What's wrong with Microsoft Project

I came across this article because they happen to link to Test Run, but I think it is an excellent analysis of how Microsoft Project is beginning to fail in delivering value to modern software development companies, especially one that moves quickly and agily.

I can speak from my personal experience working as a Project Manager at Six Apart that my relationship with Microsoft Project is definitely a love-hate one. On one hand it is without a doubt the best tool on the market for project planning and scheduling, but on the other hand, it is the only real product on the market to choose from.

At the end of the day, maintaining an accurate schedule like I once did for a previous employer that practiced a waterfall development methodology is a losing battle at Six Apart. Six Apart is constantly adapting to the knowledge gained by the act of building and testing a product for a plan to ever be as relevant as want it to be. My life as a PM was a nightmare because everyday I had to dedicate hours re-arranging tasks, dates and dependencies... and for whom?

Myself. Sure I used it to maintain task lists for the engineers, but very few of them ever looked at the schedule. They got their direction from the same meetings that told me I had to change the schedule again.

I just wonder, with the evolution of smaller of development teams, more agile software processes, how relevant is Microsoft Project? Six Apart's process is perfect and can and should be stated simply as: define, build, test, repeat. If you need to put that in a project plan, go right ahead. But if you need to get more granular than that then you risk slowing down the speed at which you can innovate, impacting morale and stifling the creativity of the team.

You decide.

If you are going to be a part of an Agile Development process, then project management needs to be just as agile as the engineers and Product Management. You can't afford to spin your wheels pushing ghant charts around.

1 Comment

Being in precisely the same boat as you, all of this definitely resonates (except the part about using Project, but then FastTrack has many of the same issues). However, you lost me at "Six Apart’s process is perfect".

After that, I lost an hour of productivity thanks to raucous laughter which eventually turned into sorrowful sobbing.

Six Apart's process may be better than most, but it's far from perfect.

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  • Being in precisely the same boat as you, all of this definitely resonates (except the part about using Project, but then FastTrack has many of the same issues). However, you lost me at "Six Apart’s process is perfect". ...

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