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College of Contract Management United Kingdom
College of Contract Management
United Kingdom

What is microsoft project | Learn how to use project management software


What is Microsoft Project?


Microsoft Project (MSP) is software produced to manage project scheduling in an easy way. Scheduling can be very complex and can make or break a projects success. The software uses Gantt charts which is a type of bar chart created by Henry Gantt, as well as tools to allow members to collaborate and work with the schedule. Furthermore, its original editions were first available in 1984 and it was one of the first project management software available at the time. Shortly after it’s release it became the most popular software at the time. A huge variety of different companies use this software for many different purposes.

This article will discuss detail into Microsoft Project and the release of similar software that it came into competition with. It will then discuss which software became the most appropriate for use in the construction industry and the courses that we offer that could lead you to a profession using these kinds of software.


Who Uses Microsoft Project?


Project Managers

It is predominantly used by project managers in various industries. They have many roles but some of the most significant include:

  • Planning the timeline of events that need to be undertaken for completion of a project.
  • Tracking the performance of the project.
  • Estimating time.
  • Ensuring standards are met.
  • Creating project objectives.

There are roles for project manager in construction, technology, engineering, manufacturing and more. This means that Microsoft Project is used across a number of industries.


It can also be used my administrators as an easy way to keep on top of their schedules. However, it may be too complex and they may not need all the features of MSP.

Team Members

Those who need to access their schedule can access Microsoft Project. In addition, team members can work together to agree on schedules as there are features for collaboration and sharing.

Quantity Surveyors and Schedule Analysts

Schedule Analysts work within the construction industry and use scheduling methods to make calculations about where problems may occur within a construction project and provide evidence. Quantity Surveyors calculate the costs and budget of a project so may need to refer to schedules.


MSP Features


Microsoft Project has various different plans depending on how much you are willing to pay for the service.

The software offers a grid view to be able to access an ordered list of tasks. In addition, it offers a Grantt timeline view. This is the most used part of the software as it enables you to see the relationship between project tasks on a timeline view which is especially useful in professions such as project management to ensure that work is being completed in a timely manner at the appropriate times. Another great feature is the collaboration, you are able to work together using Microsoft Teams and all see the schedule.

Furthermore, you can assign tasks to particular members, track the progress of the project and submit time sheets.

Project Plan 1 is the cheapest option, you get the basics of the software but you do not get things like tracking the progress of your project which may be essential for businesses.

With Project Plan 3 you get scheduling tools and Project Plan 5 you get features such as portfolio selection optimization and enterprise resource planning.

The plan for you will depend on which things you value in your project management.

Once MSP had been in motion for some time, it began to see some competitors trying to take over their standing, that’s where Primavera and Powerproject come in. Since then, more and more businesses are creating software to try and be better than the one previously. Therefore, there is lots of project management software out there.


Primavera Software


After Microsoft Project came Primavera. This was launched in 1983 which was then obtained by Oracle in 2008. The P6 is the newer version, however there were many previous versions before, such as the P3. This is a similar application to Microsoft Project. Primavera software is thought to have more features and is more accessible for those who like to access the system at the same time. With Primavera P6 you are able to schedule large scale projects, have multiuser access and many of those working in the construction industry tend to use the software. It is thought to have overtaken MSP due the increase in features.

Primavera is still very much used today by many companies and it would be expected for its popularity to grow further.


Asta Powerproject

After Primavera, came Asta Powerproject. This was first launched in 1988 and is marketed at construction professionals specifically. Although the previous two are commonly used by construction professionals, this one may offer some unique features. In many ways it is similar to Primavera P6. In 2008 it was used for the restoration of the Cutty Sark. The reason it is made for construction workers is that it has something different to the general project scheduling software. It incorporates features that can allow construction workers to find better ways to avoid litigation from delays. Furthermore, it allows you to easily integrate information from other software.

Asta Powerproject is also very popular and due to its rather new implementation into widespread use, therefore, we are likely to see growth of this software too.



