Does MS Project come bundled with MS Office? What is a CAL? Do I need a SharePoint CAL? Can I run MS Project on my Mac? Does Project Online work with Office 365 Plans? Why do I need Project Lite? If you have wondered about these questions, and have been mystified by MS Project licensing, you have come to the right place. This article will explain the various MS Project products (both cloud and on-premise versions) and their licensing.
MS Project offers numerous products targeted at different audiences. You might be a project manager who prefers to manage a project in a silo, or a portfolio manager in a PMO who wants to make decisions at a portfolio level. What if you are a team member who wants to provide status updates? Let’s look at the available options and their dependencies.
Project Standard is only available on-premise and is targeted at project managers who are managing small team projects. Project Standard is a standalone product and does not have the capability to connect to Project Server for a portfolio-level view.
As far as getting status updates from your team, you could purchase Project Standard for each team member; however, giving each of your team members a license of Project Standard can be prohibitively expensive. In that case, project managers will typically print out copies of the project plan and get status updates on paper, or during regular team meetings, and update the project plan themself. A more efficient route to solve this problem is to upgrade to Project Professional and Project Server/Project CAL (see below).
Project Professional provides more features than Project Standard. One of the major reasons for choosing Project Professional over Project Standard is its ability to connect to Project Server. Connecting to Project Server enables you to gain a portfolio-level view and give View, Update, or Edit access to project team members. In addition to delivering portfolio-level capabilities, Project Professional also provides the ability to manage resources and collaborate with your team via Skype for Business.
Project Server and Project CAL
Project Server gives you the ability to execute your business at a project portfolio level. While Project Professional is deployed in various businesses and can operate in a silo, Project Server allows you to bring all the various projects together, and give View, Access, or Edit rights to team members and executives across the organization.
From a licensing standpoint, Project Server deployment also requires you to license Windows Server, SQL Server and SharePoint Server. You will also require the corresponding CALs (SharePoint CAL, SQL CAL, etc.) to ensure that you are meeting all the necessary licensing terms. CAL stands for Client Access License, and provides your users the right to access a server. Typically, end users have access to the Project Server via the Project Web App (PWA).
If you have deployed Project Server, Project CALs give your users and devices the right to access Project Server. There are two types of CAL, a User CAL and a Device CAL. The User CAL gives a user the right to access the server and the Device CAL is for devices. Potentially, these two types of CALs are priced differently and might have different use rights (check your licensing agreement). Typically, each user and each device needs one CAL. Keep in mind that each license of Project Professional includes one Project Device CAL.
Project Pro for Office 365
First of all let’s clarify the difference between Project Professional and Project Pro for Office 365. Both are pretty similar products, except that Project Professional is an on-premise product and Project Pro for Office 365 is a cloud product. While both versions are clients installed on your PC, the major difference is how they are updated. If you have a Software Assurance agreement with Microsoft, you get new versions of Project Professional when new versions are launched by Microsoft (typically, once every few years).
With Project Pro for Office 365, you do not need to worry about manual updates. If you’ve enabled automatic updates, Microsoft will keep updating the installed client on your PC on a recurring basis. Another major difference is number of installations. Typically, one license of Project Professional gives you the ability to install on one PC. With Project Pro for Office 365, you are licensed to install on up to five PC’s.
One of the main reasons for choosing Project Pro for Office 365 is the ability to connect it to Project Online. This enables you to gain insight into the portfolio-level view, and give View, Update, or Edit access to project team members. Subscription to Project Pro for Office 365 gives you the right to access Project Online and Project Server.
In addition to delivering portfolio-level capabilities, Project Pro for Office 365 provides the ability to manage resources and collaborate with your team via Skype for Business.
Project Online is the product corresponding to Project Server, but in the cloud. It gives you the same abilities as Project Server with all the benefits of the cloud (e.g. no investments in hardware, maintenance and upgrades).
What about CALs? Since Project Online is in the cloud, there is no concept of CALs. You can buy subscriptions of Project Online for as many users as you want. Typically, the audience of Project Online is PMO and executives.
What if you already have a Project Server deployment and you want to test the waters in the cloud? From a licensing perspective, Microsoft has made it easy for you to manage your projects in a hybrid world. You can access your existing Project Server deployment via a Project Online subscription.
While Project Online is targeted at PMO and executives, how should you provide access to your many team members? Project Lite is the product targeted at the team-level audience. In order to use Project Lite, you must have a subscription to Project Online. From a technical standpoint, Project Lite is exactly the same product as Project Online, but offered at a lower price point.
From a licensing standpoint, Project Lite enables you to use a subset of capabilities. These capabilities allow you to view and edit timesheets, manage tasks, add issues and risks, and collaborate on project documents. Similar to Project Online, the subscription to Project Lite gives you access rights to Project Server deployment.
Project Online with Project Pro for Office 365
Targeted at project managers, Project Online bundled with Project Pro for Office 365 enables you to add Project Online and Project Pro for Office 365 in one transaction instead of two separate ones (without any price discount).
Office 365 Dependence
One question that comes up often is whether cloud services of Project are bundled with Office 365 Plans. The answer is no. None of the Office 365 Plans include subscriptions to Project. You can either purchase subscriptions to Project standalone or you can add them to your existing Office 365 subscription. To add a Project subscription to an existing Office 365 subscription, the Office 365 subscription should be in the Business (Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business Premium), Enterprise (Office 365 Enterprise E1, Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 Enterprise E4, Office 365 Enterprise E5, Office 365 Enterprise K1), Education (Office 365 Education), or Government (Office 365 Government E1, Office 365 Government E3, Office 365 Government E4, Office 365 Government K1) families. If you have a subscription to an Office 365 plan that is not listed above, your subscription to Project cannot be added to your existing Office 365 subscription and will need to be added separately.
What if you already have a Project Server deployment and want to test the waters in the cloud? From a licensing perspective, Microsoft has made it easy for you to manage your projects in a hybrid setting. You can access your existing Project Server deployment via a Project Online subscription. Similar to Project Online, the subscriptions to Project Lite and Project Pro for Office 365 give you access rights to your Project Server deployment.