Microsoft Project has been helping managers with project, program, and portfolio management for years. These plans provide important information about a project’s progress, helping you make informed decisions about goals and strategies. In this blog post, we will be taking a closer look at Microsoft Project Plans 1, 3, and 5, which are available online, as well as its on-premise solutions.
We’ll evaluate task scheduling capabilities, resource management features, and budgeting abilities to help you determine which plan fits your requirements. With this information, you can select the proper MS Project solution to ensure your project is successful.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What is Microsoft Project
As the name refers, Microsoft Project is a powerful project management tool that is designed to help individuals and teams create, manage, and track project plans. With its robust features and customizable options, it is a go-to choice for project managers and professionals in a wide range of industries.
It provides a centralized platform for project management, allowing users to set timelines, assign tasks, and allocate resources in a clear and organized manner. Its user-friendly interface, which includes features such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, and project calendars, makes it easy to visualize project timelines and track progress.
Additionally, Microsoft Project can be used to manage projects of any size or complexity, from small-scale initiatives to large-scale enterprise projects. It is also highly customizable, allowing users to tailor their project plans to their specific needs and requirements.
The program offers a wide range of features, some of the most common ones are discussed in the table below.
|Microsoft Project Features
|Stakeholders and team members can collaborate in real-time to edit and update task lists and schedules.
|Communication and Collaboration
|Teams can work together on projects, or use Microsoft Teams for more cost-effective communication.
|Microsoft Project offers robust planning features such as Gantt charts and Kanban boards for task planning and management.
|Pre-built reports are available to track progress, resources, programs, and portfolios.
|Easily manage resources by requesting and assigning tasks, ensuring optimal resource utilization.
|Track programs and project portfolios to ensure projects are aligned with organizational objectives.
|Microsoft Project allows for easy collection of project and non-project time for payroll and invoicing purposes.
The best thing about Microsoft Project is that it is not just limited to desktop software, but it also offers cloud-based solutions such as Project Online and Project for the Web. These cloud-based solutions allow users to access their project plans from anywhere, collaborate with team members in real time, and easily share project progress with stakeholders.
Note: Unfortunately, Microsoft Project isn’t included in Microsoft 365 despite its wide range of productivity tools. That said, if you have Microsoft 365 and want to use MS Project, you will need to pay for a separate subscription.
Types of Microsoft Project Plans
Microsoft Project offers both cloud-based and on-premise (offline) solutions for project portfolio management and everyday work.
Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud-based solutions are hosted on remote servers and accessed through the Internet. Microsoft Project cloud-based solutions are licensed on a per-user per-month basis and can be purchased as standalone plans or as an additional service with Microsoft 365 plans.
You can access these solutions from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser, and data is stored in the cloud, allowing for easy collaboration and access to real-time updates.
Examples of Microsoft Project cloud-based solutions include:
Project For The Web
Project for the Web offers various tools to effectively plan and manage projects of all sizes. It is designed for project leaders and managers.
The Power Platform has three different plans; Project Plan 1, Project Plan 2, and Project Plan 3, that allow for data storage and collaboration management. We have discussed these plans in detail down below.
The platform includes PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Power BI, and the Common Data Service (CDS), which provide teams with advanced tools to work towards their goals.
As the name suggests, it is an online tool designed for Project Portfolio Management (PPM). It offers flexible project management features, including planning, prioritization, and project management for everyday use.
The Project Online solution suits administrators, portfolio managers, viewers, project and resource managers, team leads, and members. To access this plan, you can choose either Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5.
Project Online Desktop Client
It is more like a local client on your computer that offers a comprehensive solution that can help streamline your workflow. It includes automated scheduling, allowing you to set up tasks and projects without manually entering data.
Additionally, the program provides project resource management and has built-in reporting capabilities. You have two options for using the application: you can either use it independently or in conjunction with Project Online. It is available as a part of Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5.
Do not confuse Project Online Desktop Client as an on-premise solution. This is merely client software that stores everything on the cloud.
On-premise solutions, on the other hand, are installed and run locally on the user’s own servers and infrastructure. Microsoft Project on-premise solutions are licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing.
Project Server (Subscription Edition)
As the name suggests this is a subscription-based on-premise solution for Microsoft Project ideally for large enterprises that can deploy the server locally within their company’s network.
It is a flexible and scalable on-premises solution for project portfolio management and everyday project management. It allows users to get started quickly, prioritize projects and resources, and work virtually anywhere.
The solution provides various features like flexible project portfolio management, effective resource management, collaboration, and communication tools, easy administration and management, advanced portfolio management, and data-driven decision-making tools like reporting and business intelligence.
Additionally, the solution integrates with Microsoft 365 and allows for extensibility with third-party apps from the SharePoint Store or custom app development.
Like Microsoft Office, Project Standard is one of the editions of Microsoft Project. This standalone version of Microsoft Project receives regular updates, incrementing its version number. Like Office 2013, Office 2016, etc., Microsoft Project also comes in various versions. Microsoft Project 2021 was the latest version at the time of writing this post.
Since this is a version-based model of Microsoft Project, it is a one-time purchase. The current price of Proejct Standard 2021 is $679.99.
