Microsoft Project is a software application sold by Microsoft that provides project management tools to manage projects. The program, which has many different versions, allows users to:
- Understand and control project schedules and finances.
- Communicate and present project information.
- Organize work and people to make sure that projects are completed on schedule.
Overview of Microsoft Project
Microsoft originally purchased the software from another company and released its own version in 1985. The most recent version of the software is Microsoft Project 2013.
Microsoft Project allows the project manager to enter the tasks of a project (also known as the “work breakdown structure” or WBS) and assign workers (known as “resources“) to those tasks, as well as cost information.
Microsoft Project also provides functionality that allows the user to create reports that communicate the status and progress of a project.
Versions of Microsoft Project
Microsoft Project has several different editions or versions, based on the needs of the users and organization. Below is a brief overview of the latest versions.
- Project Standard 2013: Allows a single-user to easily create modern reports to measure progress and communicate project details effectively with your team and stakeholders.
- Project Professional 2013: Includes all the capabilities in Project Standard 2013 as well as collaboration capabilities to quickly start and deliver projects while leveraging the power of Office 365 or SharePoint to work from virtually anywhere. This version integrates Lync 2013 to call or instant message team members from Project Professional.
- Project Pro for Office 365: Delivers the latest version of Project Professional as a subscription through Office 365. The software is automatically kept up to date (with options for customizable policies) and users on the go can work from the computer of their choice by streaming the complete desktop client with Project on Demand.
- Project Online: Provides a flexible online solution for project portfolio management (PPM) and everyday work. Delivered through Office 365, Project Online enables organizations to get started, prioritize project portfolio investments and deliver the intended business value—from virtually anywhere on nearly any device.
- Project Server 2013: A flexible, on-premises solution for project portfolio management (PPM) and everyday work. Team members, project participants, and business decision makers can get started, prioritize project portfolio investments and deliver the intended business value from virtually anywhere. This version requires SharePoint 2013, which is sold separately.
- Microsoft Project Standard 2010: A single-user edition of the software. This version is targeted toward the desktop user.
- Microsoft Project Professional 2010: Includes all the capabilities in Project Standard 2010 as well as collaborative features that allow users to work together when the organization is also using Microsoft Project Server 2010.
- Microsoft Project Server 2010: Maintains project plan information and data on a server. Project Server allows multiple users to access that data through their client applications, Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Web Access.
Features Introduced in Microsoft Project 2013
- Improved Reporting
- Customizable Reports: Users can create professional reports without having to export the data to another program. This includes adding pictures, charts, animation, links, and more.
- Pre-Installed Reports: Takes full advantage of the new graphics and formatting capabilities. Add or remove elements from these pre-created reports, including changing the colors.
- Burndown Reports: Shows planned work, completed work, and remaining work as lines on a graph. They give an at-a-glance status, letting you know if your project is behind or ahead of schedule.
- Lync Integration: Start an IM session, a video chat, an email, or a phone call with team members by hovering over a name.
- Trace Task Paths: Helps sort out a complex Gantt Chart by allowing users to highlight the link chain — or task path — for any task. When you click a task, all of its predecessor tasks show up in one color and all of its successor tasks show up in another color.
- Increased Date Range: Set project dates up to 12/31/2149 – a century longer than Project 2010′s limits.
- Share Meetings: In online meetings, users can now share exported Project reports, timelines, or data in the form of PowerPoint slides, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and OneNote notes from any supported device, even if Office isn’t installed.
- Cloud Storage: Allows users to access and share Project schedules, Excel spreadsheets, and other Office files.
- Online Access: With Project Online, users can access a full version of Project from almost anywhere, even on PCs that don’t have Project 2013 installed.
Features Introduced in Microsoft Project 2010
- SharePoint synchronization: This feature lets you publish a project schedules as a SharePoint 2010 task list and receive tasks updates from team members and keep the two matching even as one or the other changes.
- Manual scheduling: Called “user-controlled scheduling” by Microsoft, this feature lets you set task durations and start and finish dates with point and click.
- Placeholder text: Now you can create a project plan even if you don’t have all the details yet. Project 2010 lets you enter text notes in Date or Duration fields and update them later when you know the details.
- Active and inactive tasks: You can also perform what-if analysis by making tasks active or inactive to see what impact it has on your schedule, resources, and budget.
- Timeline view: This view shows the whole schedule in a model that’s easy for non-project managers to understand and follow.
- Team Planner: This feature lets you drag and drop resources (people and materials) to try out various project scenarios.
- Task Inspector: If a task has a scheduling conflict or a resource is over-allocated, this feature lets you fix the problem.
Microsoft Project Basics
The following webinars on-demand guide Microsoft Project users step by step through the essential features of Microsoft Project 2010 (Professional and Standard). Available to MPUG members only.
- Introducing Microsoft Project 2010 – User Interface and Working with Project and Excel
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Timeline View
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Creating and Managing views, tables, sorting, and grouping
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Macros
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Compatibility
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Manually Scheduled Tasks
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Multiple Version Installation
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – SharePoint Integration with Project
- Microsoft Project 2010 Features Expert – Resource Management