Choosing a version of Microsoft Project Manager

Note that previous version of MS Project can be upgraded and you don't need to buy a whole new copy.

The basic versions are the standard and the professional, the latter of which allows you to work off a common project database with your colleagues, allowing for sharing files.


Microsoft Project Manager

With Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Web Access, another layer of capabilities is introduced. Using Project Server, project managers can issue tasks to project members and receive automatic updates from them as the tasks are completed. This can greatly reduce the burden of maintaining an up-to-date project plan. Schedules and charts can be published as web pages to be viewed by members of the team or other stakeholders. Crucially, the other team members or stakeholders don’t need to have Microsoft Project installed to view the schedules. Any old web browser will suffice. A license for Microsoft Project Web Access must have been purchased for anyone who wants to view the Project data via the web UI, however. Microsoft Project Server also contains an elaborate permission system so that you can grant users partial rather total viewing rights access to the project data. Users access and manipulate data through either a desktop UI (provided by an installation of Microsoft Project standard edition) or through the web-based interface of Microsoft Project Web Access.

In a fully enterprise-enabled Project Server setup, managers will be able to view resources available to for all projects across the company. The resources can be moved into teams and allocated tasks in specific projects. Some decision-support facilities are also available, allowing project managers to run hypothetical resource allocation scenarios and observe their anticipated effects on the project completion schedules.

Status reports are another key feature only available in Microsoft Project Server. Project Managers can design the format of status reports they want to receive. For example, it may just be a few text boxes with space where team members can describe the progress of their current task and any problems they might be experiencing. These status reports can be requested from the within Project Server and, on receipt, they can be made viewable by others or incorporated into a general project status report.
Another jump in functionality comes through integrating Microsoft Project Server with Microsoft’s Sharepoint Services. This allows the project manager to include issues, documents and risks as part of the project data and make them viewable by others. Unfortunately, the others will need to have Microsoft Project Professional installed in order to see them. Integration with Sharepoint also permits the Project Manager to administer Project Server from Sharepoint rather than the web-based UI which is standard. It also enables Project to interoperate with Outlook so that users can see their task schedules displayed in Outlook’s calendar features.

Despite its often hefty price tags, Microsoft Project continues to dominate the market for project management software. You don’t want to pay for more features than you need, though, so choosing the right version is more essential than ever.