A Full Microsoft Project Review: Pros, Cons, Pricing, and More

Our Verdict

Microsoft Project comes with a bit of a learning curve, but it can be a good investment for those who need to stay on top of multiple projects.

Microsoft Project is a project management tool adept at providing clear visibility over complex, simultaneous projects.

One of the longest-running, most established, most widely used project management software platforms in the game – Microsoft Project is great for users who are experienced in project management and don’t want to stray too far from the Microsoft suite. A defining characteristic is its option to work with an on-premises tool or cloud-based if you need to share your work more easily. While competitors also integrate with Microsoft Teams, we’d argue that using Microsoft’s own tool will offer the most seamless integration experience, perhaps at the cost of forfeiting other third-party integrations, though, since there are none to speak of.

Microsoft Project generally attracts positive feedback from existing users, speaking of its steep learning curve yet praising the solid range of project management features, particularly the strong Gantt charts and roadmapping features.

Many competitors offer more inspiring UI design, more choices of templates, project views and third-party integrations – however, sometimes, too much choice can be unnecessary. So, we’d recommended Microsoft Project to those seeking a straightforward yet in-depth project management solution.

Pros

  • Impressive capacity to manage the most complex projects
  • Option for cloud-based or on-premises system
  • Seamless integration with MS 365

Cons

  • Steeper learning curve
  • Fewer automation features than competitors
  • Little to no compatibility with third-party software

Our Microsoft Project review aims to decide once and for all whether the well-established project management program stands up to newer competitors on the market. It’s one of the most widely used project management software platforms worldwide, but is it the best for project planning?

Read on to discover the plans, pricing, features, pros, and cons of Microsoft Project.

    Microsoft Project Pricing

    With Microsoft Project, you can choose to host the program on your desktop or opt for a cloud-based solution. There are three cloud-based plans and two on-premises plans available.

    Below, we’ve broken down the various Microsoft Project plans so you can understand each option’s differences.

    Project Plan 1 Project Plan 3 Project Plan 5 Project Standard 2021 Project Professional 2021
    Starting Price $10.00 user/month $30.00 user/month $55.00 user/month $679.99
    (one-time purchase)
    $1,129.99
    (one-time purchase)
    User Limit N/A N/A N/A 1 1
    Free Version 1 month free trial 1 month free trial Free trial with Microsoft partner N/A N/A
    Cloud-based
    On premises
    Task/Project Limit 1000 total tasks per project 1000 total tasks per project 1000 total tasks per project 400,000 total tasks per project 400,000 total tasks per project
    Time Tracking
    Project Views 3 3 3 2 2
    Automation
    Custom Fields
    Approvals
    Templates 8 8 8 20 20
    Security Requires multi-factor authentication Requires multi-factor authentication Requires multi-factor authentication Dependent on desktop settings Dependent on desktop settings
    Integrations Only with Microsoft 365 apps Only with Microsoft 365 apps Only with Microsoft 365 apps Only with Microsoft 365 apps Only with Microsoft 365 apps

    Project Plan 1 - $10.00 user/month

    The first available plan with Microsoft Project is Project Plan 1, which is a cloud-based solution.

    The entry-level plan allows you to get up and running quickly with a range of solid project management tools. It offers three project views: grid, Kanban board, and Gantt chart, to allow you to plan and schedule your tasks. It allows for communication via Microsoft Teams, plus the ability to co-author projects with stakeholders and team members. You have the opportunity to reflect on your project progress with a number of preset reports and also submit timesheets to track productivity.

    At first glance, this plan appears reasonably priced, but be mindful that this is per user per month. So, this can quickly add up for larger teams.

    Project Plan 3 - $30.00 user/month

    The next tier, Project Plan 3, offers everything included in the lower plan with a few extras that will benefit a project manager handling more complex or concurrent projects.

    On top of accessing the cloud-based program, this plan allows you to download the desktop client onto 5 PCs. It also allows you to create and edit roadmaps, which are read-only in the lower plan. Finally, it also offers resource management features, enabling you to handle equipment, time, and budgets when managing more complex projects.

    Project Plan 5 - $55.00 user/month

    The top-end cloud-based plan, Project Plan 5, is most suitable for enterprise-level projects.

    In addition to everything offered in the previous two plans, this tier allows you access to the portfolio selection feature, which helps you create and analyze various scenarios to achieve the best possible outcome.

    Furthermore, this plan offers demand management, which enables you to respond more proactively to incoming customer demand. It also supports enterprise-level resource management to stay on top of your budgets.

    Project Standard 2021 - $679.99 (One-Time Purchase)

    Project Standard 2021 is the first of the two on-premises plans. We recommend this option only if you single-handedly manage projects, as the cloud-based option allows you to share your project with teammates while this is not available on the desktop version.

    This plan offers a range of critical tools to help you gain visibility over your projects, including pre-set templates, automated scheduling so you don’t miss any tasks, and built-in reporting features to continually stay on top of progress.

    Project Professional 2021 - $1,129.99 (One-Time Purchase)

    The second on-premises option, Project Professional 2021 has a heftier one-time purchase price but a few more features for your money.

