Which is best for you?  Microsoft Project MPP files or native projects?  Consider these options, and scroll down for more information.



The question has been raised as to whether you should build your employee time tracking projects in MS Project or natively here.  You can certainly bring in MPP files that you’ve created in the past.  ST will track hours to them and send the actual work back to MSP.  Both MSP and ST projects will look identical in the timesheet, but the question of which tool is best for the job remains.

We’re exploring that question here.


Timesheet Task Hierarchy
Timesheet Tasks Your project tasks will looks the same whether created by MS Project or ST


To begin, if you are an advanced Microsoft Project user, you will likely find that tool the best.  You are already familiar with it and can navigate the system with ease.  Good solid projects pop out in no time.  You don’t even have to think about it.  You create your task hierarchy and assign resources that you know will already exist in the ST timesheet.  Complex link relationships don’t even slow you down.  Save the file to an MPP, and import it.  All your tasks show up for the employees assigned.  Simple!


If you are not a Microsoft Project aficionado, you might consider creating your projects natively in ST.  It’s just as easy to build a task hierarchy.  You can assign employees to tasks and mark them to show up in the timesheet.  Employees track time to them and you’re done.  Also very simple!

So which should you choose?

Both tools work equally well.  You get the same end-result, which is tasks in the timesheet where employees can log hours to them.  In both cases, you can compare estimates against actuals, and get rollups that indicate the health of your project.  So the answer to the question often comes down to which product you feel most comfortable with.


Edit Project Task Dialog
Edit Project Task
You will see this dialog when entering your own project tasks while building your project


But there’s more to consider… MSP offers a more robust task scheduling feature set.  (It’s not a timesheet like ST, but that’s not the issue.  You’re using to build a task schedule.  The timesheets come later.)  Since MSP is so good at link relationships and constraints, you may need it to accurately represent your project.  But that depends on how complex it is.  Sometimes multi-month or multi-year projects are so involved you need a special tool to represent them.  That’s MSP!  Most project management professionals prefer it.

In addition to task scheduling, MSP is good at resource costing.  For instance, let’s say you have to rent a jackhammer for a short job.  The cost to operate that equipment should be included into your project.  ST has that capability too, but it’s not as robust as MSP.

What’s more, MSP has robust views that offer a rich project management experience when laying out your job.  Compare that with the simpler ST Project Task view.  If you need those complex views to properly build your project, then MSP is the tool to use.  But if you just need a simple task list with a hierarchy then ST may be the better choice.

You should also consider the possibility of mixing ST and MSP projects in the same timesheet.  Easy to do. Simply bring in the MPP files right alongside your native ST projects.  They both look identical to the end-user.

So as you can see, we offer an overlapping feature set that may entice you to build your projects natively in ST.  And if you find something lacking, contact us; we may be able to resolve the issue or add the specialty features you need.

Give the native ST projects a try and let us know how it works!

Also see: Video: How to integrate with MS Project


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