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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

The way we manage projects has progressed to include approaches for both plan-driven projects (waterfall) with defined scope, and adaptive projects (Agile) where the scope can evolve along the way.

Microsoft project 365 can support both approaches in the form of 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 will need to know what a sprints project is. A Sprint is a time box or time interval to accomplish work usually lasting one to four weeks in duration.

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.

There have been updates and clarifications make to the latest scrum guide, and these should be reflected in the execution of scrum within 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 practise within the scrum team/organization.

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

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

Microsoft project 365 also harness’s the use of Kanban. Much like scrum, Kanban methodology relies on the division of complex projects into smaller ones, while Kanban uses Kanban boards for visualisation of the workflow.

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

Microsoft Project 365 Task Boards For Kanban

Scrum is suited to projects for new/changed processes, products, or services.
Scrum is not well-suited to highly interrupt-driven work (such as a Help Desk for example).
An alternative agile approach is to use Kanban/Task Boards.
Task Boards visualizes how work flows through a system by limiting the work in progress (WIP), and measuring and optimizing the flow of work 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, rather it uses the terms Task Board, and Task Board sheet.

Microsoft Project 365 Task Boards For Kanban

During the sprint, team members pull work items (user stories, tasks, etc.) from the top of the sprint To Do list to work on. Various team members will work on the various 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 which are ordered in columns representing each Sprint. You have total flexibility over the number and naming of sprints along with their start and finish dates.

Getting Started With Microsoft Project 365

Once each Sprint duration has been set up correctly, it’s simply a case of entering tasks directly onto the Sprint planning board. Here you can assign resources, modify the work value, and change sprints for tasks.

The Sprint Planning Board

Just like the product backlog, you can prioritise tasks within 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 key aspects of your Sprint or Task Board project. These allow you to see only the information that you need to see, and this is particularly helpful for when you are using Microsoft projects for Hybrid projects.

Using Filters For Focus

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

Most important of all, you may also use the combination of regular waterfall style projects and agile projects within one project file. It is straight forward 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 arrangement.

Blending Agile And Scrum With Waterfall

It may be that you 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


David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for 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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