What is Dynamics 365 Project Operations?

Post updated September 2023

There’s been a lot of buzz and we’ve fielded many questions from our colleagues and customers about Dynamics 365 Project Operations. I thought I would help shed some light and help point people to the most current information to help clarify this addition or should I say, rebirth, of the project technology family.

Project Operations, released October 1st, 2020, was the next evolutionary step for the original Project Services Automation.

Project Service Automation could import an MS Project schedule. It would spin up a project schedule for you to outline the work deliverables (work packages) and keep it associated with a customer engagement or proposal.

The goal of Microsoft’s Dynamics suite is to provide end-to-end coverage of a customer relationship. From proposal to mapping and modeling work, scheduling, delivering, and then billing for the services rendered, Dynamics can do it all.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations feature many connected systems and processes:

  • Project sales management
  • Project accounting
  • Inventory-based projects
  • Price list management
  • Microsoft Project integration
  • Billing
  • Project contracts management
  • Requirements management
  • Resource planning
  • Schedule table
  • Offer management
  • Lead management
  • Time and expense management
  • Client management
  • Teams’ collaboration
  • Comprehensive project operations

This “one-stop-shop” has many advantages since keeping the data under one umbrella allows you to build, scale, report, and automate without having to move data from system to system or between toolsets.

Understanding the Project Management Technology Layers:

As you know, the lifeblood of an organization is its ability to complete both client and internal projects. These endeavors don’t happen in a vacuum. They’re happening in an entire ecosystem of processes, tools, systems, and resources.

To establish a project management culture, it’s essential to consider the existing organizational culture and systems that enable the organization to function effectively. Many of these systems are operational or foundational (like billing or collections).

Microsoft has designed back-end platforms and applications that work together. This synergy provides users with tools that increase personal and organizational productivity.

The global crisis of COVID-19 put pressure on project-based services organizations to rapidly change the way they operate. These VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) events drive change suddenly, often catching people off guard and unprepared. In the current environment, achieving the necessary speed for successful project delivery demands active participation from everyone.

Microsoft’s vision for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations is to connect teams across the project delivery lifecycle, creating business agility and resilience.

Project-centric organizations know the necessity of closely managing their projects to improve customer satisfaction and project profitability. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations enables billable project-based organizations to manage all aspects of customer-facing activities, from sales through to project staffing, project delivery, and invoicing.

Project Operations in Relationship with other Microsoft PM Technologies:

Microsoft has several different PM tools ranging from task management to work management to project, program, and portfolio management.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • To Do
  • Teams
  • SharePoint
    • Task Lists
    • Gantt Chart Lists
  • Planner
  • Microsoft Shifts
  • Project Professional (Desktop)
  • Project Online
  • Project for the Web
  • Project Operations

See our comparison of Project Online and Project Operations here.

As an organization that manages projects, Microsoft and other industry leaders recognized that not all toolsets are equal. Managing project work can involve tasks, activities, or deliverables. A project can be anything worked on in groups or teams with time-phased tracking and deliverables with a global resource pool of people, equipment, and skillsets. Each project type has different but connected requirements.

With Project Operations, you fold the best of the different tools (CRM, Finance & Operations, Project Management, and Resource Management) into one experience.

As you look at different PM technologies, you can start to see that there is a need for connectivity between sales efforts (involving estimation of time, materials, resources, etc.) and delivery of the services. Sales and delivery are both key strategic initiatives and may be referred to as a “Portfolio” (work connected to the resources required to deliver that effort). Project Operations is built to help you manage Sales, Tracking, and Invoicing along with your Project Management activities and processes. Let’s look at the key features and capabilities next.

Project Operations Key Features & Capabilities:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations consists of eight functionality areas called “modules.” These tie together what is proposed, delivered, and invoiced. Using one platform to manage all this information promotes higher customer satisfaction and ultimately, better results for customers.

