The re-imagined Microsoft Project is a simple yet powerful project management tool that enables teams to tackle projects of all sizes. The more intuitive user experience allows any user to plan a project, create a task, monitor progress, and report its status as often as needed. Here we take a closer look at Microsoft Project’s pros and cons to help you decide if MS Project is the best fit for your needs.
Table of Contents
- What Is Microsoft Project?
- Is Microsoft Project Included in Microsoft 365?
- Microsoft Project Uses
- Pros or Advantages of Microsoft Project
- Cons or Disadvantages of Microsoft Project
- Is Microsoft Project Right for You?
- Top 3 Microsoft Project Alternative Software
What Is Microsoft Project?
Microsoft Project is work and project management software that enables professionals to manage projects and the numerous changing deadlines and requirements of their day-to-day jobs. The new MS Project is a simpler tool than previous iterations, and flexible enough for any project type and size. From small businesses to enterprise users, it streamlines project planning and promotes project visibility across the organization.
MS Project’s interface allows users to switch between grids, boards, and Gantt charts to visualize and track task progress in the way that best suits the situation. Integrates with Microsoft Teams supports collaboration and lets team members share files, chat, and hold meetings. Distributed team members can edit a task simultaneously. Automated scheduling based on effort, duration, and resources helps teams stay on track.
Built on the Power Platform, users 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.
MS Project offers cloud-based solutions and on-premise solutions. For cloud-based solutions, Microsoft the following applications to help teams and companies meet its work and project management needs:
Project for the Web – Often simply referred to as, Project, this version includes Project Home, Roadmap, and an intuitive, web-based interface to help informal project managers plan and manage work.
Project Online – This flexible iteration includes functionality to handle project portfolio management and everyday work, including planning, prioritizing, and managing projects and project portfolio investments.
Project Online Desktop Client – The desktop/laptop version delivers Microsoft’s project management platform with automated scheduling, project resource management, and built-in reporting that teams can use in a standalone configuration, or can connect to Microsoft Project Online.
MS Project’s cloud solutions are available as Project Plans 1, 3, and 5. Microsoft Project Plan 1 includes different work views, collaboration, timesheet submission, and other core project management features like planning, scheduling, and reporting.
Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 include more advanced Microsoft tools like Roadmap, portfolio management, additional desktop clients, demand management, and other enterprise tools.
On-premises solutions include the latest versions of Project Standard and Project Professional for users who do not need collaboration tools. Also available as an on-premise solution is Microsoft Project Server for project portfolio management and everyday work and project management.
Is Microsoft Project Included in Microsoft 365?
Microsoft Project is not included with any Microsoft 365 plan, but users can add the service. Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise plans can include web, mobile, and desktop versions of Microsoft Planner and other apps and services in the Microsoft ecosystem but it does not include MS Project Online by default. However, MS Project does have built-in connections to MS Teams and Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Project Uses
Since its initial release in 1984, MS Project has and continues to undergo improvements and enhancements to become an important Microsoft product used in several situations, including:
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. Built ready for collaboration, it allows co-authoring so project teams can work together with other stakeholders to edit and update task lists, project schedules, task dependencies, and priorities. Teams can also use MS Project for timesheet submission as it captures project and non-project time and links it to payroll or invoicing.
MS 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.
MS 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.
Pros or Advantages of Microsoft Project
When it come to working seamlessly with Microsoft’s market-dominant ubiquitous Microsoft 365 Office suite, Microsoft project is nearly unbeatable. The project management software works seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, Skype, Power BI, and Microsoft SharePoint, along with with easier integration into Azure and other Microsoft platforms. The ribbon interface is similar to various Microsoft products like Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft Project software is a pioneer among project management tools. Commercially released in 1984, its stable code base and software continually get enhanced for more relevant features that suit the emerging needs of its users.
Microsoft as a reputable software company provides reliable support to its users. Partners, consultants, and third-party support services are available for this software.
MS Project management software is flexible enough for other purposes such as roadmapping or financial management. The deployment options as on-premise or cloud-based solution also provide teams and companies with more choices to fit their particular user requirements.
Cons or Disadvantages of Microsoft Project
MS Project has become more intuitive over the years but among its cons is that it can still be overwhelming to new users. When people are thrust into project management jobs out of necessity, or as informal project managers, MS Project software will require them to spend substantial training time to avoid getting lost in Project’s robust but complex UX, which can lead to underuse and missing big-picture goals.
Microsoft Project management software is available as an on-premise or cloud-based solution. It can be prohibitive for small businesses to purchase many licenses for an on-premise solution, which limits the collaboration capability of the team. 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, function-for-function matches of the on-premises applications, which can result in compatibility issues.
File Compatibility Issues
MS Project saves files in a proprietary format, so PCs that do not use the same program cannot open them. When a project manager needs to send files to clients and other stakeholders, the recipient needs a compatible program or else perform an extra step of creating compatible formats or printouts.
Is Microsoft Project Right for You?
In the project management industry, newer applications have based their innovations on many of Microsoft Project’s features as well as its limitations.
In this Microsoft Project review, we’ve seen that the company continues to rely on customer feedback 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.
Top 3 Alternative Software Solutions to 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, these three options offer robust alternatives to MS Project, with smooth user experiences and powerful automations.