Alternatives to MS Project: Why cloud-based project management software like Easy Projects is becoming a strong alternative to MS Project
As far back as in 1984, Microsoft revolutionized the project management (PM) field by introducing their Microsoft Project application. Indeed, Project’s innovative approach to developing a plan and tracking progress was God-given for managers of the time. However, the reality has immensely changed. Today the ‘cloud’ seems to be dominating everywhere – starting from website backup and security up to change management.
Truth be told, Microsoft Project is still the biggest fish in the pond (about 67% of project managers make daily use of it, according to Capterra’s Project Management Research Report).
But, the numbers are rapidly changing and all of the forecasts favor cloud-based PM software over Microsoft’s product. Why? Here are the key reasons why Microsoft’s once-unrivalled PM program will be fully ‘clouded’ in the near future:
Remote is becoming the norm, or where the alternative has taken root
‘Forcing everyone into the office every day is an organizational single point of failure’, co-author of Remote Jason Fried mentions in his book, propagandizing the remote working style as ‘a brave new world beyond the industrial-age belief in The Office’.
In recent times, a growing number of forward-thinking companies choose to hire freelance or working-from-home staff for various reasons, and the number is only going to skyrocket. According to Intuit study, ‘40% of the American workforce will be freelancers, contractors, and/or temporary employees by 2020′. On the other hand, telecommuting is becoming a trend among full-time employers, too. The latest Gallup study shows that 37% of U.S. employees have shifted to ‘telecommuting mode’.
With the project team including remotely working members, cloud solutions are the most optimal scenarios for efficiently connecting with teammates based thousands of miles away from their location. PM software like Easy Projects stores all of the project data in a safe, ‘cloud-y’ place, which is accessible by all of your staff, irrespective of their geographical coordinates. Microsoft Project is still lagging in this regard.
Have you ever telecommuted, that is, worked from your home using a computer to communicate for your job?
Based on employed adults
Cloud-based software is compatible with all operating systems
This is perhaps the weightiest argument for an alternative to Microsoft Project. The thing is that Project only operates on Windows, though there was a version of Microsoft Project for Mac with Project 9, which enabled Mac fans to use this with an emulator or virtual machine, but the whole process is cumbersome. Also, as ‘mobile-first workforce’ is becoming the trend, more and more people are looking out for options other than Project.
Here is where cloud-based PM solutions come in handy. Irrespective of the operating system or platform your team members use – be it Windows, Mac or Linux – you will be able to share files, track project success or otherwise manipulate the software as needed. All one needs is an uninterrupted internet connection and a web browser, and, of course, properly installed cloud project management software.
Cost-efficiency of cloud-based PM software, or a financially sound “pro-alternative” argument
Let’s look at the statistics again: according to a recent study, 82% of companies reported to have cut down on costs by moving to the cloud. The good news is that cloud-based PM services usually offer a bunch of pricing packages based on different variables, which makes different top-notch features and tools more affordable for startups and small enterprises, too.
You won’t even need to worry about changes to costs should your team size shrink or grow: the majority of cloud-based applications allow you to add new users or remove others if needed, adjusting to your team’s goals as it grows.
Thus, you will no longer need new hardware, a pricey onsite software installation, or outsourced IT staff to run the new software. According to another survey, 14% of companies downsized their IT after cloud adoption. Quite a convincing argument in favor of cloud-based solutions, isn’t it?
Finally, another enticing thing about cloud-based PM software: most typically offer free trials in order for you to test the software out and its features, to make sure it’s the best match for your project before investing money to subscribe to the software.
Reliable security and time efficiency, or why MS Project alternatives are as safe as houses
“While there’ve been some early adopters to The Cloud, many companies continue to have security concerns,” according to PM thought leader Deanne Earle, founder of Unlike Before.
Referencing factual savings of cloud PM software, Earle continues, “Licensing, implementation and maintenance costs are definite advantages though and will force software vendors to review pricing models as companies demand more competitive options. Cloud solutions are also good for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), another financial advantage for companies hiring and using contract and freelance staff. Regardless of where the software is hosted, data quality and integrity issues remain because that’s totally dependent on people; rubbish in, rubbish out!”
As the English proverb goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Like Easy Projects, quality cloud-based PM software ensures a high level of security based on secure data centers and servers with embedded disaster recovery, which protects you against any tech force-majeure.
For instance, if you spill a hot drink on your device, catch a computer virus, or even have all of your devices lost during a fire or flood, you can easily continue working as all your key data is safely nestled in the cloud. You won’t even need to fret if your device is lost or stolen: after logging into your account you’ll simply change the password and rest assured that all of the sensitive data is secure.
Some companies, regarding data security, may at first believe that on-premise data storage may be more secure than the cloud. But, according to industry expert Charles Settles, this is no issue when going ahead with a cloud PM software provider: “There is absolutely no difference in hardware— the argument for on-premise being more secure is that you physically control the servers. Your server is the same as their server.”
Essentially, there is no difference in data security between on-premise or cloud storage. When you think about it, one can argue that cloud storage is even safer, as someone could theoretically break into your office and steal your hardware. Far fetched, but not impossible.
Needless to say, cloud-based apps ensure easy access to your files, thus saving not only money but time: whether you’re at an important meeting, event, or at your in-house office, you’ll be only a few clicks away from the project information you need to access.
As a project manager or part of a huge development team, you will be constantly saving time making sure the files are always ‘at hand’ and not stuck, for instance, in a colleague’s local computer folder.
Fast updates, integrated tools
With modern, cloud-based PM software like Easy Projects there’s no need to wait for the next version of your existing app suite to come out! Just sign up on the website for a quick setup and access to your new tool. Once the new features or updates are out you will have instant access to them, without having to wait for months for the latest update or pay extra for an upgrade.
It’s also likely that your cloud-based PM software will integrate with tools that you are already familiar with. Therefore, apart from the ease of adoption and use, your team members will collaborate more effectively.
In conclusion, all the buzz around the ‘cloud movement’ may sound like hype but the facts and figures speak for themselves: ‘the cloud’ has its say in every domain. It’s an inevitable reality. As an increasing number of people are working remotely, cloud-based PM software allow them to collaborate irrespective of their location in real-time and remain regularly updated about project progress.
Additionally, the software improves work efficiency among teams, makes the project status visible, and generally speeds up work. What is most important, unlike Microsoft Project, is that cloud-based software is compatible with every operating system. So, most likely the Microsoft Project era will soon end and the market will be dominated by cloud-based software, such as Easy Projects.
In closing, or if you just skipped to the end of this article to get the summary, here are some of the greatest pros (many) and cons (few) of switching to cloud PM software as an alternative to MS Projects:
- Compatible with all operating systems
- Remotely accessible 24/7
- Automatically updated by provider
- Project status visibility for all staff
- Integration with email/messaging
- Enhanced task delegation efficiency
- New software platform requires onboarding
- Subscription costs are a recurring expense
- Plethora of software products available means testing numerous options