What is Microsoft Project? Uses and Features

Until today, almost all types of businesses were run as projects. There are activities scheduling, assignment of resources in a project, including determining when the project starts and when it ends, selecting the required materials or resources, etc.

Regardless of the industry sector or not, if you are a CEO, project manager, project planner, or a support team on a project, you need to know how planning takes place in a project and how the project is monitored in your company.

The use of Microsoft Project today can be said the basic requirement in implementing a project.

Almost all companies need Ms. Project to manage the schedule of activities in the project, such as activities, relationships between activities, resources, costs incurred, progress, etc.

Not only in the activities of your own project team but also in working with vendors or subcontractors who support your project, you also need scheduling tools like Ms. Projects to exchange information or update the activity schedule sent by your vendor (usually via email).

Also, read Learn the terms in Project Scheduling.

The following are Microsoft Project features that you can optimize:

  • Support data storage and calculation of schedule and resource planning at a detailed level in your project.
  • Can perform automatic calculations at the summary level or WBS level and then include a more detailed work level if needed.
  • Can schedule activities automatically or manually as needed.
  • Can save work schedule plans, resources, and budget in detail, actual updates, and track progress.
  • Can display planning vs. actual reports in tables, charts, and s-curve that can be customized.
  • For data input purposes, easy to apply to Microsoft Excel and vice versa.
  • Data can be integrated with Oracle Primavera applications using export and import tools.
  • It is widely used in projects so that it is more common to exchange data with other teams in the project, be they contractors, consultants, or employers.
  • The scheduling feature in Microsoft Project follows the rules listed in the PMBook and Project Management in general.

Microsoft Project Family

There are several types of Microsoft Project that you can get on the market, namely:

Microsoft Project Standard: It is a type of desktop program for entry-level, which you can use to plan, update, and track.

Microsoft Project Professional: This type of program includes all the features of Microsoft Project Standard plus other additional features such as Team Planner View. Microsoft Project Professional can also be used in conjunction with Microsoft Project Online and Microsoft Project Server.

In addition, besides you can use Microsoft Project standalone by installing it on a PC or laptop computer; you can also access project data and services via:

Microsoft Project Online, through Office 365. Project Online is a Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Solution.

Project Server: This is a centralized PPM solution on a single server.

Project Web App (PWA): is a browser-based interface for PPM Solution.

Microsoft Project Features

Microsoft Project has developed application features starting from the earlier released version to the latest version. The following is a feature development in Microsoft Project as a comparison if you want to upgrade from an old version to a newer version:

Microsoft Project 2016

  • Compared to the previous version, Microsoft Project 2016 has the following additional features:
  • Timeline view updates: Displays multiple timeline bars with a custom date range.
  • Tell Me: Search feature in the form of a text box to quickly access help or find out about feature usage.
  • New themes: change the visual appearance of Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Project 2013

Additional features in Microsoft Project 2013 compared to previous versions are as follows:

  • Reports: Project 2013 replaces the previous table report feature with a new way to visualize your Project data. The reports feature includes a dynamic mix of tables, charts, and textual content, and it’s highly customizable.
  • Task Path: use this feature to define the Gant bar of the selected predecessor or successor of the activity.
  • Redesign Backstage and OneDrive Integration: this feature provides quick access to Microsoft OneDrive storage that is integrated with the Project Backstage view.
  • A much later project finish date: changes the most recent time of project work from 31 December 2049 to 31 December 2149.
  • Support for touch input: You can optimize the Microsoft project interface for touch or mouse input.
  • Skype integration (Microsoft Project Professional only): You can start Skype to send messages or compose emails to resources through Microsoft Project.
  • Support for apps for Office: Microsoft Project supports third-party adds-in and apps available at store.office.com

Microsoft Project 2010

The Microsoft Project 2010 application has the following features:

  • The ribbon interface
  • The Backstage view
  • Automatically and Manually scheduled tasks
  • Gantt Chart
  • Resource Management
  • Timeline view
  • Improved pasting to Excel and Word
  • Customizable ribbon
  • Custom fields
  • Autofilter Improvements
  • Save as PDF or XPS
  • Team Planner View (Project Professional Only)
  • Inactive Task (Project Professional only)
  • SharePoint Task List integration (Project Professional only)

Microsoft Project vs. Primavera

In contrast to the use of Microsoft Project, that are more suitable for use in activities on a project (small or medium-scale), the use of Primavera Project Management is intended to work on a larger scale project (capital project) or to integrate the activities of several projects (which run simultaneously). Starting from the planning process to track or the actual implementation of activities in the field, which involves many teams to access and update data so that it is suitable for use in large-scale companies (such as Construction Companies, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, etc.).

Also, read Primavera P6 Training Online.

Primavera can be used to perform analysis and project tracking with more detailed parameters than Microsoft Project because graphs and data are displayed, and the choice of variables is more detailed.

Primavera Enterprise has a private login feature that can be configured so that users can access certain project data or certain features.

Several users who have logged in can also update the project at the same time if they are given access rights (privilege).

In this article, I don’t want to invite you to prefer one of the two tools, because each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

But more to the needs of which match the current state of project management in your company.

Here I include a comparison table of Primavera features compared to Ms. Project:

FiturMicrosoft ProjectOracle Primavera
Access multiple users simultaneouslyNot available. Read only project view (Web support)Yes
Total project baseline (planning schedule)11unlimited
Number of activities (tasks)400000100000
Total EPS (project grouping)Not available20 (professional), 50 (EPPM)
Curve SYesYes
Gantt ChartYesYes
Critical PathYesYes
Resource ManagementYesYes
OBS (Project Organizational Structure)Not availableYes
Earn Value MethodYesYes
Publish Project (convert to html)Not availableYes
Issue and RiskNot availableYes
Projects can be set read onlyYesYes
Web SupportIf Ms. Project connected with Share Point or Project Server (limited)Yes (EPPM), project details can be displayed in full on the Web
Upgrade versionYes (professional)Yes
Installed Columns40200
Custom Fields FormulaYesNot available
Multi relations in the same 2 activitiesNot availableYes
Sub-activity or step (detail of sub-activity with weight percentage)Not availableYes
Import Export (Primavera to Ms Project or vice versa)Not availableYes

In terms of cost per license, the use of Primavera will be greater than the Microsoft project.

Costs incurred can be in the form of purchasing costs per User License, training needs, version upgrades, maintenance, or data integration.

Suppose you or your company are involved with several projects at once that require integrated data and involve many people with several or many teams in your project. In that case, you need to consider using Primavera in the implementation of projects in your company.

But work on a project (medium or small scale) that doesn’t require too much detailed analysis and records apart from activity schedules, costs, resources, resource placement. You should use Ms. Project because it is simpler, and lighter is used as a means of exchanging data.

On the other hand, usually, companies that use Primavera also need to have a Microsoft Project for information exchange purposes with other companies (vendors) or with other departments.

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