The Pros and Cons of using Microsoft Project Software

There is no doubt that one of the world’s most popular project management software is Microsoft Project. Developed and sold by Microsoft, it is designed to provide organizations and teams with efficient tools to better manage their projects. It helps managers in developing plans, assigning tasks to members, tracking the progress of tasks, controlling finances and schedules, communicating project information, and organizing work and manpower.

In the software, managers can use the Work Breakdown Structure feature or WBS to enter the tasks for a project and assign them to specific people who are referred to as Resources. There is also a shared resource pool that can be shared among projects where the equipment and materials can be found. These can also have their own calendar so that users can see when these are available.

As part of the Microsoft Project package, an easy-to-use assistance wizard can be used as a guide throughout the course of the project. This means that even beginner project managers can utilize the software from project creation and resource assignment to the distribution of tasks and obtaining final results. Of course, team members can collaborate with each other through sharing files with other members, the use of a team dashboard for an overview of the status of the project, and sharing client data to guide the team in their work.

Microsoft Project Uses

Microsoft acquired the software from another company and since it released its first version in 1985, people have been impressed by its capabilities. Here are some of Microsoft Projects’ uses.

  1. Project management. The main use of Microsoft Project is for project management. The software comes with built-in templates that follow industry best practices so that users are sure to start on the right path. It also provides managers with scheduling features like Gantt Charts and pre-populated pull-down options. Additionally, Microsoft Project allows users to quickly view all activities that are planned for a project through an easy to understand the timeline.
  2. Portfolio management. With this software, organizations are better at evaluating project proposals systematically. It uses a standardized process where management is fed with detailed business cases for easy review. Because of this, organizations can evaluate project ideas from various areas in the organization.
  3. Resource management. Resource management is one of the most important tasks an organization has to do consistently. By using Microsoft Project, teams have the power to forecast resource needs, predict bottlenecks early, manage resource utilization, and ensure timely delivery. Through Resource Engagements, users can lock in and request resources to help ensure that all projects are properly staffed.

The Cons or Disadvantages of Microsoft Project

  1. It is desktop-installed. It is appalling enough that Microsoft Project needs to be purchased. Add to that, it can only be installed on a desktop computer and on Windows PC. In today’s advanced technology where people are always on the go, working remotely can be challenging.
  2. It has a steep learning curve. Project managers and their teams need to work fast, so they have to learn using the software fast. Unfortunately, Microsoft Project requires intensive training and experience for it to be used effectively. Most laymen and people who are not highly technical find it difficult to use the software and maximize its features. It has been seen that this is one of the reasons why a good number of small-medium businesses are looking for other software that is more user-friendly.
  3. It is expensive. Microsoft Project is available through two pricing plans – the desktop plans and the cloud-based versions. Because smaller businesses can only afford a handful of licenses, this might interfere with the team’s capability to collaborate among themselves. It can also be a problem in terms of sharing information and updates in real-time with clients and stakeholders. As to the cloud-based versions, these do not exactly have what the desktop plans have, limiting the team with what they can do.
  4. It has issues with compatibility. Because Microsoft Project saves files in a proprietary format, files can’t be accessed in PCs that do not use the same program of Microsoft. This means that for a manager to be able to send files that can be understood by the team and clients, the recipients should also have Microsoft Project installed on their computers.
  5. Its focus is general. Microsoft Project can be used for practically any industry, including construction, pharmaceuticals, retail, government, manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services. However, it is not catered to specific ones which means that project managers who use it might not actually need it.

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

The Pros and Advantages of Microsoft Project

It is time to take a look at the better side of Microsoft Project and this is illustrated below.

  1. It integrates with Microsoft Software Suite. Project managers who want to invest in Microsoft Project can easily integrate with Office 365. Also, Skype and Sharepoint are compatible with MS Project. The interface of Microsoft Project is similar to various MS products, including Excel which is commonly used by almost everyone.
  2. It is a veteran in the programming industry. As Microsoft Project was first released in 1985, it already has developed through the years. For the past 26 years, Microsoft has continuously enhanced many of its features to better suit the needs of the different users.
  3. It has great reliability and support. Because Microsoft is the most reputable software company in the world, reliable support is provided to its users. In fact, third party support services are already available for this software.
  4. It can be used for financial management. This means that the software can be used by managers in estimating the right budget for projects to avoid overspending and getting underfinanced.
  5. It is a desktop application. This has already been mentioned above as a disadvantage. However, this is also an advantage since the application can be run even in the absence of an internet connection. This also makes it easier for the user to locate files as these are stored locally.
  6. It allows using templates that are ready to use. Though different projects have different natures, they do have the same components from inception to transition. Times spent on setting up the fundaments are greatly reduced by creating a few basic templates.

Conclusion

Microsoft Project is one of the oldest project management software the world knows. Yet, there are still aspects of it that need improvement. This just goes to show that there is really no one-software-fits-all thing in the world of software. It is up to project managers and their teams to decide on the tools that they think most closely fit their needs.

Mae Remedios Virtucio

Mae Remedios Virtucio

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

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