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Microsoft Project vs Excel

BY:  Tanya Foster

Two great products… each one has its own specialty, but so many people try to use them interchangeably.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people using Excel to schedule their projects.  Don’t get me wrong, Excel is a great tool, but not necessarily as a scheduling tool.  Project can do so much more for you regarding scheduling, resource management, cost, etc. than Excel can.  And I’ve also seen people using Project no different than an Excel spreadsheet.  Both of these products has their own special bells and whistles.  Project has so many bells and whistles it’s hard to even know where to start with a list! 

One of the things that Project can do that Excel can’t is reschedule your work for you.  You tell Project how long the task should take, who will do it, and the actual start date, and it will reschedule that task if it needs to be.   Now… could you do that in Excel? Sure… but it’s manual, whereas Project does this automatically.  You can create an entire work breakdown structure with dependencies in Project.  Can you do this in Excel?  You can create a work breakdown structure, but the dependencies would be more difficult.  Once you have your work breakdown structure in Project, all you do is determine which task is dependent on another one and click a button.  Maybe you really like the reports that Excel gives you.  You can do some of those same types of reports in Project.  Or if you have an Excel formatted report that you just can’t live without, you can even export your data from Project into Excel and then create the same reports that you’re used to.  That way you can let Project do the scheduling and use Excel to view and report on some of the data.

I’m all about keeping it simple!  If I try to use Excel for any type of scheduling I typically spend more time and energy doing manually what Project can do for me automatically.  Save yourself some time, energy and money!  If you currently schedule with Excel, take a trial run at Project and see what you think.  I think you’ll be glad that you did!




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