You need to manage your projects online, so you’re considering the options, including all the Microsoft Project online options. So how do you choose?
If you’ve worked with Microsoft Project before, then you are familiar with its powerful planning capabilities but also its many, well… frustrations.
For one thing, it’s hard to share files, which are too large for email and only viewable if you have MS Project installed (and not many people do.) Also, it’s quite expensive and usually requires using alongside Microsoft Server and/or Sharepoint, which require license renewals, large installation costs and the cost of upkeep and management.
Finally, even though there are a myriad of new Microsoft Project Online versions, you still need the desktop license! Confusing.
What you need is to be able to use the features of Microsoft Project Online, without all its frustrations. In this article, we’ll show you how to do that.
What Is MS Project Online?
You know MS Project, but Microsoft Project Online is a different animal. It’s a web-based version of the desktop software that can do some of what the desktop version can do.
But there’s a catch.
Microsoft Project Online was designed to complement the desktop version of the software. Which means you need to also have the desktop version of Microsoft Project, and so does the person you want to share plans with online. You also need Sharepoint integrations, which is the sharing portal for Microsoft files of all kinds because the file sizes are so large.
Pros and Cons of MS Project Online
Microsoft made great gains with their MS Project Online versions, but if you still need the $1100 desktop license on top of the monthly subscription fee for the online access, then… well, you’re not really managing your projects completely online.
The online tool is very powerful and is a great option for teams already set up within a Microsoft ecosystem, such as MS Project Server and Sharepoint. For these teams, adding a minor cost for online additions of their desktop tools is a great way to get their Microsoft Project plans online.
The problems with Microsoft Project and its sister product, MS Project Online, is that there are many confusing plans and pricing structures. There are a number of different types of products, too. Do you need MS Project Online with Project Pro for Office 365 or Project Lite or just Planner which is yet another Office add-on? On top of all that, you may have a Mac computer, which just doesn’t seem to be compatible with any version of Microsoft Project Online.
Microsoft Project Online for Mac
If you visited Microsoft’s website, you’d believe there are no alternatives for Mac. It’s like they’ve imagined a world without Apple and hope that we accept their story despite the iPhone, iPad and Macbook we or our team might be using.
Related: How to Run Microsoft Project on Mac
As much as Microsoft would like to think of itself as a monolith dominating the world of computers, it’s not. Projects are complicated and often have various teams, including IT, designers, graphic people and more. Some use PCs, others Macs. What’s needed is a bridge software that can carry the work seamlessly between teams.
Thankfully, there are Microsoft Project alternatives.
Alternatives to MS Project Online
Microsoft Project has long been the standard for project managers, that many are incredulous that there are viable alternatives. Yes, there really are affordable alternatives with all the power of MS Project and without all the frustrations.
Microsoft Project Online Viewer
Even with three tiers of pricing plans, the licensing fees add up if you want your whole team to get onboard. That’s why there are workarounds for MS Project Online, such as a Microsoft Project Viewer, which is a tool that allows those who don’t have a contract with MS Project Online to still open and view MPP files online.
You can see the value of such a tool, which is often free and provides a sort of hack for organizations that are wedded to the MS suite of products, but don’t want that to send them to the poorhouse.
The problem with a view-only tool is that while it allows you to open MPP files, there is little you can do with them other than see the plan. If you want to change something, you’re stuck. Microsoft has built a wall around its software that makes it increasingly difficult for people to efficiently manage their projects.
MS Project Online vs. ProjectManager.com
To get more out of your MPP files than a viewer can offer, try ProjectManager.com. Our cloud-based project management software has the total planning power of the MS Project Gantt, plus the resource management features, but it’s faster and easier to use. And, because it’s always online, it has team collaboration features and the ability to share plans with anyone.
No Sharepoint required.
ProjectManager.com is also completely compatible with Microsoft Project, for teams who have Project Server and Sharepoint, but need to be able to share their plans online. This tool allows you the flexibility to work on your MPP files online and more.
There’s a significant cost savings, as well, as you don’t need desktop versions of the software. But most importantly, ProjectManager.com offers seamless import & export of MS Project and Excel files, with no data loss.
Take Microsoft Project Online with ProjectManager.com
Some teams require the ability to continue to use their MPP files or still prefer to use the desktop version of Microsoft Project.
ProjectManager.com gives you the power to not only view your MPP files online, but also manage them online, and export them back to MPP format with complete data integrity. This lets you share your plans with team members, clients and clients online freely and securely, while still using Microsoft Project.
So, how do you import and export MPP files with ProjectManager.com? There are five simple steps to importing and exporting MS Project plans.
- One-click Import: Just click a button to import the whole plan. You can also import select parts of the plan like just the task list or resource data that you want to see
- View Plan Online: The MPP file is immediately opened, so you see your columns, task & resource data in the Gantt chart online.
- See Plan Progress on Dashboard: The moment you import your MS Project plans they populate the real-time dashboard, showing plan progress, team productivity, task status, budgets and more.
- Update Plan Online: Not only can you view your plan, but you can update tasks, columns and resources online. You can even invite your team to collaborate with you on the plan and update their tasks in auto-populated task lists.
- Easy Export: just as seamless as importing, you can easily export your data back to MS Project at the click of a button, with all your online updates saved back to your MPP plan.
How to Import MS Project Files into ProjectManager.com
Start by setting up a 30-day free account with us. You’ll see that we have multiple project views, such as kanban boards, task lists and a calendar view. Choose the online Gantt chart and follow this walkthrough. It’s that simple.
Import MPP File
Click the import button on the top right-hand side of the Gantt chart page. It’s the one with the box icon that has an arrow pointing down on top of it. This will let you get your Microsoft Project file online, so you can share it with others.
Select MPP File
Choose the select file button on the popup window. Once you’ve picked the file you want to import, just hit next.
Make Import Options
Pick what options you want before importing the file. The popup menu offers you such choices as to create a new project or add to an existing one, keep or replace the existing data, etc.
Import Everything or Just Task List?
Use the final popup window to determine if you want to get all the data from the MPP file or just the task list.
Finish Up & See Your Microsoft Project Plan Online
Get a notice that says, “Success!” and you’ve completed the import process. Yes, it’s that easy and quick. Close that alert and you’re ready to edit your file within our tool. You’ll be presented with your final product in the Gantt chart form. Congrats, you’ve moved your Microsoft Project file into an online interface.
(This post was updated September 15, 2020)
ProjectManager.com is an award-winning tool that organizes teams and projects. Our cloud-based software has all the features of MS Project Online, without the expense and unnecessary complexities. See how we can make your teams work more productively with our one-stop PM tool. Take our free 30-day trial today.