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 in Project Online or Project for the Web! 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 has 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
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
Formulas and graphical indicators
Group and sort Project data
Team Planner
Task management (desktop client) Project Online Essentials Plan 3 Plan 5
Active and inactive tasks
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 levelling
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.