It has become increasingly crucial for businesses to find ways to improve the efficiency of their processes with less expenditure and, as a result, to maximize ROI.
This is where no-/low-code solutions can come in as innovative tools to create software with little to no actual coding. Investing in no-/low-code solutions can help businesses automate more tasks and save money in the long run.
Table of contents
- Are no-/low-code solutions the future of business?
- How does no/low code change project and portfolio management?
- Is Project for the web ready for no-/low-code customization?
- How does no-/low-code expand Microsoft Project for the web’s functionality?
- Automate workflows and core project management tasks without the up-front investment
Are no-/low-code solutions the future of business?
These days, startups and companies alike employ a wide range of platforms and handle an enormous quantity of data.
Therefore, more developers and resources are required to maintain this data flow. To reduce costs, businesses are embracing low-code solutions.
No-/low-code is a trend that can change the app market. As Gartner stated, “by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by organizations will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020.”
As project or portfolio managers, you may always be looking for ways to streamline processes and improve efficiency within your organization. No-/low-code platforms could be just what you need. These solutions can become part of organizational procedures and processes.
With no-/low-code solutions, you can create an efficient, agile, and collaborative environment. Communication gaps between technical staff and managers are mitigated as the planning, invention, and execution can be done simultaneously in a cohesive manner with a flexible solution in use.
You could argue, however, that these changes need too many technological resources to build no-/low-code tools and enhance project management. Nope: 60% of apps are already now built outside of the IT department, according to TechRepublic.
It’s all because of the simplicity and user-friendly approaches of no-/low-code platforms.
Overall, businesses can gain much competitive advantage by efficiently and effectively completing their tasks and leaving more time, resources, and money for innovation and expansion by using no-/low-code technology.
In the next chapter, let’s figure out what “no/low code” means.
What does no/low code mean?
No-/low-code platforms are designed to allow non-technical users (citizen developers) to create custom applications and solutions using visual tools like drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built components.
And what does “citizen developer” mean? Gartner states: “A citizen developer is an employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or with others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units.”
These specialists widely use no-/low-code platforms as a starting point for their application development processes, such as data storage, UI, development environment, etc.
It’s an evolutionary way to develop a career: according to a recent Gartner report, “61% of organizations either have or plan to have active citizen development initiatives”. But why are citizen developer tools called “no-/low-code”?
It’s because users don’t need coding experience or knowledge to use it (or they need less of it than pro-developers).
The primary distinction between no-code and low-code is that no-code allows you to create an application with zero lines of written code. By contrast, low-code provides a framework of pre-built functions and adapters for you to build with, requiring some lines of coding.
Let’s discover what benefits no-/low-code platforms can bring to your organization.
What are the features and benefits of no/low code?
Microsoft expects 450 million new apps to be created in the next half-decade, which is more than the total number of apps created in the previous 40 years.
As Charles Lamanna, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, said, “…450 million [apps] have to be built with a low-code tool…There are not enough humans to code fast enough to build that many. Professional developers should focus on harder challenges than another expense submission form or approval form.”
Why will there be a big influx of no-/low-code applications in the near future?
It’s all because of the benefits. Here is a quick rundown of the features and benefits you can get from no-/low-code solutions:
Drag-and-drop capability and an accessible visual user interface enable professional developers to boost their productivity and citizen developers to create a wide range of apps.Model-driven development allows you to see how the app will work as it is constructed and allows for one-click deployment.
|– Use existing talent to build and deliver apps more quickly.
– Let non-IT departments participate in development.
– Provide a variety of solutions without significant expenditure.
– Improved cross-functional team collaboration and decision-making
Create cross-platform apps using pre-configured modules, logic, templates, connectors, and other components.Skilled developers can adapt and extend low-code software components.
|– Accelerate development while increasing efficiency.
– Depend on reusable pieces thoroughly tested for performance and security.
– Create apps that are more consistent and scalable.
