Jira vs MS Project – Round One!

A lot of people ask me how Jira is different than MS Project or conversely when they should use either one. So who would we expect to win in the heavyweight bout of Jira vs MS Project? The answer is actually straightforward but not all that obvious.

MS Project is a very successful task management tool. It is there to track tasks and effort.  You can flag entries as milestones but that is really the only major thing that you can manage, other than tasks.  The issue here is that tasks and work are the results of things that need to be managed.  It is those things that are the most important in terms of status. How many of these things such as work packages, deliverables, risks, issues are managed is via lists in spreadsheets. Arguably though the MS project plan is often a kind of shadow of the deliverables in the plan because there is no other integration tool.

This works as follows; lets say you have a project charter that is your first major deliverable.  The project plan then has a high level task called “Complete Project Charter”. Under this are all the tasks needed for completion and  sign off. I then know in MS Project, because its tracked, what % of effort has been completed against the work. But I don’t know what issues we have or risks there are associated with this deliverable.  How about the quality of the work product? The status of the work package or the deliverable and associated issues/risks are often recorded elsewhere as a result. So the PM ends up with a set of fragmented tools rather than an integrated approach to understanding the whole project.

And then there is…

Dependency management is also often thought to be a key strength of MS project but in reality a dependency is typically at the solution or deliverable level. Its true that some tasks can’t start before others – but that’s because the thing that needed to be done had to be completed first. Completion isn’t just a task it has also a status of quality and agreement. 

So basically if you want to only manage tasks and work done MS Project works for sure – but who wants to do just that? Jira provides the ability to track work against actual management items and to tack it on directly using sub tasks. In fact, we recommend that clients avoid creating Jira tasks and rather create sub tasks of things they are managing. In this way you can see the status of all the things you are managing rather than an MS Project style view which is really a task based perspective.

Ding Ding!

Unfortunately that’s the bell for today but these two heavyweights look set for a rematch and do it all over again. Watch this space for Jira vs MS Project 2!

If you’d like to deliver a knockout blow of your own and start using Jira in your organization, contact us today.

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