    This option may be more suitable if you need to share your project management with team members, as it allows you to synchronize with Project Online and Project Server. In addition to the features available in Project Standard, this plan offers the capability to submit timesheets to track time spent on various tasks and more capacity to visualize complex schedules on a timeline.

    Microsoft Project Features

    Microsoft Project has many features to help upscale your project management, including various project views, timesheet submission, resource management, pre-set reporting, and team messaging via Microsoft Teams.

    Below, we’ll discuss some of the key features in more depth.

    Project Views

    Select either of Gantt chart, grid, or Kanban board view

    Microsoft Project offers a rather humble range of views: Gantt chart, grid, and Kanban board. While it’s nowhere near as many views as competitors like monday.com and ClickUp, we’d say these are the three most essential project views you’d need from a project management tool, and sometimes less is more.

    Within the project overview, we found it very straightforward to add new tasks and also add custom columns to include more information on each task like dependencies, due dates, completion rate, and so on.

    Roadmaps

    Create roadmaps with Microsoft Projects

    As well as the grid, board, and Gantt chart views, Microsoft Project also allows you to create roadmaps.

    This acts as an overarching view of the status of multiple ongoing projects and can be a valuable addition for individuals responsible for delivering simultaneous projects or presenting a top-level update to stakeholders.

    This feature is only fully accessible in Project Plans 3 and 5, while in Project Plan 1, it is read-only.

    Resource Management

    Microsoft Project's resource management feature

    Another vital feature included in Project Plans 3 and 5 is resource management, which allows you to stay on top of your resources to ensure shortages don’t delay the delivery of your projects.

    With this feature, you can manage resource requests, view heatmaps to identify under-used and over-used resources, and create reports to better track resource use.

    Timesheet Submission

    Microsoft Project's Timesheet submission feature

    Timesheet submission is another handy feature included with Microsoft Project, which can be used to track time spent on individual tasks and projects. Not only does this help improve time management and efficiency, but it is also convenient for sending invoices and making data-driven resource allocation decisions.

    Microsoft Project Integrations

    As expected, Microsoft Project works seamlessly with the rest of Microsoft’s software suite, including Teams, Sharepoint, and Planner.

    From any Microsoft Teams channel, you can add a link to a project so that relevant team members can view the status and progress from the top bar of your channel. All project tasks will be available to view from within the Teams app, so you don’t have to open Microsoft Project itself.

    Beyond that, Microsoft Project is somewhat limited in the integrations department and is not as compatible with third-party apps as its competitors. This is a serious shortcoming compared to other project management tools on the market that integrate with CRM, accounting, social media, and marketing tools.

    Microsoft Project Customer Reviews

    Microsoft Project earns positive feedback from online user reviews. Common complaints relate to the steep learning curve, with some users suggesting that it’s far too complicated and expensive for most projects and most suitable for high-volume project managers.

    That being said, users vouch for Microsoft Project being one of the best tools for resource management, tracking budgets, and predicting project outcomes once users overcome the learning curve.

    A customer's review and star ratings of Microsoft Project

    A customer's review of Microsoft Project on Reddit

    Users also praised Microsoft Project’s integration with Outlook, Teams, and calendars, which can help connect calendar events with project timelines and is particularly useful in film or TV production environments.

    A customer's review of Microsoft Project highlighting the pros and cons

    Another sentiment is that many users are finding that newer tools like Smartsheet, Trello, Asana, and monday.com are proving more accessible project management tools for small teams – but that Microsoft Project is still an extremely reputable name in the industry and, if properly utilized, can offer tons of benefits for the most complex project management needs.

    A customer's review of Microsoft Project on Reddit

    What is Microsoft Project Good For?

    Microsoft Project can be an excellent investment for project managers who must simultaneously stay on top of multiple complex projects. For example, those working in energy, sustainability, automotive, or engineering industries may benefit from the level of depth that Project provides. For those seeking a solid method of project planning, analyzing productivity, and managing resources – MSProject can be a good option.

    Due to the steep learning curve and a rather hefty price tag, however, we don’t recommend it for less complex projects as it simply may not be worth the hassle of onboarding and paying a subscription fee when you can gain the same benefits from a free tool.

    We also don’t recommend it for collaboration-heavy or particularly creative projects, as it lacks integration with third-party apps. Read on for recommendations of more suitable contenders if these factors are essential to you.

    Microsoft Project vs. Top Competitors

    Now we’ve heard what Microsoft Project has to offer, let’s see how it compares with its competitors. We compared Microsoft Project with some of the best project management software on the market, taking into consideration price, compatibility, and features:

    Microsoft Project Monday Wrike Smartsheet ClickUp Teamwork
    Best For In-depth project tracking Intuitive user experience AI features Familiar spreadsheet-style interface. Scope for customization Ease of use
    Starting Price $10/user/month Free Free Free Free Free
    Free Version 30-day free trial Free plan Free plan Free plan Free plan Free plan
    Compatibility Android, Windows, iOS Android, Windows, iOS Android, Windows, iOS Android, Windows, iOS Android, Windows, iOS Android, Windows, iOS
    Top 3 Features Resource management, road mapping, cloud-based and on-premises options 200+ templates, free forever plan, and easy-to-use automations Unlimited integrations, AI assistant, multi-view dashboard Unlimited sheets, build-your-own apps, advanced analytics 15+ project views, affordable scalability, and supports team collaboration Time tracking, in-built chat feature, resource management

    Microsoft Project vs Smartsheet

    At a much cheaper price point than Microsoft Project, Smartsheet is an affordable yet scalable solution that we recommend for various team sizes and requirements. For just $25 per month, you can also have unlimited users on the Business plan, while Microsoft Project charges between $10-$55 per user.

