Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Ultimate Microsoft Project Management Review – Features, Pricing and Alternatives

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Last Updated on September 2, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz

Microsoft Project Management guide

Are you having trouble managing your projects? Have you given Microsoft project management tool a thought?

Can I be frank with you?

Managing a mid-size project isn’t easy. You have to manage teams, control the budget and also ensure quality output.

But with good project management software, your work becomes enjoyable.

About Microsoft Project Management

Microsoft Project Management
microsoft.com

Microsoft Project is a project management software developed by Microsoft to help project managers in their project management duties. In particular, it has inbuilt features that allow all tasks and functions related to the projects to be accessed and managed from a single place.

Furthermore, this popular software is among the top-rated. It comes in two editions, the standard and professional. It promises to help its users in planning, managing, and delivering tasks effortlessly.

Microsoft Project Management is ideal for large corporations with complex projects and advanced project management experience. However, it can prove too complicated for startups.

Similarly, like everything else, this project management software has its pros and cons, which include:

Pros

  • It integrates with the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Microsoft Project has excellent reliability and support.
  • It comes with ready-to-use templates.
  • Incredibly detailed in terms of planning.
  • Interactive Gantt charts.

Cons

  • It has a steep learning curve.
  • It is more on the pricey side.
  • Microsoft Projects can be overwhelming for first-time users.
  • It has a general focus.

1. Things to Consider Before Buying a Project Management Software

Projects involve various individuals, resources, and tasks. These need to be well-coordinated to achieve desired objectives. Hence, managing this can be difficult and consume a lot of time. Good project management software can ease the process.

Any business with numerous complex projects and diverse teams needs a project management tool. In particular, to help schedule, assign tasks, and track the project’s progress. As well as, to ensure that projects are completed within planned time and cost constraints. However, if you are just starting, a more straightforward tool like excel could already meet your needs.

As a project manager, you need to have the bigger picture of every project to ensure they achieve the desired goal. As a result, you need to stay up to date on projects. Thereby have all the information at your fingertips. However, this can be quite a hassle, especially when dealing with diverse teams and numerous projects. This is where a useful tool comes in handy.

Some of the things you need to consider before settling for a project management software include:

  • Your requirements – First, determine what your needs are based on existing strategic goals, business and project objectives.
  • The software’s functionality – Software should have the ability to be integrated and function smoothly with the company’s processes. All the features should also be fully working.
  • Ease of use– The tool should be easily navigable and not complicated. As a result, all users should be able to use it without difficulties.
  • Cost of the tool – In particular, consider the financial resources that you can set aside for the software. Thereby, decide on a solution that is within your budget.
  • Implementation and training requirements – Check out the intensity of training required before implementing software.
  • Customer Support – Good software should come with excellent customer support. The software provider should be readily available to offer assistance as and when required.
  • Company reputation- A household name comes with quality assurance. Consider companies with good reviews and an outstanding reputation.

2. Microsoft Project Management Software: Features and Benefits

The salient features of this project management tool include:

Planning and scheduling

Generally, planning is the most crucial stage in project management. Here, Microsoft Project Management comes with various tools for scheduling and task management. These tools include:

Task Prioritization

Prioritization helps the team identify all tasks regarding a project. Above all, it focuses on handling the most critical first. Here, the tool uses Kanban cards, Gantt charts, task lists, and project roadmaps as its primary task scheduling options.

Users use these tools to list tasks, set task time, and add other relevant information to enable project tracking.

The task prioritization feature is excellent. It helps with proper time management to tackle the most critical and urgent tasks first. Above all, it ensures that they are completed in time.

Task Management

Microsoft Project Task Management
microsoft.com

This feature allows the definition of task activities and facilitates their assignment to various team members.

Task Management is important. Besides, it fosters adherence to schedule and ensures that all necessary tasks for project success are considered. As a result, it helps to facilitate the completion of projects within time and budget.

Team Calendar

This allows users to create a custom task calendar. This can be seen and used by all project members. Particularly, it is used to notify members of upcoming meetings and events. It enables them to synchronize their work schedules.

