Comparison of iPlanWare PPM vs. MS Project Server

by admin on September 18, 2012

Many organisations looking at the iPlanWare PPM solution ask us to compare it to Microsoft Project Server. Let’s start with a little background on the products. iPlanWare PPM has been available since 2000, MS Project Server since 2002. iPlanWare was built as a PPM tool from the ground up, MS Project Server is a product that extends the capabilities of MS Project, Microsoft’s desktop scheduling solution.

When comparing  solutions, we will consider criteria such as the technology, implementation, support and licensing costs. In addition, we will also look at things like the evaluation process and user adoption. What we are not going to cover here is a detailed feature analysis.


MS Project Server consists of several Microsoft products which need to be installed on a server and then integrated together. While iPlanWare is also built around Microsoft technologies it is simple to install and keep up-to-date. A typical installation of iPlanWare takes around 30 minutes to perform if you want to install it on your own servers. We also offer a SaaS / cloud version of iPlanWare.

Set up and configuration time

MS Project Server implementation time-scales can often be counted in months. Contrast this with iPlanWare where a typical implementation is counted in days. Why is this? We think the key factor is that with MS Project Server, Microsoft have tried to cover all the bases in terms of features. More features means more complexity, longer learning curves and roll outs. MS Project Server (as you will see in the next point) also has a very strong dependency on MS Project which further compounds this complexity. With iPlanWare we focus on delivering the core PPM features an organisation needs wrapped up in simple to use PPM software.

Dependency on MS Project

With MS Project Server, MS Project (the desktop application) is used to build schedules. This has a couple of major implications. First you have to install and maintain copies of MS Project for each person who wants to build a schedule. Secondly, the cost implication is quite significant as MS Project Professional edition must be used which is the most expensive version.

With iPlanWare you don’t have to use MS Project to build schedules, instead users can use the inbuilt iPlanWare scheduler direct in their browser. We also integrate with MS Project if you want to use that in conjunction with iPlanWare – and we even operate with MS Project Standard edition (the lowest cost version).

Self paced evaluation

iPlanWare and MS Project Server have very different go-to-market approaches. With the growth of web-delivered software and SaaS “sign up and go”, the selection process for software is increasingly driven by individuals in an organisation who have an “itch they need to scratch” and go out and seek a solution to their problem.

With iPlanWare, they can quickly evaluate its capabilities and a bottom up buying process emerges. This means organisations can be confident in the investment they make and they are not going to struggle with user adoption. At iPlanWare we don’t consider we have a sales cycle, rather we have an evaluation cycle. We want our customers to be confident they have selected the right software.

Cloud solution

Are you looking for a cloud solution and the benefits it provides. If so then MS Project Server is not for you – it is not a true cloud solution. You will see “hosted “version of MS Project Server available but in reality these are just per customer installations of MS Project Server in a datacentre. Each needing managing, upgrading and looking after. Which means you miss out on the inherent benefits of a cloud based solution like iPlanWare – scalability, quick deployment and simple management. Note, you can also deploy iPlanWare on-premises.

Support and upgrades

With MS Project Server, support is additionally chargeable and provided by a network of partners, often on a per incident basis. With iPlanWare we like to keep things simple. With our SaaS solution, support and product upgrades are included in our subscription fee. For our on-premises model, we charge an annual fee that provides support and product upgrades. With MS Project Server upgrades are shipped approximately every 2-3 years, with iPlanWare every 3-4 months.

Total cost of ownership

iPlanWare will cost you less than a like for like MS Project Server implementation. Period. Whether you compare iPlanWare SaaS to MS Project Server hosted, iPlanWare on-premises to MS Project Server on-premises the iPlanWare solution will cost less. Go ahead, run the slide rule over the numbers.

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