This software helps individuals and small teams plan, track, and manage projects. It provides a range of features and tools to help users manage their projects efficiently.
The software comes with pre-built templates, which can be used to get started with a project quickly. It also has familiar automated scheduling features, which help to reduce inefficiencies and training time. Users can run what-if scenarios to make the most of their task assignments, and the software auto-populates start and end dates based on dependencies.
Microsoft Project Standard 2021 also includes built-in multiple timelines, which can be used to visually represent complex schedules. It can help users manage resources, track project progress, and generate reports to keep stakeholders informed. The software is licensed for use on one PC, making it a suitable choice for individuals or small teams working on a single project.
Project Professional, another edition of Microsoft Project, provides a range of features and tools to help users plan, track, and manage their projects. Like the Standard edition, it also comes with pre-built templates to help get your project started on the right track.
The software can sync with Project Online and Project Server, allowing you to collaborate with team members and share project data. It also allows users to submit timesheets to capture time spent on the project and non-project work, helping with resource management.
Like Project Standard, users can run what-if scenarios to make the most of their task assignments, and the software auto-populates start and end dates based on dependencies. Additionally, it has built-in multiple timelines, which can be used to visually represent complex schedules.
Project Professional 2021 is licensed for use on one PC, supports Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), and is compatible with Office LTSC and Office 2021. The software is currently priced at $1,129.99.
Here is a brief comparison of the cloud-based solutions and the on-premise solutions of Microsoft Project:
|MS Project Cloud-Based Solutions
|MS Project On-Premise Solutions
|No maintenance is required, updates and upgrades are automatic
|Requires on-site installation
|Can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection
|Accessible only from the network it is installed on
|Enables real-time collaboration and file sharing
|Collaboration requires on-site servers and network infrastructure
|Hosted on the cloud, no on-site installation is needed
|Integrates with other on-premise solutions, such as SharePoint Server and Exchange Server
|No maintenance required, updates and upgrades are automatic
|Maintenance and upgrades need to be managed by the organization
|Offers flexible scalability options, with the ability to easily add or remove licenses
|Scalability is limited by the on-premise infrastructure
|Subscription-based model, with monthly or annual fees
|One-time purchase with a perpetual license
Microsoft Project For The Web: Plans Differences
If you recall, we talked about 3 different plans included in the “Project For The Web” model for Microsoft Project. This section covers what each of those 3 plans has to offer.
Microsoft offers flexible Project Management Plans in three categories to meet various budgets and requirements. These plans give project managers access to proper planning, prioritization, and project management, according to their requirements and project needs.
Like all cloud-based solutions, these plans are also subscription-based as well as per-head count. Meaning, you need to pay per user each month.
If you are unsure about what these three categories are, don’t worry. We will clarify and explain what they are and their ideal uses
Project Plan 1
Starting from the price range of $10/user/month, Project Plan 1 is an ideal choice for those looking for a simplified approach to project management. This license option allows you to quickly manage your projects with the Microsoft 365 experience without relying on online counterparts.
It has automated scheduling, resource management capabilities, and built-in reporting to give you a comprehensive view of their projects. In addition, it provides a streamlined workflow that enables you to complete their tasks more efficiently and accurately.
With Project Plan 1, you can get the most out of their projects without sacrificing ease of use or convenience. It is compatible with Windows OS such as Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2019.
Note: Project Plan 1 is a new licensed option, not an upgrade to the previous Project Online Essentials tool.
Project Plan 3
Project Plan 3 is a combination of tools and features that allows you to view and manage your projects in real time. It helps you optimize their workflows by offering features such as project scheduling, resource allocation, progress tracking, and reporting from anywhere.
This plan is ideal for project and resource managers who want to stay on top of their tasks and improve productivity virtually. At just $30 a month per user, Project Plan 3 is intuitive, making it easy for you to operate. It also gives you access to up to five installations, making it a budget-friendly option for many.
Project Plan 5
Project Plan 5 grants you full access to the entire Project Online platform, including the complete portfolio selection. This plan lets you prioritize, manage, and analyze portfolio investments from anywhere.
Project Plan 5 costs $55 per user per month. It has easy-to-use functionality, is simple to implement, and is more efficient, making it an exciting option. However, it may not be an affordable choice for everyone.
Microsoft Project Plans Compared
The table below will reveal the significant features included in each Microsoft Project Plan.
|Microsoft Project Plan 1
|Microsoft Project Plan 3
|Microsoft Project Plan 5
|Cost per user
|$10 per month
|$30 per month
|$55 per month
|Free trial period
|Multiple screening options
|Visualized timelines for priority projects
|24/7 virtual access
|Seamless integration with Office Apps
|Communication with collaboration
Making a decision on the best Microsoft Project Plan for your needs can be challenging. You must thoroughly evaluate all of your options and take into account factors such as team collaboration, on-site or remote access, and other features that can impact your usage of the plan to make an informed decision.
If you cannot access Microsoft through the web, using the desktop versions of the Plans may be better. Additionally, the choice between cloud-based and on-site options may depend on whether your team is remote or on-site and how frequently you collaborate.
Remote teams working together often may benefit more from the cloud-based Project Plans, while on-site teams may prefer to work from the same drive. Make sure to determine your requirements and choose the best fit.