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Microsoft Project 365 for Scrum, Kanban, and Hybrid projects 

 January 9, 2023

By  Dave Litten

Using Microsoft project 365 for managing Scrum, Kanban, and Hybrid projects

Using Microsoft Project 365 for managing Scrum, Kanban, and Hybrid projects
How we manage projects has progressed to include approaches for plan-driven projects (waterfall) with defined scope and adaptive projects (Agile) where the content can evolve.

Microsoft Project 365 can support combined plan-driven and adaptive approaches within the same project file.

Microsoft Project 365 For Sprints

If you are new to adaptive or agile projects, you must know what a sprints project is. A Sprint is a time box or interval to accomplish work, usually lasting one to four weeks.

A fundamental difference between a sprints project and a plan-driven or waterfall project is that with a waterfall project, the scope is fixed, and you estimate how long it will take to accomplish that scope.

In a Sprint project, there are fixed timeboxes, and you estimate how much work you can accomplish in such a time box.

Updates and clarifications have been made to the latest Scrum guide, which should be reflected in the execution of Scrum within the Microsoft Project.

Scrum Changes In 2023

The primary purpose of the scrum master is to significantly improve team performance by helping everyone understand scrum theory and practice within the scrum team/organization.

The self-managing scrum team focuses on the same objective with different accountabilities for the product owner, scrum master, and developers.

The development teams are self-managing scrum teams, choosing what to work on, who will do it, and how it will get done.

Microsoft Project 365 also harnesses the use of Kanban. Much like Scrum, Kanban methodology relies on dividing complex projects into smaller ones, while Kanban uses Kanban boards to visualize the workflow.

The main difference between Scrum and Kanban is that Scrum aims to limit the time required to accomplish a task, while Kanban limits the amount of work to be done in work in progress. Both methods can be used together if needed.

Microsoft Project 365 Task Boards For Kanban

Scrum is suited to projects for new/changed processes, products, or services.
Scrum could be better suited to highly interrupt-driven work (such as a Help Desk).
An alternative agile approach is to use Kanban/Task Boards.
Task Boards visualize how work flows through a system by limiting the work in progress (WIP) and measuring and optimizing the workflow to suit your available capacity.
Task Boards use a “pull” approach where work is only pulled when there is capacity to do it – thus preventing work bottlenecks.
Limiting the number of backlog items a team can work on at a given time helps increase focus while reducing context switching.

Microsoft Project 365 Does not use the term Kanban; instead, it uses the words Task Board and Task Board sheet.

Microsoft Project 365 Task Boards For Kanban

During the Sprint, team members pull work items (for example, user stories, tasks) from the top of the Sprint To Do list to work on. Various team members will work on the different work items or their subtasks.
The status of an item is updated when needed by moving it from one column to the next on the Scrum Board until it is done.

Neither does Microsoft project use the term Scrum. Instead, it uses the terms Sprint Planning board and Sprint Planning sheet.

Lets Fire Up Microsoft Project 365

The Sprint planning board recreates the Scrum board with post-it notes to represent each task ordered in columns representing each Sprint. You have total flexibility over the number and naming of sprints and their start and finish dates.

Getting Started With Microsoft Project 365

Once each Sprint duration has been set up correctly, entering tasks directly onto the Sprint planning board is a case. You can assign resources, modify the work value, and change task sprints here.

The Sprint Planning Board

Like the product backlog, you can prioritize tasks within a Microsoft project.

Prioritizing Tasks In Microsoft Project 365

Using the Sprint planning sheet, you can insert new columns and assign a function to each.

Microsoft Project includes filters allowing you to focus on crucial aspects of your Sprint or Task Board project. These will enable you to see only the information you need to see, which is particularly helpful when using Microsoft projects for Hybrid projects.

Using Filters For Focus

You can apply filters to view just the active tasks in the backlog, in the current Sprint, current Sprint remaining tasks, and when selecting a specific Sprint.

Most importantly, you may combine regular waterfall-style and agile projects within one project file. It is straightforward to insert one project into another and set up, for example, a sprint project within a plan-driven or waterfall project.

Indeed, you can set up any combination of waterfall/Sprint project arrangements.

Blending Agile And Scrum With Waterfall

You may want a waterfall project with a sub-set of agile or vide-versa.

Keep an eye out for Projex Academy’s forthcoming Microsoft Project 365 Masterclass.

Microsoft Project 365 For Scrum Kanban And Hybrid Projects Masterclass

Dave Litten


Dave spent 25+ years as a senior project manager for UK and USA multinationals and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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