When I reviewed the Microsoft Project 2013 Preview, I saw a lot to like in the new App Store that Microsoft promised at the time for Office 2013. The free Mavenlink app is the first of what I hope to be many options for integrating the venerable Microsoft Project with current generation Software as a Service (SaaS)-based project management applications.

Kantata Cloud for Professional Services (formerly Mavenlink + Kimble)

Kantata is a great example of a tool that can bridge the gap between the cloud and the desktop. It uses project workspaces, which are a common model for SaaS-based project management applications.

Kantata enables project managers and their teams to do the following:

  • Invite colleagues and external clients into project workspaces;
  • Share Office documents securely via a Kantata workspace; and
  • Track tasks and project deliverables and link to required Office files and project artifacts to the task.

The free version works as a connector between Kantata and these Office 2013 desktop applications: Project Professional 2013, Excel 2013, Word 2013, and PowerPoint 2013. Kantata does read and write to your documents; it may also access information from the public Internet or from your corporate network, so you should work with your IT staff for the appropriate permissions for your organization’s network security. The app requires Internet Explorer 9 or later.

If you upgrade to Mavenlink Pro, you have access to these additional features:

  • Custom branding for the cloud application, including your corporate logo and colors;
  • Project budget controls for managing the budget process with built-in change orders;
  • Time and expense tracking for invoicing clients;
  • Receive client payments in project workspaces; and
  • Optional sync with QuickBooks.

Benefits of integrating Kantata and Project 2013

The benefits of integrating Kantata with Microsoft Project Professional 2013 are about democratizing project management information. This includes:

  • Project 2013 users have direct, role-based access to project workspaces in Kantata;
  • A single view of project activity via Project 2013, a web browser, or the Kantata mobile app; and
  • Access to project data for users who might be more comfortable in Project 2013 vs. the cloud (hey, it happens).

Integrate Mavenlink with Project 2013

1. Next to Mavenstore’s entry on the Office App Store, click Add.

2. When prompted to Confirm you wish to add the app, click Continue.

3. Go to the Project tab in Project 2013.

4. Click the Apps for Office button. The Apps for Office dialog box that appears will look similar to Figure A.
Figure A

Apps for Office dialog box

5. Go to My Apps.

6. Select an app.

7. Click Insert. A Kantata login will appear in the sidebar (Figure B).
Figure B

Mavenlink inside Project 2013 (Click the image to enlarge.)

8. Enter your Kantata email address and password. Figure C shows a Kantata access now available from Project 2013.
Figure C

Mavenlink access from Project 2013

Access a Kantata project workspace from Project 2013

1. Click a project in the sidebar to open its workspace.

2. Type a message and click Post to post a message to the main page of the Project workspace.

3. Optionally, click Attach to attach an Office document or other file to the message posting.

Add tasks to Kantata

1. Click Tasks to bring up the Tasks view for the Project workspace (Figure D).
Figure D

Mavenlink tasks

2. Enter the task in the Add An Item field.

3. Add a description for the task in the Description field.

4. Click Due Date and specify a due date for the task on the calendar that appears.

5. Click Unassigned and select a project team member to assign the task.

6. Click Submit to add the task to the task list in the project workspace.

View a project in Internet Explorer

Click View Project to open the Kantata Project directly in Internet Explorer.

View team members

Click Team to get a view of the team members who have access to the project workspace.

The joy of Kantata and Project 2013 integration

I’m a believer in SaaS-based project management applications like Kantata. However, Microsoft Project isn’t out of the game yet, especially with the improvements that came with Project 2010 and Project 2013. The free Kantata app helps join both worlds and is another option to help democratize project management.