Managing project schedules in Project Professional vs. Project Online / PWA

Project Professional 2013 and Project Online / PWA are distinct tools which work together, empowering businesses to deliver winning projects while effectively executing and achieving strategic priorities. People across the organization regularly update statuses, manage resource allocations, report progress and balance strategic objectives. These people need different capabilities at different times.

Right tools, right time

Project Professional 2013 is the project manager’s everyday workhorse. They can easily plan projects and collaborate with others from virtually anywhere, staying organized and keeping projects on track with the only project management system designed to work seamlessly with other Microsoft applications and cloud services.

Project Online and PWA for Project Server link the team together and allow everyone to manage everyday work and collaborate effectively. Management also uses Project Online or PWA to access powerful strategic tools like Project Portfolio Management (PPM).

One of the easiest ways to understand the differences in these tools is to look at their output. Project Professional gives project managers the ability to manage complex project plans and easily synthesize information to guide teams in the right direction and report progress to management. Out-of-the-box reports present project data in an easily consumable format. Each report can be easily customized in an Excel-like experience. Sharing is simple, since reports are optimized for copy/paste.

Project management across tools

Most project managers use Project Professional 2013 for the many complex necessities of managing projects and Project Online / PWA when they are away and need to work with their projects. PWA is also ideal for team participants to update their everyday work and collaborate from virtually anywhere. The richness of Project Professional 2013 is seen below, with a few features highlighted to illustrate the unique capabilities of the desktop client.

The Team Planner is a particularly powerful tool within Project Professional 2013 which makes it easy for project managers to identify and resolve potential resource overallocations. Issues can be fixed with the click of a button as the scheduling engine automatically moves tasks to avoid schedule conflicts, or manually with drag and drop.

Project Management Feature Comparison
Project Online
Project Professional

Resource Leveling

  • Recognize and correct resource overallocation scenarios using automatic resources leveling techniques.

Task Path Highlighting

  • See how tasks come together and identify which are most critical to a project’s success.

Split Tasks

  • Split tasks and show them as split in the Gantt chart.

 Task Inspector

  • Additional analysis to resolve scheduling conflicts.

Define Local Custom Fields

  • All users can define local custom fields.

Time-Phased Editing

  • Edit plans and work on a day-by-day basis.

Team Planner Overallocation Highlighting

  • Visual cues identify task overallocations, which can be automatically leveled or manually corrected with drag and drop in Team Planner.

Team Planner Prevent Overallocations

  • Automatically move tasks so that resources cannot become overallocated in Team Planner.

Inactive Tasks

  • Tasks marked inactive in Project Professional are read-only in PWA / Project Online.

Edit Master Projects

  • Master projects are read-only in PWA / Project Online.

Edit Sub-Projects

  • Sub-project cannot be added to a project, but can be edited separately from master projects.

Cross-Project Links

  • Dependency relationships with tasks in other projects are read-only in PWA / Project Online.

Summary Task Assignments

  • Resource assignments on summary tasks are read-only in PWA / Project Online.

WBS Codes

  • Custom Work Breakdown Structure codes are supported, but definitions are read-only in PWA / Project Online.

Multi-Resource Assignments

  • Assign more than one resource to a particular task.

Automatic / Manual Scheduling

  • Use the Project scheduling engine to automatically schedule tasks, or do it manually.

Task Linking

  • Create, edit and delete task dependency relationships.

Project Information

  • Edit project-level fields and properties.

Edit Large Projects

  • No limit to the size of plans that are editable.

Import from SharePoint

  • Import data from a SharePoint project task list into a project plan.

% Complete

  • Mark task progress as a percentage of the assigned work that is complete.

Cost and Material Resource Assignments

  • Ability to assign Cost Resources or Material Resources to tasks.

Task Calendars

  • Define a custom calendar associated with a task.

Fixed Work Tasks

  • Define the type of a task as fixed work.


  • Build and customize the timeline view to visualize schedule details and communicate with stakeholders.

Edit Assignment Fields

  • Edit assignment views.

Create Baselines

  • Create a snapshot baseline of the current project plan.

Task Deadlines

  • Create deadlines for a task.

Edit Task Type

  • Change the type of a task.

Effort-Driven Tasks

  • Scheduling engine support for scheduling a task as effort driven.
Limited or read-only

User interface and views

Another important set of distinctions between Project Professional and Project Online / PWA are the user interfaces and variety of views available to visualize and format project data. The web-based interface is ideal for access from virtually anywhere and works in most web browsers, and the Project Professional 2013 desktop client takes advantage of the extra power of the Windows environment to deliver a rich and immersive interface. Here we can see a sampling of additional views available only in Project Professional.

User Interface Feature Comparison
Project Online
Project Professional

Backstage View

  • Get started quickly with recent projects and new project templates.

Calendar View

  • See tasks represented as a traditional calendar.

Network Diagram

  • Investigate the relationships between tasks in a PERT-like format.

Resource Graph

  • Scroll through resources to visualize allocations.

Task Form

  • Quickly access essential task and resource data.

Paste with Task Hierarchy

  • Paste with hierarchical information included, like indenting.

Offline Editing

  • Edit project plans without being connected to the internet or Project Server.

Team Planner View

  • Manage resources and resolve overallocations visually with drag and drop.

Task Information Dialog

  • See task details by using a dialog interface.

Team Planner Custom Formatting

  • Add visual cues to highlight certain tasks in Team Planner.

Team Planner Unassigned Tasks

  • Visually identify unassigned tasks and drag them to available resources in Team Planner.

Text Formatting

  • Modify text formatting with colors and styles.

Task Hierarchy + Indent / Outdent

  • Display and render tasks with hierarchical information and apply full indenting / outdenting of tasks in a project plan.

Flexible Views

  • Move columns to define a specific view.

Sorting / Filtering

  • Sort or filter project plan data by any data value in the plan.

View / Edit Custom Fields

  • View and edit project metadata using custom fields.

High Fidelity Gantt Charts

  • Create vivid, colorful Gantt charts with customizable styles.

Status Change Updates

  • Receive updates on status changes that reschedule the project plan.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Use keyboard shortcuts for common operations, such as indent or insert.

Multi-level Undo

  • Perform what-if analysis and fully understand the impact of changes by reversing and reapplying an entire set of operations.

Cut / Copy / Paste

  • Collaborate on schedule development by copying/pasting schedule details between applications.

Zoom In / Out

  • Use zoom controls on the status bar to quickly change the timeline perspective of project plans.

Microsoft Office Fluent User Interface

  • Increase productivity with the Ribbon, a tab interface to quickly find and use Project features and controls.

Real-Time Validation

  • Mark cell data as invalid as you edit, instead of after saving or validating.

Error Handling

  • Handle invalid data and present data in an easy-to-use interface that helps resolve issues.

Fill Down

  • Drag the bottom right corner of a cell to repeat data in cells below.
Limited or read-only


–Mark Sargeant, Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Project