One of the biggest names in the project management software world is Microsoft Project. There are basically three versions of MS Project: Standard, Professional, and Web Access. Project Standard is geared toward those looking for a stand-alone desktop product while the Professional and Web Access versions are for those working in a more collaborative environment via Project Server. In fact, Project Web Access is really just a thin client used to access data from Project Server and requires a Project Server Client Access License (CAL). Project Professional incorporates the best of both worlds – it can operate as an independent application with all the capabilities of Project Standard or it can be connected to Project Server. However, if you don’t plan on investing in Project Server, you’re probably better off saving your money and sticking with Project Standard.
Pros: There’s a reason that MS Project is one of the biggest names in PM software – it literally can do almost everything you need, no matter what type of projects you’re planning and monitoring. It works as a task scheduling tool, resource management utility, and a project budget planner, just to name a few of its functions. It also integrates extremely well with the Microsoft Office suite and supports import/export capabilities with popular programs such as Excel and PowerPoint. Moreover, if you use MS Project in conjunction with Project Server, there are a number of high-powered collaborative features that larger businesses will find extremely beneficial.
Cons: As Eric Stallsworth points out, one of the biggest advantages of Project could also be seen as quite a disadvantage, especially for smaller environments. The application may just be “too much” for your project management needs, and all those bells and whistles found in the product may make it hard to navigate if you’re only handling a series of relatively basic projects. On top of that, Microsoft Project doesn’t come cheap. The suggested retail price for Project Standard 2013 is $589.99 with Project Professional 2013 listing for $1,159.99. So, if you’re looking for a budget-conscious solution, you may want to keep shopping. Note: You can save about $100 if you buy a keycard only, with no disc, from Amazon.com