Using the team calendar feature has been greatly useful. It keeps all team members up to date with all the things happenings around a project.

Timeline view

This enables viewing the project progress and keeping track of the project activities from one place. In addition, this feature presents the entire project’s information in a top-down task list.

Perspective

This feature can help present the big picture of a project’s information by providing a snapshot of key tasks and milestones.

This is especially useful in presenting information regarding a project to the executives and stakeholders in meetings.

It helps the project manager easily see where the project stands. It also identifies any tasks and deadlines that are likely to lag.

Collaboration

Every project comes with various tasks involving different people. Particularly, communication and collaboration among all is crucial for completing the project successfully.

Thus, this feature is essential. It helps connect activities and all team members hence promoting productivity.

Microsoft Project Management comes embedded with collaboration features that include:

File sharing: Allows team members to share files. In addition, it ensures that every member has the relevant documentation. Besides, it helps avoid miscommunications hence limit interferences while working on the project.

Team dashboards: In short, a dashboard provides an overview of all crucial and relevant information regarding a project. Hence, this feature allows adding graphs, charts, tables, and data presentations. As a result, it helps organize and visualize the upcoming work better.

Particularly, this feature is useful during meetings and presentations to showcase all relevant information for easy follow-up.

Client data sharing: This feature allows for the safe storage of customer data. Similarly, it enables users to access and share it.

Since a project involves a lot of collaboration between the business and its clients, this feature ensures that team members have access to all the information they require to accomplish tasks.

Budget Analysis

Microsoft Project Management comes with a budget analysis feature. It analyzes the resource rate and the resource assignment cost making it easy for project managers to evaluate the project’s cost.

As a result, this feature allows streamlining of the various factors that affect the total cost of the project. Furthermore, it utilizes the tools below for budget analysis.

Budget reports: The software comes with customizable budget cost fields in the project summaries that are viewable on the dashboard and exported.

The feature is quite helpful in facilitating monitoring and control of project costs to ensure it delivers expected goals within an approved budget.

Timesheets: It allows creating and submitting customized timesheets that aid in invoicing and payroll set up within a single solution.

Resource Management

Microsoft Project Management has various inbuilt features that help keep track of and monitor all resources available and identify potential ways in which they can be used for the projects beneficially.

Microsoft Project Management Tracking
microsoft.com

These tools also help you assign costs to resources and help to determine if they are underused, overused, or adequately used.

This feature is particularly beneficial as it will help ensure optimum resource allocation and avoidance of wastages.

Ever since I started using the resource management feature in my projects, wastage has been eliminated as it has helped me realize optimal resource allocation.

Some of the tools used in this feature include:

Resource request: This enables users to make requests and lock resources to ensure that projects are sufficiently staffed. This helps in saving costs.

Heat maps: Enables the visualization of how resources are utilized to identify overused or underused for optimized assignments.

These help to ensure that the resources are put to optimal use for improved productivity.

Resource analytics: Enables comparisons between actual and forecasted budgets and presents reports that allow you to monitor progress.

Reporting

Microsoft Project Management enables you to come up with excellent reports with little effort. In addition, it has features that allow tracking of projects’ progress by monitoring the finished and remaining amount of work.

This is an essential feature as it helps to save time. You can use the following features to come up with customized reports that address your team’s needs.

Burndown report: This is a visual representation of uncompleted project work in relation to time. It shows the project status by comparing planned, completed, and remaining work via charts based on your ongoing project data.

The feature is beneficial as it helps you identify areas of the project that need more attention and help divert resources to those areas.

Project overview: Displays all necessary details and information about a project on a single page. It uses graphs and tables to show where each phase of the project stands, upcoming milestones, and tasks that lag behind schedule.

Task lists: Lists all activities essential to complete a project

Cost overview: Gives details on all costs incurred and the estimated cost for completing the project.

Managing Multiple Projects

Microsoft Project Management is built with the ability to handle several projects simultaneously without compromising on other ongoing projects.