Securely integrates data and logic from any source, system, or service, including your key legacy systems.Create apps with pre-configured APIs and connections, or give your expert developers the freedom to create a custom integration.
|– Develop and manage larger-scale systems.
– Discover and share data across projects and teams with ease.
– With seamless access to company data, you can create reusable components and microservices faster.
“There is a 1 million developer shortfall in the U.S. alone, and all these companies are struggling to create content and applications to become digitally native. You don’t need someone who studied comp sci for four years,” according to Charles Lamanna, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft.
Choosing a no-/low-code platform is the right way to build a solution that fulfills your organization’s purpose. But what can no/low code do for its users?
What can be built with no/low code?
No-/low-code platforms can build applications and solutions, including custom workflows, business process automation, and mobile applications. Some examples include:
- Custom workflows: no-/low-code solutions can automate and streamline manual processes such as request approvals, feedback forms, data processing and aggregations, and more.
- Business process automation: solutions built with no/low code can automate routine tasks, such as document management, data entry, and report generation
- Mobile applications: No-/low-code solutions can be used to create custom mobile applications to improve productivity and collaboration on the go, like simple to-do lists, content marketing management tools, and CRM for small sales teams.
No-/low-code solutions significantly impact the business and technology landscape because of their ease of use and lack of huge expenditure. Because of this, “by 2024, 75% of enterprises will use at least four low-code platforms for citizen development initiatives and business application development,” according to Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist for Salesforce.
They’re helping organizations automate more tasks and processes, freeing time and resources for more strategic initiatives.
And because they allow organizations to create custom solutions quickly and easily, these solutions also let them be more responsive to changing market conditions.
How does no/low code change project and portfolio management?
As a project manager, you know how important your tech stack is in every organization’s success. It involves carefully planning, executing, and tracking all projects and programs to ensure everything runs smoothly.
But with the arrival of no-/low-code solutions, familiar platforms, and approaches have undergone major changes that can benefit you and your team.
As Maria HAZIR, Director of Marketing & Communication at PMI Luxembourg Chapter, said, “Low-code platforms are designed to enable custom development rapidly, but that does not mean that you can replace half of your IT team with citizen developers. Manual coding will still be needed.”
Why do we need no/low code if it cannot replace manual coding and only solves simple project management tasks?
One of the advantages of these solutions to project management is the ability to automate tasks, from repetitive routine jobs like data entry and validation to strategic ones like risks and budget management. This can save you time and improve accuracy, allowing you to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Fortunately, no-/low-code solutions are customizable, so project managers can tailor them to fit their specific needs and better align them to, for example, project portfolio management processes that support the organization’s goals. With real-time visibility into project status, budgets, and other key information, you can quickly identify potential problems and take action to keep everything on track.
Collaboration also becomes a breeze, as team members can easily share documents, track progress, and communicate with each other in real time. This helps to eliminate confusion and ensures everyone is working towards the same objectives.
No-/low-code solutions help manage project risk more effectively. With instant access to project status and progress, you can quickly spot and address any potential risks before they become major issues.
No-/low-code solutions offer many benefits for project and portfolio management. They streamline work, improve efficiency and accuracy, and enhance collaboration. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or just starting, these solutions are worth considering for your next project.
Is Project for the web ready for no-/low-code customization?
Project for the web is built on Microsoft Power Apps, a part of the Microsoft Power Platform. Power Platform-built apps offer rich business logic and workflow capabilities, allowing project managers to transform their manual business operations into digital, automated processes.
Power Platform makes technology more accessible for solving business problems by adding to project management flow process automation, artificial intelligence (AI), data security, data visualization, analytics, and more.
Imagine Project for the web as a canvas where you can describe your processes and connect your developers, who understand your technology, with your business managers, who target the organization’s purposes. With this team, you can use Power Platform to customize Project for the web to meet your changing business needs.
Your project teams are, therefore, no longer dependent on technical experts, and your developers are not stranded without information from other business departments.
