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What is Microsoft Project?
Microsoft Project is project management software used for planning and tracking projects with a gantt chart. It’s available as a stand-alone solution for desktop PCs (Microsoft Project Professional) or as a cloud-based app (Microsoft Project Online).
While teams of all sizes and industries use MS Project to schedule and manage project work and resources, enterprise organizations with an established Microsoft 365 infrastructure will face fewer barriers when it comes to access and setup.
Microsoft Project Online vs Professional
Microsoft Project Professional is the desktop version most often used by project managers because it provides the full set of project management, resourcing, and costing features. It’s currently only available for PC computers. Because you install MS Project Professional directly on your desktop, you have to find other solutions for keeping team members and external stakeholders up-to-date on the plan and progress.
Microsoft Project Online is a lighter, web-based version that offers collaborative capabilities and multiple workflow options—including Kanban boards—for team members who don’t like working with gantt charts. However, its features may not be as comprehensive or customizable as the desktop version.
From a cost perspective, Microsoft Project Professional is a one-time purchase, and your software license never expires. MS Project Online requires an active subscription and charges monthly fees for each user.
How to build a basic Microsoft Project gantt chart
1. Open a new blank project file.
Open Microsoft Project, and click Blank Project on the Home tab to create a new project file.
2. Set your project start date.
Go to Project > Project Information to enter your project’s start date.
3. Choose your default scheduling mode.
Decide whether you want new tasks to be scheduled manually or automatically. Go to Task > Mode to set the default scheduling mode for your project.
4. List out your project tasks.
Enter the name of each project task in a new row.
5. Assign a duration and start date to each task.
Enter the amount of time needed to complete each task, and select a date for work to begin.
6. Create a summary task for each project phase.
Select the first task in a project phase, then click Task > Insert Summary Task. Highlight all the remaining subtasks in that phase, and click Task > Indent Task to add them to the group.
7. Set key milestones for your project.
Click Task > Insert Milestone to add important project meetings, dates, and deliverables to your timeline. Be sure each milestone has “0 days” for its duration.
8. Add links to connect dependent tasks.
Highlight a series of dependent tasks in your list, then click Task > Link the Selected Tasks to connect them.
9. Assign resources to tasks.
Select the person and/or other resource responsible for each task from the dropdown in the Resource Names column to assign the work.
10. Save your gantt chart as an .mpp file.
Save your new Microsoft Project file to your computer in .mpp format. Be sure to do this anytime you update your gantt chart.
11. Publish your gantt chart to MS Project Online.
If you’re using MS Project Online to collaborate with team members, go to File > Info > Publish to sync project updates to your Project Web App.
What are the drawbacks of using MS Project?
Here’s a quick look at the most common reasons project managers switch from Microsoft Project to an online alternative like TeamGantt.
Complex setup & configuration
Unless your company has an established Microsoft 365 infrastructure with IT support handy, configuring your account can be a painstaking and time-consuming task.
Steep learning curve
Limited access for external clients
No dedicated help desk
Limited collaboration features
Only integrates with Microsoft products
Expensive to collaborate at scale
Tons of others ❤️ managing projects with TeamGantt.
What's the best Microsoft Project alternative online?
There's no shortage of Microsoft Project alternatives, so how do you know what’s best? We think TeamGantt tops the list—but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s how real people like you rate TeamGantt vs MS Project.
TeamGantt vs Microsoft Project
(with unlimited collaborators)
(no free collaborators)
notifications & reminders
Why use TeamGantt instead of MS Project?
Breeze through onboarding with little-to-no learning curve
Avoid blind spots with a clear view of the big picture
Get flexible workflows that adapt to your team’s process
Invite your whole team without breaking the bank
Manage resource loads directly from your gantt chart
Break down tool silos with third-party integrations
Spend less time keeping external stakeholders in the loop
Easily check project health across your portfolio
Keep everything in a single, easy-to-access place
Save time with dynamic project templates
In TeamGantt, any project can be a template. As your original seed project evolves, the template evolves with it. No more using outdated templates or making manual updates! You’ll also have access to a library of ready-made project templates to help you save time on setup.
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Microsoft Project FAQs
Is MS Project included in Microsoft 365?
No, you will need to purchase a separate license for Microsoft Project.