Module: Opportunity Management

  • Enables management to understand the organization’s pipeline, helping the organization be proactive and prepared for new business.
  • Provides visibility into potential opportunities, their cost, and projected profitability.

Module: Project Planning

  • Natively integrated into Microsoft Project to improve your project planning from estimation to completion.
  • Scheduling and management power.
  • Enables salespeople and project managers to collaborate.

·        Dashboards of the cost, duration, and value offered to the prospect or client.


Module:  Resource Management 

  • Optimize your resources across project, customer, and field services.
  • Accurately forecast resource needs, improve project execution, and boost on-time delivery.
  • Provides complete visibility to resources so the best potential fit (skills, cost, availability, etc.) in all cases can be assigned to the project.


Module:  Mobility

  • Provides your project information on the right device for the right role.
  • Access project or customer data from anywhere
  • Built-in professional service automation (PSA) software allows you to collaborate with your team directly, even on the go.

Module:  Team Collaboration  

  • Enable team members to collaborate on projects and maintain current, accurate project status at all times.
  • Proactively identify and resolve potential risks to the success of every engagement.
  • A collaborative and secure workspace for partners, project members, and customers to share information and project deliverables during project execution.
  • Enhance project operational visibility and improve process efficiency.

Module:  Time and Expense Management

  • Enables individual team members and consultants to accurately track their project time and expenses related to specific tasks and deliverables to maintain cost control within the project-based work.
  • Easily enter time and expenses for a project from any device (web, mobile apps, and Microsoft 365), so they are correctly billed.


Module:  Customer Billing

  • Allows project managers to track, update, and approve all project-related costs followed by invoice generation sent or emailed to the customer.
  • Cost management by billing a resource’s time based on the role that the resource is associated with.

Module:  Service Analytics

  • Real-time analytics to go from being reactive to proactive.
  • Interactive business intelligence (BI) to help ensure projects are feasible and profitable.
  • Understand critical KPIs necessary to run a project-based business successfully.


Project Operations comes with Power BI and Cortana Intelligence built in. The SaaS solution enables project and service-driven organizations to identify potential opportunities, submit bids, reach contractual agreements, manage resources, deliver projects on budget and on time, record time and expenses, and invoice the customer according to billing arrangements.

What Project Operations is Not:

I want to clarify that while Project Operations provides a secure end-to-end solution, it is NOT an inexpensive solution.

This application is a full enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The best practice approach (yielding the highest return on investment) to implement Project Operations is to integrate it into a full-service lifecycle.  While this has tremendous benefits, if you have a small budget or aren’t serious about aligning and improving your processes, this won’t be the right tool solution for you.

While components of this (Power BI, Power Apps, Project for the Web) all are applications that can be used separately, they are folded (along with other modules) into the entire workstream process in Dynamics 365 Project Operations. If you’re not sure how or if your organization will leverage all of these apps, it would be best to independently work with them before jumping into Project Ops.

Recommendations on When to Use Project Operations:

If you’re a Dynamics 365 customer or are looking at expanding Dynamics 365 Sales by connecting finance and operations with project and resource scheduling, Project Operations is something you should absolutely consider!

If your organizational maturity around project management is low, this may be too big of a stretch. As a first step, it would be best to look at the enterprise version of MS Project called Project Online or Project Web App. You may also possibly look at Project for the Web (which is, as we’ve said) a component of Project Operations.

Looking Forward:

Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s flagship, and Microsoft will continue to improve, edit, and align its technology in this area.

The MS Project team and the Dynamics 365 team work together on Project Operations. That should tell you a lot about Microsoft’s commitment to make this product great.

Whether you think Project Ops is for you or not, Advisicon stands ready to help you compare, implement, and teach you how to leverage the right level of PM Technology that will best meet your needs.

This technology is under constant improvement, so look for more articles on Project Operations as Microsoft increases its capabilities.

I hope this helped. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss this or other PM technologies.