How Difficult is it to Learn Microsoft Project?

Embark on a rewarding career in project management with proficiency in Microsoft Project, the world's most widely-used project management software, holding a 66% market share. With the number of Project Manager jobs expected to increase by over 33% in the next five years, learn how to effectively use Microsoft Project to manage complex projects, a key requirement for a successful career in project management.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Project, the project management software in the Microsoft Office suite, is a must-have skill for aspiring Project Managers.
  • Project management is a rapidly growing field, with the number of Project Manager jobs expected to increase by over 33% over the next five years, and a current talent gap in the industry.
  • A career in project management can be highly lucrative, with the average salary for a Project Manager being around $116,000 annually, more than double the national average across all occupations.
  • Microsoft Project assists Project Managers in various tasks such as prioritizing tasks, defining expectations, delegating tasks, tracking and managing resources, creating and tracking budgets, and sharing calendars with teams.
  • Learning Microsoft Project can present some challenges, especially for those entirely new to project management software, but there are plenty of resources and training programs available to help simplify the process.
  • NYIM offers several programs for those interested in learning Microsoft Project, including live online courses and courses at their state-of-the-art campus in Midtown Manhattan.

Are you curious about learning Microsoft Project but worried it might be too hard? The challenges of learning Microsoft Project depend on your previous experience managing projects, familiarity with project management methodologies and practices, proficiency with other Microsoft Office programs, the learning method you choose, your learning style, and how quickly you learn. Of course, the difficulty that comes with learning a new skill is somewhat subjective. 

No matter your current schedule or comfort level with Microsoft Project, plenty of tools are available to help make learning more straightforward than you might think.

What is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is the project management software in the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Microsoft Project is the world's most widely-used project management software and has been since its release. MS Project currently has around a 66% project management software market share. Proficiency in Microsoft Project is a must-have skill for aspiring Project Managers. 

Project management is a booming field: the number of Project Manager jobs is expected to increase by over 33% over the next five years. The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that over 22 million new project management jobs will be created by 2027. Project management is growing rapidly because more companies recognize the need for professional help managing projects. However, there are already more Project Manager positions than employees trained in project management. 

Microsoft Project assists Project Managers in prioritizing tasks, defining expectations, delegating tasks, tracking and managing resources, creating and tracking budgets, and sharing calendars with your team. Project also includes project management methodology tools, such as kanban boards and Gantt charts. Some of Project’s major features include tools for project planning, communication and collaboration, progress tracking and reporting, roadmaps for project tracking, financial management and timesheets, and resource management. 

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Project is fully integrated with Microsoft Teams, allowing team members to share files, attend meetings, and chat easily. Its scheduling features are automatic, which can help teams stay on track with less direct supervision from the Project Manager. Project also incorporates the cutting-edge Microsoft Power BI dashboard, allowing project teams to visualize and analyze data in real-time. 

While Microsoft Project may seem easy to learn because of its familiar Microsoft Office interface, you will need to learn its advanced features to use it effectively. Senior Project Managers praise its power to manage multiple complex projects. Developing your ability to manage complex projects is the key to a successful career in project management. 

One of the biggest advantages of Microsoft Project is its full integration with other Microsoft Office programs. Microsoft Office is the most widely-used software suite in the world. If you’re serious about pursuing project management as a career, you’ll want to consider training in the entire suite of programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Read more about what Microsoft Project is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Microsoft Project?

Project management is a hot career path: the Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that over 22 million new Project Manager jobs will be created by 2027. Even without this 33% increase in job positions, there is already a significant talent gap in project management, with more companies seeking Project Managers than qualified candidates. 

Another perk of a career in project management is a high salary: the average salary for a Project Manager is around $116,000 annually. That is more than double the national average of approximately $50,000 across all occupations. Training in project management could lead to a lucrative career. 

Project Managers need to have many skills, including soft skills such as communication, leadership, and time management. Project Managers will also need to have advanced skills using Microsoft Project, the world’s most widely-used project management software tool, for decades. 

Microsoft Project is the industry-standard for managing complex and multiple projects. Its powerful project management features include interactive dashboards for project monitoring, integrated project timeline, task prioritization and delegation, team dashboard, report generation, resource tracking and management, and the Master Project Plan for managing multiple projects.

What Are the Most Challenging Parts of Learning Microsoft Project?

Learning Microsoft Project can be challenging. Experts in Microsoft Project share that Project can have “a steep learning curve.” The challenges in learning Project will vary for each person, but this section outlines some of the most common challenges when learning Microsoft Project. 

Microsoft Project is essentially a relational database program, meaning that all the data you enter about a project is interconnected. While this makes Project very powerful for managing the nuts and bolts of a project, you have to use the program correctly, or else your subsequent project data will be flawed. There are no easy ways to update a project plan once the project has started, so you will need adequate training before starting. 

