Document Management

4 Ways to help with Project Document Management

January 25, 2016 by
Ciara McCarthy

Document management can be such a headache! Are your projects documents a bit all over the place? A version here, a copy there? Or perhaps two or more people are working on different versions of the same original but should really be collaborating together? There are so many ways that inadequate document management can impact the success rate of your project. Even if your project charter and plan are perfect (should such a thing exist!), getting the correct control on how you mange your project documents must happen in tandem. Your project team must be able to access the right and relevant documents and templates as soon as they need to, without interfering on others.

I’ve picked out 4 Ways to Better Manage your Project Documents to help you get on top of your document management using BrightWork and SharePoint and keep the proper controls in place.

1. Bin the Hard Copies

I heard an interesting fact lately. There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes in the world today! Regardless if it’s true or not, it’s a safe assumption to say that pretty much everyone has access to technology these days. It’s time now to give the printer a break and start ditching the hard copies. Especially when documents are in draft or review format. According to Time Magazine, “people cut down 15 billion trees each year and the global tree count has fallen by 46% since the beginning of human civilization.” So think twice about hitting that print button.

Now, if you really need to print, and I do understand that there are times when you may have to, as a habit I always put in bright red on the front of the cover the date it was printed, the version and what I printed it e.g. 4 Jan 2016 / Draft /  Final approved version for use. Once I’ve completed the task in hand, I note on the front it’s now invalid or out of date and it’s added to the recycling pile so I don’t trip over it or use it again in error. I have seen so many testing reports come back inaccurate because they were all using documents that were out of date!

2. Centralize the information

Now that I know I want to store my documents virtually, I need to figure out where to store all these documents. Because I am completely biased here, my recommendation of course would be SharePoint. (BrightWork to be more exact, but we’ll get to that later!).

It’s time to get rid of all the pokey online places where you might be storing all the same documents and keep just one source in one easy to access central location. The relevant teams should have access to this and with the right permissions. If people are still going to the old locations, create a readme and/or a shortcut to the new location to avoid confusion.

If there is a requirement to have these documents in different locations e.g. local servers etc. I would suggest having some sort of approved batch job that could replicate the files from one central location down to the rest of the servers. Be careful with the script though, you don’t want to overwrite or delete documents in error. There might be a reason why they’re there. Proceed here with caution.

3. Implement versioning:

SharePoint is superb at document management. There are some great settings that can be implemented on SharePoint document libraries. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Go to a document library
  2. On the Ribbon, click on “Library” and then on “Library Settings”Document Management
  3. Under “General Settings”, click on “Versioning Settings”Document Management
  4. Here is where I can see what type of controls I want to put in my libraryDocument Management
    • Content Approval
      • Create “Drafts” of documents until they are approved
    • Document Version History
      • Create a version each time you edit a file
    • Draft Item Security
      • Who can see the draft items in the library.
    • Require Check Out
      • Users will need to check out the document before editing. Once they have saved their changes, they can check the document back in.

And don’t forget to give people the right permissions! There is no point in implementing “Draft Item Security”, if everyone can view draft items by default via their SharePoint permissions!

4. Report on Documents

Did you know that BrightWork has a report built in that allows you to report on all your documents as high up to all those contained in the BrightWork site collection, to all in each Project Office, right down to Project level?

Say you have distributed a new project template doc e.g. New Meeting Minutes format and you want to see who is using this, or who keeps leaving documents checked out. I can add this to my dashboards. For this example, I’m going to add it to my Project Office dashboard as I want to report on all my documents there and in the projects contained in my project office. There are a few simple steps I need to follow:

  • Step 1: Add a Web Part to my Home Dashboard

    1. This will work on any of your reporting dashboards. Go to the dashboard that you want to update and go to “Page” on the ribbon and select “Edit Page”.Document Management
    2. Each part of the page will display an option to “Add a Web Part”. I’m going to add this to the footer at the bottom of the page. I click on “Add a Web Part” there. Document Management
    3. I’ll now see the unedited web part in the footer with the new “Reporter (BrightWork)” Document Management
  • Step 2: Configure Web Part

    1. When I click on the web part, the arrow (Document Management ) icon appears. I can use that to move the report around, but I’ll leave it where it is.
    2. On the left hand corner, there’s a triangle. Click on that and some options will appear.Document Management
    3. Click on “Edit Web Part”
    4. Scroll up the page and on the right hand side, you can edit the reporter settings Document Management
    5. Expand “Appearance”. The main ones to change are:
      • Title – I’ll change this to “PMO Document Management”
      • Chrome Type –  I’ll put this to “Title Only”. I don’t want a border around the report Document Management
    6. Click on “Apply” to accept the changes
    7. Click on “OK” to close the form
    8. You can now stop editing the page in the Ribbon. Document Management
  • Step 3: Configure Report

    1. Now that I have the web part configured, I need to tell it what report to look at, what columns, what type etc. As this is nearly a whole session in itself to explain, I’m going to keep it very simple.
    2. Where you added the web part, there should be hyperlink you need to click on that reads “This web part has not yet been configured. Please click here to open the Report Configuration Page” Document Management
    3. Click on the hyperlink and the Report Settings page. This will bring up the page to configure the BrightWork report.
    4. Complete the following fields as follows:
      • Report Data Source
        • Select “Definition File”
          • Select “BrightWork Server Gallery”
            • Select “All Documents”
      • Report Scope
        • Leave at “Current Site”
          • If you wish to view all the files in the project office (i.e. bring in the sub-sites), tick the box to “Include all sub-sites”. I’ll tick this for my example.
      • Report Type
        • Leave at “List Item Report”  Document Management
      • Skip “Web Part Settings” – use this if you want to change the borders or rename
      • Skip “Rendering and Performance” – leave at the default
      • Expand “Column Settings”
        • To display the columns you want to see – tick the box.
        • If you expand the column you can change the caption, hide the caption and change the column width.
        • “Position from Left” will change the column ordering.
          • In this example, I’ll keep the defaults and include Created, Created By, Modified, Modified By and Project. I’ll move Project to position it 3rd from the left. Document Management
      • Expand “Sort” if you want to sort by criteria. I’ll leave this as the default. Document Management
      • Expand “Group By” if you want groupings and sub-groupings. I’ll group by “Project” to make it easier to see where things are by project. Document Management
      • Expand “Totals” if you want totals on columns. I’ll leave this as-is.
      • Expand “Report Display Settings” if you want to change how the rows and columns are viewed. I’ll tick “Show horizontal row borders” Document Management
      • Click on “OK”  on the bottom of the page to save the changes.

Now my report is on my project office dashboard where I can keep an eye on the project office and project’s documents. I can see who is creating what and who is modifying what documents. So much easier than trying to find this information manually!  Document Management

Don’t forget you can email these reports out to other stakeholders should you wish to do so.

These are just some of the many, many ways to help you manage your documents for your projects and portfolios. These should help to make sure that only the relevant documents are worked on.

I’d love to hear more about any challenges you might have faced when managing project documents, so why not leave a comment below and I’ll be delighted to discuss this further!

SharePoint Project Management Template