Microsoft Project has helped project managers track progress, assign tasks, manage resources, and perform other similar tasks. Originally released as a web-based application but soon adapted for PC use. Microsoft Project features specifically designed tools to help you work on various projects from scratch. It includes support for project planning stages, resource collection and development, budget setting and analysing, and project tracking.
There are lots of useful Microsoft Project features that help you work more productively. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
1) Microsoft Project Planning and Scheduling
Planning and scheduling arguably constitute the most important stage of Microsoft project management. They form the backbone of the entire project and can either make or break the whole thing.
What does this stage entail? For starters, it specifies how and when it should complete each task. Then, these tasks are assigned to various team members and allocated any necessary resources. This makes the entire process smooth and transparent, with everyone aware of their duties and responsibilities. This is precisely what Microsoft Project is good at. It utilizes the following to ensure accurate project management:
1. Prioritization: Helps you prioritize your project’s tasks, eliminating surprises and allowing your team to focus on addressing the most important matters first.
2. Task management: Allows project managers to define the activities involved in the project and decide how they should be assigned to different members.
3. Team calendar: Having a shared team calendar is a real blessing, as it ensures that all team members are on the same page at all times. Your team members will get notifications for upcoming meetings and events and synchronize their work schedules for a more efficient workflow.
2) Project Timeline View
This is one of the best features of the Microsoft Project. When working on a project, you obviously want to have everything in one place and keep all schedules synced. But what happens when you need someone independent of the project team to track your progress and check on how you’re doing?
The answer lies in Microsoft Project’s timeline view. This beautifully presents the whole project with a top-down view of the entire work. For instance, if you plan to present the project to your stakeholders, management, or partners, you can easily preview what they would see from their perspective using the project timeline view.
How can you add value to the timeline view? For starters, you can make some formatting changes. It can change the colours of the project phases. The project can align tasks and also can adjust various other formats. The process is rather simple. All you have to do to add something to your timeline is right-click on the task and select the option to add it. You can modify the formatting to fit an e-mail, presentation, and so on.
Collaboration is an essential part of any project. Each activity involves lots of people, so you’d ideally like to connect all of them on a common platform so you can easily share information. How is collaboration achieved in all of this? Let’s find out.
• File sharing: Microsoft Project allows you to share files with other members of your team. This helps you ensure all members have any relevant documentation to work on the project with minimal interruptions.
• Team dashboard: A team dashboard is crucial, as it offers an overview of the most important information and statistics relevant to your project. With the help of this Microsoft Project feature, you can actually add multiple graphs, charts, data presentations, and other graphics. This will help make your work more organized, lively, and visual. It also helps with team allocation and resource management. The dashboard is handy during meetings and presentations, as it essentially serves as a project KPI report.
• Sharing client data: Often, simply managing your own information is not sufficient for a project’s success. You also need to work on customer data and keep it safely stored. This information should be accessible to all members involved in the project to help guide their work.
Reporting is one of the most important means of tracking a project’s progress, as it allows you to monitor how much work has been completed and how much remains. Fortunately, Microsoft Project excels at this task, allowing you to generate great reports with little effort. . Best of all, you can even customize the data and the structure according to your requirements. The features include burndown reports, an overview of the entire project on one page, the conditions of available resources and their utilization; a cost overview; a list of pending tasks; and a list of targets achieved and any upcoming goals.
With all these features, you can build a custom report that addresses your team’s needs. Once you have all the information you’d like to present on hand, the only thing you have to do is pull up the reporting interface, choose the parameters you wish to include, and you’re done!
5) Microsoft Project Resource Management
Microsoft Project offers project managers a great deal of flexibility in managing project resources and availability. A project’s resources could be monetary (such as the allocated budget), the people involved (team members), meeting and workrooms, raw materials, and much more. Obviously, a project will come with certain limitations on the number of resources that it can use. Microsoft Project’s resource management tools help you track and monitor all available resources and the potential ways to use them for your project(s). The project management tool also lets you assign costs to individual resources, allowing you to analyze later whether certain valuable resources are being overused, underused, and so on.
Every project is unique and has its own resource requirements. This tool allows you to properly assign and order your tasks based on resource availability and demand, with the added option of committing specific resources full time or part-time, as needed. With this facility, you can also create a pool of resources and tap into them to complete tasks as your project comes together.
6) Multiple Projects
Microsoft Project also allows project managers to work on multiple projects on the same platform, making it easier to deal with different projects in the same company or team. The Master Project Plan defines this. Basically, when you’re working with many different project plans, you can combine all of them to form one master plan to use as you move forward. This proves extremely beneficial to project managers, especially if they are juggling multiple projects at once.
You can customize every aspect of a single project tool to form a master project, be it resource allocation, project planning, or progress tracking. Even reporting is made easy with the help of multiple dashboards. You can put this to good use during meetings and presentations.
7) Different Views
Microsoft Project is quite a unique project management tool in that it offers several different views. For instance, you can make use of a Gantt Chart, a resource usage chart, a calendar, and much more. Essentially, it allows a manager to view the project from different perspectives and representations, all from one platform. But the best aspect of this feature is that all of these views can be customized together according to the project requirements and combined to form one big project plan.
Microsoft Project features many more tools, all of which are geared toward project management. With its planning, scheduling, resource allocation, progress tracking, and presentation tools, Project is the ideal package for project managers. This is because it streamlines your projects and helps you stay on track to project success. The program is available in the two forms of Standard and Professional, the latter being the more popular choice.
Still, unsure whether Project is the right project management tool for you? Check out our blog Microsoft Planner vs Microsoft Project: Everything You Need to Know