SharePoint when used correctly can be a useful and productive collaboration tool. It can allow projects and programmes to manage and share data while controlling their own access and security. A mistake many organisations make when moving to SharePoint is using it as simply a shared drive. SharePoint can of course act as a shared drive with security that user administration can control. We will explore some of the ways project delivery, programmes and PMOs can get more from SharePoint. The topics covered are not aimed at a specific SharePoint versio. But generally the more up to date the version the easy it is to achieve solutions. Below we will explore some of the ways SharePoint can be used as a PMO and Portfolio tool.
Starting with a simple register of projects
A good key first step is a consistent register of projects and programmes. With a clear and unique reference to each project and programme. It might seem unlikely but many organisations are unsure of how many projects are active. Also what the current commitment is in terms of people, money and other resources. The implementation of a simple project register can address many of the concerns. It gives quick answers that might typically take some PMO’s considerable time to solve.
SharePoint provides a standard project site template. This allows storage of project related information in a consistent manner across all projects. Most SharePoint user administrators can tailor templates for projects sites. This approach gives a more practical look and feel, enabling align to divisional or organisational standards. Tasks like status checking become easier if you are able to get all your projects to use SharePoint in a consistent way. With common document names and tags project data is easier to access for all stakeholders.
As your customers and project teams become familiar with your project site structure people are able to move between projects. Adopting consistent look and feel allows immediate access to the important elements without the need of relearning.
Linking to Project sites
If you have your project sites in place and you have a central register of projects in a SharePoint list. Then is possible to connect some of the data used in the project sites to the central register. This removes some of the overhead of entering the same information in more than one place. The result is a saving on administration time and improvement of data accuracy.
The volume of links depends on the depth of reporting you need. Starting simple and building up the elements over time is an approach that yields the best result.
Linking and using Project Plans
When beginning to extend the elements you record in your project register you can improved dashboards. Also linking your project plan data stored in MS Project can provide common tracking . This is much easier to achieve in the later versions of SharePoint. This method is enhanced when projects takes a common way of working.
Potential for automated audit
Good use of meta data, templates and approval workflows can provide the basis for some automated reporting. Providing the basis of project status and audit. This allows PMOs to establish the status of key documents and controls. Connecting key dates, dependencies, and document status together to your central register saves time and improves data quality.
The well planned use of meta data also allows the foundations to be established for analysing project trends. Highlighting areas of common concern, allowing for improvement in delivery for future projects.
Automation of some reporting
Another step that is possible once consistent data is established is the automation of some elements of the project status reporting. Taking summary data from the project site and project register. Using that to produce reports in an appropriate Microsoft office application, usually Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
Common RAID log across all projects
Once your projects are able to accept and effectively use project sites and your project register has been established you can consider a common RAID (Risk, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies) log. Using the unique reference you have established allows you to have separate view of the RAID log for each project. Storage of RAID data in one common place allows identification of common issues. Leading to more timely use of solutions, it also allows project managers to better manage dependencies between projects.
SharePoint can be a useful tool for project delivery and PMOs. It can help reduce the workload in providing central data. A note of caution:- keep the structure and customization to a minimum. If you need a full PPM tool then building it from scratch in SharePoint will be costly and time consuming. But if the maturity of your project delivery and PMO functions is low then SharePoint can allow some good first steps to solid portfolio data.