Project Management Applications- The perplexity of choice

When it comes to the use of modern Project Management Tools in the Construction Industry, India doesn’t seem to have anything commendable to present. Organizations, whether Government or Private, have been very slow to adapt to the worldwide trends in this regard. However, slowly & gradually, with Private players leading the trend, we have been catching up albeit at a slow pace. However, when we talk to fresh Engineers or even experienced professionals who have just started getting interested in these applications, we see that there exists a lot of confusion and most of them are at a complete loss to figure out which Software Application to focus upon. The decision is crucial because apart from the cost to be invested in the Licenses, the cost to be incurred in terms of time and money to learn the Applications is also significant.

The major tools being used across the countries are Microsoft Project, Primavera P6, Asta Power Project & Trimble Tilos. While Tilos is an excellent alternative to use for Linear Project Management, the last two are commonly not in use in India in any significant manner. The majority of Companies or individuals in India either go for MS Project or Primavera but even in case of these two applications, a lot of questions are there which the prospective users would like to be answered. To find a solution to the conundrum, we should go through the major differences that exist between the two applications. These are:

  1. Primavera works with a Database while MS Project is file based
  2. Primavera has features to record Thresholds, Risks & Issues which are missing in MS Project
  3. Primavera supports multiple baselines while MS Project has place for 11 baselines only
  4. We can create a Project Website in Primavera where we can display the Risks, Issues & Resources etc. while MS Project lacks this feature
  5. Primavera allows a separate view for WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) where Activities/ Tasks may be added while in MS Project, the Activities by itself are made to appear in a WBS format
  6. Primavera can support a substantially higher number of Activities in comparison to MS Project. It doesn’t make a huge difference though in case of small to medium sized Projects
  7. Primavera provides a Progress Spotlight feature which is lacking in MS Project. However this functionality can somewhat be worked around by creating appropriate Filters in MS Project
  8. Primavera allows us to break a Task into Steps while this feature is not available in MS Project 
  9. Primavera allows more than one type of Relationship between Tasks while MS Project is limited to a Single type of Dependency
  10. Most users find it easier to learn MS Project due to its similarity to other Microsoft Products like Excel. On the other hand, while it should not be quite difficult to learn Primavera too, new users consider it difficult just because of the perception existing in the domain
  11. Primavera is mostly being used in developed nations, the Middle East & by big Corporate Groups abroad as well as in India while MS Project is the go to tool for Small & Medium businesses. However, with perceptions changing rapidly, Primavera is slowly and gradually catching up with MS Project in terms of usage within the smaller Project environments too
  12. In addition to the above mentioned points, there are other minor differences too in terms of features such as Multiple- user accessibility and installation etc.

Now, what is the conclusion that a prospective learner should arrive at after going through the above mentioned differences? In my opinion, it would be better to start with MS Project and get accustomed to the Software environment. Once you have reached an intermediate level in it, you may decide to start learning & practicing Primavera as well. This is because keeping in view the prevalence of Primavera use in major Countries around the world; the time is not far when it would become equally popular in India as well. The knowledge and functional proficiency in both of these Applications can definitely boost the employability of aspiring Engineers, Project Managers & related Professionals. 


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