It’s 2017 – Why is Microsoft Project Still So Popular?

Microsoft Project is known for being a powerful (and sometimes cumbersome) tool that remains a staple of enterprise-level project management. So, why is this legacy project management software also used by 67 percent of small businesses?

The project management discipline has rapidly expanded beyond IT in recent years. This once-niche practice has expanded into businesses of all sizes across diverse industries. LinkedIn currently lists hundreds of open roles for Digital Project Managers in the U.S. alone; a separate search for U.S.-based “Healthcare Project Manager” jobs yields nearly 4,000 results.

GetApp published new research on the project management software industry last month. Based on previous research in this sphere, we guessed that a market gap exists between the software features that users need and what’s currently available on the market. As this report’s researcher, I expected respondents to cite a wide range of industry-specific project management software tools that they use – and was very wrong.

Sure, there was a smattering of popular PM tools; for example, 9 percent of respondents use Basecamp, while an additional 6 percent use Asana and 5 percent more use Trello.

But none of them compared to Microsoft Project – two of three respondents use it for project management, despite the fact that three quarters of respondents work in small businesses.

Project management in a global enterprise looks very different than it does in a small business. Had most respondents worked in enterprises, reliance on MS Project might not be so surprising. But the fact that it remains the project management software of choice for so many small businesses? That begs a series of additional questions.

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