You can expect many benefits from Microsoft Project over and above what something such as Excel can do for you. Here’s a handful of them:
You can prove you’re overloaded with work: If you’ve had too many tasks or projects dumped on you, you can use your forecast schedule to prove this to decision-makers. Once your business-unit leaders acknowledge there’s a workload problem, you can use Microsoft Project 2016 as a tool to make your workload reasonable again. The dynamic model helps you quickly develop what-if scenarios.
You can prove your project is understaffed: It’s easy to prove to decision-makers that something needs to happen—get more staff, get more time, or deliver less quality.
You can prove your project is underfunded: When you build your forecast schedule from the ground up, you get a manpower and cost estimate for each task from your team. If the forecast for that project shows you exceeding the budget right off the bat, you’ll know you need more resources. The extra detail provides ideas for how you can make the project healthy.
You’ll be able to forecast your project better and prevent last-minute surprises: When forecast models don’t meet required deadlines, you can take corrective actions to resolve critical project tasks from a time-required, expense and staffing perspective.
You’ll save time as the project manager: Microsoft Project is more efficient than Excel for keeping your schedule up-to-date. In Excel, you have to constantly and manually adjust dates to reflect the latest status of your project. You have to change even more dates when you need to accurately forecast your project. In fact, in a three-month project, you could save as much as 56 hours of scheduling effort if you schedule your project in Microsoft Project.
If you want to keep your forecast schedule up-to-date in Excel, you need to revise the start and finish date of 50 tasks, on average, for each revision of the schedule. This will take you two hours each time—two hours of effort during which you could easily make errors. As a result, people who schedule in Excel typically let their schedule slip out-of-date, and then they lose their reporting tool as well as their forecast model.
You’ll be a more effective project manager. If you’ve accurately established all relationships between tasks, you’ll find many parallel paths of relationships in your schedule. Only one of those parallel paths determines the duration of your project, the “Critical Path.” Using concepts like Critical Path will make you a more effective project manager. You’ll know at any time which tasks can cause slippage and which can’t.
You’ll also get better at estimating. Because you can easily keep your schedule up-to-date in Microsoft Project, you’ll be able to compare which estimates were too low and which ones were too high. You’ll become better at the difficult job of estimating and get a firmer grip on your future.
In short, you’ll spend less time with Microsoft Project than you will with Excel. You’ll also increase your chance for project success.