Why does Microsoft Excel fall short when it comes to successful project management, and what can alternative solutions offer business in 2018?
Project management in the digital era
Digital transformation is the name of the game at organizations across all industries. Cloud-based apps have revolutionized the modern workplace – with productivity tools providing new ways for colleagues to connect, collaborate, and streamline previously slow and laborious processes.
However, can we truly say the same has been the case for project and resource management?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes – task management apps like Asana, Basecamp, Trello etc. are enormously popular. However, these apps are only suitable for task management for teams with short-term objectives. Large organizations with projects that stretch out over long periods of time and that involve enormous budgets, lots of moving parts, and vast numbers of resources will find these tools lacklustre. Project managers and members of PMOs at organizations of this size need something with a bit more bite. Often, this leads many to use a combination of Microsoft Project and Excel.
Microsoft Project is a powerful project and portfolio management (PPM) solution with a wide range of functionality; however, it does have its limitations – notably in resource management. Resources are an integral part of any project – a project manager needs full visibility over their resources, real-time updates about individuals’ project progress, and the ability to plan for and react to changes across their resources as and when they emerge. Microsoft Project falls short on these criteria.
Excel falls flat in the modern workplace
Organizations using Microsoft Project often end up relying on Excel spreadsheets for resource management. While Microsoft has updated many of its popular tools in the age of digital technology, Excel remains stuck in the dark ages. There’s little room for manoeuvring in Excel – it is what it is, while the modern workplace demands:
Excel can be:
- Inflexible – Although one of the advantages of Excel is that can be applied to so many different areas of work, this also means it is used to carry out actions that it was not designed for. Excel was not initially created with resource management in mind. It’s true that it can carry out basic resource management tasks, but there isn’t room for the complex functionality a project manager would require. Excel is rigid and inflexible – the experience of trying to get Excel to carry out more demanding project management tasks is often like fitting a square peg in a round hole.
- Slow and opaque – Every project manager knows that unexpected obstacles regarding their resources can appear at any moment, bringing a project to a standstill. To deal with the unexpected, project managers need tools that allow them to react in an agile manner, that give them full visibility over their resources, and that help them make changes as quickly as possible.
With Excel, project managers are confronted with pages and pages of cells, which makes it not only difficult to figure out what needs to be done to overcome the present challenges but often makes it difficult to see what has gone wrong in the first place. If changes are to be made, new spreadsheets need to be manually updated and fed into Microsoft Project to be implemented – which takes time and can result in human error when under pressure.
- Hard to use – Although many users will be familiar with Excel, most only have a basic understanding of how to use it. Few have the expertise in Excel to execute the complex actions required for advanced resource management on projects of the size that large organizations are dealing with every day.
An alternative solution to Excel for project management
It’s now well and truly time to stop using Excel for Project management – there can be no more excuses. Tempus Resource is a sophisticated tool that can take care of all of your resource management needs. What’s more, Tempus Resource integrates with all major PPM tools, including Microsoft Project.
Adding and importing data couldn’t be easier
Import resource data directly from Excel or enter it directly using Tempus Resource’s easy-to-use and intuitive UI.
Stay on top of project progress with Tempus Resource’s state-of-the-art, real-time reporting and data visualization. Not only does this give you full visibility over your resources during a project, but it can be used to plan beforehand, to get sign off from stakeholders, and to report results on completion of your project.
Intelligent ‘what-if’ analysis allows project managers to model and test scenarios to determine the probable outcomes of the decisions that might make. You can move resources around and see how that affects resource allocation and resource utilization. This allows you to plan for any possible outcome in a risk-free environment but also to react intelligently to unexpected barriers to project progress when they occur.