This feature is beneficial especially to project managers juggling a number of projects all at once, as it enables them to manage them with ease effectively. It utilizes the master project plan feature to effect this.

Master project plan: This enables a single project manager to switch between projects simultaneously by providing data about the project, collaboration, and reporting all in a single platform. This helps save time as there is no need to switch from one platform to another to get information.

Different views

Microsoft Project Management comes with the ability to present project data in different ways. This feature facilitates breaking down large amounts of data into small pieces and then presenting it clearly to all users. In addition, this enables them to identify areas of the projects that are behind schedule.

Utilizing different data presentations facilitates an easier understanding of the project regarding completed and uncompleted tasks. It makes use of tools like;

Gantt charts: Gives an instant overview of a project, its related tasks, and the time required to accomplish these tasks. It visually outlines all activities relevant to a project, their order, and the timeline.

Calendars: Helps the project manager to schedule all project activities in a common platform that is viewable by all team members.

Portfolio Management

This helps in distributing, managing, and prioritizing tasks based on urgency and other relevant rules.

It facilitates the modeling of different scenarios in project management to come up with the best possible path.

Business intelligence system: Microsoft Project Management comes embedded with Microsoft Business intelligence system, which collects, accumulates, and analyzes project data to facilitate easier management of the projects. An essential feature to save time and money.

Security Features

Microsoft Project presents various tools to ensure the system’s security by limiting system access to authorized users, which is vital. It ensures that your business is safeguarded and keeps intruders and hackers away.

Some of the security features presented by the software include:

Account controls: This allows you to set team, task, and project controls limiting access to relevant users only.

Two Factor Authentication (2FA): This allows you to use an extra identity verification during the sign-in process. Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is an essential feature to safeguard your business information by restricting access to authorized members.

Single sign-on integration: As part of the Microsoft 365 suite, it allows you to take advantage of single sign-on capabilities.

3. Pricing

Microsoft Project Management has two modules, the cloud-based and the on-premise solution. As a result, each classification has different pricing based on the tier.

Cloud-based solutions

Plan Cost
Project Plan 1 $10.00 user/month
Project Plan 3 $30.00 user/month
Project Plan 5 $55.00 user/month

Project plan 1: This comes at the cost of $10 monthly per user and has limited features, including kanban boards, team access, task status update, and export projects.

Project plan 3: This tier has all the features in tier 1 plus desktop application, Gantt charts, timesheets, resource management, project road mapping, task project financials, and assign project resources to tasks. It comes at the cost of $30 monthly per user.

Project plan 5: With a monthly cost of $55 per user, this package has project analytics and portfolio reports in addition to all features of previous tiers.

On-Premise Solution

Project standard: Which comes at a one-off cost of $620. The features allowed include project schedule and cost management, installed desktop application, reporting, tasks, and business intelligence.

Project professional: This costs $1030 and comes with time tracking, resource management, online project syncing, payroll, and invoicing added to all the features above.

Project server: This package allows for negotiations with the client. It has all the previous features plus an ability to evaluate project ideas from anywhere and advanced project analytics.

4. Social Proof

While reviewing this project management tool, I was also interested in understanding existing Microsoft Project Management users’ perceptions.

In short, Microsoft Project Management can help you manage a large team and help you not to over-allocate both human and financial resources. It also keeps you updated on key project tasks by sending notifications on due dates, uncompleted tasks, and milestones achieved.

Here is what users have to say

Century Exteriors Inc

See full review

Maxis

Microsoft Project Management has helped us to create shortcuts to planning, creating, and deploying projects. The task can be marked with a time frame, and the system will send a notification if the task is still not completed before the due date.

See full review

5. Microsoft Project Management Drawbacks

Despite being a great tool, it also has its share of drawbacks.

  1. It has a steep learning curve, and as such, it requires substantial learning and experience before one can use it effectively. The difficulty faced by first-time users has been cited as the main reason for choosing a different tool.
  2. The tool is also quite costly hence unaffordable to small start-up businesses as they opt for cheaper alternatives.
  3. It has limited integration options with other non-Microsoft applications, restricting users from using Skype, Outlook, or other Microsoft applications for project collaboration.