    Smartsheet’s USP is its spreadsheet-style interface, which will be familiar to Excel fans and mean a smoother set-up process. You can create as many spreadsheets as you want and access other project views, like Gantt charts, boards, and calendar views. Read more about this in our full review of Smartsheet.

    Another main difference is that Smartsheet supports third-party integrations, with which Microsoft Project falls flat. So, if you don’t want to stray too far from your beloved spreadsheets and want a project management tool that fits your existing tech stack – Smartsheet might be a good option.

    Microsoft Project vs Asana

    Both Microsoft Project and Asana’s plans start from around $10 per month and offer robust project management capabilities such as Gantt charts and portfolio management features.

    Asana is one of the best free project management software platforms, which can be a permanent solution for project managers with less complicated needs. That being said, you may run into limitations for more complex projects.

    Regarding templates, Asana offers 80+ options, while Microsoft Project offers 8-20 options. Asana also outshines Microsoft in the integrations department, with an impressive 1000+ third-party integrations, while Project only integrates with other Microsoft programs.

    Read our full review of Asana.

    Microsoft Project vs Monday

    While Microsoft Project is a huge name in the industry, monday.com is a relative newcomer that has quickly built its reputation in the project management space thanks to its intuitive UX design and customizability, not to mention its intelligent advertising strategy.

    Starting from $9 per month, monday.com is slightly cheaper than Microsoft Project, and it also has a free plan, which is always a plus.

    As we found in our review of monday.com, this tool makes automation very accessible, with simple-to-use ‘if/when’ rules, which can speed up mundane tasks and help reduce missed deadlines. Microsoft Project, on the other hand, has much less automation. The closest comparison is its automated scheduling, which is not as customizable as monday.com.

    Another significant difference, again, is Microsoft Project’s lack of third-party integrations. This makes monday.com a more suitable option for creative, collaborative teams who need a software platform that works with an existing tech stack or supports sharing media.

    How We Test Project Management Tools

    For over 13 years, Techopedia has established itself as a trusted voice in technology, including the best project management software. You can trust our analysis as we extensively test market-leading project management solutions. We meticulously examine the core functionalities, including mobile apps, automation capabilities, collaboration tools, and third-party integrations.

    We also consider user reviews across multiple platforms to ensure we provide a comprehensive, well-rounded assessment that considers real-world experiences. With our comprehensive methodology, you can rely on our recommendations when deciding which project management software is for you.

    How to Choose the Best Project Management Solution

    Simply adopting project management software will vastly improve your workflow, but be mindful that not all project management software is created equal. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to choose the best project management software before choosing.

    PriceFeaturesScalabilityEase of UseIntegrationsCustomer Support

    As with any business decision, price is of the utmost importance. You want to ensure that your chosen plan is within your budget and offers adequate functionality so that you won’t have to pay for additional software to compensate for shortcomings.

    Remember that some providers may require a minimum contract length, so consider that when projecting your total spend.

    Since all project management software platforms offer different features, you should consider which features are most important for your project and thoroughly research the providers. Also, ensure that the features you need are included in the plan you intend to sign up for.

    Whether you’re a growing company or an established enterprise, most companies anticipate growth. When shopping for software solutions, check for room for expansion and how much this will cost; otherwise, you could face issues further down the road if you outgrow your plan.

    A particular software might have all the bells and whistles, but if it’s not easy to use, you may have difficulty getting the most out of it. We’d recommend opting for software that offers the opportunity to try before you buy to be sure you can get to grips with it.

    This is especially important if you must also onboard team members to use the software. A complicated system will often not be used effectively and can often create more confusion than clarity.

    Another thing to consider is whether your chosen project management software will integrate with your existing software stack. Many leading software platforms integrate with messaging systems, file-sharing services, social media, and marketing tools. Life is easier when your software platforms are compatible, so it is worth checking out before taking the plunge.

    Sometimes, you hit a roadblock with your software and need to talk to an expert. While some companies offer round-the-clock telephone support or live chat, others offer a knowledge hub or community forum. If you have strong preferences, it’s wise to check which support options your chosen provider offers.

    FAQs

    Which is better, Microsoft Project or Planner?

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    Alice Martin
    Senior Writer

    Alice Martin has five years experience as a writer before joining Techopedia in 2024. After completing an interdisciplinary degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, she began writing in the arts and music industries. Driven by a love of research and analysis, Alice turned her attention towards all things software and technology. She now offers expert advice in these fields to help readers make informed decisions.