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Microsoft Project Online user review

This APM independent user review was based on input from practising project professionals, asked to rate the effectiveness of Microsoft Project Online in the workplace.

Overview
Project Online is a collaborative tool that allows portfolio managers a high level view of financial and resource management measures, and project managers access to standard project and programme management (PPM) methodology. The latest addition to Microsoft’s Office 365 software suite, it is easily accessible and available as a cloud-based or on premise software solution. It is suitable for small or large organisations that use multiple PPM tools but want to achieve a more cost effective, unified solution.

Benefits
Project Online has a number of benefits likely to appeal to busy project teams. One reviewer said it was a brilliant tool for overseeing the whole project process, particularly if you have several projects running simultaneously. Another added that the Project Centre tile was a great way to see a full list of projects at a glance, in as much or as little detail as you want.

The Project Site feature was also rated highly, giving an oversight of issues like risk in one place as well as assigning tasks to people. This updates in real-time, meaning users can keep up-to-date with task checklists without the need for constant meetings or check-ups – something that in theory will save project managers a lot of time.

The way data is presented is clear and easy to understand, making it useful for compiling reports or sharing project management data to improve the visibility and/or prioritisation of projects. 

Users report the software looks and feels good. It is easy to navigate, and benefits from an intuitive ‘live tile’ design, which is particularly useful for those who are not as tech-savvy.

Challenges
To maximise the benefits some degree of project management maturity would be useful. Otherwise it was felt there may be difficulties in achieving buy-in across the organisation. Users also cited maturity as a key influencing factor when it came to purchasing the product with questions raised about obtaining full value as opposed to only 20%-30% of what the software is capable of doing.

That said, one thing that works in its favour is that it is universal in application, meaning it can be used across a range of different sectors and industries.

For those with previous experience of Office 365, the software didn’t disappoint. According to one reviewer it does what it says on the tin. However, another felt that while it did the basics well, it was not quite as engaging or inviting as they’d hoped. Overall, though, it was generally seen as a big improvement on previous versions of MS Project.

Summary
Project Online is a valuable addition to the Office 365 suite and should fit neatly with existing dashboards. The technology has a familiar feel, likened to MS SharePoint in terms of functionality and its ability to judge risk issues. The ability to collaborate, share and view project information in a single place or repository was seen a big step forward, particularly by those who regularly come up against Excel spreadsheets in their day to day work.

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