Microsoft Project software remains one of the most popular options available on the market as it can be one of the most cost-effective – especially if your organization is already invested in Office 365.
However, some organizations find that Project lacks the full capability that they require. For instance, companies working on large-scale projects are dealing with resources on an equally large scale. With numerous people, monetary and material resources to align, they need to be able to predict and manage future outcomes as accurately as possible—something that Project does not offer out of the box.
Yet, Microsoft must be doing something right.
- Project has 20 million users—more than any other project portfolio management (PPM) solution.
- Over 10,000 organizations use Project, including Volvo, Deloitte and Coca Cola.
- Two independent research projects, one in 2015 and one in December 2016, both reported that 67% of the companies surveyed used Microsoft Project.
In this post, we will weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft Project software, so that you can make an informed assessment on whether it can do enough for you and your projects.
A good project management solution should:
- Help you make the right choices
A fundamental requirement is that it helps you make decisions about managing resources, costs, people, and equipment in a way that results in the greatest business value.
- Predict future outcomes
Something unexpected will always happen. Therefore, risks need to be planned for. What’s needed is a solution that provides insights and foresights to help projects run smoothly.
- Visualize what is going on
Project managers need to be able to see what is going on. The best solutions generate clear and concise reporting on how projects develop, so that you can keep track of progress (and failure) and make the right choices using real-time reports.
- Allow for collaboration
Often neglected in PPM tools, communication is vital. Everyone needs to know what is going on, what is expected of them, and be alerted when new tasks are assigned to them. What’s more, users need to be able to report any unforeseen barriers, ask for guidance when needed, and share documents and files.
Let’s now look at how Microsoft Project software stands up against these requirements.
Flexible and powerful
Microsoft released the first iteration of Project over 30 years ago. During this time, Microsoft have added more and more capabilities and used their experience to create a solution that is more powerful and flexible than any other tool available. Due to the vast scope of its functionality, Project can be put to use in most scenarios.
Integration with other MS tools
As a part of Office 365, Project Online is connected to the rest of Office 365 productivity tools, meaning you have access to a wider range of functionality than most PPM tools. For instance, seamless integration with Excel is highly useful.
Great for collaboration
Office 365’s collaboration tools enable you to connect with your team easily. With a choice of Outlook, Teams, Yammer or Skype for Business, teams can communicate in real time through the medium of their choice, through instant chat, conference calls or traditional email.
Advanced features require training
Most users find Project easy to pick up at first. However, training is often required when utilizing some of its more advanced features, which can involve a steep learning curve.
Powerful insights but unintuitive
Project does not offer the same level of sophistication in modelling and forecasting as alternative PPM solutions. For instance, Project does facilitate what-if analysis, but it is much harder to configure than other solutions This can make it hard for project managers to see beyond the here and now and mitigate for all possible outcomes.
Reporting is not up to scratch
Visualizing how projects are progressing is an essential requirement of PPM tools. Many users do not feel Project offers enough here. Common complaints include that customized reports are difficult and time-consuming to create, and unsatisfactory real-time dashboards make it hard to truly stay on top of projects.
For organizations that feel that Microsoft Project software doesn’t quite cut it alone, there are other options available. ProSymmetry’s Tempus Resource is the perfect answer for those looking to enhance the capabilities they already have with Microsoft Project.
In the real world, projects change, staff leave, equipment fails, timeframes change—organizations need a PPM solution that helps them manage all the vagaries of project management. Tempus Resource can be used in conjunction with Microsoft Project to do this.
Your existing project plan can be copied over to Tempus Resource, so that you can take advantage of its sophisticated modeling, forecasting, and what-if analysis. Once you have allocated your resources accordingly, you can feed this information back into your project schedule in Project.