SharePoint for Project Management

So, what happened to 2010. The short version is that I did the research, and it has been an interesting journey. Those who attended last year’s PMI Southwestern Ontario Spring Symposium heard part of the story. The next several posts will tell the rest with each one take an in-depth look at one solution.

Let’s start with SharePoint. It’s showing up in a lot of places and, simply put, it has a lot to offer project teams. SharePoint has a number of attractions, and high on the list is its facility for managing lists. That is useful to project teams because they live in a world of lists — activity lists, issue logs, risk registers and many more. SharePoint also offers lots of built-in components that enable wiki’s, blogs and document management, the more unstructured part of project communication. In short, all of the building blocks for a first rate project information system are there.

There, to be sure, but not always ready to use. SharePoint is a tool kit, not a packaged Project Management Information System. The effort required to get started is not large and the building blocks are there to enable a high level of project team collaboration. For the full story on how to do it, check out the book (and web site) from Dux Raymond Sy, which gives a step-by-step guide to building a working PM information system from WSS (the “free” version of SharePoint that comes with Windows Server). With some work you can expect to build a project team site that will provide:

  • Single Point of Access
  • Role-Based Security
  • Shared Lists
    • Task List
    • Issue Log
    • Risk Register
  • Document Management
    • Charter, Project Plan
    • Team Work Product
    • Built-in Version Control
  • Team Collaboration
    • Announcements
    • Calendar
    • Contacts
    • Discussions
    • Wiki
  • MS Office Integration

If your organization is already making an investment in SharePoint, project collaboration is a great place to get quick value from your investment. You will need to start by spending time with your IT folks in order to understand what the rules of the road are for creating and administering sites in your organization. You will also need to invest some time up-front with configuration and testing before you are ready to use the site in your projects. Once you have a template and you know who is going to be using your site, it only takes a few minutes to expand it to include more projects and they start up. Even if your organization isn’t planning to install SharePoint it may still be an option. Many web hosting services will provide SharePoint hosting based on the WSS platform. About $60 per month should get enough space to host a project information system that will do quite a lot.

On the other hand, there are some caveats. The first is to remember that because SharePoint is a do-it-yourself kit you will have to invest some time and effort getting it to look and behave the way you want it to before you can share it with your project teams. You will also need professional help in order to get beyond the basics. SharePoint makes it very easy to create a new web site for each project but it’s not so easy to get a top-down view of all of the projects in your portfolio. Web parts to do that are available at a relatively modest cost but you will go through some technical hoops in order to install and configure these extra components if you need them. Finally, remember that the integration between SharePoint and MS Office is very good but it does not include MS Project. If you use MS Project now, sharing project information with people who do not have it will continue to be challenging.

Report Card:

SharePoint (WSS 3.0) for Project Management

Overall Rating
(out of 4 )
Team Collaboration
 

Transactional
Project Communication

Getting Started
Customize Look and Feel
Ongoing Cost
Features
Can’t Do It
Custom (Major)
Custom
(Minor)
No Problem
 

Announcements

X
Shared Calendar

X

Shared Task List X
Team Discussion X
Assign Project Tasks X
Email Notification X
Syndication X
Progress Reporting X
Track Issues X
Track Risks X
Time Entry X
Track Earned Value X
Multi Projects in 1 site X
Roll-up multi projects X
MS Project Interface X
Word, Excel Interface X

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