Access in Project for the web to valuable data insights, enhanced mobility, and automation makes it easier for your teams to adapt more efficiently.
What is Microsoft Power Platform?
Microsoft Power Platform is a low-code platform that allows you to create custom applications and automate business processes quickly and easily.
- Power Apps allows you to create custom applications and customize existing ones using drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built components
- Power Automate allows you to automate business processes and workflows
- Power BI provides data visualization and reporting capabilities
- Power Virtual Agents enables you to build robust chatbots that can respond to questions from customers, other employees, or visitors to your website or service
- Power Pages is a secure, enterprise-grade, low-code software as a service (SaaS) platform for developing, hosting, and managing modern external-facing company websites
Each platform can be used separately or collectively.
But all tools are designed for a connected experience with Project for the web to help you achieve your business goals: whether it’s creating analytics, process automation, or data-driven productivity applications and extensions. All of the tools are also united by the underlying Microsoft Dataverse technology.
The Power Platform’s low-code approach allows everyone in an organization – from frontline workers to professional developers – to participate in the development of business solutions that drive positive business outcomes.
This means you can use the Power Platform to create custom solutions that meet your specific needs within Project for the web. With Project for the web, you can:
- Create custom approval workflows that integrate with Project for the web
- Set up a workflow that triggers the creation of a new project when certain conditions are met
- Create a workflow that sends an email or a message to team members when a new task is assigned or when a project is completed
- Create custom portfolio dashboards
For example, you could use Power Apps to create a custom form for project requests that automatically routes the request to the appropriate team member for approval. Or, you could use Power Automate to automate the process of creating project reports and sending them to stakeholders.
Developers and citizen developers can work together to improve business solutions and solve complex requirements by leveraging the platform’s various extension capabilities with code.
Developers can also use their cloud development skills to extend Microsoft Power Platform with various Azure services thanks to native integration with Azure.
A low-code integrated development approach accelerates business goals while freeing up developer time. With Project for the web and the Power Platform, you’re not limited to a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, you can create a project management solution that is genuinely tailored to your organization.
How does no-/low-code expand Microsoft Project for the web’s functionality?
Microsoft Project for the web is a powerful project management tool, but it can be even more effective with the right additions. With Power Platform’s no-/low-code solutions, you can expand its functionality and transform your project management experience.
Here are a few ways that no-/low-code solutions can help you get the most out of Project for the web.
Expanding functionality with Power Apps customization
Power Apps is a no-/low-code platform that allows you to create custom applications and solutions.
You can use drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built components, and other visual tools to build solutions that meet your specific needs.
With Power Apps, you can expand the functionality of MS Project for the web by adding custom features and automating manual processes:
Time tracking. Power Apps can be used to create a custom time-tracking solution that integrates with Project for the web. This could enable team members to track the time they spend on tasks more accurately and gives better visibility into time spent on different projects.
Resource allocation. Power Apps can be used to create a custom resource allocation solution that integrates with Project for the web. This could enable project managers to allocate resources – such as team members, equipment, or materials – to different tasks and projects more effectively.
Project dashboards. Power Apps can be used to create custom project dashboards that provide a more comprehensive view of project performance and status. For example, a custom dashboard could show key performance metrics such as project budget, task completion rates, or resource utilization.
Customizing Project for the web with Power Apps can improve productivity, data accuracy, visibility, and collaboration in project management workflows. However, it is important to carefully plan and design any custom solutions to ensure they align with business needs and objectives.
Automating routine tasks with Power Automate
With Power Automate, you can streamline your project management workflows, freeing time for more strategic portfolio management initiatives.
Using Power Automate, users can automate various tasks and processes within Project for the web, such as creating tasks, assigning them to team members, updating their status, and sending notifications when certain actions occur.
Here are some examples of what Power Automate can do with Project for the web:
One of the most valuable features of Power Automate is the ability to create projects automatically. This can save a lot of time and effort, especially if you have to create multiple projects.
