MS Project

MS Project

Presentation of MS Project

Microsoft Project (MS Project or also MSP) is the most popular Microsoft software dedicated to project management used by almost 30 millions project managers over the world. It allows planners and project managers to organize and manage it, manage resources, budget and data analysis.
MS Project allows project planning: it is possible at any time to create tasks and milestones, define the links between each task, prioritize them. MS Project also has the ability to estimate the time as well as the workload required to complete a defined task. Microsoft Project also allows the creation of models which permit to the user to follow any methodology or process. The project can be represented graphically in different ways: Gantt chart, task network, Pert diagram. Project management is possible in many ways such as defining the initial planning, entering the progress of tasks or re-planning.

Template of a project management with MS Project

The project management life cycle 

Here is an example of the main required steps for an IT project management with an example of website project management (see the pictures below).

  1. Requirements analysis & planning – The collection, analysis, and prioritization of product feature requirements is critical to the delivery of an end product that meets customer needs.
  2. Design – System architectural plans that define both hardware and software elements
  3. Implementation – Once requirements & design plans are locked down, the product is being built (bear in mind that requirements should not be changed during or after this phase!)
  4. Testing – After the product that fits requirements is completed, it is tested thoroughly
  5. Integration or distribution – Once tested and vetted, the component is integrated into the final product, or the final product is approved for distribution to the customer
  6. Maintenance – Typically performance-related operations & improvement tasks.
An example of a website developement phases using MS Project

Advantages of MSP

It is possible to update the progress of the project in different ways

1-Entry of a percentage of completion.
2-Update of the actual duration and the remaining duration.
3-updating the amount of actual (that has been completed) and remaining work.

It offers several interesting Features

1- Elaboration of Pert diagram/ Gantt chart development
2-Team assignment
3-Management of load peaks
4-Automatic generation of documentation in word, pdf and HTML format.

Integrate other Microsoft tools

Since MS Project is a part of Microsoft Office, you can integrate it with all the other Microsoft tools, including PowerPoint, Access Excel, Word and Outlook. Because of this, you’ll have access to a much wider rage of tools with MS Project than a lot of other software can offer.

Offers many channels for communication

With MS Project, you can connect with your team quickly with your many choices for communication. you’ll have easy access to tools like Outlook, , and Skype

Problems of MSP

What could be the disadvantages of MS Project? The most important one is that MS Project is an isolated tool, it isn’t integrated with all other software product management tools.

All other complains could be divided on three problematic areas:

  • Waterfall as a natural methodology
  • Desktop application
  • Complexity
  • High cost

Reason 1: MS Project is based on Waterfall methodology

The major drawback of this approach is its lack of flexibility due to its sequential flow. Indeed, the waterfall method leaves no room for changes and unforeseen events.

The risks of customer disappointment are greater. Since the client only sees the product when it is delivered, he may be disappointed with the end result because his expectations have changed or the context has changed, and the project does not meet current needs.

Any changes involve reviewing the entire project (or almost) because all phases will potentially be affected. This will then generate delays and significant additional costs. For example, it will cost you much more to add an additional room to your already completed house, than if that room had been planned on the original plan. The waterfall method is not suitable for large complex projects.

Reason 2: MS Project is a Desktop Application

It is very hard to track real progress in MS Project on a daily basis. Only Project Managers can work with project plan. Waterfall is not the only reason against MS Project. This tool makes plans almost invisible for team. You likely will not print out the plan on large sheet of paper and put it on the wall. In most cases team doesn’t see the horizon, but only some assigned tasks. But even if you will print the plan, things won’t change, since nobody will understand that big and complex Gantt chart. Plan invisibility impedances people involvement into project.

Reason 3: MS Project is not Integrated / compatibility issues

Microsoft Project has limited integrations with other non-Microsoft products. Besides there are compatibility issues if you need to open a project in another workstation because Microsoft Project files (.mpp) are proprietary. You have to go through extra export/import steps, which adds complexity. The latest MS Project also needs Windows 10 to run the desktop application. There are free Project Viewer apps, but you can only view the project, and not edit it.

In conclusion

Microsoft Project is one of the oldest project management software the world knows. Yet, there are still aspects of it that need improvement. This just goes to show that there is really no one-software-fits-all thing in the world of software. It is up to project managers and their teams to decide on the tools that they think most closely fit their needs.

References:

https://www.next-decision.fr/editeurs/pmo/ms-project#

https://www.theprojectgroup.com/fr/outils-gestion-projet/gestion-multi-projets-ms-project#

http://www.wilsonmar.com/1projplan.htm#Launch


Saliha Beddek

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