I schedule in both MS Project and Primavera. Admittedly, I have worked in Project (15 years) much more than Primavera (5 years), but I have worked enough in each tool to get a firm understanding of how they differ. I get a kick out of dyed in the wool Primavera Schedulers who claim MS Project is a junior scheduling app when compared to Primavera. They do not realize that Project has improved significantly beginning with 2003 on until 2010. When comparing the feature sets, they are practically the same now.
However, there are some significant differences in usability. MS Project is far and away superior to Primavera in that respect. It ‘s almost like Primavera has gone out of its way to make the tool non intutive and non user friendly. Following dependencies in Project is simple – just go to the task #. In Primavera, the scheduler can trace dependencies fairly easily, but team members viewing a hard copy printout must hunt in the Activity ID column to hope to find the predecessor/successor for tasks. That’s quite time consuming on a large project. Creating new sections of projects is far faster in Project – your team members can send you their section in Project (individual licenses cheap when compared to Primavera so not likely to be able to do this in a Primavera shop) or in Excel (you can cut and paste dozens of lines at a time in Project – oops, one at a time in Primavera). Building your WBS is far easier n Project, just indent/outdent – you have to set up a separate WBS in Primavera and make changes in it, not in the actual activity area. I could go on with many other examples, but I’d run out of time before running out of examples. What has happened is that the Construction Industry has become entrenched with Primavera and they are not going to change. However, outside of Construction, Project is far and away the world leader in just about every other industry.
Just because a software is more expensive does not make it superior (MS Project is significantly less expensive than Primavera); just because something is more difficult to master does not mean it is superior and just because one industry is using it almost exclusivly does not mean it is the best tool for that industry. It’s like these fancy high end vacuum cleaners. The Salesman pitches how advanced it is, but a leading Consumer magazine found that standard vacuums that cost 1/4 the price of the fancy vac cleaned just as good.
We have had more than one Customer that had Primavers listed in specs for their project, but allowed us to us MS Project instead because as the Customer stated “it’s a lot easier to follow the dependencies and the overall views are easier to understand than with Primavera”.
Primavera is a good scheduling tool. But so is MS Project. For many years, Primavera was far superior to Project. Not today. If the two tools do the same thing, why not go with the less expensive and easier to use tool?
Having said the above, I fully expect to hear some out cries and chest beating from Primavera Schedulers about how absurd this post is. Yeah, go ahead, i’ve heard it before, and I work with both tools every day so I know of what I speak.