Using Microsoft’s SharePoint server to create a project management information system (PMIS) can be a great way for a project manager to wrest control of projects from the IT department, while simplifying tasks, and providing a central repository for all project-related documents.
“SharePoint for PM is great for small, lightweight projects that last a few days or weeks,” said Mike Lotter, a partner in B&R Business Solutions, a Microsoft certified partner that does a lot of SharePoint work. “It’s not suitable for large, complex projects that involve dozens of people in multiple locations.”
What sets SharePoint apart from other PMIS solutions is that it allows a project manager (PM) to quickly achieve the main purpose of a PMIS, said Dux Raymond Sy, managing partner, Innovative-e, a consulting and technology services company that specializes in Microsoft SharePoint solutions.
“SharePoint can deliver a standardized set of automated PM tools that are easy to implement, customize and maintain,” said Sy. “And, a SharePoint solution is inexpensive.”
Just in case you were wondering, SharePoint is a large suite of collaborative, Web-based products built on a document management platform. It enables users to host websites that access shared workspaces, information stores and documents, as well as host applications such as wikis and blogs. Users can manipulate proprietary controls called “web parts” or interact with pieces of content such as lists and document libraries.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 reasons why SharePoint is such a great PMIS:
It helps a PM to take control of costs – SharePoint enables PMs to easily take control of a project and not have to depend on IT, said Sy. “Before SharePoint, if you wanted to create a PMIS (typically a web site), you would have had to involve the IT department,” he said. SharePoint lets PMs define and manage projects without having much technical expertise, said Lotter.
It facilitates easy integration with other MS tools – Sy notes that SharePoint integrates seamlessly with tools commonly used by PMs, while allowing users to continue using email, network shares, Microsoft Word, Excel, Project, and even PowerPoint as their project management tools of choice. “You can use SharePoint to synchronize with all the MS programs,” said Lotter. “For example, you could have a central calendar in Outlook, with several SharePoint calendars linked in – allowing you to drag and drop pertinent appointments.”
It creates a central repository of documents – Corporate needs for legal compliance and accountability intersect with the importance of project management in tracing documents, approving content, and controlling access to projects. SharePoint gives PMs a central place to keep documents as well as tools for controlling access to a project, tracking the history of a project, tracking who signed in and out, and so on, said Lotter.
It automates processes – A SharePoint PMIS can automate various key PM processes, such as change control and document review, said Lotter. “It’s easy to build a change control system into your PMIS using SharePoint,” said Sy. “Plus, automation allows decisions to be tracked and made accessible to project stakeholders.” Sy adds that a PM can add out-of-the-box automation via SharePoint Workflows or customize automation using SharePoint Designer, a tool that requires no programming.
And, finally, it comes with built-in collaboration tools – As SharePoint comes with tools such as wikis, discussion boards, and workspaces, it supports what Sy said are the three aspects of project collaboration – real-time collaboration, offline collaboration and remote access.
Herman Mehling has written about IT for 25 years. He has written hundreds of articles for leading computer publications and websites. Currently, Mehling contributes regularly to www.enterprisestorageforum.com and www.projectmanagerplanet.com.