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August 16, 2021

How to Use Project Central: Setting Up a Project

By Billy Guinan

Whether you are new to Project Central, or a power user, knowing how to set up a project the right way will help you set the foundation so that you can collaborate, move work forward, and deliver on your goals.

Project Central is a project management solution for Microsoft 365 with a no-fuss interface, easy task management, and dashboards that make it easier for any team to manage projects.

To help your team get the most out of Project Central, here are some tips to quickly and efficiently set up a project and organize your work in the app.

In this article, we will cover:

  • Getting started with Project Central.
  • Quick project setup and project templates.
  • Easy project planning.
  • Connecting your document library for deliverable management.

 

 

Getting started with Project Central

It is really easy to create an account and get started with Project Central.

You can sign up for a Project Central account directly from our website using your Microsoft business account.

Project Central requires a Microsoft business address to facilitate the integration with your Microsoft 365 environment that are key to enabling collaborative project management, including:

Once you’ve connected Project Central to your Microsoft account, access is a breeze.

You just sign in using the same Microsoft 365 work account – the same username and password – you use at work every day.

Start a 14-day free trial now.

 

Quick project setup and project templates

As soon as you’ve created your Project Central account and logged in, you can immediately start organizing your work.

Get started by clicking Create New Project in the top right of the app.

You’ll be given the option to create a brand new project, essentially a blank slate to set up as you wish.

Or you can select a pre-loaded template that has a simple, pre-defined structure for your project.

The project templates that ship out-of-the-box in Project Central include:

  • Project Template
  • Business Plan
  • Employee Onboarding
  • Event Planning
  • Social Media Plan.

Templates can be a very fast starting point, especially for those who are new to project management or only occasionally manage projects.

You’ll find it fast and easy to initiate a new project on the Project Dashboard, where you can provide some context and clarity about the project.

Work through the dashboard, adding key project information at each step:

  • Project Title – give the project a name.
  • Project Description – make it easy for everyone to understand the context and purpose of the project.
  • Project Start Date and Finish Date – make sure the deadline is clear and visible.
  • Project Status – commentary on what’s been happening and how work is progressing.
  • Percent Complete – to see how the tasks are going.
  • Project Health – let senior executives know if this project needs some attention.
  • Project Team – Adding team members and giving them access is easy because Project Central links to your existing user directory in Microsoft Azure. Project Central will send Project Invites to those added to the project if you select that option.
  • Project Tags – to make it easier to find and organize your projects.
  • Project Image – to make the project cards visually appealing.

Your project is now set up!

 

Easy project planning

A lot of teams that are starting with Project Central have been managing their projects with spreadsheets.

If you have a list of tasks already in a spreadsheet or list somewhere, you can instantly add them to your project plan.

Simply copy and paste that list for a quick start on your project schedule.

A good Project Central task has an assignee and a due date, so your team always has clarity on who’s responsible, what they’re working on, and when deliverables are due.

And with inline editing of tasks, you can add more context for team members in the task description, and break the work down with checklists.

You can also organize your plan with Sections to group tasks together in a relevant category or bucket.

Sections could be anything, such as Sprint number, month, quarter, project phase, or any other grouping that makes sense to you.

Finally, you can review the project timeline in the Gantt View and check to make sure your project looks good from a time point of view.

The Gantt Chart gives you a visual timeline for your project plan.

You can also adjust the schedule right from this view by dragging and dropping tasks to reschedule them.

 

Connecting your document library for deliverable management

You’ll probably want to keep all your project deliverables in one secure place and in the context of the project.

You can connect your Project Central site to an existing SharePoint file directory in your organization’s Microsoft 365 OneDrive / SharePoint Online instance.

 

Set up your projects in Project Central

Getting your project planned and figuring out how you’re going to manage it shouldn’t stop you from executing and moving work forward.

With Project Central, it is incredibly simple to get your work planned and organized… giving you more time to manage the project and get work done.

Get Started With Project Central

Sign up for Project Central's FREE 14-day trial & try out project management for teams using Office 365.
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