Microsoft Project Pros & Cons

Microsoft Project

In 2018, Microsoft shared a new vision for work management to help teams collaborate on projects more efficiently. The concept of a project has changed significantly. Today, projects take on many shapes, sizes, structures, durations, and compositions. So the new Microsoft Project provides work management tools that allow project teams to advance strategic initiatives, drive change, and solve problems with a redesigned user experience.

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What Is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is a project and work management solution that enables all professionals who manage projects to stay on top of the changing requirements of their day-to-day jobs. It provides tools that are simple for anyone to use, flexible for any project type, powerful for initiatives of any size, and transparent for visibility across the organization. The software offers a simple and intuitive interface where users can switch between grids, boards, or Gantt charts to track progress. It integrates with Microsoft Teams to support collaboration where team members can share files, chat, or hold meetings. Distributed teams can coauthor or edit tasks simultaneously. Automated scheduling based on effort, duration, and resources help teams stay on track.

Built on the Power Platform, the new Microsoft Project for the web gives users greater visibility into their projects. They can create interactive dashboards in Power BI to visualize important components of each project. They can also get the big picture view of all projects across the organization with a new Roadmap feature. Getting started is easy with subscription Project Plan 1, a project management service for teams in need of managing task-oriented projects. Teams can assign tasks and dependencies. They can also schedule and track project work. Users who need both web browser and desktop client can choose Project Plan 3, while those who need project portfolio management tools can choose Project Plan 5.

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Is Microsoft Project Included in Office 365?

No, Microsoft Project is not included with any Office 365 plan, though it readily integrates with Office tools. Cloud-based Microsoft Project plans start at $10 per user per month, while pricing for on-premises solutions begins at $620.

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Microsoft Project Uses

The first Microsoft project management tool was a DOS program used by the company internally to manage an increasing number of software projects. Since its initial release in 1984, it has and continues to undergo improvements and enhancements to become one of Microsoft’s important products used in several situations, including:

Project Management

Microsoft Project software comes with familiar scheduling tools where users can list tasks, assign them to team members, and set details such as duration and due date. It includes different views like grid view, board view, and timeline/Gantt chart view where project managers can oversee schedules. As a collaborative software, it allows co-authoring so project teams can work together with other stakeholders to edit and update task lists, project schedules, dependencies, and priorities. Teams can use it also for timesheet submission as it captures project and non-project time and linked to payroll or invoicing.

Portfolio Management

Project allows users to manage multiple projects and programs of a company and provide information as to which initiatives should have priority. Modern features such as business intelligence can model different scenarios and help organizations determine the best path and the higher value. It has features to help evaluate and weigh project proposals against business goals and drivers. Companies can also use Microsoft Project management software for demand management as a tool to capture ideas across departments and check them against a standard process.

Resource Management

Microsoft Project lets teams forecast resource needs, predict bottlenecks early, manage utilization, and ensure timely project delivery. Users can define the project team, know when to request resources for the project, and assign tasks to resources. Additionally, they can view and compare resource utilization across projects. Pre-built reports can help them track progress on resources and also on projects, programs, and portfolios.

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The Pros or Advantages of Microsoft Project

Integration

Project integrates with the ubiquitous Microsoft 365 Office suite. The project management software also works seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, Skype, Power BI, and Sharepoint, with easier integration to Azure and other Microsoft platforms. The ribbon interface is similar to various Microsoft products, such as Excel.

Dependability

Microsoft Project software is a pioneer among project management tools. Commercially released in 1984, it is a stable software that continually gets enhanced for more relevant features that suit the needs of its users.

Customer Support

 Microsoft as a reputable software company provides reliable support to its users. Partners, consultants, and third party support services are available for this software.

Flexibility

Microsoft Project management software is flexible enough for other purposes such as a roadmapping tool or for financial management. The deployment options as on-premise or cloud-based solution also provides teams and companies more choices to fit particular user requirements.

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The Cons or Disadvantages of Microsoft Project

Requires Training

 Project has become more intuitive over the years but it can still be overwhelming to new users. When people are thrust into project management jobs out of necessity, Microsoft Project software will require new users to spend time training to avoid getting lost in the details and miss the big picture goals.

Cost Constraints

Microsoft Project management software is available as an on-premise or cloud-based solution. It can be prohibitive for smaller businesses to purchase many licenses for an on-premise solution, which then can interfere with the team’s capability to collaborate amongst themselves. Sharing of information and updates in real-time with clients and stakeholders will be an issue, too. In comparison, the cloud-based versions are not exact products of the on-premise software, which can result in compatibility issues.

File Compatibility Issues

Microsoft Project saves files in a proprietary format, so PCs that do not use the same program cannot open them. When project managers need to send files to clients and other stakeholders, they have to check if the recipient can open the files with a compatible program or perform an extra step of creating compatible formats or printouts.

For project managers who are looking for other software alternatives to Microsoft Project, this Top 3 Software Alternatives to Microsoft Project Online article provides suggestions.

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Top 3 Microsoft Project Alternative Software

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Microsoft Project software is among the pioneers in the PM software industry. New applications have based their innovations on its features as well as its limitations. Microsoft Project continues to rely on customers to help shape the direction of its future releases. Going forward, the company states that all innovation will occur in Project for the web but Project Online subscriptions are not going away yet. They aim to help users understand the new Microsoft Project offerings, when, and how it will best support users’ business needs so they can start planning their transition.

Microsoft Project pros & cons

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Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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