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Microsoft Project alternative: ProjectsProfiler vs. Microsoft Project Server

Microsoft Project Server is a very powerful tool. It is rich in functions, flexible, and scalable. It can be adjusted to the requirements of a very wide group of users. However, such power and universality have an unpleasant drawback: installing the software is a difficult process even for experienced IT-professionals. In addition its usage is not very straightforward. Our target users are generally occupied with uncomplicated tasks. To execute such tasks one does not need the gorgeous set of Microsoft Project Server functions. The processes we address are routine, and should be completed quickly and with minimal difficulty. Is it really possible to do something simple in Microsoft Project Server without a headache?

 

Our customers are very busy people, often responsible for numerous projects which are executed simultaneously. They require issues to be resolved simply, quickly, and with ease. This is why our software is a genuine Microsoft project alternative (and Microsoft Project Server as well), because it deals with everyday routine issues more quickly and comfortably than these Microsoft products do.

 

ProjectsProfiler vs. Microsoft Project Server

How do we obtain this comfort and speed?

Thanks to some special features of ProjectsProfiler, which differentiate it from Microsoft Project Server:

  • Includes only the most important functions:

ProjectsProfiler contains a carefully selected set of functions which are necessary for handling routine issues. Such tasks do not require much creativity, but demand much attention every day, because they control and monitor numerous projects. User interface is optimized for ease of use without sacrificing effectiveness.

Microsoft Project Server is overloaded with functions, requiring users to manipulate menus and lists to solve even simple tasks.

  • Contains interactive diagrams:

ProjectsProfiler utilizes an interface which is based on interactive diagrams. Data is grouped to allow a user to see all important data in one glance, without any extra manipulations. If detail is needed, point mouse on the object and all necessary details will be presented as a tooltip balloon. Problems with the projects will be found automatically and identified to the user.

Microsoft Project Server offers you reports and static diagrams as its main tools, which is not a very convenient way to analyze data.

  • Offers quick setup:

ProjectsProfiler needs only several minutes to be installed, and it automatically loads all projects’ data from Microsoft Project, Microsoft Project Server, and from many other project management systems (Jira, Basecamp, Trac, etc.).

Microsoft Project Server installation is a daunting task even for experienced system administrators; you can spend months to prepare and synchronize project data to load in it.

  • Priced to keep usage expenses low:

ProjectsProfiler requires only one license to be purchased.

To use Microsoft Project Server you need to make enterprise-level investments. Few local project managers or small business owners can afford such an expensive proposition.

 

Comparison of ease and speed working in Microsoft Project Server and in ProjectsProfiler

In order to feel the difference between working in one software or another, one needs to do something more than just read about it. It is best to attempt some tasks in both programs.

 

For a realistic example, I would like to consider a typical task every director faces every day: “who is doing what?”. This may also be translated as: “ determine whether all my employees are doing the right things and nobody is dawdling away”.

 

 

Let’s try to answer this question in our software and in Microsoft Project Server. To do so, the director has to obtain and examine the following information:

  • employees’ assignments;
  • progress (if the employees are behind schedule or are they proceeding according to schedule);
  • employees’ workload (who is overloaded, who needs work, and during what periods).

 

Microsoft Project Server

 

Let’s look how Microsoft Project Server obtains employee activity information. To keep it simple, we shall posit only one employee – Batman. These are the required steps:

 

1) Enter the URL to access Microsoft Project Server and sign on.

 

2) Click on the «Resource Center» link and check Batman:

MS Project Server - Resource Center

3) Click on the «Resource Assignment» link:

Microsoft Project Server - Resource Assignments

On the following screenshot we can see Batman’s assignments and information about his progress (rounded with green ovals):

MS Project Server - Assignment

From the table on the left and Gantt chart on the right one can guess (the software doesn’t explain anything or give a hint!), that Batman participates in two projects, and in one of them he is “lagging”. Note the excessive, unnecessary details which you absolutely do not need for management purposes.

 

4)Click on the «Resource Assignment» link to obtain the view that must be examined to get employees’ workload information:

Microsoft Project Server - Availability

According to the legend green color representing Batman, we conclude that he is under-utilized for all periods presented on the diagram. Note again that Microsoft Project Server doesn’t give us any useful analytical information in this view.

 

ProjectsProfiler

 

Now let’s obtain the desired information – assignments, workload and progress – in ProjectsProfiler software. Again, for simplicity’s sake, we review a single employee – Alex.

 

1) Start ProjectsProfiler. Directly, we receive the following screen:

ProjectsProfiler - Assignment

Alex is highlighted with blue in the navigation panel (on the left). We can see that his current workload is minimal – 20% (green oval), in November he was overloaded (blue oval), at the beginning of January – underutilized (red oval), and at the end of January he is overloaded again (yellow oval). In addition, we can see Alex’s project participation: his list of projects “hangs” right below him on the navigation panel.

 

If you need more details, simply move mouse cursor to the object under examination and the software shows a balloon tooltip with detailed information. For example, you want to know why Alex was so overloaded in November. Place cursor on the grey segments of “ribbon”, which correspond to Alex’s projects. For project «Contracts» the tooltip will look like this:

ProjectsProfiler - Project Information

You can see that Alex’s workload was 100% in «Contracts» for the period 11/26/2011 to 12/16/2011. Obtain information regarding «Customer Support» & «New Age» projects by moving cursor to the “ribbons” which corresponds to these projects. You can clearly see why he is overloaded in the period between 11/26/2011 and 12/16/2011.

 

In summary, our software gives managers only the key information they need, without superfluous details; however, they can obtain all details simply by pointing to the project in question.

 

2) Let’s proceed to the progress diagram. To do so, use Alt-2 shortcut, or press middle button in the upper right corner of the diagram (red oval):

ProjectsProfiler - Progress

We can see “Hotdog”, which corresponds to Alex’s progress from December 2nd till “today”, highlighted in red. This means that during this period Alex was behind schedule. If you should forget what red means, just move mouse to “Hotdog” and the software will prompt you with tooltip with detailed information:

ProjectsProfiler - Employee Information

We can see that Alex is 38 days behind schedule.

Resume

In this example, we performed an elemental task of our customer (target user) in both Microsoft Project Server and in ProjectsProfiler. It is easy to see that Microsoft Project Server requires much more work to obtain information than ProjectsProfiler. In addition, ProjectsProfiler yields 80% of target information on the first diagram which appears immediately after launching the software.

 

With Microsoft Project Server a user must remember buttons or links to click, and how to interpret output. ProjectsProfiler requires nothing like this. If something is not clear, simply move mouse cursor to the item on the screen and the software will give you a hint or detailed information.

 

ProjectsProfiler offers major improvement in time over Microsoft Project Server.

Microsoft Project Server takes several seconds to load every screen in browser. Loading of the first screen (i.e., step 1, where URL should be entered) can take several minutes. This occurs when the service was not requested for some time and was automatically suspended. All reactions in ProjectsProfiler, except launch, are instantaneous. Launch takes only 10-15 seconds depending on the number of projects.

 

ProjectsProfiler was developed to satisfy needs of managers who are responsible for large numbers of simultaneous projects. Our developers optimized the software to solve routine tasks and problems for such users, and our specialized solution is an improvement which should be considered as an excellent Microsoft Project alternative.

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Reader Comments

Also have look at http://www.hqlabs.de/Blog/Artikel/HQ-Simplified-Business-als-Alternative-zu-Microsoft-Project. Although the exlanation is in German, the software alternative is also offered in English.

October 21, 2013 | Karo