With Power Automate, you can set up a workflow that triggers the creation of a new project when certain conditions are met. For example, you can create a workflow that automatically creates a new project when a new customer is added to your CRM system.
Update project details
Power Automate can also be used to update project details automatically.
For example, you can set up a workflow that updates the project status when a task is completed, or a certain milestone is reached. This can help you keep track of the progress of your projects and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Power Automate can also be used to send notifications automatically. This can be useful for keeping everyone informed of project progress and updates. For example, you can create a workflow that sends an email or a message to team members when a new task is assigned or when a project is completed.
Power Automate is a powerful tool that can help you automate workflows with Project for the web. Using Power Automate to automate tasks such as project creation, task assignment, and status updates, you can save time and effort and ensure everyone is on the same page.
If you’re using Project for the web to manage your projects, it’s worth considering how to use Power Automate to automate some of your workflows.
Searching for insights with Power BI
With Power BI, you can create data visualizations and reports to help you better understand your data.
You can use Power BI to search for insights in Project for the web data, gaining a better understanding of how your projects are progressing. The benefits of integrating Project for the web with Power BI are as follows:
Improved visibility into project performance. With the integration of Project for the web and Power BI, project managers can gain a better understanding of project performance by visualizing data. This allows managers to identify areas that require improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize project performance.
Better decision-making capabilities. Integrating Project for the web and Power BI gives project managers insights into project data, such as resource allocation and task completion rates. This data can be used to make informed decisions and adjust project plans to ensure success.
Customized reporting. Power BI allows project managers to create customized reports and dashboards based on the specific needs of their projects. This allows managers to focus on the most important metrics of their project and easily share the results with their team.
Improved collaboration. Integrating Project for the web and Power BI can help improve collaboration between project teams by providing a shared understanding of project performance. This can help reduce communication errors and enhance the project’s overall efficiency.
To use Power BI with Project for the web, you need to deploy the PMO Accelerator first. Deploying Power BI and PMO Accelerator with Project for the web can be a complex process. Here are the four broad steps to follow:
- Open a development environment where you’re an admin with Project for the web and the PMO Accelerator already deployed
- Download and deploy the Power BI template to that development environment
- Create a managed solution that integrates the Power BI template in that environment
- Export and import the solution into your production Project for the web and PMO Accelerator environment
Now that you have added the Power BI template to PMO Accelerator in Project for the web, let’s explore how to use PPM Express with its Power BI integration to gain even more insights into your project data.
PPM Express includes over 150 ready-to-use Power BI reports, which can help you uncover insights into your Project for the web data with just one click and without any deployment efforts.
These reports are designed to give you a clear understanding of your projects and portfolios, so you can identify areas for improvement and make better strategic decisions.
With PPM Express, project managers can quickly gain insights into project performance and make data-driven decisions to optimize project success.
Simplifying communication with Virtual Agents
When it comes to managing projects, communication is key. Keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring that all stakeholders know the latest updates and developments is essential to project success.
To maintain collaboration within teams, you can connect Project for the web to MS Teams by adding it as a tab in a team channel.
This can be done by clicking on the “+” sign in the channel, selecting “Project” from the list of apps, and then following the prompts to set it up. Once connected, team members can collaborate on project tasks and updates without leaving the Teams interface.
Three benefits of connecting Project for the web to MS Teams are:
- Improved collaboration: by having project information easily accessible within Teams, team members can stay informed and collaborate more effectively on project tasks and updates
- Streamlined workflows: teams can use the project tab to track project progress, assign tasks, and receive notifications, which can help streamline project workflows and improve efficiency
- Centralized communication: with project information and communication in one place, it can be easier to keep track of project discussions and decisions, reducing the risk of miscommunication or information getting lost in the shuffle
Virtual agents can further simplify communication in Project for the web by providing a robotized platform for communication within MS Teams. Microsoft Virtual Agents can help project managers be more productive by:
Answering frequently asked questions about the project. Virtual Agents can be programmed to provide quick and accurate responses to common questions about topics such as project timelines, budget, and scope. This can save project managers time and improve communication across the project team.
