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In this blog, explore the seven biggest reasons why MS Project isn’t working well anymore.
Let me start with telling you the tale of a great king who once ruled over the world. It was his power and strategic decisions that made people look up to him and under his realm, everything and everybody flourished. Having cracked this formula to success, the king never contemplated changed. This very decision when wrong and the empire started crumbling…
This is something that happened to Microsoft Project. There was a time when Microsoft Project was hailed as the best project management software available. Since its launch in 1986, it was the best project management tool available in the market. And, this is why it rose to prominence without any hitch. In fact, it is still a project management tool with a sizeable amount of market share. However, the emergence of better alternatives with novel and business-centric features has led to the platform to lose its shine in an incremental way.
Organizations across industries, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, are swiftly moving to alternatives to MS Project. Want to know why? One argument is from directors of the technology. These leaders believe that the era of the MS Project has already passed, and if you want collaborative projects of your company to be managed seamlessly, you need to switch to project management tools of the newer generation that caters to the present-day requirements of businesses in different industries.
But you might be wondering why such a giant like MS Project is losing its shine in front of the newer tools with lesser market exposure. Well, the experts suggest that MS Project is an incomplete project management tool as it focuses primarily on scheduling tasks and allocating resources. Though these are important parts of project management they are not the only thing needed. The other new-generation project management tools are equipped with many such required features. To make things clearer, we are here to reveal the 7 biggest reasons why MS Project isn’t working well anymore.
One of the most prominent reasons that are making MS Project a tool of the bygone era is its compatibility issues! MS project files (which have the extension .mpp) are proprietary files. This means that you can’t access them when working on other workstations.
This can be very frustrating as current day workforces demand flexibility at work and they may not accept such rigidity when working.
Owing to these compatibility issues, you will have to go through several additional steps every time you want to import or export work files. This adds additional complexity and is also time-consuming.
In addition to this, the latest version of MS Project also needs Windows 10 in order to run the desktop application. You may opt for free platforms such as the Project Viewer, but it will only let you view the project but you will not be able to edit it.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal that includes remote and hybrid work environments. The need for long-distance collaboration has become more important than ever today. A tool like MS Project cannot stand the test of time because collaboration and file sharing are a pain in the neck.
It is so annoying that there isn’t any built-in feature for collaboration. If you want your team to work in collaboration with each other, you can’t rely on this age-old tool. One cannot upload files or comment on a task. Team members can’t even update their progress. If they want to do so, they will need to email their progress to the manager of the task and then the manager updates the progress on the tool.
Even while using the modern-day Project Server edition, the collaboration is limited to the use of Microsoft tools. You can’t share a file with your client if they don’t have a system with MS Project installed in it.
When we imagine a modern-day project management tool, the first thing that flashes into our minds is visualization. Most of the project management tools today have easy-to-use yet very appealing visualizations. For instance, some of the current-day tools offer views where the task can be seen as a Gantt Chart. This helps gain a strategic view of the project. However, MS project lacks in this game.
And considering the fact that most users of MS Project find the on-premise version of the tool better, because of certain features, we can’t overlook the many complaints that the tool lacks big time with real-time updates that make tracking difficult.
Another issue is that desktop apps don’t come with collaboration features. This poses as a big challenge for users, especially for the ones working from remote locations. This is restrictive and makes it difficult to get the actual progress of tasks. As a result, more time is spent to-and-fro the teams to get the updates. One may also have to use another app for communication.
We have already seen that handling a single collaborative project is not an easy task in MS Project. Now, think of handling multiple projects with the same project management tool. You will realize that the problems only get compounded. MS Project is undoubtedly inadequate in all senses for handling multiple projects at once.
No SaaS companies today can survive on a project management tool that can’t handle numerous projects all at once. Every SaaS company has multiple interdependent projects with shared resources including human resources. Various people are responsible for various key roles in different projects and they all need similar control over project management tools.
In today’s cut-throat competition, no business can afford to be working on an ancient project management tool like MS Project. Companies require a tool that can seamlessly handle multiple projects at once.
MS Project is not equipped with a client portal where clients can get real-time updates on the progress of their tasks. Companies that are still using MS Project have no choice but to send weekly reports to their clients about the position and progress of their projects. This is a major drawback. Just think about the transparency we are getting accustomed to as a customer.
When we order our food or grocery online which costs just a few bucks we get a live tracking facility. The service industry of the market is training us not to be patient; we are getting in the habit of being updated every single minute. Now, think of your B2B customers who are paying so much for their projects. Won’t they expect to get more frequent updates? How impactful would it be for your business?
Having a client portal not only serves the purpose of updating the clients with their project progress but also makes it easy for you to collaborate with your clients. With client portals, you can easily share any report with just a few clicks. You do not need to collect every piece of data, create a report and then email it to your clients.
Again a major drawback that makes MS Project a thing of the past is the non-availability of notification options. In today’s time, we are constantly distracted by the fast-paced world around us. In such a scenario, notifications play an important role in reminding us about important times and events. With so many responsibilities and things going on around us, it is important to be reminded of the important events.
MS Project doesn’t give you the option to be reminded of events like an approaching deadline, tasks that have missed the deadline, tasks that are lagging behind, tasks that may get delayed because a previous task is running late, etc. As MS Project is a desktop-based tool it can’t notify the concerned managers or key persons about any of those important events.
The Project Server has now been updated with some notification options but they are so minimal that they do not serve any practical purposes. So, despite the newer server option, MS Project is still an outdated project management tool due to the dearth of notification options.
Multiple people work together on a project and they together use a project management tool for keeping track and updating about the project at hand. An audit trail i.e. the option to check who did a particular change at what time is a necessary option to keep things fair for everybody. In MS Project managers have the option to change task dates without leaving a trail.
The tool has no option to keep a record of what change was done at what time and by whom. This is certainly not a good thing. It creates a lopsided lack of accountability on the part of task managers. This also creates a lack of faith on the part of the project management team.
Though a project’s progress can be matched against the baseline to figure out any change of date or deadline, it is not an easy task to do. Tracking down things by using a baseline is possible but not a viable option as it unnecessarily complicates the task.
MS Project was undoubtedly the best project management tool when it was introduced. With its Excel-like interface and the Gantt charts, it became a darling of task managers. But the market and technologies have changed drastically since then.
Today any tool or technology can’t stay relevant unless it walks abreast with the changing demands of the consumer market. Our detailed study of the MS Project revealed that the project management tool has failed to keep it relevant to the changing needs and demands of the market.31
If you need a project management tool for your company, you need to look beyond MS Project. You will be spoilt for choices once you start surveying the market for a suitable project management tool. There isn’t any dearth of better alternatives to Microsoft Project. These tools not only have better working options but are also inexpensive and easy to handle.
Surojit has over 15 years of experience in quality and implementations. He is a promoter of an extremely light and efficient Agile process to fit business needs. In his prior role as product owner, he built a robust product in a very short span of time.
Published May 30, 2023, Updated August 13, 2023
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