One of the most used project planning software of all times is Microsoft Project with millions of users worldwide. The product is used mainly by companies to manage projects in almost any activity area. However the users base does not end here and the software package is also used for educational purposes or for personal use.
In the past there were very few project management tools hence a poor competition and for this reason the prices for such tools were high. In the last years the software market has grown rapidly such that at this moment there are hundreds of such products: some of them have just some basic functionality while others offer a full solution to manage projects. For this reason the prices have dropped significantly.
What to look for when searching for a Microsoft Project alternative
However many users still use Microsoft Project despite the high price. Why? Simple: Microsoft Project is still considered as the “de facto” standard in project management and many project plans are stored in its format. The biggest problem in migrating to another project scheduling software is the conversion of existing data to the new format. For this the new adopted product must be able to successfully read Microsoft Project files. Even more if it is needed a Microsoft Project integration then the new product must also be able to export data in MS Project Data Exchange format.
Another important factor in deciding what alternative to Microsoft Project to choose is the list of available features. It must supply some powerful tools like Gantt charts, scheduling mechanisms, resource management, cost management, etc. If it provides even additional features like running on multiple platforms, support for collaboration or even the possibility to handle multiple interdependent projects that is even better.
One major problem that users have with MS Project is the fact that they do not always need to modify projects. Many times they only need to view the projects or even less to see what they have to do. OK you might say that some printed reports will do the trick but this is somehow limited. Instead of using some static reports it would help a lot more to have a dynamic view over the projects: on short a Microsoft Project viewer.
And the last but not the less important fact to keep in mind are the costs with trainings. An application with an easy to use interface should be preferred over a complex one due to lower costs with trainings. An integrated project guide as found in RationalPlan Project Management Software is very well suited for novice project managers since it guides them how to better plan and manage their projects.
On short these are the main things that you should look at when searching for a Microsoft Project replacement:
- a more affordable price
- the possibility to open MS Project files and to migrate them to the new product
- a comparable list of features and functionality
- easy to use software without the need of trainings
If you are looking for project management software, then RationalPlan is an affordable alternative to Microsoft Project with some extra features like multiple projects management with shared resources.