Does your office or project team use SharePoint? Do you love it or hate it?
Many years ago, when I was first introduced to SharePoint, I saw it as a virtual file cabinet and thought it was a burden to have to navigate somewhere new to save a document. What was wrong with our shared drive? However, after learning how to use it effectively, I’ve realized that SharePoint is a great asset to have when managing a project, and I want to share some valuable tips with you.
Transparency is essential to the success of a project. Key stakeholders and senior leadership should be able to easily find out the status of various aspects of a project. SharePoint allows you to create lists to track action items, risks, issues, change request, etc., for your project. You can also develop dashboards using web parts to improve transparency and provide a view on the real-time status of the project.
The more efficiently you track progress, the better you can manage the project. Providing your team with project management tools upfront will streamline your processes and enable your team to support you throughout the project’s lifecycle by providing status information directly, and in a controlled, centralized location. Try these tricks to improve transparency:
- Managing commonly used information from many sources within a single list will help ensure data integrity. Develop a (source) list with common information and then create relationships between the source list and other lists by using lookup columns and relationship enforcement. This will allow updates to appear automatically across multiple project lists once the source list is updated.
- Synchronizing lists with other Microsoft applications like Project, Outlook, or Excel, is a powerful tool to integrate core project artifacts and keep them up-to-date. This not only saves a project team time, but also helps safeguard against contradictory or incorrect information being entered.
- Designing forms, such as change requests, using InfoPath gives customers the opportunity to submit information to the project team from within SharePoint where it can be viewed and tracked in a single location.
- Defining key terminology or a taxonomy early in a project’s lifecycle to organize and categorize documents will pay dividends as the project evolves. A best practice is to add metadata to a project’s document library in SharePoint. This will clarify what is available and save use time and frustration when searching for the information needed.
A project may likely fail if the team cannot communicate effectively. It’s not uncommon for a project team to consist of people working in multiple offices or from home. Although, everyone on the project team may not be in the same location, or even the same time zone, they can share ideas and questions in a SharePoint discussion board.
Setting up a discussion board can boost a team’s interactions; it will give members the opportunity to “speak up” about questions or propose new ideas as they occur instead of having to wait for the next meeting to bring them up.
Since discussion board conversations are preserved, the team will have access to the posts throughout the life of a project. New team members can understand why certain decisions were made or what questions have already been asked. An organization can also share what was posted on the discussion board if a new team begins working on a similar project.
Additionally, how we manage whom we communicate with is important. A project’s team members, customers, and executives each have discrete communication needs. SharePoint provides a way to tailor communication with different stakeholder groups by displaying different content based on the target audience group assigned to view specific content. Selecting target audiences to view lists and web parts can ensure stakeholders have easy access to the information relevant to them.
Project Artifact Management and Collaboration
From initiation through close-out, a project team will not only collaborate by using lists and the discussion board, but they will also collaborate on the development of a project’s artifacts.
Document control is a vital aspect of effective project management. When I’ve used a shared folder drive to manage project artifacts, my projects ended up with multiple versions of the same deliverable. It was hard to tell which version was the latest or if someone was currently updating a document. SharePoint provides features including: document check in/out, version control, in-browser editing, and permission controls. Enabling these features has helped me eliminate some of the challenges traditionally faced in document control. Send a link to a document – not the document itself – to ensure that the team can collaborate simultaneously on the latest version of a document. That is another great benefit of SharePoint.
Additionally, collaborating on documents or tasks can be effectively managed by automating processes. By implementing SharePoint workflows, project team members can receive email notifications when tasks associated with them are due, overdue, or have been submitted. All stakeholders can then easily track who is currently working on each task and where it is in the process by viewing the list associated with the workflow.
Creating Project Standards for the Future
Finally, if you save a workflow, discussion board, or list as a SharePoint template, they can be used for future projects. Standardizing process tools like change request forms, risk registers or action trackers will help a project team become more familiar with SharePoint and improve the user experience. By reusing templates, an organization will only need to modify a few features of the item to align with the specific needs of a new project.
These are just a few of the ways SharePoint can improve communication, enhance collaboration, and promote transparency when managing a project. What are some of the SharePoint techniques you use to manage a project?
Thanks for reading!
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