One of the immediate values SharePoint can deliver to an organization is the ability to address project management challenges, such as inefficient communication among stakeholders, poor information management practices and undefined project collaboration standards that compromises project success.
I had the privilege of presenting at the SharePoint Conference 2009 with Julie Auletta and Daisy Anand of Bamboo Solutions on the topic of “The Future of SharePoint Project Management”. The changes coming with SharePoint 2010 combined with the advancement of desktop tools like Microsoft Project are ushering in a new era of SharePoint project management.
SharePoint 2010 for Project Management Success
I kick started the session by discussing the importance of having a well defined project management process in place before relying on tools like SharePoint. A common mistake organizations make is to invest in a Project Management Information System (PMIS) before fundamental project management practices are in place. Relying on technology to make projects successful is as good as believing Penn & Tellers’ magic tricks are real.
Once I had made the case for sound project management practices, I demonstrated how a project manager could leverage out of the box SharePoint to:
- Centralize project information and communication in a SharePoint site
- Automate project processes like change control process by utilizing built in SharePoint workflows
- Efficiently interact with project information on a SharePoint site by integrating it with common Microsoft Office tools such as Word, Excel, and Outlook
- Enable alerts to send automated reminders to project stakeholders
- Define and monitor project tasks in the enhanced project task list which now shows task dependencies and a “Microsoft Project-like” Gantt view interface
Example SharePoint Project Management Communication Site
Microsoft Project 2010 Synchronization with SharePoint
A common need of project managers is to publish Microsoft Project schedules to a SharePoint project task list. Once published, project resources can update their task status on the SharePoint project task list and have the information synchronize with the project manager’s Microsoft Project plan. This capability is not available in the current and prior versions of Microsoft Project.
However, this need has been addressed in Microsoft Project 2010. During my session I demonstrated how to synchronize a Microsoft Project 2010 project plan to a SharePoint 2010 project tasks list. In addition, this capability can also be used with existing WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007.
Create Project Dashboard, Get Promoted
Another great benefit of SharePoint 2010 is the out of the box charting capabilities. I showed everyone how to take custom list information in SharePoint and display it as a management dashboard. Smart project managers can use SharePoint 2010's charting tools to produce the ooh ah moment you need to get the next leg up.
Extending SharePoint Project Management with PM Central
Julie carried on with the presentation and demonstrated Bamboo Solutions’s Project Management Central. It is a SharePoint application that addresses project management needs that’s not available out of the box in SharePoint.
- data aggregation across
- multiple project sites
- portfolio dashboards
- resource management
- advanced reminder alerts
Project Management Central is a turnkey project management solution that can standardize project sites, permissions and navigation consistency throughout projects in the enterprise. Julie demonstrated a PM Central portfolio site displaying rolled up information from various project sites.
Project Management Central from Bamboo Solutions
Daisy took the stage to cap off our presentation and showcased Bamboo Solution’s Guide Services offering which can help organizations to expedite PM Central configuration to align with specific business needs. She demonstrated case studies one of which is customizing PM Central to support an Agile/Scrum project environment.
Keep your eyes on this space. The new integration features of SharePoint 2010 are going to empower project managers via already familiar tools. As the space develops so will the templates and add-ons available. SharePoint-based project management is entering a new phase of viability.