An awful lot of project managers – the vast majority in my experience – started with Excel then turned to Microsoft Project. Although Excel is a great spreadsheet, it just doesn’t measure up as a professional project management tool (see video). In fact, Project has grown so popular in the last decade that even small teams and individuals have started using it.
The funny part is that most Project users are still using Excel to share project status. That’s because everyone in the organization has Excel, but not many people have Project. But sharing project information using Excel is a pain. Why? First, it means that project managers have to regularly export their projects and either email them around or post them on a central document site. Second, to see any information across projects, someone has to roll up these updates, which means they are almost always lowest-common-denominator and almost never real-time. And third, project stakeholders (or clients) invariably want to drill down to get more information – this takes time to compile, and the delayed reporting makes it difficult to spot trouble ahead.
Microsoft Project Server has great features that make sharing visibility and status – as well as documents – easy for anyone involved with the project. It’s web-based (like OWA) allowing project stakeholders and clients to see real-time project information, cross-project roll-ups, and drill-down details. Of course, we can host Project Server, but you can try it for free for 30 days and see for yourself how much richer and easier it is than Excel.
Are you using Excel to share project status? What is your experience?