Why MS Project Instead of Excel?
Microsoft Excel is popular among business organizations and individuals alike. It has millions of global users utilizing it religiously for their project calculations and task assignments requiring data visualization in custom tables and pre-built tables.
Project management software is growing in popularity for streamlining projects because project management software provides a centralized system for project tools and collaboration. Leading project management systems like Primavera, Basecamp, and Asana are widely used and provide centralized project tools, professional Gantt charts, timeline and budget tracking, and collaboration to give teams the full spectrum of features needed for various elements of project management.
However, many teams use the Excel sheet tables to track the status of material resources and get a birds-eye view of task information, while project professionals rely on Excel for task management, and human resource managers create and monitor project schedules and task lists and evaluate performance of teams. With its reliable calculating capabilities and ease of administration, despite competitors like Google Sheets and Zoho Sheets, MS Excel continues to stand its ground.
However, despite its popularity among organizations and individuals, people prefer MS Project for project plans with greater team collaboration needs. While Excel requires some fancy formulas, MS Project provides a work-breakdown structure with more meaning, showing users a hierarchy of dependencies between tasks. In this article, we will review an in-depth analysis of what makes MS Project better than MS Excel in certain cases.
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Is Microsoft Project Better than Excel?
Depending on the nature of tasks at hand, there is a difference in suitability of both tools. When managing project phases, working on milestones and deliverables, meeting timelines all within the resource capacity, Project Online is a better choice in terms of built-in capabilities than Excel.
Project Online enables Project Managers and team leaders to allocate task duration to each assignment and monitor the task status accordingly.
The tool allows defining extra time, employee training time, as well as nonworking time in any project. However, as Project Online doesn’t have any preset holidays in its Calendar, users need to add non-working time for days the team won’t be working so these dates don’t overlap with the task dates for critical tasks. The Calendar is a shared feature making collaboration easier, and it also sends out reminders regarding meetings and deadlines.
Over time, MS Project has gotten more intuitive and better at providing a high-level view of project deliverables filtering out any redundant communication. MS project is more robust than Excel alone, and MS Teams also integrates with MS Project to add a needed collaboration element on project or team work.
Team members can add comments within sheets for extra information regarding any task enabling other members to grasp the latest updates with ease. Project helps teams to define and prioritize essential tasks, and assign them to team members with the relevant expertise.
MS Project is a pioneer project management software that provides frequent software updates to fulfill the evolving needs of end user. Furthermore, it integrates with other team collaboration tools such as Skype and it enables the production of road maps and budget, etc.
MS Project works well with MS Planner and enhances effective communication and team collaboration, encourages balanced resource management, enables project budget management in real time and provides a better project team customer experience.
Why MS Project Instead of Excel?
Depending on the nature and complexity of your project, you may feel more driven towards Microsoft Project as it facilitates in making resource-based and time-based decisions, ensuring you are making the best of your available resource capacity. The following features are the chief reasons in any project that urge users to switch from MS Excel to MS Project:
- Work-Breakdown Structure
The concept of a summary task and work-breakdown structure is possibly the biggest hit feature that MS Project has. Project enables you to one task underneath another showing the meaningful critical path. This means that the indentations create a summary-detail relationship that can comprise of multiple levels and create a highly visual and easy-to-understand hierarchy of tasks called the work-breakdown structure (WBS).
- Task Dependencies
Microsoft Project helps users identify the task dependencies and understand the reason behind a certain order of task completion. If users move on to a task without completion the one preceding it in the plan, Project alerts the users. Microsoft Project also calculates a critical path for projects with a higher number of constraints letting the team members know of the permissible amount for flexibility in the plan.
- Enhanced Resource Management
While MS Excel can provide a sheet of tasks assigned against names, it is less capable of useful allocation of resources. Unlike MS Excel, Project will alert you if a team member is overburdened or idle.
- Consolidated Portfolios
For teams working on multiple projects simultaneously, MS Project creates a master plan and allows a consolidated view of all tasks being executed enabling better and easier task management.
Why is MS Project So Slow?
Users of Project Online and its add-on Project Online Essentials sometimes complain of lag times and how simple tasks take extra time as compared to the initial plan.
At times, this happens as the shared resource pool gets filled with huge amounts of task resources. Moving to the later Project Server can speed things up and improve file sizes, and provide you with advanced features, such as the ability to enter task status in a time sheet.
Successful and timely completion of projects assigned to an individual or an organization play the most vital role in determining, establishing, and maintaining their repute, making the need of a reliable an efficient project management tool high.
While Project Online definitely is on the list of the top business applications with some great features and a convenient high-level view of project variables, a few steps need to be taken to speed it up:
- Prioritize tasks according to their urgency, time-based requirements, resource capacity and resource levels.
- Monitor your schedule for faulty and idealistic task durations and design an achievable and realistic schedule.
- Disable add-ons and clear cache.
There are numerous options in the market such as Zoho Project and Celoxis. Another great resource is The Digital Project Manager, which focuses on providing 90% of the most used and most popular features such as a seamless experience of executive communications and communications among team members,
Additionally, comparing similar project tools and systems can be very beneficial to choosing the best options for your company. While Google does not offer a dedicated project management app, it does have various Workspace apps that companies use for project work and collaboration.
For example, Google Tasks is comparable to MS Planner for task management and Google Sheets works much like Excel but is sharable. Doing in-depth comparisons like this will ultimately save you time and budget by choosing the right project management tools the first time around.