Choosing the One for You


All three of these software’s are similar and at times they have all come into competition with each other. The most influential factors in determining which software to use will be:

  • Affordability – The software would need to be affordable for use in the business. Lower prices will attract more people to choose their software.
  • Features – The amount of features that it includes and the ones which are essential for a particular business need.
  • Accessibility – How easy the software is to use. If it requires a large amount of training then it may not be suitable. Additional costs will have to be made to train workers.


Therefore, choosing the right one for you and your business will be dependent on your preferences.


MSP vs Primavera


When comparing Microsoft Project and Primavera features, there are a few noticeable differences.

  • Microsoft Project does not allow multiple users to work on a single project, but Primavera does.
  • Primavera offers an application for recording risks but MSP does not.
  • Primavera allows you to add project expenses, MSP does not.

Therefore, for professions where risk management or budgeting may be involved, Primavera may be the best choice.

However, MSP is more user friendly than Primavera and that is why quite a lot of training will have to go into getting familiar with this software.

The prices of MSP are cheaper than Primavera but there are packages for each to allow you to find the most affordable option.


The Importance of Project Management Software


Reducing Chance of Delays

Without a system to manage large and complex projects, there could be numerous problems. You could find that you fall into delays. This could be because you did not accurately sort out which worker starts each part and set deadlines. This could increase the risk of you falling into litigation. A project management system can help you to optimise your projects to reach their full potential.


Notice Problems When They Arise

Management software can also be great to record problems within a project so that causes of delays can be pinpointed. This is useful to be able to adjust the schedule in response to delays so that the overall outcome of the project is unaffected. For example, this may mean that workload is more than expected but the schedule will allow for adjustments. When the project is documented in this way, it can set great examples of when a project has worked, or whether there have been problems. Future projects can then follow these examples to ensure that they maintain consistency in their work and continue to do things that work effectively.


Updated From Old Methods

In addition, the software allows project professionals to work much more efficiently than they would have just used pen and paper and limited ways of communication with team members. Especially with the competition that comes along with projects in this day and age, failing to get the best possible management system would put you at a disadvantage.


Document Control

Furthermore, it allows for document control. If a company were to put all their files in different places scattered over their system, there would be issues. For one, the files may be hard to find. Secondly, there would be no way to track progress. The software would enable everyone to access the correct documents.




Our Courses


The College of Contract Management offers courses in various project management areas in the construction industry. Some of them would be highly useful for learning how to use the software. Within many of the roles that you could progress in by taking a course, you will likely come across one of MSP, Primavera or Powerproject.


Professional Diploma in Forensic Schedule Analysis

A schedule analyst must determine the financial consequences of a delay which may have occurred due to situations such as underperformance, shortage in materials, equipment unavailability and more.

During this course you will learn about schedules and using Primavera P6 software. This course could be useful for businesses which want to train their workers to use the software, possibly if you are switching which software you use or you are new to using these types of software altogether. Therefore, this course is the most relevant to the topic of this article.

You will also learn about schedule analysis and protocols as well as delay events and determination.

Professional Practice in Project Management 

This course is directly related to the topics of project management software. This specifically designed for construction workers who have had experience in projects before as it is a postgraduate program.

You will learn about construction planning and scheduling but you will also learn so much more including construction claims, law and contracts and resource management.

Advanced Diploma in Quantity Surveying 

In this course you will learn to calculate the budget for construction projects, you may need to refer to a scheduling software to ensure that the costs are as low as possible and the schedule will ensure that costs do not exceed that budget. They will often use software which allows them to estimate cost, which many of the ones mentioned in this article include.

Advanced Diploma in Construction Management 

With this course you are able to become a construction project manager. You will also be able to learn things such as cost management, estimating, contract claims and dispute resolution.



Final Thoughts


Microsoft Project was one of the first of its kind before it faced competition. All of the software talked about in this article are different in their own right. Some of them have developed their features to meet the need of customers. Others have stuck by their roots and place value in their accessibility.

The courses that we offer will be able to add to your skills in project management and allow you to use your chosen software effectively. Further, the use of software is very beneficial and all construction companies will be using one similar to these if not one of these. Therefore, understanding the basics of how they work will be beneficial in your career.