How Deskera compares to Microsoft Project | Earned Value Management and User Experience

by | Oct 15, 2008

Rest of the series: Project Planning

We know how Deskera lets you work on Microsoft Project files on the web. But that’s not all, Deskera offers much more than just Microsoft Project on the web.

Simplicity

As we’ve noted earlier, 80% of Microsoft Project users use only 20% of its numerous features. So at Deskera we’ve simplified a lot of rarely used Microsoft Project functions to deliver a more capable, yet simpler, project management methodology.

Earned Value Management

All the main EVM values are calculated by Microsoft Project, including: Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS), Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP), Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP), Schedule Variance (SV), Cost Variance (CV), Budget at Completion (BAC), Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Performance Index (SPI), Variance at Completion (VAC), and Estimate at Completion (EAC).

EVM potentially is a great tool to identify variances and discrepancies and warn managers in advance of looming problems. ‘Potentially’ is the key word here.

One thing consistent across the various EVM implementation methods is that they demand quantification of project plans in advance. And accurate quantification at that.

The truth about most of the projects today is that they evolve with time, albeit within specified boundaries, and EVM is not as effective, in fact can be misleading even, when it comes to agile projects. EVM for agile projects is still an ongoing project management research area.

Even for achieving maximum potential of EVM methods, collection of real-time true progress information is critical. And the irony is that Microsoft Project does not facilitate that.

Hence the sophisticated EVM tools in Microsoft Project can rarely be leveraged to their maximum potential.

So in Deskera, we’ve employed a simple 0/100 earning rule for all tasks and we’ll be including intuitive and flexible variance tracking techniques after listening to our customers. You guys know best.

Task Types and Constraints

Microsoft Project provides for different calculation types for tasks: Fixed Duration, Fixed Units, and Fixed Work. In addition, tasks may be marked as Effort Driven.

Now the truth is that each of these, whether duration, units or work, possess a degree of variance with the effort involved being a reflection of the same. When the value of any of these metrics changes, the others are naturally affected and subsequently Microsoft Project asks you to specify a reason each time. This would be really cool if it was in fact used as a feedback mechanism to train Microsoft Project, but it just happens to be an unnecessary interruption.

Also, there are eight types of constraints that can be applied to individual tasks in a project. But the true purpose of these constraints can be achieved only when the entire team and resources are aware of these, which is rarely the case for teams using MS Project.

We believe that the ability to define dates and dependencies get the work done, and you can always attach additional notes to tasks.

User Experience

At Deskera, we pay a lot of attention to User Experience and we’ve worked hard to improve it. Whether it’s Microsoft Project’s inconsistent UI behavior or confusing expansive error messages, we’ve ensured that along with efficient project management, we’ve delivered enhanced usability and navigability within the system.

Don’t take our word for it. Experience it for yourself by signing up.


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