If you have an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription (O365 or M365), you might have noticed a new icon called “Project Moca” in Outlook Online. Here’s what it is, and how you can use the project management tool.
Project Moca is Microsoft’s name for something that will be called “Outlook Spaces” when officially launched to the public. It’s been available in the Insider build of O365 for a little while. It’s now made it to Preview, which means that Microsoft is opening up access to a lot more people to get feedback and gauge user reaction.
Normally, an app that gets this far will be previewed using its final name—Outlook Spaces, in this case. When you open the Project Moca link, you’ll even be taken to https://outlook.live.com/spaces/, but for whatever reason, the company kept the “Project Moca” name.
So, what is it? Well, Project Moca is a collaboration tool for project management. It’s part Planner, part Whiteboard, part Sway, and part something new. If you’re wondering why Microsoft called it “Moca,” it seems to be a play on “MOCHA,” a project management framework.
Not everyone will have access to Project Moca. To see if you do, log into your O365/M365 account, open Outlook Online, and look at the bottom of the app bar on the left-hand side. If you have the Project Moca app, it’ll be at the bottom.
When you click on the icon for the first time, you get to choose a template or select a blank canvas.
Project Moca then opens the space settings, where you have to enter a name for your space, but everything else is optional.
If you enter the name of contacts who are involved in your project that you’re working on as well as keywords, Moca will look for matching emails, documents, and other files in your O365 account that you can add to the canvas. Hit “Create,” and your canvas will be generated.
Depending on what template you selected, you’ll get different defaults on your canvas. They’ll be named differently depending on the template, but whichever you choose, you’ll get Kanban columns you can drag emails, documents, and tasks into.
These are the same as buckets that you get in Microsoft Planner. On the right-hand side, there will be an Activity section which, if you entered contact details or keywords, will automatically be populated with emails and calendar events from your Outlook.
There will be other things on the canvas depending on which template you pick, like milestones, goals, a weather app, and links to Microsoft searches on a topic.
You can add as many things as you like from the sidebar found on the left-hand side, like tasks, links, and files.
And, that’s about it. The canvas can be as large as you like, so the number of things you can add to it seems pretty limitless (just like the Whiteboard canvas), although the focus of the app seems to be the buckets of tasks (just like Planner) surrounded by any additional information you want to add (just like Sway).
As Project Moca is still a preview at the time of writing, it’s missing a lot of what might seem useful, such as collaboration and sharing tools. It’s very manual, so you can set up buckets and tasks yourself, and there’s no way to automatically move tasks when you change their status, nor does it give you the option to signpost a flow with things like arrows or other visual aids. Sure, you could create your own images and paste them in, but some Visio-style flowcharting options would definitely give such a wide-open and freeform tool some boundaries and direction.
However, let’s stress that this is a preview, and Microsoft generally adds a lot of features onto their early applications over time. It’s an interesting idea that certainly has potential, even if right now it doesn’t feel ready for prime time.