What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is still one of the most used Project Management software (tool) out there. Project Managers, when evaluating Project Management tools, often wonder what are the advantages and disadvantages of using Microsoft Project.

Advantages of Using Microsoft Project

  • Maturity: Microsoft Project is a very mature Project Management tool. MS Project was first released in 1984 and over the next 26 years, Microsoft has listened to the increasing number of Project Managers adopting this tool, and added/enhanced a lot of features that are now vital for managing projects. Almost any chart the Project Manager can think of is now available in MS Project. (At the time of writing this article, the current version is MS Project 2007).
  • Support and Reliability: Contrary to the myriad of the other Project Management tools available on the market, Microsoft Project is developed by the largest and most reputable software company in the world, which offers reliable support of this product. Additionally, the success of MS Project has spurred the growth of third party support and training services offered for this product.
  • Easy Integration with other Microsoft Products: MS Project offers integration with other MS Products that are highly popular, such as MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Outlook.
  • Desktop Application: MS Project is a desktop application, which means the Project Manager can work on the project schedule even if there is no Internet connection.

Disadvantages of Microsoft Project

  • Steep Learning Curve: MS Project is a software that needs some considerable training and experience to get know how to use it. This is a significant setback for the product as there are lots of Project Managers out there who are not technical, and may experience a hard time trying to learn MS Project.
  • Generic Focus: MS Project does not focus on any particular industry (though some say it’s slightly more inclined to Software Project Management), this results in Project Managers using a tool that is not tailored to their needs.
  • No collaboration: This is a major drawback in MS Project because of the importance of communication in Project Management. Online collaboration nowadays is indispensable for easy and accessible updates by the team members/the Project Manager/the stakeholders on the project. The complete absence of real collaboration in MS Project makes it outdated by the standards of today’s connected world. To make things worse, MS Project does not even offer integration with third party collaboration tools, which leaves Project Managers with no choice then to use a separate collaboration platform to ease the communication flow on the project. This adds an unecessary overhead to the workload of the Project Manager.
  • Desktop, Offline Application: Although this one was mentioned as an advantage, it is also a huge disadvantage. Using a desktop application means that the project data file (usually the one with the .mpp extension) is stored locally. This leaves the ever-busy Project Manager with the responsibility of backing up this file always (not doing so may risk losing all the project plan in the blink of an eye in case the Project Manager’s PC fails). Additionally, quite often multiple people (e.g. the Project Manager, some team members, and some stakeholders) will have different copies of the MS Project file which are not in sync, leading to inconsistency issues (MS Excel has also the same issue when used as a Project Management tool). The Project Manager will be forced to email the project file to everyone involved every time a change is made.
  • Compatibility Issues: MS Project files are saved in a proprietary format, meaning they won’t run on any other PC unless that PC has also (usually the same or a later version of) MS Project installed. This makes the life of the Project Manager harder as he has to make sure that everyone (including the stakeholders, the client, and the team members) receiving a copy of the .mpp has to have MS Project installed on his PC. An alternative way is to send the Project Plan as an image or a pdf file, but of course, both of these options are not as good as sending the real project plan.


MS Project is a mature, respected, and robust Project Management software, but the steep learning curve and the complete lack of collaboration may hinder future adoption of MS Project. It Microsoft doesn’t acknowledge the importance of implementing easy collaboration in this tool as well as addressing the other problems mentioned above, then MS Project may become obsolete in a few years.

© 2010 Project Management Learning – Reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited without the written consent of Project Management Learning.

Leave a Comment




Formatting Your Comment

The following XHTML tags are available for use:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

URLs are automatically converted to hyperlinks.