Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Microsoft Project should not be used as a Project Monitoring Tool

At first glance, Microsoft Project appears as a very user friendly tool for project scheduling and monitoring. Infact most of the L2 schedules, I have seen seem to have been done in Microsoft Project.

After using Microsoft Project on my last 4 projects ( average project value around  Rs 30 crores), there seem to many major flaws in Microsoft Project software, namely

1. Percentage Complete for any Activity is defined as Actual Time Spent on Activity divided by the Original Duration of the Activity. This to me seems fundamentally flawed. If i had an activity whose Original Duration was 10 days, and i spent 8 days on the activity, then Microsoft Project will show that activity as 80% complete while in reality it maybe only 20% complete due to slow progress.
This is a fundamental limitation of the software and i have discussed this with many of the scheduling experts and no one seems to have a work around solution for this.

2. Microsoft Project gives crazy results when an activity is started out of sequence. For instance after completing the structure of a multi-story building I had planned in MSP to do the brickwork first on the ground floor and then on the first floor. Now due to some issues, in reality i started my brickwork on the first floor and then i would do the brickwork on the ground floor. When we update this in MSP, it still keeps showing the ground floor brickwork activity in the past and does not move the task as something we have to do in the future. As a result the entire shedule becomes distorted and unreliable.

Over the last year, i have also been using Primavera in parallel with Microsoft Project and i am very happy with Primavera's scheduling capablites. It does not seem to have any scheduling flaws and seems to be giving correct results.