If you have not been closely following MS Ignite 2015, there is a chance you missed one of the key feature announcements, which is that Project Online is going to get a new feature called Resource Engagements.

This, in my opinion, addresses one of THE most annoying lack in previous versions of Project Server.

I will not rehash what has already been covered by a very well presented Demo, at Ignite 2015, which you can find here: Resource Engagements (skip to the 24:30 mark). Rather, in this post I will cover why I think this is going to be a really powerful feature and problem solver for many many organizations

1) Formal Request and Approval Process

I always believed that the biggest differentiation for Microsoft Project Server over other similar products in the market place is Resource Management piece. However, over the years, almost all Project Server Consultants have had to jump through hoops, find workarounds for one of THE most common scenarios i.e. where a Project Manager formally requests and gets approval from the Resource Manager before assigning work to a resource.

We used Resource Plans, Workflows, Generic resources, Semi-Generic Resources with Assignment Owners, Team Resources and so on, but none came closer to what the customer actually wanted. Resource Engagements feature is directly aimed at doing that and fills that gap, without having to put in a lot of effort.

2) Reporting on the’Commitments’

I cannot count the number of cases, where I either heard the Resource Manager or the Project Manager complain because the other party is not honoring what they committed to sometime ago. Generally these commitments are maintained outside the system in an excel sheet or a some other format, and is not easily reconcilable with project data. I am not saying it is impossible, especially with Power BI etc., but for an average user, this should be straight forward and inbuilt. and that’s what this feature does. When there are formal ‘approvals’ in the system, they can be easily reported.

3) Puts the Resource Manager in charge

In almost all the organizations, the Resource Manager is directly responsible for the scheduling of the resources, and their work. However, the tool so far has been geared towards the Project Manager, and Resource Manager comes after the fact. I think this is the first feature where a Resource Manager gets to ‘lead’ the cycle of work assignment, where he/she can create engagements directly without having to go through the Project Manager. This relieves a huge block in this chain, and lets Resourcde Manager conduct their business.

I am sure there are several other use cases out there waiting to be discovered, so if you are on Project Online, jump on this as soon as you get your hands on it!