Microsoft Project, developed and sold by Tech giants Microsoft, is today’s most popular project management software. Without a doubt, it provides tools that project management teams can use to achieve successful projects with ease. It aims to assist in the completion of projects across many industries and fields like construction, government, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, health care, and financial services. However, MS Project is what it is and it is not part of the Microsoft Office Suite that consists of MS Word, MS PowerPoint.
Microsoft Project comes in two editions, the standard and professional editions. Choosing between these two depends on the specific needs of the team. It is considered as one of today’s most widely used PC-based project management software, giving numerous powers to project managers. These include scheduling meetings, monitoring workloads, recording progress, following finance, assigning tasks, defining resources, setting goals, and devising plans.
Microsoft has already released two versions of Project, 2016 and 2019. The first one included updates to Project Online, Project Pro for Office 365, and Project Professional. It also contained some of the most requested capabilities like Resource Capacity Planning and Resource Management. Then, after a few years, it was upgraded to MS Project 2019 which still has some of the old features found in its predecessor but with a lot of new features too.
Microsoft Project 2016
The arrival of MS Project 2016 gave project managers the chance to use software that helped lessen the burden of their job. Indeed, this version has a host of new features and improvements that targeted teams to be more productive when using the tool.
For one, MP 2016 put an end to the problem with getting enough resources for projects by allowing users to systematically request a resource. The moment the resource request is approved, users can lock that resource to ensure that it is available. Making the request is simple to do and lets the manager approve or deny it as easily. Managers of other projects will also be notified if they try to overbook a locked resource.
Another strong point of Microsoft 2016 is how it allows the Resource Manager to collaborate with the Project Manager. The tool has created an area where he can see all proposed contracts and choose to either approve it or reject it. Here, he can also have a way to understand their resources’ capacity utilization.
This software also has the Capacity Heat Maps which is an important tool for managing a team’s resources. It has a brand new set of intuitive reports that allow users to immediately see the team’s resource utilization at one glance. The heat map indicates how much of the resources are being used to avoid over or under-utilization.
One of the critical responsibilities of a project manager is communicating a project schedule. And the best way to do this is to use a timeline instead of a Gantt Chart. In the MS Project 2016 software, the timeline feature has been improved to include multiple timelines with various start and end dates.
The Tell Me button is the key to knowing where users can find specific features. It saves a lot of time because users will just have to click the answer and Tell Me will do it.
You should Stay with MS 2016 if…
With the conveniences offered by the 2016 version, it is easy to be attached to it and not want to migrate to the newer version which is the Microsoft Project 2019. There are many differences between the two, but users may want to stay with this version if they are using Project Professional 2013. This is because the later version is not compatible with this tool. Also, there is no direct upgrade from Project Server 2013 to 2019 which means that users will need to upgrade first to the 2016 version. In terms of the Project Server Interface or PSI Extension scenarios, these are no longer supported in the 2019 version. Also, the Resource Plan view, which is useful for managing a team’s resources, will no longer be available in the 2019 version.
Microsoft Project 2019
Microsoft Project has introduced its 2019 version, armed with new and better features for improved delivery and project selection. Managers are now equipped with the right tools to use the right timeline and utilize budget and resources.
This version of MS Project lets users enjoy fast startup with the help of the Getting Started screen. It walks users through the software’s capabilities such as creating a timeline and linking tasks.
One of the improved features to be experienced with this version is linking tasks. Here, users no longer have to remember the task ID that it is to be linked to. Users only have to select a cell in the Predecessors column and select the down arrow where a list of all tasks in a project is displayed. Tasks can also be selected from the Successors Column dropdown. In terms of communicating projects, the timeline bars can now be labelled while the progress of tasks is now shown on the tasks themselves. It also allows users to add a team from multiple employees and has 450 user-defined fields and look-up tables.
Microsoft Project 2019 has better capabilities compared to its predecessor. It provides useful new functionality that helps manage projects and portfolios efficiently. It also promotes better savings in the long run, compared to using older on-premises versions. As a project management software, the 2019 version allows users to make use of tools that they are already familiar with such as Gantt Charts in creating schedules and minimizing training time.
Should teams make the move?
Migrating from Microsoft Project 2016 to the 2019 version is one decision managers and teams need to think about. However, it is helpful to know that the features added to the 2019 version are more than the features that are not going to be included with it. Overall, it can be said that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. But, of course, the decision is in the hands of the users. After all, projects have unique needs and only the teams handling them know what software suits their needs.