6. How to set up Microsoft Project Management

Follow the steps below to set up Microsoft Project Management.

Step 1: Sign in to download the project

  • Visit www.office.com and select ‘sign in.’
  • Sign in using the account you chose for the version of your project.
  • Select ‘Install’ from the home page.
  • Search for your preferred version of the project and click install.

For project online professional or premium

  • From the home page, click on Install Office apps and select other install options.
  • Go to the project and then select your preferred language.

Step 2: Install project

  • Select run, set up, or save, depending on your browser.
  • Choose Yes for the prompt question that pops up.

Microsoft Project Management Alternatives

Microsoft Projects Management is undoubtedly a handy project management tool. However, there are also other great tools that you can look into. These include:

1. Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects Interface
zoho.com

Zoho Projects has a simple, easy-to-use interface. It comes with a mobile application and includes extensive Gantt chart features and capabilities at a good price, making it an all-round management tool.

In brief, its features include task management, time tracking, and resource management. Also, it integrates with all Zoho applications plus several third-party applications, including Google.

What makes it a good alternative is that it has adequate features for project management at a fair price starting from $3 monthly per user. Therefore, Zoho is ideal for start-ups or small businesses with few projects and a limited budget.

Want to know more? Check out our in-depth review of Zoho Projects.

Zoho Projects Microsoft Project Management
Fairly priced ($3 /month) Quite pricey starts from $10/month
Works with several collaboration tools Limited collaboration tools
Greater integration as it allows third-party apps. Integration with Microsoft apps only

If you are looking for a pocket-friendly yet comprehensive tool, give Zoho Projects a trial.

2. Monday.com

monday.com interface
monday.com

Monday.com allows you to plan, organize, and track tasks in a single place. Besides, its simple structures help in clearly defining the sequence of activities that need to be done.

Furthermore, it has easy-to-use and modify spreadsheet-like features. Also, it provides varied ways to view your projects, including lists, kanban cards on a map, among others. It starts at $39 per month for up to 5 users.

Besides, its colorful and immensely intuitive interface with simple structures that enables easy understanding of the tasks makes it a good alternative. However, it’s best for business with a team of up to 20 members.

Interested to learn more? Check out our Ultimate Monday.com Review.

Monday.com Microsoft Project Management
Low learning curve Has a steep learning curve as it requires a lot of training to commence use
Intuitive interface with easy to use features Has a complicated user interface hence not user friendly
Highly visual Low visualization

Get started with Monday.com today.

3. Wrike

wrike
wrike.com

Wrike is an all-in-one folder-based project management tool that offers robust scheduling, planning, and management in real-time.

In brief, task management, team collaboration, resource optimization, portfolio management, report, and many other features. Similar to the other alternatives, it provides many views like timelines, boards, cards, etc.

It costs $ 8.90 monthly per user. In particular, this tool is best for businesses without experience in project management.

Wrike Microsoft Project Management
Easy to get started as its simple to use Complicated hence it requires training before it can be used.
Low cost ($ 8.90/user)monthly The high cost ($ 10/user) monthly
Allows integration with various third-party Apps Limited integration as it only integrates with Microsoft Apps

Click here to try out Wrike today if you are bound on cost-saving.

Over to You

Microsoft Project Management is an excellent project management tool that helps project managers successfully complete projects within agreed scope, time, and cost constraints. In short, it enables effective planning, scheduling, and management of all project tasks to ensure that projects achieve intended objectives.

However, for small businesses of 0-20 teams, this tool can help, but to be honest, it’s suitable for large corporations with advanced project management requirements.

Microsoft Project Management is also too pricey for small businesses or entrepreneurs who are just starting.

This should support you in finding the right project management software for your business. Need assistance in setting up or running your projects? Then do not hesitate to contact us today.

Click here to Try Microsoft Project Management Software Now

 

Mandy Schmitzhttps://mandyschmitz.com
Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

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Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

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