Cloud computing appears to be the direction for thousands of organizations with greatly increasing growth rates. In fact, the 2015 anticipated spending for end users is expected to be more than $180 billion, according to Gartner, a leading IT analyst group. I wouldn’t be surprised if that number turns out to be a low estimate once all is said and done. Our own experience as consultants in Microsoft Technologies, Project Portfolio Management (PPM), and Business Intelligence certainly says the trend is accelerating. We are seeing all types of business, all sizes (from a small group of 4 or 5 to an organization of hundreds of thousands of users), and even government agencies showing interest and moving to the cloud. There are many benefits and many things to consider if you are one of these organizations.
There’s no question that Microsoft Project / Project Server is the gold standard when it comes to PPM software because of its ability to keep track of individual projects, resources assigned, budget and workload analysis, and so much more. But in the past, organizations could only obtain these capabilities with an on premise or a hosted system. To install the system on premise, it would typically require six weeks to order and install equipment. It also required an organization to have a working understanding of SQL and SharePoint. The cost for the IT infrastructure and the knowledge required to support it made the system unreachable for many companies.
If Microsoft is your choice for a PPM solution, you now have options:
- Project Server 2013 is the current version of the on premise solution and work is underway for the next full on premise release.
- Microsoft Project Online is the cloud version of the system. It stands out for its ability to scale from small teams to enterprise level organizations.
Regardless of the option chosen, you have the ability to start with a simple solution and then grow over time with added capabilities. There are no hidden costs and all of the features available to a large enterprise are available to the smallest of teams. Here are a few of the things to review when considering the cloud version:
- Ease of Use – With the familiar look and feel of Microsoft technologies and access from any browser, the solution is configurable to your company’s needs. You can set it up with unique views for different groups of users and even use it with many different devices including tablets and phones.
- Security – If you’re concerned about security in the cloud, Microsoft’s cloud solution has the highest possible security certifications including HIPPA and Government compliance (FedRAMP). Your data is encrypted and backed up so that you have access when you need it without having to create your own backup and recovery procedures. You control the security levels for access by your personnel through familiar methods such as active directory (AD) and role-based designations.
- Price – If price is your main deciding factor, consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) which is much smaller for Project Online than for other options. Because it requires no IT infrastructure, infrastructure expenses and ongoing administration are eliminated. The system provides 3 different types of user licenses so you only buy the level you need (Project Lite, Full Project Web Access (PWA), and PWA +Project Professional).
- Reporting – The system comes standard with built-in filter and view capabilities as well as Excel Reporting Services. If that’s not enough, you have Power BI, and more available to you. Need even more? There are ways to link the solution to other on premise or cloud-based reporting capabilities.
- Customization – Maybe this all sounds good but you need your solution to be customized to your needs. Perhaps you need to integrate with other systems or you need to be able to use reporting solutions that aren’t available with Project Online. No worries, those problems can be solved with a customized cloud offering. Azure offers great flexibility for custom integration, enhanced reporting and connections to other line-of-business solutions. In addition, Project Hosts, our private cloud hosting partner, is also ready to help. With this option, you can control the timing of updates, use SQL Reporting or other solutions, and still experience all of the freedom and security provided by a cloud solution.
Not sure if this is right for you? We get it. Not everyone is ready to move to the cloud and they have very good reasons to stay where they are. If your organization is one of those, Project Server is still available as an on premise solution with the same capabilities and features as the cloud version.
We hope this set of considerations is helpful. With the business trend growing toward cloud adoption, regardless of company size, it’s nice to have the option of Project Online. If you’re still not sure, we’re happy to help you make a more specific comparison or you can read more about the product here.