Microsoft Project may be one of the top project management software offerings on the market, but is it the right solution for your development team’s needs? We will help you figure that out by breaking down MS Project’s pros, cons, and pricing in this review.
Microsoft Project’s Pros And Cons
As with most project management tools, MS Project has both its pros and cons. Luckily, it has more of the former, making it an ideal project management solution for experienced developer teams and project managers who can get past its rather steep learning curve.
What Are MS Project’s Pros?
If your team already uses Microsoft products, such as Microsoft 365, that may be the biggest reason to use MS Project. MS Project works seamlessly with other Microsoft offerings, giving developer teams access to robust messaging, office productivity, and database tools through simple integration. And, if you need to manage complex projects at scale, you should find the following features right up your alley.
Developers should not feel constrained when using Microsoft Project, as it lets you manage projects in multiple ways. It supports Agile and waterfall project management, hybrid methodologies, custom workflows, Kanban, Scrum, and more. If you place a premium on such versatility, you will find it here, unlike some other PM software that restricts its support to more basic projects.
Besides offering support for various software development methodologies, Microsoft Project can also be easily customized to fit your PM style of choice. Whether you want to add new tasks, tweak the duration, or add newsprints to a project, you can do it all with just a few clicks of your mouse.
Familiarity for Microsoft Fans
As mentioned, MS Project is ideal for users of other Microsoft products. It has a similar feel to Excel, so if you have experience with that software or similar spreadsheet solutions, you should have an easier time getting used to Project. However, just as Excel has its own learning curve that you will need to navigate to make the most of its features, you will have to do the same here.
Easy-To-Use Home Screen
Microsoft Project’s home screen makes it super simple to manage various projects at scale. It has a centralized view that gives you instant access to the information you need, and you can use it to open recent projects or start new ones.
Powerful Enough For Larger Organizations
As you search for project management software, you may find that many are suited for smaller teams or beginners. That is not necessarily the case with Microsoft Project, as it works exceptionally well as PM software for medium or large organizations and development teams.
Team members and project managers will love the fact that MS Project lets you manage projects via various views. Even better, it gives you the power to switch between your favorite views on the fly. As your project management style and needs change, the software can change with you, and this flexibility is one of MS Project’s top selling points.
Here are some of the viewing options that make Microsoft Project a great project management tool for software development teams:
- Kanban board – Ideal for looking at a software project’s overall status.
- Gantt chart – A visual timeline that helps you view the relationship between tasks and track dates.
- Grid view – Lists pending tasks so you can plan projects with ease.
Beyond multiple project views, Microsoft Project lets you customize task boards to your liking.
Time Tracking Tools
One of the biggest reasons teams use project management software is to boost efficiency. One way to boost efficiency is to ensure that your developers’ time is well spent. That is where MS Project’s timesheet submission feature comes into play. It lets each member track how they spend their time to better estimate how long it will take to complete tasks and projects, while also seeing where improvement is needed.
Microsoft Project takes time tracking to another level since it lets you measure time spent on a task and lets you classify the work completed. For instance, a team member may fill out their timesheet, logging how long it took to complete a specific task, such as coding a module or implementing a patch. As an added detail, they could classify that task as maintenance, a system upgrade, or adding functionality, which can then be used for job costing, invoicing, and payroll.
Since many PM software offerings do not include time tracking features, getting it via MS Project in this advanced format helps it stand out from some of the competition.
You can use Microsoft Project to generate professional reports for personal use or for sharing with stakeholders and executives through presentations. Although MS Project’s reports could be considered complex and high-level, they are surprisingly simple to generate. Go to a page’s reporting section and select the desired data, and you will be good to go. To make the report easier to digest, you can customize it with tables, visual elements, and more.
Out of Microsoft Project’s features, its resource management may be its most advanced offering. With it, project managers can assign tasks based on each team member’s capacity. You can also manage other items besides human resources, such as equipment, hardware, software, materials, and more, with plenty of detail.
Many project management solutions do not include resource management as a standard feature, if at all, so getting it here is a definite plus.
MS Project’s Cons
While Microsoft Project has many pros in its favor, it also has a few cons that may make you think twice before making it your PM software of choice.
Steep Learning Curve
MS Project seems to be built under the assumption that its users are well-versed in project management concepts. As such, there are two types of people who benefit most from Microsoft Project: Technical users and experienced project managers. The PM software is not engineered for beginners. Even if you have general technical knowledge, you will likely struggle to make the most of its robust feature set, even with tutorials at your disposal.
If you are looking for a project management solution that you and your entire team can get the handle of right off the bat, you may want to look elsewhere. MS Project’s steep learning curve could prove to be more of a hindrance than a help for your team if you lack the technical knowledge to navigate the software successfully.
If you place a premium on third-party integrations, MS Project may not be your ideal fit as a project management solution. It is mainly geared to work with Microsoft apps, so you may be out of luck if you want to integrate with popular developer tools like Slack, Zapier, Salesforce, GitHub, and the like.
Microsoft Project comes up short in the collaboration department despite its many strengths. Instead of communicating with team members within MS Project, you will have to do so outside of the software with something like Skype, Teams, or Outlook.
How Much Does Microsoft Project Cost?
MS Project’s pricing is split between cloud-based and on-premises solutions. Here are the cloud-based options:
- Project Plan 1 – Lets project managers quickly manage projects through their web browser for $10 per user, per month.
- Project Plan 3 – The most popular pick, it offers scheduling tools and advanced features to execute projects via a desktop client or browser for $30 per user, per month.
- Project Plan 5 – Comes with demand management features, portfolio optimization tools, and more for larger organizations at the cost of $55 per user, per month.
Here are MS Project’s on-premises options:
- Project Standard 2021 – Offers bare-bones project management without advanced features or collaborative tools for $679.99.
- Project Professional 2021 – The recommended pick, as it provides timesheets, resource management tools, etc., for $1,129.99.
- Project Server – A scalable on-premises project portfolio management solution accessible through a local partner and can be purchased through a third party.
Microsoft Project Alternatives
Looking for an alternatives PM solution for your software development team, other than Microsoft Project? Check out our list of Microsoft Project Alternatives.
Looking to learn how to use Microsoft Project more efficiently? Check out our Microsoft Project Tips and Tricks tutorial.