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Pros & Cons of Microsoft Project 🚀

by Anshul on November 22, 2021

Blog title

What is Project Management Tools?

Project Management is crucial for any business, especially for those which include a lot of variables and need to be managed regularly. The numerous processes involved in any kind of business when coupled with expertise, knowledge, and strategic planning achieve their specific objectives on time and within the stipulated budget along with the fulfillment of other project-specific characteristics. Project management is evolving with the onset of modern technologies that have resulted in the creation of many project management tools to match up with the pace with which the industry is accelerating. Project management tools are software that helps to smoothen out the project management process by assisting project managers and project teams to manage various processes involved in a project remotely and quite effectively.

Project management is necessary due to the multiple operations involved in a certain project that cannot be managed without simultaneous monitoring processes.

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A project management process includes planning& designing, scheduling tasks, coordinating& communicating, regular updating, and evaluation. Project management includes prioritizing processes according to their importance, setting milestones, and directing the respective parties to complete those tasks. After all the planning is achieved initially with the help of a project management process, the entire project is efficiently carried out by the responsible parties by providing better and crucial insights.

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The remote working environment has existed in the industry for a long time but has become inevitable and is trending since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which has necessitated the use of industry-specific project management tools to monitor and manage various roles and positions in the corporate world. Project management tools in the industry are vast in numbers and only a few of them are used by a majority of organizations.

What is Microsoft Project?

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Microsoft Project is one of the most commonly used project management tools in the industry to manage a variety of projects irrespective of their field. It is a flexible project management and scheduling software that has been used commercially since the 1980s. Microsoft Project’s robust project management tools and techniques manage projects quite effectively and efficiently. The most recent version of Microsoft Project management software was released in 2019. It was initially web-based which was later on made available as a desktop-based application and uses the Azure cloud as its public computing platform. Microsoft Project management software has a user base of more than 20 million and over 10000 organizations, including big names such as Coca-Cola and AIMCO.

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Microsoft Project is a project and works management software that empowers professionals to manage projects and make changes as per the project status and change in the project process or objectives. It provides user-friendly tools that can be easily operated by anybody, provide flexibility as per project requirements, manage projects of any size, and maintain transparency across the organization. Microsoft Project management software offers a simple and innate user interface where users can shift between grids, graphs, Gantt charts, etc seamlessly to track progress. It provides integrated support from Microsoft Teams to enhance coordination where team members can share data, schedule and hold meetings. All the team members who have access to respective data can co-author or edit information simultaneously and can be on track with help of the automated scheduling feature based upon tasks, duration, and supplies. Microsoft Project has provisions that provide diverse options to create interactive dashboards in Power BI to visualize various aspects of the project. Power BI is an advanced platform on which Microsoft Project has been built, which provides advanced analytics to control and configure decision-making from anywhere. The RoadMap feature of Microsoft Project provides a big and enhanced picture of all the tasks occurring across the project.

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Microsoft Project comes offers three different subscription packages, Project Plan 1, Project Plan 2, and Project Plan3, more commonly known as Project For the Web, Project Online, and Project Online Desktop Client respectively.  The above can also be considered to be the uses of Microsoft Project which can be simply understood as Project Management, Portfolio Management, and Resource Management. These usages can be briefly explained as:

  • Project Management-Microsoft Project has a user-friendly interface for scheduling tasks that empowers the users to organize operations, direct team members according to operations, and assign details such as cost and duration of the tasks. Project managers can keep an eye on the task schedule via different data presentation techniques such as bar charts, Gantt charts, grid view, etc. Coordinating between different teams working on the same project and all stakeholders is also facilitated by providing features such as editing and updating of item lists, schedules, hierarchies, etc. Microsoft Project also has an attractive feature of timesheet submission that allows tracking of project and non-project times for invoicing or payrolls.

