Everything you need to know about Microsoft Project

Managers and team members have a lot on their plates, especially when they have multiple projects going on at the same time. Trying to keep track of all the details can quickly become a full-time job. 

Thankfully, they can turn to Microsoft Project software but this often requires training. In this article we’ll take a look at your Microsoft Project training options, along with the software’s features and best uses. This way, you can decide if the software is something you need.

What is Microsoft Project?

Okay, the software’s name sounds like a project you work on for Microsoft. However, Microsoft Project is management software you use to help keep your projects on track.

You can use the software to create project plans and schedules. You can better manage your resources and also track deadlines and track time. The software comes with helpful tools like project calendars, Gantt charts, and Kanban boards, to name a few.

So, what’s a Gantt chart? If you’re not familiar with a Gantt chart, you’re missing out on a great project management tool. One side of the chart is a visual timeline showing the project’s progress from start to finish. If you’re worried about keeping up with project milestones, the timeline can be a lifesaver. The other side of the chart is a handy spreadsheet where you can input project data.

Now, on to Kanban boards; a Kanban board serves a few vital functions. Some you may not need for every project, but it’s nice to have around. Using things like cards and columns, the board helps organize daily workflow. This way, every team member knows precisely what they need to accomplish each day. If seeing several ‘work in progress’ notes drives you nuts, a Kanban board all but eliminates this annoyance.

Okay, now you have a better idea of what Microsoft Project is, so let’s dive into some of the software’s features.

What features do you get with Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project or MS Project is packed with helpful features. After all, it’s Microsoft software and the tech giant rarely skimps on included features. 

One great feature is the ability to select from multiple views. You know, sometimes a grid view works best, and other times you want to see a project timeline. You can choose, and switch, between a grid, board, and timeline view. 

A grid view makes it easier to plan a project by creating a task list. Every team member knows their specific task and can easily refer back to the board. When you’re scheduling tasks over the project’s timeline, use the timeline view feature. A board view or Kanban board makes it easy to organize the daily workflow and stay current with the project’s status.

Some of the other features you get with Microsoft Project include:

  • Plan and manage project work using calendars, charts, and boards
  • Collaborate and communicate with various team members. When team members can collaborate, efficiency and productivity typically go up. The software also allows remote staff to stay current on any project changes without heading to the office.
  • Reports are built-in to the software so you can track everything from the project’s progress to your available resources.
  • Create timesheets to simplify invoicing and payroll

This is just a quick glance at some of the features that come with the project management software.

MS Project: The good and not-so-great

Every type of software has its advantages and potential downsides. You’re probably not going to find software that someone doesn’t have at least one issue with. This applies to project management software, including Microsoft’s.

For example, if your team is using Mac computers you’re going to need a workaround to install and use Microsoft’s project management software. The software is also only available with a subscription. Yes, you may end up paying more every time you add team members. Unfortunately, the software isn’t currently part of a suite. For example, if you’re using Microsoft Office 365, MS Project Manager will be an additional purchase.

With that being said, there are several reasons why MS Project Manager is the go-to tool for many businesses.

The advantages of using MS Project

A huge advantage for many managers is the software is a breeze to integrate. There’s no need to call your IT department. Simply click the installation tab and follow the onscreen prompts. 

Yes, it’s really that simple and easy to install. Best of all, like all other Microsoft products, MS Project is compatible with pretty much every other type of software developed by the company. You can use MS Project with Office 365, Excel, SharePoint, and even Skype.

If you’re worried team members aren’t going to be familiar with the interface, take a deep breath and relax. MS Project uses a similar interface to other Microsoft products. Basically, if you’ve used one Microsoft product MS Project isn’t going to be that difficult to figure out. You can even take advantage of the included templates to help you get started.

When you’re in the middle of a project the last thing you want is a software interruption. Even if it’s only the software managing the project’s progress. Suddenly, you may not know which team member is responsible for a specific task or even when a deadline is coming up. These may seem like small details but they can have a disastrous impact on the project – this is where Microsoft really shines. 

You’re going to find it tough to beat Microsoft’s legendary support. Within seconds, you’re chatting with Microsoft and they’re working to resolve the issue. Something else to consider is reliability. Microsoft products are known for their reliable performance.

Do you need Microsoft Training?

Even though MS Project is user-friendly and offers templates that ease the initial learning curve for beginners, investing in training is highly beneficial. The templates provide a basic foundation, but they do not fully expose all the advanced features and functionalities available. 

Given that there is a subscription fee for MS Project, it’s financially prudent to maximize your investment by leveraging online training courses. Engaging in these courses ensures that you can utilize the software to its fullest potential, thereby improving project efficiency and effectiveness.