When Microsoft Project debuted in 1984, it was the only project management software program on the market. There are now quite a few competitors, and many advertise as easier to learn and use than Microsoft Project. While it is true that many of Project’s competitors feature more intuitive interfaces and can be easier to understand, most of these programs lack Microsoft Project’s ability to manage multiple complex projects, something you’ll need as a professional Project Manager. Microsoft Project also remains the most popular project management software, holding 66% of the market, despite all of its newer competitors. 

Another potential challenge is that Microsoft Project is only available on Microsoft Windows, which means it does not run on smartphones, tablets, or Apple devices. This could be a challenge for Mac users or those who want to learn in their spare time. Project can also be more costly than other project management programs. You will need to make a more significant financial investment first. 

Microsoft Project users report that learning how to schedule can be particularly complicated. If you’re opting for more self-directed learning, you’ll want to be sure to seek some extra help on this step. 

How Does Learning Microsoft Project Compare to Other Applications?

Microsoft Project is an industry-standard program for project management. It has been the most popular project management software program since the 1980s and currently holds over 66% of the market. There are now more project management competitors on the market, including Trello, Basecamp, Asana, and Jira. 

Trello is a lightweight browser-based tool preferred by small teams, startups, and temporary projects. Very little training is required to use Trello’s simple and accessible kanban interface. The free version has adequate features for managing simple projects. Premium accounts include more features for around $10 per month.

Basecamp is a project management software preferred by design and digital marketing agencies. Reviews of Basecamp praise that it is easy to use but cannot manage complex projects. Basecamp has more features than Trello, including team chat, file sharing, and client collaboration tools. A monthly subscription for unlimited users is around $100 a month. 

Asana was originally developed for managing projects at Facebook. It uses an intuitive interface that is easy to use and see project overviews. Reviews criticize the lack of task delegation features. Asana charges $10 per month per user. 

Jira is the biggest direct competitor to Microsoft Project in power and popularity. It is preferred by large companies and organizations, including Spotify, Cisco, eBay, and Airbnb. It is highly customizable and, like Microsoft Project, has a learning curve due to the power of its features. Jira offers integrations with Outlook, Github, and Salesforce. Jira charges around $10 per user per month, with a cheaper rate for larger organizations.

Compared to Web-Based Programs

Microsoft Project was one of the first project management software programs. Released in 1984, it is the world’s most widely used project management software and maintains a 66% market share. 

Newer programs have tried to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Project, such as Trello, Asana, and Jira. Trello and Asana are web-based programs with monthly subscription fees. They are most comparable to Microsoft Project Online, both web-based and enhanced collaboration features. However, both programs lack critical project management tools, such as multiple views, resource management, task delegation, file sharing, and in-application chat. 

Compared to Desktop Clients

Jira is Microsoft Project’s closest competitor; it comes the closest to rivaling Project’s power to manage complex projects. Spotify, eBay, and Airbnb use Jira. Like Project, it is highly customizable and is suitable for multiple complex tasks.

Learn Microsoft Project with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

If you’re an aspiring Project Manager, you’ll need to train in Microsoft Project. NYIM is a business, design, and coding school based in NYC. They offer tech courses and bootcamps both live online or at their state-of-the-art campus in Midtown Manhattan. 

All of NYIM’s courses have guaranteed small class sizes and are taught by instructors who are experts in their industry. NYIM uses a unique hands-on approach in which instructors give a “micro-lecture” and then immediately guide students through applying what they learned using real-world projects. Graduates can take advantage of NYIM’s “free retake” option, which allows them to retake the course for free for up to one year to refresh or further develop skills. 

Live online courses are a great option if you don’t live in the NYC area. Because the class is happening live, it works exactly like an in-person class: you’ll be able to ask questions, interact with your instructor and classmates in real-time, and even receive direct feedback on your work using screen-sharing software. 

NYIM offers many options for learning Microsoft Project and the other programs in the Microsoft Office suite. In their Microsoft Project Level I course, students learn essential project management concepts and the fundamentals of using Microsoft Project to manage projects. Some of the Project skills that graduates will develop include defining projects, creating and organizing tasks, analyzing task relationships, creating a work breakdown structure, creating a resource calendar, resource management, creating baselines, sharing project plans, and finalizing project plans. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion, which is sharable on Linkedin and your Project Manager Resume. 

NYIM’s Microsoft Project Level II covers more advanced techniques, including managing multiple projects. Instructors guide students through hands-on projects to develop skills using Microsoft Project to execute a project, monitor progress, control a project plan, create progress reports, and use advanced customized features. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion to share on their Project Manager resume or Linkedin. 

If you want to study project management or pursue project management education hours toward CAPM Certification, you should consider a course like Noble Desktop’s Project Management Bootcamp. A PMP-Certified instructor trains students in project management theories and methodologies to help them launch a new career as Project Managers. Topics covered include the Project Management LifeCycle, project scope, project planning, resource management, risk management, financial management, team management, and becoming a professional Project Manager.

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