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October 17, 2009 No comments yet

Onepoint Project Enterprise vs. Microsoft Project Server

Last week we were showing a preview of Onepoint Project 9.1 at the PMA-Focus event in Vienna and like always, a lot of people asked us about the differences between Onepoint and Microsoft's server version of MS Project. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize the major differences in a short blog post.

In my very personal opinion, Onepoint Project Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Project Server differ quite a bit, even though they are addressing a somewhat similar market. I believe that you can probably find hundreds of notable differences, but I have tried to summarize only the seven most important ones as follows:

  • Easy-to-use. Onepoint Project is easy to learn and to use, because it features a clear, intuitive and consistent user interface. Therefore, Onepoint Project can be accessed directly by end users without any user interface customization (i.e., out-of-the-box). In contrast, most or all successful Microsoft Project Server installations we have seen are "wrapped" with a Microsoft Sharepoint-based portal that intends to hide the complexity of Project Server from end users.
  • Fast-to-deploy. Installing Onepoint Project is really easy and fast. A standard installation is typically set up in less than an hour - regardless if installed on Windows, Linux or on a Mac. The major reason for this is that Onepoint supports what we call "evolutionary configuration", i.e., many things that need customization in other systems can be configured in Onepoint at run-time. Microsoft Project Server often requires extensive customization, even to support often-used standard project management modules such as, e.g., a work breakdown structure (WBS) or a milestone trend analysis.
  • Lower TCO. Most Onepoint Project installations are out-of-the-box with very little to no customization. This means that the total cost of ownership is already low in the beginning of the application lifecycle, but also stays low due to easy and uncomplicated software updates. In contrast - as previously mentioned - most Microsoft Project Server installations are heavily customized and surrounded by a custom Sharepoint portal meaning that overall TCO has to be high, since customization always means additional work and in-house testing needs to be done whenever a new software release is deployed.
  • Lifecycle-Support. Unlike more traditional project planning software, Onepoint Project was designed from scratch to support the whole project lifecycle (e.g., Plan - Do - Check - Act). In order to achieve this, we have invested slightly less resources into the planning module, but distributed our development resources evenly across project and resource planning, task distribution, time, cost and progress tracking, project monitoring, project controlling as well as project reporting and analysis. On the other hand, Microsoft Project Server is undoubtedly stronger in pure project planning, but lacks (at least out-of-the-box) many features you need to efficiently implement, monitor and control projects.
  • Integrated. Onepoint Project is vertically-integrated enterprise project management software that aggregates data from the time, cost and progress tracking level up to the portfolio level automatically and in real-time. This is not only true for planning data, but also for actual data and progress information. Microsoft Project Server needs its portfolio management counterpart (Portfolio Server) in order to integrate also the portfolio level; and even then, the integration needs to be customized and typically, the integration is not real-time, but synchronizes data between both systems on a timely basis.
  • Browser-based. Onepoint Project Enterprise is a pure browser based Web application that still provides all the bells and whistles you would expect from a desktop client. This means, you have all the advantages of a desktop client (efficient tabular data entry, drag & drop in graphical views etc.) without the deployment problems that go hand in hand with old-style client-server systems. In contrast, Microsoft Project Server needs its desktop client for most project manager or team manager tasks, only time and cost tracking can be really done effectively by using the Web user interface.
  • Open. Finally, Onepoint Project is based on open technology and standards ranging from Java over XML to SQL. Onepoint also features an open source core and an entry-level open source product. In addition, Onepoint's database schema is completely based on standard SQL types and documented and can thus be easily used for external (typically executive) reporting. Microsoft Project Server is a typical Microsoft product.

As previously indicated, this is my personal opinion and of course it is not 100% objective. (How could it be?) However, this is what we have learned in the last couple of years when talking to customers and prospects all over the world. And I also strongly believe that nobody will be able to proof that this is not the truth ;-). As always, I am open for comments and discussion...