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  • Portfolio Management-The name itself is quite self-explanatory, which means the management of various projects. Microsoft Project has provisions to manage multiple projects and programs of an organization simultaneously and set priority to these projects. Advanced features of Microsoft Project such as business intelligence allow modeling of different scenarios that are possible to assist organizations to choose the best course of action along with higher profit ratios, and also evaluate and compare proposals at hand against objectives and requirements.
  • Resource Management-Microsoft Project helps in early prediction of resource requirements, hod-ups, resource utilization, etc to ensure timely project completion. The project team and its function can be defined by the user, resources can be requested as per demand, and tasks can be assigned as per the resources using Microsoft Project along with resource utilization tracking across the project. The progress on resources, projects, programs, and portfolios can also be tracked using Microsoft Project.

Advantages

There are a lot of features that make the Microsoft Project tool advantageous and some of them have been explained below:

  • Planning and Scheduling-Planning and scheduling is an essential part of a project management process and Microsoft Project helps users to prioritize tasks, schedule them, define the various steps involved in them, and finally assign them to the respective team or members. It assists in timeline visualization as it can link dependant tasks or create sub-tasks and can set criteria for tracking progress. Teams have full visibility of the ongoing tasks and projects status from the shared team calendar which allows users to sync work schedules and send meeting notifications. This is crucial for any organization that handles multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Integration-Microsoft Project is compatible with other software such as Microsoft 365, Microsoft TeaMicrosoft, Skype, Sharepoint, etc. It is also easily integrated with Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft software.
  • Flexibility-Microsoft Project is quite flexible due to certain features such as the road mapping tool and financial management. Users or teams get more choices to configure the project according to any changes or user requirements. Microsoft Project tracks resource availability and assigns costs accordingly in order to monitor and evaluate how the priceless resources are being used.
  • Structured Reporting-Reporting is an important aspect of the project management process that allows project managers to monitor project progress, remaining work, and employee behavior. Microsoft Projects allows users to customize their report formats to include all project status aspects and meet the user’s requirements. These reports can include cost spendings, resources in stock, tasks accomplished, and even an entire project overview. These reports not only provide essential insights into project tasks and operations but also assist in computing employees’ work hours to provide their salaries according to it and to ensure that they complete the work on time.
  • Remote Working-Users or teams can review, update and work on projects or tasks simultaneously from anywhere in the world. Not only can they work from anywhere in the world but also on multiple devices to increase productivity.
  • Secure Platform-Organizations that deal with a huge amount of sensitive data and investment need secure tools to protect their information sets. Since the data on Microsoft Project is integrated with Azure which has been built as one of the most expensive and advanced threat intelligence systems that ensure the security of data.
  • Interactive Dashboards-Microsoft Project offers a variety of interactive dashboards that can be configured data in a variety of visualization formats to provide better insights into a project’s process. The dashboard feature has attractive features such as customized graphs and charts that keep the operations, tasks, and progress of the project streamlined and comprehensive.

Disadvantages

Although Microsoft Project is a top-class, powerful, flexible, and great team-up tool, it has its own set of disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages include :

  • Intensive Training for Beginners-The learning curve for Microsoft Project is not a simple straight line curve for anyone who is not familiar with the software and can be overwhelming to new users. Project managers have often complained about the large time requirement that is needed for freshers to learn and navigate Microsoft Project.
  • Expensive Subscriptions-Many users have complained about the expensive subscriptions they had to purchase in order to use the software or some of its features. Some even feel that the price charged as per the functionality is higher than what should have been and also that the cloud-based versions are not the same as on-premise versions. Due to this many users who are able to purchase only some features of Microsoft Project lack productivity. It is certainly not a viable option for small businesses.
  • Compatibility Issues-Users who do not have Microsoft Project subscriptions or Microsoft Projects on their devices cannot open any Microsoft Project file due to Microsoft’s proprietary file format for the software. Even free software that is available on the internet to open Microsoft Project files can only open it in read-only format and cannot be edited. Some features with which the file has been prepared are also missing sometimes when opened from different read-only software.

The use of costly project management software is not everybody’s cup of tea, especially for small businesses. In order to manage and inspect every little process taking place on a construction site, a project manager can certainly use free construction project management tools to perform his role much more effectively and efficiently.

Powerplay application is a free tool that has provisions for managing almost all construction processes and cultures. The project manager can easily keep track of the site status remotely from the powerplay application and thereby provide directives and steps for further progress from the application itself.