Microsoft Project Review

Easy to use, extremely stable, and able to handle large-scale projects

What is our primary use case?

My primary use case is mainly to get down on paper the steps for our project - including who's responsible for them. We use it as a communication tool and then we (on a regular basis) review progress against the laid-out project plan or schedule.

I tend to step in and create schedules when project managers are too busy or oftentimes I'll create the initial schedule due to the fact that I know all the stuff that needs to go in it, and the project manager may or may not know that.

What is most valuable?

The solution is very useful for project planning.

The solution is extremely stable.

The solution can handle large-scale projects.

I'm totally confident that somebody that uses it more frequently and more deeply than I do certainly is aware of the features and functions in it that I just don't use. It's user-friendly, rudimentarily. I'm just creating tasks, linking tasks in terms of predecessors and successors, adding duration to the task, adding resources to the tasks, and coming up with the logical flow and the end dates. That's how I use it. And, in that sense, it's very easy to use.

What needs improvement?

One of the things that we struggle with is that we do a lot of smaller projects that end up using the same resources. We have difficulty managing or balancing workload across resources that are on multiple projects. 

For example, in project A we'll schedule Joel to do something in a certain timeframe. And then next day we have project B's schedule up, and he's scheduled to do something on that project in the same timeframe, and we don't have a way to expose those conflicts. We have to basically rely on Joe to say, "Hey, you've asked me to do different things. There's only one of me. I've got to manage my time. Either you give me twice as long to do both of those things, or you tell me which one to do first, and then move the other one."

It would be ideal if the solution itself could expose such conflicts.

One of the reasons that we have some projects using Jira as well as Microsoft Project is that we have to be able to access the project schedule to see, as an individual contributor, what the tasks are. It's not a great way to distribute that. In terms of Jira, where we create the Jira records, an engineer can go into the Jira database and search for his or her name, find all the tasks with the due dates on them, and anything assigned to them. If Project had a better mechanism to allow those who are not the project manager to see their own work tasks, that would be of help or of value to us.

For how long have I used the solution?

I dabble in the product. We have actual project planners that are the experts in it, however, I've been using it for seven years at this point. It's been a while.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. It's rock solid. I've never had a problem with not working. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Some people in our organization do keep super detailed, large project schedules in Microsoft Project. I'm not working on such a large project at the moment. I'm working on many small ones. I can't comment from direct experience, however, I'm confident that we are doing that within our organization and that it can scale to handle quite sizable projects.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never dealt with technical support. I cannot speak to how helpful or responsive they are when they receive queries.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I do not recall the company using a different solution. Certainly, when I started in the organization, I was using this product and not something else.

That said, we do have some projects using Jira as an agile approach to project management. With Jira, what they'll do is we'll have a project schedule, and then they'll break down the individual line items on the project schedule even further into Jira tasks in two-week bites. That's how they're managing projects there. 

How was the initial setup?

I did not handle the initial setup. Our IT team handled that part of the process for the company. I just open it up and create a new project schedule. Therefore, I cannot speak to how difficult or straightforward the process is.

What about the implementation team?

Our IT team did the initial setup.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't deal directly with sales or licensing. I can't speak to the exact cost or licensing structure of the product itself. It's not an aspect I deal with directly.

We likely have a support contract for the product.

What other advice do I have?

We are customers and end-users.

I'm not sure which version of the solution I use. I don't use any advanced features. I basically put in tasks and assign resources, and assign predecessors, and successors. That's about the level I use it at. I don't do tons of work resource balancing, or Gantt charts out of it or anything like that.

I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It more than meets my needs for what I'm using it for. What a real project manager may rate it might be different.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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