SharePoint and Project Management

We’ve had several questions in recent months about the capabilities of SharePoint for project management. By design, SharePoint is a collaboration tool and therefore lends itself naturally for team members to collaborate on a project or several projects with great clarity. The latest version of SharePoint as a project management tool is an excellent choice.

Office 365 (O365) and SharePoint combine for an even more powerful tool. Since the number of O365 companies is growing every day, it is easier than ever to take advantage of the great features below to facilitate project management.

Home Page

Your project home page can easily deliver dashboards for the team to quickly gauge how the project is doing. Your dashboard can include things like summary of work, goals, statuses, etc. This visual can be delivered in several ways, including Power BI. If you create the report to feed the dashboard with Power BI it is easy to deploy with the Power BI web-part that is native to SharePoint.

Your home page can also be built to deliver project specific news, issue tracking, etc.

Further, you can display links to common project functions in the Quick Launch menu along the left-hand side of the screen. This makes navigation clear and simple for your end users. Some suggested areas for Quick Launch might be:

  • Project Help
  • Goals
  • Contacts
  • Plan with task update capability
  • Documents
  • Risk tracking
  • Issue tracking
  • Metrics
  • Status reporting
  • Project close items such as “lessons learned”
  • Project surveys

Project Tasks

You can use an out-of-the-box task list to include dates, assignees, items, etc. This is very functional and easy for your team members to learn to update.

Better yet, you can build your project plan in Microsoft Project and then sync that plan to the SharePoint Tasks list. This would mean you only need one license of MS Project to build the plan. Then, all the remaining team members can update using their SharePoint license. This makes it very cost effective for companies and again, requires minimal training for the team. Or vice versa, you can create your task list in SharePoint and then say, “open with MS Project.” When team members make updates in MS Project their changes will be saved back to the SharePoint list for everyone’s use.

Workflows

Don’t forget about SharePoint Workflows to further streamline your project tasks. These could be used for things such as routing documents for approval or status of issues being tracked. You can use the out-of-the-box workflows or create your own. Workflows can help take the randomness out of your routine project tasks.

If the standard Workflow structure in SharePoint is not your cup of tea, you can always use SharePoint Designer or Microsoft Flow. SharePoint Designer is not for the newbie. You will need to understand some of the coding and syntax. On the other hand, Microsoft Flow has an easy graphical user interface that makes building workflows much easier for the average user. Flow is included with most versions of O365 license. They can’t make this any easier.

Templates

Rinse, repeat! Yes, once you get your SharePoint project management site the way you like it, you can save it as a template. Now it can be consistently applied to each of your projects. The same look and feel will make it efficient for Administrators and End Users alike. And of course, each project can have its own security setup.

Conclusion

The folks at Microsoft have made several updates in recent years to make using SharePoint for project management not only feasible but also a first-rate choice, especially for O365 users. MS Project and SharePoint compliment each other, allowing for better flexibility while saving both time and money.