analysis is revealing. See the table below.

FeatureD365 Project OperationsAdeaca PBA for D365
Project Estimation (Project Modeling)InsufficientFully Supported
Budget ManagementInsufficientFully Supported
Month-end/Period-closeNot supportedFully Supported
Cost ControlInsufficientFully Supported
Project SchedulingInsufficientFully Supported
Project SchedulingNot supportedFully Supported
Project Supply ChainNot supportedFully Supported
Issue and Risk ManagementSomewhat supportedFully Supported
Project Insight and AnalyticsSomewhat supportedFully Supported
Fully SupportedFully SupportedSomewhat supportedSomewhat SupportedInsufficientInsufficientNot supportedNot Supported

Download our Whitepaper on Dynamics 365 Project Operations to get all the details and understand exactly what capabilities are included, what you need as a project business, and how to get them with Dynamics 365.

Project Operations Quick Guide

D365 Project Operations Features and Capabilities

Microsoft touts many features and capabilities with Project Operations. Here is a quick summary of what is included.

Project Management

Based on Microsoft Project, Project Operations has a simplified, drag and drop project scheduling tool. It includes dashboards, task management, scheduling, interactive Gantt charts, and work-breakdown structures. It is a planning tool, but not a project execution tool, if that is what you are looking for.

Opportunity Management

Being integrated with Microsoft Sales, CRM, it has a pricing and costing engine to use for deal management.

Resource Management

With a built-in resource profile tool, it allows you to match resources up to project requirements based on skillsets.

Time and Expense Management

Project Operations is focused primarily on professional services organizations. As such, a core feature is a tool to submit time and expense reports via a mobile app or browser.

Project Accounting

Based on the previous version of Dynamics 365 project management and accounting, Project Operations offers some basic accounting functionality to adhere to GAAP or IFRS standards. However, it completely lacks a cost breakdown structure.

Project Dashboards

Project Operations comes equipped with limited visualization tools to help with resource utilization, forecasting and budgeting.

Wondering how Project Operations is deployed with D365? Download this guide.

Deployment types

Project Operations offers multiple deployment options. The claim is to match your requirements. However, depending on which you choose, the capabilities provided are very different.

Here are the current deployment types:

  • Lite deployment – deal to proforma invoicing
  • Project Operations for resource/non-stocked scenarios
  • Project Operations for stocked/production order scenarios

The first two options extend the Dynamics 365 Sales application. The third leverages D365 Finance ERP as well. However, these options have very different feature sets. For example, depending on which you choose your may have project scheduling or not, or you may have to use a different tool. Also the functionality may sit inside different end-user applications; some may reside in Sales and other in Finance. Learn more about the deployment options here.

Project Operations and Project Business Automation

Microsoft’s release of Dynamics 365 Project Operations clearly is a move toward Project Business Automation. The premise of PBA systems is to eliminate the silos of applications and data that Project Businesses typically use in favor of one platform that incorporates key Project Business functions, including:

Adeaca has been working in the PBA space for 12 years, and Microsoft Project Operations is a more simplified addition to the effort.

Adeaca PBA and Microsoft D365 Project Operations cater to very different needs. We wrote this article is an attempt to clarify what level of PBA solution is right for you.

When to Use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations

Knowing when Project Operations makes sense for your company requires the answer to a few simple questions.

  • Are you a services-based organization?
  • Are your projects simple and short in duration?
  • Are you happy running your project financials and cost management in spreadsheets?

If you answered yes to all three questions, then Project Operations may work for you.

If you answered anything other than yes for any of the three, you may need to explore other options.

learn more Learn More: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations: Who is it for?

As Microsoft states, Project Operations is geared toward the services industry. This means that project businesses in construction, engineering, project-driven manufacturing, biotech, and other industries likely need something more robust to cover their business requirements.

Don’t buy a business system if it doesn’t support your whole business. If an application only covers a small portion of your needs but you still need to support the bulk of your processes with ancillary apps, tools and spreadsheets, or make massive custom modifications to it, keep looking.

If your goal is to eliminate the need for those spreadsheets and ancillary applications and be able to manage your project business in one comprehensive business system, then Adeaca PBA may right for you.

Download the Project Business Automation Quick Guide