Pros & Cons of Microsoft Project

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Today, more teams are working across different locations and timezone as remote and hybrid teams become the norm. With greater distances between team members, work visibility can deteriorate and negatively affect business processes. These are some of the challenges that project teams face today. Microsoft Project is a software solution that aims to address these challenges, or does it?

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Pros of Microsoft Project

Microsoft 365 Integration

Microsoft 365 is a popular productivity tool that is present in many homes, schools, businesses, and enterprises. Any user with a Microsoft 365 account can easily access MS Project and start managing projects. Since modern teams work everywhere with tools they like, they can easily organize project-related files and conversations, and link these together with project plans and schedules created in MS Project.

Project Planning

Microsoft Project includes a robust scheduling engine that is continually improved since its launch decades ago. Its dynamic scheduling features enable users to manage every project plan, priority, and dependency that are critical in project management and delivery. Users can easily switch functions and views to make sure that tasks, resources, and schedules are complete.

Flexibility

MS Project is a proven tool for managing traditional projects using Waterfall methodology. It can show in a single timeline with a predictable workflow all the deliverables expected in a project. However, the project management software now also supports Agile methodologies. With board view, co-authoring tools, and seamless integration with Microsoft Teams, users can easily add new members, work with cross-functional teams, track tasks in sprints, and collaborate with others simultaneously.

Scalability

Users can manage projects of all sizes using Microsoft Project, but it is especially helpful with larger and more complex projects. There are many solutions to manage small and simple projects, but MS Project can deliver even when users have to manage bigger teams, longer tasks, and complicated schedules. The project management software delivers a consistent interface and experience for different project management requirements.

Cons of Microsoft Project

Training Time

MS Project may have a familiar Microsoft interface but to get the most out of its features and capabilities, a user needs some training and familiarization. This may not be an issue for a dedicated PM professional. However, a younger workforce who are more familiar with simple, visual tools may find this a negative point for the software. Also, accidental PMs who may have been charged with a one-off assignment may see this as unnecessary.

Cost Constraints

With a steady inflow of new and innovative tools with affordable price tags, the price of MS Project seems higher compared with competition. Some competitors also offer generous free plans and affordable plans with more features included. The benefits of using MS Project is more evident with the use of resource management and portfolio optimization features but these are only available at the highest pricing tier.

Limited Integrations

Outside of the Microsoft product line, MS Project is not as easy to integrate with other apps. Users have to use import/export tools to connect data from and into other tools. This is an extra step that can slow down, disrupt, or even introduce errors in the data flow. Customers may want more flexibility with their technology solutions to have options and contingency.

Missing In-app Collaboration

MS Project enables collaboration through Microsoft Teams. This lack of a built-in tool within Project that teams can use to collaborate is one of the cons that users bring up repeatedly. Teams that use Slack, Jabber, or another chat/collaboration tool will find themselves hopping between environments—a condition which isn’t very conducive to extended deep work. Organizations that are not Microsoft-centric would have to switch to Teams or Microsoft 365 to have a seamless way of communicating and collaborating with team members and stakeholders. For startups and SMBs, or for companies with an existing collaboration tool, this additional expense must be factored into cost estimates.

Microsoft Project Features & FAQs

Microsoft Project is a project management software that helps teams get organized and have an increased level of control and confidence in delivering projects successfully. The re-imagined MS Project continues to be a powerful tool relied upon by countless project managers in planning projects and scheduling work. It has also become more intuitive to enable teams to manage projects even if they are not yet trained to do so.

Project for the web

Microsoft Project for the web provides simple work management capabilities to meet basic team needs and roles. A project manager or team member can use it to create a project plan and manage work. It has project, task, and time management features, along with a comprehensive Project Home, multile project views, dependencies, milestones, and task scheduling. It integrates with Microsoft Teams, generates reports, and automates workflows. Available on all MS Project subscription plans, its capabilities continue to grow over time.

