A project manager comparing Microsoft Project Server to Microsoft Project Online.

Microsoft Project Server or Online – Which One is Right for You?

Table of Contents


Microsoft Project Server is a server-based enterprise project management application developed by Microsoft. It offers robust project portfolio management capabilities and allows businesses to keep track of all their projects in one place. It also features resource planning, task management, reporting, budgeting, and more. Its primary benefit lies in its ability to integrate with other systems within an organization for improved collaboration and communication among team members.

Microsoft Project Online is a cloud-based version of Microsoft Project that allows companies to collaborate on projects from any location with internet access. It provides the same set of features as the server-based version but with greater scalability and flexibility due to being hosted in the cloud. Additionally, it includes cross-platform support so users can access their data from anywhere with any device or operating system they choose and automatic updates that eliminate the need for manual patching or maintenance work.

Microsoft Project Server

Microsoft Project Server is an on-premise project management and collaboration platform that provides a wide range of traditional and agile project management features. It allows users to manage projects, resources, and portfolios with the help of powerful tools such as Gantt charts, dashboards, and reports. Additionally, it offers secure access to documents from any device and real-time insights into progress and costs.

In comparison to Microsoft Project Online, one of its cloud counterparts, Microsoft Project Server has more robust capabilities when it comes to resource management. It also integrates with other enterprise systems like ERP applications allowing users better to understand dependencies between tasks across different business areas. Last but not least, Microsoft Project Server supports custom fields, making it easier to capture important information related to projects or resources that are unique to the organization’s needs.

Microsoft Project Online

Microsoft Project Server is a server-based application that provides centralized resource management, project portfolio management, and collaboration tools. It requires users to have Microsoft Windows as their operating system. Microsoft Project Online is the cloud-hosted version of Microsoft Project Server. It offers users the same features as the server-based application but with added flexibility and scalability since it runs on cloud technology.

With Project Online, organizations can access the same powerful features without installing or maintaining additional hardware or software. This allows for easier access for remote teams and employees working from home or other locations outside of their offices. Additionally, organizations can quickly scale up their usage without worrying about purchasing additional licenses or hardware resources. Users benefit from regular updates in functionality and integration with other Office 365 services, such as SharePoint and Power BI, making it much easier to collaborate across different teams within an organization.

Feature Comparison

Feature comparison between Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Online starts with their user interface. While the two applications have a similar look and feel, Microsoft Project Server has a more complex UI due to its wide range of options and functions than Microsoft Project Online. Both applications offer project scheduling, resource management, task management, tracking progress on tasks and milestones, budget planning, custom reporting tools, collaboration features for teams working together remotely, and Gantt chart customization capabilities to visualize project development over time.

The significant difference in feature comparison relates to their scalability. While both platforms can accommodate large projects with many resources without performance issues or data loss incidents, only Microsoft Project Server offers on-premises deployment that allows organizations to remain compliant with local data storage regulations. On the other hand, Microsoft Project Online is a cloud-based platform that enables international collaboration but does not allow users to install it locally.

Cost Comparison

The cost is always significant when comparing Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Online. Microsoft Project Server is licensed on-premises and requires an upfront payment for the software licenses and ongoing maintenance costs. In contrast, Microsoft Project Online is available via a subscription-based model with no upfront costs or ongoing maintenance fees. This makes it more affordable for businesses with tight budgets or limited IT resources to operate the system.

Microsoft Project Server offers more flexibility in customization and scalability than its online counterpart; however, this added functionality comes at an additional cost. With Microsoft Project Online, businesses can access all of the features necessary to run their projects but may not be able to customize the setup as much due to limited technical capabilities. The lack of ability to customize leads to higher long-term costs since users may need additional support services down the road due to changes in business needs or technology advances.

Overall, each option has its strengths and weaknesses regarding cost; ultimately, businesses must evaluate their current needs and plans before deciding which project management system best fits their requirements at a reasonable price point.

Security & Reliability

Security is a crucial consideration when selecting a project management system. Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Online offer robust security features, such as authentication, authorization, and encryption. Authentication ensures that users logging in to the system are valid; only authenticated users can access the platform. Authorization determines what information each user has access to; different permissions can be assigned based on individual and organizational roles. Finally, encryption protects transmitted data from unauthorized access by using specialized algorithms to scramble sensitive information as it moves across networks.

The reliability of a project management system is also critical for successful implementation and adoption within an organization. Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Project Online provide reliable service with regular maintenance windows for upgrades or patches when needed. Additionally, they offer redundancy options in case of system failure or service disruption due to unforeseen events like natural disasters or power outages. Finally, scalability is another crucial factor; both platforms allow organizations to quickly expand their usage as their projects grow in complexity over time without sacrificing reliability or security features.


It is vital to assess your needs and determine which solution is the right fit for you. Microsoft Project Server is a good choice if you want an on-premise solution with robust capabilities. It offers enterprise-level features such as project portfolio management, resource utilization analysis, and reporting tools. On the other hand, Microsoft Project Online can provide access to similar features in a cloud-based model. This allows users to work from anywhere and offers additional scalability options that may be more suitable for small businesses or organizations that prefer subscription pricing models over traditional software licensing fees. Ultimately, both solutions will enable effective project management, but it’s up to you to decide which best meets your organization’s requirements and expectations.

Check out our previous article, A Proactive Way to Plan With Microsoft Project Calendar, to learn more about project management software.