Providing status updates. Virtual Agents can help project managers stay informed of project progress and milestones by providing regular updates on tasks, deadlines, and deliverables. This can be especially helpful for large, complex projects with many moving parts.
Helping manage tasks and schedules. Virtual Agents can assist project managers with task assignment, scheduling, and tracking. They can also send reminders and notifications to project team members to ensure that tasks are completed on time and within budget.
Improving communication and information sharing across the project team. Virtual Agents can help ensure that project team members have access to the same information and updates, reducing the risk of miscommunication or misunderstandings. They can also facilitate real-time collaboration and feedback between team members.
Streamlining workflows and improving overall efficiency. Virtual Agents can help project teams work more efficiently and achieve better outcomes by automating and optimizing key project management tasks. They can also help identify areas for improvement and provide data-driven insights to support continuous improvement efforts.
Using Virtual Agents with Project for the web can be highly beneficial for project managers. By automating routine tasks, improving communication and collaboration, and providing data-driven insights, Virtual Agents can help project managers work more efficiently and effectively.
This can free up their time to focus on higher-level tasks, improve project outcomes, and enhance the project’s overall success.
Integrating Project for the web into the PPM ecosystem
While Power Platforms offer great low-code development options for Project for the web, their limiting factor of being within the Microsoft Dataverse can be a hindrance for organizations that rely on non-Microsoft tools.
This is where PPM Express comes in. PPM Express is a platform that integrates with Project for the web and offers a range of features to help you manage your projects and portfolios.
Here are five key benefits of using PPM Express as a complete project portfolio management platform:
Centralized project portfolio management. PPM Express provides a centralized location to manage your entire project portfolio, from planning and tracking to resource allocation and risk management. This allows you to easily track the progress of your projects and ensure that your team is working on the most critical initiatives.
Real-time data and analytics. PPM Express provides real-time data and analytics that allow you to make informed decisions about your project portfolio. You can quickly see the status of each project, identify any issues that need attention, and adjust your strategies as needed.
Integration with other project management tools. PPM Express integrates with other project management tools, including Microsoft Project, Project for the web, Jira, Azure DevOps, Smartsheet, and others. This allows you to use your favorite tools while still having all your project data in one place without any migration processes.
Resource allocation and capacity planning. PPM Express allows you to allocate resources to different projects and track resource capacity easily. This helps ensure that your team is working efficiently and that you are making the most of your available resources.
Customizable dashboards. PPM Express provides customizable Power BI dashboards so that you can tailor the platform to your specific needs. You can create custom reports and set up notifications to ensure that your team is always working on the right tasks and that you are meeting your project goals.
Using PPM Express, you can streamline your project management process, ensure that your team works efficiently, and make informed decisions about your project portfolio.
Automate workflows and core project management tasks without the up-front investment
The no/low code movement is revolutionizing how we think about custom application development.
By enabling non-technical users to create solutions using drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built components, and other visual tools, organizations can automate processes, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency at a faster pace and with less cost.
The wide range of applications and solutions that can be built with no-/low-code platforms, from custom workflows and business process automation to mobile applications, demonstrates the versatility and power of this technology.
When it comes to Project for the web, no-/low-code platforms can help you expand its functionality and transform your project management.
With PPM Express and its connectors, custom apps with Power Apps, and routine task automation with Power Automate, you can integrate Project for the web into your project portfolio management ecosystem. The possibilities are endless.
The combination of Project for the web and no-/low-code platforms has the potential to revolutionize the way we manage projects and drive better business outcomes. So if you’re ready to transform your project management game, book a demo and discover the Microsoft Project for the web integration at PPM Express right away!