Dynamics 365 Project Operations is a new Dynamics application to be made generally available in October of 2020. It is an enhancement and separation of the existing project management and accounting modules inside Dynamics 365 Finance as well as Project Service Automation (PSA). Going forward, the project functionality that used to come native to Dynamics 365 Finance and PSA will now be merged into a separate SKU available as Project Operations. It is a significant advancement and one that is quite welcome in the market.
Previously, we authored an extensive whitepaper on the differences between Adeaca Project Business Automation and the project management and accounting module in Dynamics 365 Finance. We are currently updating this whitepaper and will release a new version closer to the public release of Project Operations.
We Love Dynamics 365
As an exclusive Microsoft partner focused on Dynamics 365 Finance, Adeaca is in full support of the Microsoft Dynamics platform. In fact, our founder, Daniel Bevort, was a principal architect of the original Axapta ERP at Damgaard Data. As the story goes, Microsoft acquired Axapta for $1.6B and it became Microsoft Dynamics AX, which is now Dynamics 365 Finance.
It is our mission to make enterprise software work for Project Business. As such, our Project Business Automation solution transforms Dynamics 365 Finance into a comprehensive business system for project-based companies.
Since Adeaca and Project Operations both focus on project functionality, it may appear that our solutions compete and could be used by similar organizations to meet similar needs. But upon closer inspection, it is clear that is not the case. The key to understanding if Project Operations is for you or if you need something more, is to understand your business and what your goals are. Project Operations will be great for certain companies, while Adeaca Project Business Automation serves a completely different market.
Following, we discuss some high-level criteria to help you decide if Project Operations is right for your company.
Download the Project Business Automation Blueprint to learn more about PBA and how it works.
Degrees of Simple vs Complex Projects
Project Operations has a simplified work breakdown structure (WBS), compared to state-of-the-art project planning applications, that allows you to plan out a project timeline and assign resources to tasks within that timeline. It is a good task scheduling tool. If your projects are relatively simple and/or are short in duration, Project Operations may be a good fit.
However, as project complexity increases the need for more sophisticated capabilities may be warranted. If your projects involve hundreds or thousands of tasks with possibly hundreds of resources across labor, material and machinery on projects that last months or even years, you may need a more sophisticated solution. If you require a complex WBS that is on par with or exceeds the capabilities within a premier project scheduling tool such as Oracle Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project, then you will need to use a tool like that. If you want seamless project management integration into your ERP, then you will need to look for something like PBA.
Project complexity also tends to be relative to the size of your organization. In general, the larger the organization, the more complex the project management requirements become.
Although every organization’s needs are different and there are degrees of complexity, the bottom line is: the simpler your projects in complexity and length, the more suited for Project Operations you may be. The more complex your projects are, the more you should look to something more sophisticated.
Project “Operations” vs “Financials”
As the name says, Project Operations is focused primarily on the operational side of project management. Again, if your project financial needs are relatively flat and straightforward, directly reflecting the WBS, then Project Operations may work for you.
However, once you need to manage the financial side of your projects under tight budget control and change management separate from your WBS, you will need to find another solution. If you need a dedicated cost breakdown structure (CBS), hierarchical budget management, support for your month-end process, or earned value analysis (EVA), you will not find them in Project Operations. If you need any of the following, you will need to employ another solution or carry a significant workload of your project management in spreadsheets.
- Estimate at Completion (EAC)
- Automatic and manual EAC adjustment
- Set EAC based on WBS estimates
- EAC revision control and
- Workflow approval of EAC changes
- EAC variance and margin
- EAC based cash-flow projections
- EAC based revenue recognition
- Cost analysis by CBS
- Cost analysis by category and category group
- Cost analysis by cost code
- Deliverables completion tracking
- Productivity analysis
- Budget periods and trend analysis
- Hierarchy costing (embedded projects)
Introducing the Adeaca PBA Project Modeler™. Create a streamlined and controlled planning and estimating process that enables you to scale and automate best practices from project sales through execution.
Review Your Needs
To summarize, take a look at these three categories to determine if Project Operations will support your business.
- Are you a services-based organization?
- Are your projects relatively simple and short in duration?
- Do you need sophisticated project financial and cost management?
If your answers were yes, yes, no, then Project Operations may work for you. It will be available October 2020.
If you answered anything other than yes, yes, no, you may need to explore other options or ways to supplement your Project Operations deployment.
Don’t Accept the Status Quo
Unfortunately, most Project Businesses run their companies through a mess of disconnected, disparate applications. Most don’t even look for a comprehensive business system because they don’t believe it exists, or that “this is the way we have always done it.”
Ask for more. Don’t accept the status quo.
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, 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 be right for you.
NOTE: We are currently working with Microsoft directly to update this blog and provide even better descriptions of Project Operations. Please subscribe below to be alerted when the new version is available.