The available Microsoft Project licensing plans are flexible with both monthly and annual subscription options available to provide you with instant access to enterprise level project portfolio management features! This short overview will provide clarity on the available Project plans and a detailed feature comparison between the licenses.

The Project Online Licensing Changes

Within recent months Microsoft have updated their SKU’s to better align with the Microsoft 365 plan naming conventions (E1, E3, E5). They’ve decided to veer away from the legacy ‘Professional’ moniker and decided to remove the ‘Premium’ SKU. In place of those we now have the following:

Project Plan 3

Plan 3 replaces ‘Project Online Professional’ and remains the plan for Project Managers to keep projects, resources, and teams organised and on track. Plan 3 also includes Project for the web (Plan 1), Project Online and Project Online desktop client. Project Plan 3 includes all the capabilities of Project Plan 1 and more.

Project Plan 5

Plan 5 replaces ‘Project Online Premium’ and is geared towards Portfolio Management, to enable organisations to prioritise project portfolio investments, ensuring strategic alignment and appropriate resource allocation. Plan 5 includes Project for the web, Project Online and Project Online desktop client. Project Plan 5 includes all of the capabilities of Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 1.

Project Online Essentials

When navigating to the project plan comparison page on the Microsoft site you might be thinking that ‘Plan 1’ replaces ‘Project Online Essentials’ the ‘team member’ plan, however this is not the case! Essentials is now a team member add-on subscription for customers who have Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscriptions. It gives team members access to Project Web App to perform task and time updates against projects managed in Project Online, as well as access to the Project Site to view and update project documentation and RAID logs.

Project Plan 1 (Project for the Web)

This is a new, ‘reimagined’ Project solution from Microsoft – essentially a hybrid solution that is a cross between Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project aimed initially at ‘Accidental Project Managers’ and wholly browser based.

Microsoft Project Screenshot | Project Timeline View for Marketing Campaign

Microsoft Project for The Web ‘Timeline’ view

Microsoft Project Plans comparison

Core functionality (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Add columns ✔ ✔
Backstage ✔ ✔
Click-to-Run ✔ ✔
Contextual right-click menus ✔ ✔
Custom fields ✔ ✔
Enhanced copy and paste across Microsoft Office applications ✔ ✔
Gantt chart, calendar, and task sheet views ✔ ✔
Microsoft Fluent user interface, the ribbon ✔ ✔
Multiple-level undo ✔ ✔
Network diagram view ✔ ✔
Office Store ✔ ✔
Online help ✔ ✔
PDF and XPS output ✔ ✔
Placeholder text in Project fields ✔ ✔
Project templates ✔ ✔
Start experience ✔ ✔
Text wrap ✔ ✔
Timeline view ✔ ✔
Zoom controls ✔ ✔
Project planning (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Baseline rollup ✔ ✔
Budget planning ✔ ✔
Compare project versions ✔ ✔
Deadlines ✔ ✔
Filtering ✔ ✔
Formulas and graphical indicators ✔ ✔
Group and sort Project data ✔ ✔
Reports ✔ ✔
Team Planner ✔ ✔
Task management (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Active and inactive tasks ✔ ✔
Auto-complete ✔ ✔
Automatic scheduling ✔ ✔
Calendar date extended to 2149 ✔ ✔
Cross-project Critical Path ✔ ✔
Task inspector ✔ ✔
Task Path analysis ✔ ✔
Top-down summary tasks ✔ ✔
Update progress ✔ ✔
User-controlled and manual scheduling ✔ ✔
Project resource management (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Cost resources ✔ ✔
Manage nonworking time ✔ ✔
Resource leveling ✔ ✔
Resource sheet and usage views ✔ ✔
Resource substitution ✔ ✔
Team resources ✔ ✔
Project publishing (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Create a Project site ✔ ✔
Master projects on SharePoint ✔ ✔
Presence with Skype for Business ✔ ✔
Publish Projects to Project Server or Project Online ✔ ✔
Save a Project MPP file to SharePoint ✔ ✔
Task List Sync to SharePoint ✔ ✔
Core services functionality Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Active Directory integration ✔ ✔ ✔
Administration, Deployment, and Extensibility ✔ ✔ ✔
Getting Started ✔ ✔ ✔
Issues and risk management (for team members) ✔ ✔ ✔
Office 365 Trust Center ✔ ✔ ✔
PPM Partner ecosystem ✔ ✔ ✔
Service reliability ✔ ✔ ✔
Service updates ✔ ✔ ✔
Team member collaboration ✔ ✔ ✔
Time and task management (for team members) ✔ ✔ ✔
Project management Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Issues and risk management ✔ ✔
Manage project resources ✔ ✔
Schedule management ✔ ✔
Time and task management ✔ ✔
Portfolio management Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Analyze projects and optimise portfolio ✔
Create and edit projects ✔ ✔
Financial management ✔
Participate in workflow ✔ ✔
Portfolio analytics and selection ✔
Program management ✔
Reporting and business intelligence Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
OData feeds ✔ ✔
Power BI content pack ✔ ✔
Project desktop reporting ✔ ✔
Resource management Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Approve/reject/modify inco ✔
Manage resource pool ✔
Plan resource capacity ✔
Request resource agreements ✔ ✔
View available resources and build teams ✔ ✔

Next Steps

As a Microsoft Gold Partner we work with clients to support them with their Microsoft Project Online deployments, futhermore as a Cloud Solution Provider we can also provide guidance on Project licensing and offer flexible subscription options.

If you’d like to understand which Microsoft Project plan(s) would best fit your needs then please contact us and we’d be happy to chat through the options.