Project Online

Microsoft Project Online is a flexible solution for project portfolio management. It enables project and resource managers, administrators, portfolio managers, and team leads to plan, prioritize, and manage projects and portfolio investments. Microsoft states its commitment to support customers currently using the software and no end-of-support date has been set. However, it also encourages customers to start creating new projects using Project for the web instead.


Read our complete review of Microsoft Project Online


Project Online Desktop Client

The Online Desktop Client for MS Project is a desktop program that can work as a standalone software or can connect to Project Online. It is a subscription so users will always have the latest edition of the software. Its features includes project and task management such as different project views, baselines, milestones, dependencies, critical path, and task scheduling. It also has resource and financial management, custom and out-of-the-box reporting, customization, and file import/export tools.

Microsoft Project pricing is available as cloud-based and on-premise solutions. The cloud-based solutions are as follows:

  • Project Plan 1 – $10 per user/month, includes Project for the web and Project Online Essentials, which is a limited version of Project Online
  • Project Plan 3 – at $30 per user/month, includes Project for the web, Project Online, and Project Online Desktop Client
  • Project Plan 5 – $55 per user/month, includes Project for the web, Project Online, and Project Online Desktop Client

On-premise MS Project solutions are Project Standard 2021, Project Professional 2021, and Project Server. The editions of Project Server follow the same schedule as that of SharePoint Server.

Microsoft Project is not included in Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 includes task management tools like Microsoft To Do and Microsoft Planner. These tools can help users of all skill levels organize work and allow teams to quickly create plans, assign tasks, and collaborate. However, Microsoft Project is available as an upgrade and is free to try for one month.

How to Use Microsoft Project

MS Project is a comprehensive project management software used by businesses across industries. It is a preferred tool by teams using traditional PM methods but the software now also supports Agile project management methods.

Simple Project Management

Microsoft Project is a modern business tool that enables any team to start a project with its highly visual interface. With a design and menu consistent with other Microsoft products, users can create and complete a project plan to tackle all kinds of initiatives. It includes different project views to give teams a range of perspectives. Its task management, scheduling, automated timeline, and collaboration features allow team members to work together while project managers use tracking and reporting tools to keep the project on track.

Professional Project Management

MS Project is widely used in various industries for its ability to track and manage complex project timelines and schedules. Its grid, board, and timeline (Gantt) views give teams the flexibility to plan and monitor projects in different ways. Companies can create a centralized roadmap view of all their projects and programs to help align goals and efforts. Its scheduling, built-in templates, and integration to Power BI provide enterprise-grade features that give companies the tool to deliver valuable results.

Portfolio Management

With its ability to take on multiple projects, MS Project is a good portfolio management and optimization tool. Organizations can model different scenarios so they can weigh project proposals against business goals and determine the best path. It has interactive views that put together projects, programs, and portfolios for greater visibility. Its dashboards, reports, and process management helps to standardize how companies evaluate projects and proposals systematically.


Read more: Top Portfolio Management Software


Resource Management

MS Project includes a resource engagement feature to systematize the requests for and allocation of people in projects. Its capacity heat maps provide instant view of how much or little team members have on their workload. It has built-in analytics and shareable reports to monitor trends, analyze data, and forecast usage. Overall, the software ensures that there will always be people to work on projects.

Microsoft Project is a solid project management software for teams and companies who need to manage multiple projects of varying sizes. It is ideal for managing complex projects with large teams. Its scheduling, resource management, and project cost reporting are among its strengths.

All software solutions, however, have their pros and cons. MS Project may be a poor match for businesses with small and simpler projects with short duration. An organization using non-Microsoft platforms such as Google Workspace may have to invest in more products if it decides to adopt Project as its PM tool. Companies, therefore, should evaluate their present systems and future needs before implementing a project management solution like Microsoft Project.

All things considered, Microsoft Project is a proven, capable project management solution, especially if your organization has gone all-in on Microsoft’s other systems. On the other hand, If you’re interested in learning about other project management systems, check out these options.

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