Many companies implement Microsoft SharePoint to solve a specific business need; it may be to replace shared folders used for document collaboration, it may be the platform for an internal portal, or some other focus. But in my experience, many of the capabilities of SharePoint are not used. This is particularly true for project management. I talk every week with another group or department that is looking to grow their collaborative project management capabilities, and they are often surprised to hear that they can use a tool they have already deployed to support many of the processes they would like to implement.
My perspective is that project management capability is a spectrum, and it is best to move up that spectrum in a step-wise manner and not necessarily try to jump to the top. One big advantage of using Microsoft is that various combinations of products will suit almost any level of process; this makes it easier to move up the steps as you companies don’t have to buy an all-new solution and people don’t have learn how to use a new tool.
Microsoft partner solution providers do a very good job of configuring SharePoint for project management, and creating great add-on enhancements. But much configuration of core SharePoint can be done by even a novice user in order to better support project processes. Here is a series of screen shots of basic SharePoint functionality configured for project management.
Task lists are easily created. You can link tasks, give them a start and due date, and assign them to resources. Those resources can then be notified of their assignments, synchronize their tasks with Outlook or a mobile device, collaborate on tasks that are underway, and update their progress – all from within the SharePoint environment.
Tasks can also be synchronized between Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Edits to the plan can be made in Project or SharePoint. Team members can input status updates in SharePoint that can be downloaded to the Project plan.
An issues list comes as a standard list type in SharePoint. The list items can be altered to suit nearly any process.
This is an example of a custom list used for change requests. This change requests list was created in Microsoft Infopath, but a basic SharePoint list could be used as well.
Reports created in Excel can be published to SharePoint and viewed in a browser. This is a standard Excel report generated from Microsoft Project.
Baseline Cost is another standard Project report
This report is generated from Project and created in Visio Professional; it is called a pivot diagram and shows a variety of data in a graphical format.
In conclusion, when considering a next step in enhancing your project capability, keep in mind that tools you may already own could do everything you need. Microsoft SharePoint may not be sold as a project management information system, but it can quickly and easily become one with a little planning and effort.