Is there really a viable Microsoft Project alternative for project scheduling software to create project plans and timing plans? Find out with our newly updated article for 2019 which provides a cheaper pay as you go version of Microsoft Project, some great new MS Project alternatives and a downloadable how-to guide for choosing a Microsoft Project alternative for your project schedules.
If your company is feeling the pinch, your request to purchase a shiny new copy of Microsoft Project might elicit a response that goes something like; “..surely there is a free Microsoft Project alternative out there that can do the job, isn’t there?” You respond something like, “Umm, well, maybe…”. And that’s the point of this article. For those of you who are on the hunt for a Microsoft Project 2016 alternative, you’ve come to the right place.
For a lot of agencies, the default project management tool for creating project plans is still Microsoft Project. If we’re really honest, though, for most of the digital projects that we manage, Microsoft Project management does far more than we ever need it for – it’s got stacks of features that most people never use, hasn’t really changed that much in 30 years, and doesn’t necessarily do much to streamline process within project management. So are there any real Microsoft Project alternatives – paid, or even better, for free – that are worth using?
Wait a minute though…
Before looking for Microsoft Project alternatives, did you know that the real deal is actually not that expensive?
Why would you use Microsoft Project?
For starters, Microsoft Project is not just a fuzzy old tool that Microsoft doesn’t really care about—they’re introducing some really smart integrations with Power BI, Internet of Things, bots and machine learning that are awesome. Your best choice might be to buy MS Project.
How much does Microsoft Project cost?
It’s simple and affordable to subscribe to an Office 365 version of Microsoft Project for just $30/month. In fact, now you can pick up a copy of Microsoft Project on Amazon for less than $600.
There’s also been an interesting shift in the Microsoft Project alternative world with pricing that it’s worth being aware of. The cloud-based, online Microsoft Project alternatives are now almost all charging by the user— rather than by the number of projects—which is making common Projects alternatives on average cost about $180/user/year; much more expensive than they used to be. They’re also nearly all transitioning from being simple Gantt chart tools to trying to include project, task and resource management tools. In short, making your choice of an MS Project alternative is becoming more complex.
What is Microsoft Project?
What is MS Project? It’s a project management tool used by different types of users, with varying levels of access. The software provides tables, views, filters, fields, calendars, and a database for doing things like:
- Developing project plans
- Assigning resources
- Tracking time & progress
- Creating Gantt charts
- Creating & managing budgets
- Balancing workloads
- Scheduling tasks & resources
- Creating graphical reports
- Storing project data in a shared database
Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Project Scheduling Software
In this review of Microsoft Project alternatives, we break down the features, pricing, pros & cons of the following tools.
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List of Microsoft Project Alternatives:
- GanttPRO – https://ganttpro.com
- Wrike – http://www.wrike.com
- Celoxis – https://www.celoxis.com
- Omniplan – https://www.omnigroup.com/omniplan
- Tom’s Planner – http://www.tomsplanner.com
- Clarizen – http://www.clarizen.com
- Hive – https://hive.com/
- Merlin Project – http://projectwizards.net/
- Smartsheet – http://www.smartsheet.com
- Microsoft Project Online Professional – https://products.office.com/en-us/project/project-online-professional
Project Scheduling Software Selection Criteria (For A Microsoft Project Alternative)
We’re project managers, right, so let’s first define the requirements. we need to properly define what our alternative needs to do. There are loads of project scheduling software alternatives out there, many of which do all kinds of things that we, as digital project managers will never make use of, so what do we actually use it for?
Here are four common use cases that a project scheduling tool, or any MS Project alternative needs to master:
- Create a Gantt chart – demonstrate in detail the work breakdown structure (WBS) with tasks, sub-tasks, showing duration, start and end dates, dependencies and assigned resources
- Create a project exec summary chart – provide a high-level view of the project plan to provide a project snapshot that anyone can understand
- Import and export .mpp files – seamlessly import someone else’s project plan, make edits and send it back to them without giving anyone a headache
- Export PDF’s or shareable project plans – be able to share something that looks presentable
I know. I know. I know. There are loads of other things that MS Project does – resource management and project portfolio management with business intelligence integrations are great. But generally speaking, all we’re really doing is scheduling our projects – yes, there are lots of other great functionality, but be honest, you don’t use them very much!
GanttPRO – https://ganttpro.com
GanttPRO is online Gantt chart software with lots of useful features. If you are not new to the world of project management, you know how painful it is to find a nice looking and powerful Gantt chart and a MS Project substitute. In GanttPRO, you will find both. This Gantt chart tool looks really nice with its intuitive UX/UI design.
Besides, it offers a wide range of project management features. Here you can easily create tasks, assign them, and connect them with dependencies, set milestones, enable the critical path to see the most important tasks or create a baseline to compare a current state of your plan with what you have initially planned. Thanks to the auto-scheduling function, any change in your tasks, dates or dependencies will be automatically reflected. GanttPRO is also a good collaboration tool. It allows users to comment on tasks, export, import and share charts with Public URL as well as get notifications, mention team members, browse History mode, etc. You can try a 14-day free trial or book a personal demo.
A plan for 1 user starts from $15 if billed annually. Team plans start from $5.90 per user if billed annually.
Summary of GanttPRO:
- Create a Gantt chart: Pass
- Create a project overview chart: Pass
- Import and export .mpp files: Pass
- Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Wrike – http://www.wrike.com
To illustrate the point that the crossover between cloud-based Gantt chart creating Microsoft Project alternatives and project management tools is narrowing, it’s worth considering an all in one project management and scheduling tool like Wrike. While it doesn’t fall neatly into our selection criteria (it does much more than simply create Gantt charts), it’s worth including as an alternative way of approaching the challenge to create shareable project plans.