Information overload is a real thing that threatens to derail projects. End users are already familiar with software that is not built for project tracking but for specific information-processing tasks that then rely on external workarounds for collaborating or following up. Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets spreadsheets are a good example of this work around – not only does information get sorted and organized in these sheets, they’re often just emailed to people without much indication of what’s been updated.
With the introduction of Project Moca – in preview as part of Microsoft 365 for consumer, education, and select commercial subscribers – users now have a tool to set up a dedicated space for storing all the information related to a project or other planning. It's similar to the productivity tool Trello.
According to Microsoft, Project Moca has three main tenets:
- Organization is a key aspect of productivity
- Save time by having everything related to a project or plan in one place
- Quickly finding an item related to a project or plan will help the user be more effective
To easily understand Project Moca and its approach to content organization, let’s first break it down and then get hands-on with the new tool.
What Is Project Moca, Exactly?
The Project Moca service itself is equivalent to a filing cabinet. Each Project Moca plan or project space is equivalent to a drawer in that filing cabinet. Project Moca refers to that drawer as a canvas. In that file cabinet there are folders, those are called buckets in Project Moca. These file folders contain different items and documents – in Project Moca these are called cards and can contain a variety of information, as detailed below. These items, which can also be filed in the drawer without a folder are also called cards in Project Moca.
Just like a file cabinet with its drawers, file folders, and various items tucked into those drawers, Project Moca provides the freedom to organize items based on an individual workflow and not what a specific service or software dictates.
While it does not appear that Project Moca plans and projects can be shared with others, elements that are stored in Project Moca can come from shared resources such as cloud storage for files, and a project’s to do items do sync with Microsoft To Do and can be accessible in Microsoft Teams. Ultimately, based on this hands-on walkthrough, it looks like Project Moca is focused on an individual’s tracking and completion of projects versus a broader team approach such as that in Microsoft Planner.
Microsoft's Project Moca is in early preview which means anything could potentially change along the development path before it is made generally available to users. For enterprise and education Microsoft 365 tenants who want to make this available to their end users, Microsoft has provided a PowerShell command to enable it to be available by default:
Set-OwaMailboxPolicy OwaMailboxPolicy-Default -ProjectMocaEnabled $true
Hands-On With Project Moca
To get started, open Outlook for the web and look for the Project Moca icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen – this is called the module switcher. If for some reason it is not available, click the ellipsis menu (…) to find it.
Project Moca Icon in Outlook for the Web
Clicking on the Project Moca icon will open the main page of Project Moca. It provides five templates (Weekly, Project, School, Meal, and Personal Wellness) that provide an initial layout on the Project Moca canvas, the workspace where all the various items will be laid out to start organizing the project.
The other option from this page is to use a blank template and start from scratch.
Project Moca Main Page
Project Moca Template
The blank template dialog requests five pieces of information to help with setting up a new Project Moca canvas. Note that only the first is required; the rest can be added to the project later.
- Project Name
- Three co-workers who are involved with this project. This is only used for search and not collaboration
- Project keywords are also used for searching e-mail and events in Outlook for related items
- Drop-down list of template options (None, Weekly, Project, School, Meal, and Personal Wellness)
- Once the applicable information has been filled in, click Create to build your new Project Moca canvas workspace
Project Moca Project Plan Template Blank Canvas
This is an example of a Project Moca workspace using the Project plan template. Each of the other templates will have a layout that accommodates that type of project. The entire workspace canvas is still 100% customizable no matter which template is used as a starting point.
Project Moca Context Menu
Each item on the Project Moca canvas has an ellipsis menu (…) that opens a context menu to allow customization of that item. This includes due dates, color, moving the item into a bucket, or removing it from the canvas to delete it.
Project Moca Card Context Menu
This context menu is like the last one except it has an option to open the item in a new browser tab. This will be available on any item that can be viewed elsewhere such as emails, files, weather, and location cards.
Adding a Due Date in Project Moca
Capturing Items from Outlook in Project Moca
In Outlook for the Web, any email or calendar item can be sent to any Project Moca project by using the content menu for emails or events. Just select the specific Project Moca plan to capture them for the project.
Where Captured Items from Outlook Appear in Project Moca
Items captured in Outlook for the Web will show up on the right-hand toolbar and each can be dragged to the canvas as part of that project.
Project Moca Scrollable Canvas Top View
The canvas workspace for any Project Moca plan is ever expandable and customizable. Scrolling up or down will open more space for organizing items plus the canvas can be zoomed in or out to open up space on the left or right.
Project Moca Scrollable Canvas Bottom View
Here is the view of a Project Moca canvas being scrolled down towards the bottom.
Project Moca Canvas Populated
This image provides a roadmap to the Project Moca canvas and items that are present in the UI and on the canvas workspace itself.
- Left-hand main toolbar. Provides options for changing projects, adding buckets, notes (syncs with Sticky Notes), Files (from cloud services), web links, tasks (syncs with Microsoft To Do), set project goals, insert a weather card for a specific location, under the ellipsis (…) there are options to add a location or person card to the canvas.
- A bucket containing two emails.
- Weather card.
- Bucket containing one email and a to do item.
- Individual tasks with due dates.
- A note (synched with Sticky Notes).
- A second bucket containing an email.
- A third bucket containing an email.
- Link to a file stored on OneDrive. Also supports other cloud providers used by the organizer.
- Website link.
- To Do item on the canvas.
- Location card with map link.
- Right-hand sidebar menu contains search, capture items, and project settings.