Project managers have long been using Excel for project management, but is it realistically still a good option? While the depth of the spreadsheet crunching capabilities is impressive, the solution is not supported with the kind of data insights and reporting that project managers today need. With the release of Office 2019, Microsoft has worked to update and improve some of Excel’s capabilities.

A key feature of Excel 2019 is that it’s more dynamic and intuitive, with improved accessibility options, smoother touchscreen controls and simpler file sharing. There are a lot of big changes that Microsoft hope will make life easier for a whole range of employees who rely on it to get their work done.

So, will these new features help Excel become a better tool for PMs in today’s workplace?

Dynamic arrays for more data control

The new dynamic array formulas allow you to apply one formula to multiple cells, meaning fewer formulas and less chance for error. For anyone who builds spreadsheets on a regular basis, this will be useful. Here are the seven new dynamic array functions:

  • FILTER – filters an array of data based on criteria you define.
  • RANDARRAY – returns an array of random numbers between 0 and 1.
  • SEQUENCE – generates a list of sequential numbers, such as 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • SINGLE – accepts a range or array and returns a single value using implicit intersection.
  • SORT – sorts an array of values.
  • SORTBY – sorts an array based on a corresponding array.
  • UNIQUE – returns a list of unique values from a list or range.

Useful for project management?

If Excel can simplify spreadsheet formatting, that means reducing the risk of formula errors that set projects back. This feature could ensure that less time is lost to archaic software and make your spreadsheets less labor intensive. While this is useful for solely numerical projects, it doesn’t make Excel more user-friendly for project managers looking to create visual reports. Using Excel for project management isn’t enough.

Insights with ideas

One of Excel’s core issues is the time workers lose searching for the data they need. New feature ideas will improve the platform’s intelligence, but it still won’t allow Excel to run scenarios based on data. Created to improve Excel’s data analysis capabilities, this new feature on the ribbon will suggest ways to visualize data. This feature will open a task pane suggesting chart types and providing Power BI driven insights. You can then click the plus sign below each suggestion to use it in your Excel file.

Useful for project management?

Managing a project requires careful resource allocation, and unprecedented changes of staff or budget can quickly render a spreadsheet irrelevant. Project management tools allow for a much richer and versatile environment; real time analysis and solutions are essential for PMOs. Using Excel for project management is only slightly easier with this new tool – insights can only be generated from spreadsheets and there are further limitations on how Excel can parse the data.

Publish straight to Power BI

Excel 2019 will be able to integrate with Microsoft’s business analytics integration Power BI. That means improved visual reporting for data in Excel and a more collaborative environment. Valuable insights from data visualization will be more easily available, slightly enhancing Excel’s visualization capabilities.

Useful for project management?

While this is a huge improvement, it still doesn’t tackle the inability of Excel to manage resources. A lack of worker resource management often leads PMOs to lean on other PPM tools, losing time and concentration in the process. The key to making good decisions when you’re managing a project is having all the information you need. Allocating resources, especially employees, is impossible if you don’t know the actual capability of what’s available. In order to maintain total clarity when it comes to resources, Tempus Resource is a better solution – integrating with all major PPM tools and preventing information silos.

Tempus Resource and the future of project management

Excellent resource management needs better quality tools. Tempus Resource, a resource management platform that integrates with Excel and all major PPM tools, helps project managers visualize every resource available. This tool allows you to cut down on the time you spend moving data between platforms and spend more time managing your projects.

What can you do with Tempus Resource?

  • Import data from any PPM tool – Tempus Resource integrates smoothly with a wide range of PPM tools.
  • Assemble all your resources in one place – Group and sort resources from multiple platforms.
  • 100% visibility – Heat maps and cool maps are automatically generated to show how resources are performing and where they could be better used.
  • Plan for any outcome – Tempus Resource allows you to test any scenario in a controlled environment, so you can make decisions based on data.
  • Generate powerful reports – make sure all stakeholders are informed of project progress and results with real-time reporting.
  • Access sophisticated functionality – dedicated resource management software offers the tools you need to lift your projects to the next level. For instance, ‘what-if’ analysis can help you manipulate resource data to test possible outcomes in a risk-free environment.

There’s real power behind Microsoft Excel, but it can’t do everything that a project manager needs to do their job effectively. It can’t give them the functionality they need when it comes to reporting and analysis. Excel wasn’t designed for resource management, so finding insights from project data and managing resources is also difficult.

In order to maximize resources and prevent projects failing, a project manager needs resource management software that works as hard as they do.

Tempus Resource was created to remove the limitations in Excel (and other project management tools) and create new and better ways to allocate resources. To find out more about how Tempus Resource can solve your resource management issues, contact ProSymmetry today.