The diversity of tools that help to manage projects in various industries and businesses has significantly expanded in recent years: from tools that are used to manage tasks of a small team to overall solutions suitable for large organizations with employees located around the world. In addition, some of them have an area they manage best, e.g. Primavera is considered to be more suitable for construction projects, Jira – for software development, Epicflow is for managing multiple projects and resources, and so on. 

To make the right choice, it’s a good idea to analyze the available options. With this thought in mind, we decided to start a new sequence of blog posts dedicated to comparative analysis of different project management and resource management tools. Read further to learn about the difference between Epicflow and Project Online by Microsoft. 

  EPICFLOW

  MS PROJECT ONLINE

Industries and Сompanies 

It’s perfect for mid- to large-sized enterprises with mainly engineering focus. 

Meets multi-project and resource management needs of defense, telecommunication, energy, shipbuilding, aerospace, automotive industries, and manufacturing. 

Excellent product for enterprise and resource management, recommended for large-scale enterprise projects. 

Value

  • Epicflow helps to achieve business objectives faster thanks to project synchronization, clear focus, and flow.
  • Helps to deliver projects on time by showing resource constraints before they cause a project delay.
  • Makes it possible to deliver more projects due to working at full capacity; typically increases team output by 20%.
  • Connects cross-functional teams and helps them stay aligned. 
  • Provides powerful project management capabilities for planning, prioritizing, and managing projects and project portfolios. 
  • Improves alignment of projects and work initiatives with business strategy. 
  • As it’s a cloud-based solution, it requires minimum hardware maintenance. 
  • Assists project/resource managers in forecasting, control over resources, and identifying potential bottlenecks. 

Resource Management Opportunities 

Find perfectly matching resources for completing project tasks: the system can automatically find an employee with the required skill level and experience, even from the other group, so the available resources will be utilized to the full.  

Get an insight into your resources’ load in the future depending on their current tasks to make informed decisions, such as

1) avoiding project delays related to resource unavailability: if a group will be idle in the future, it can be retrained to help an overloaded group to deliver their work on time; 2) preventing employees from overload and avoiding its negative consequences.  Come up with the most reasonable decision concerning resource allocation in real time to make the best of the available resources. 

Manage an enterprise resource pool, both by individual and in bulk. 

Plan resource capacity by means of comparing how many hours a resource is able to put in versus how many hours they need for projects.

View available resources and build teams.

Accept, reject, or modify incoming resource requests based on the overall resource view. 

Resolve resource conflicts or overallocations with automatic resource leveling feature.   

Project Management Features

Pipeline gives a comprehensive overview of all projects with priorities, so that the most important deliverables won’t be missed.

Gantt Chart helps to monitor project schedule to make sure that projects are delivered on time.

Dashboard shows the state of all projects with the remaining buffer, which indicates projects that require most of your attention. 

Burnup Chart makes it possible to track a team’s progress to be sure that a project is not going off the rails.

What-if Analysis enables you to run various scenarios for project delivery depending on certain parameters to predict possible bottlenecks in the future and avoid them.

Schedule represents the tasks and deliverables that must be completed to deliver the project on time.

Portfolio analysis scatter chart helps determine which project from the portfolio gives the best return on your investment.

Project Home gives quick access to projects recently worked-on and the important ones.

Roadmap gives combined information from multiple waterfall and agile projects to provide an aggregated timeline view.

Task Management Features

Automatic task prioritization.

Task List presents the list of your tasks automatically sorted by their priority and shows information related to a certain task.

Task Card provides all the information about a single task in a structured way and allows users to interact with their tasks.

Mobile Application is also available for iOS and Android, which makes it simple for users to enter their work environment from any place and stay up to date. 

Automatic task scheduling.

Opportunity to inactivate a task so that it remains in the project plan, but doesn’t affect resource availability.

Task Inspector shows factors that affect a task scheduling, e.g. a changed start date.

Task Path Analysis allows users to see how a certain task is connected with other tasks in a project.

Risk Management

Epicflow identifies which projects and milestones are at risk in real-time and runs simulations to see what risks may appear throughout your project.

Easy to understand color coding system. Pipeline with a Gantt Chart view shows risks, helping you evaluate the situation and execute risk-response plans, when needed. Employees see which tasks are at risk and need urgent attention, when looking at their prioritized task list.

MS Project Online provides opportunities for creating the risk database for your project and continuous monitoring and updating your risk management plan. You can set the probability and importance, assign it to a team member, and give it a deadline. 

Creating the risk database is manual: you have to complete the form with necessary information, e.g. Probability, Impact, Assigned to, Mitigation Plan, etc. 

Re-planning 

Epicflow is designed to deal with uncertainty, so task priorities and resource load are constantly updated based on the actual situation without the need for replanning.  

Project plans are deterministic, therefore, in case of uncertainty, replanning is required. Also, if one or more projects are affected by uncertainty, e.g. a delay, then the complete resource view over all projects is no longer up to date unless all projects are updated. 

Implementation

Customer onboarding runs without any difficulties due to: 

– intuitive interface, 

– wiki database, 

– technical support, 

– free demonstration of Epicflow and a free trial if necessary, which can be also followed by either an online or live workshop.

The approach to getting started involves:

– envisioning & planning workshops,

– training for key users to understand the full capabilities of the system,

– technical support where needed.

Support

Epicflow support team provides assistance by phone, email and in the live chat.

A lot of information is presented in the wiki database (customer support portal) which is available for free. 

Microsoft offers numerous self-help resources on the official website. 

You can also get assistance by phone. 

Market Recognition 

Epicflow was recognized as a high performer by G2 Crowd (based on our customers’ reviews).

In 2019, it was among Top 10+ Best Resource Management Software by SoftwareWorld.

MS Project was one of the first project management software to be made available to the common public    

To sum up, Project Online by Microsoft has the following strong points.

  • It’s a cloud-based solution, which some of the companies may find more convenient and safe in terms of data security.
  • Being a part of Microsoft Office 365 Platform, it can be more understandable for those who are used to working with other Microsoft products. Besides, it easily integrates with these familiar tools like SharePoint, Microsoft Office, Skype for Business, etc. 
  • It has numerous opportunities for project planning, scheduling, managing human and material resources and risk, which can improve efficiency of running projects and portfolios. 

The main distinguishing features of Epicflow compared to MS Project Online are the following.

  • In addition to classic project management tools (e.g. Gantt Chart), Epicflow uses Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics (What-if Analysis, Future Load Graph), which helps to predict potential bottlenecks in the future and in such a way achieve better results.
  • The approach to completing tasks is different: instead of delivering tasks by deadlines, team members focus on high priority tasks that are prioritized automatically by the system and complete them as soon as possible. Such an approach makes it possible to deliver projects faster.
  • Epicflow is focused on dealing with uncertainty and constraints, so it helps to identify any difficulties that may appear in the process of project implementation.
  • Resource management opportunities make it possible to keep control of all the resources in a multi-project environment and do even more with less due to maximum resource utilization. 

Thus, Epicflow is a reliable partner that combines effective project and resource management techniques with latest innovations, the combination of which allows you to achieve better results.