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Are these projects Agile, Waterfall or a hybrid? There are different tools for different project types.
If it's simply a decision between MS Project, SmartSheet and other Gantt tools, I would not recommend MSP. I am required to use it for project reporting and it is aggravating. I could go into detail about my complaints with MSP if needed. I haven't spent much time in SmartSheet, but it appears to be free of some of the difficulties that plague MSP.
Four years ago, I evaluated tools for an organization that was attempting to transition from Waterfall to Agile. The top tools were: DreamTeam, Jira, Leankit, and Pivotal Tracker. I've also used CA Rally and I really liked it.
Choosing a tool or toolset to get something done is usually a bit more complicated than just choosing one based on the experience and/or review from others. There are personal preferences you need to consider because not all people work and think the same and where a table might get it done for me you might require a graph. Also, consider what your stakeholder requires, their position (internal/external), what does the project require, how would your tools integrate with the wide audience, etc. Draw up a list of minimum requirements and then use feedback to evaluate which ticks the most boxes. Attributes such as comprehensive, cost-effective and collaborative could only be measured against requirements i.e. a $5 solution is not really cost-effective if it does not provide the functionality to get a job done or a solution that has 50 bells and whistle when you only need 20 might be comprehensive but be over complex and expensive.
Personally I have never had a fixed preference and I would look to find something that will work for the situation I am in. Remember complex does not have to be complicated.
I do not know what defines complex project management for you or your organization, but I can tell you that I currently manage anywhere from 2-6 projects at one time only utilizing Microsoft tools.
Currently where I work we heavily utilize Microsoft Teams for collaboration, tasks, sharing information, and meetings. I have set up excel spreadsheets for all budgeting, scheduling, and forecasting. This is all done remotely right now while managing construction projects.
You can find free courses online to show you how to use Microsoft tools for project management.
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