2017 – What a Year It Has Been for the BrightWork Community!

As 2017 draws to a close and we celebrate all that has been, I wanted to take time to reflect on some of the endeavors of the past year. This year has been a busy one for the BrightWork community. Here are a few of the highlights.   1. Introducing “BrightWork Success” In January 2017, we launched BrightWork Success, an area of expertise designed specifically to help our customers accomplish more with BrightWork. With one login, customers can now easily access a range of BrightWork and Project Management training, resources, and support materials. If you are a customer, all you need to do to is request access here. If you are not a customer but want a sneak peek at the BrightWork Success content, simply visit here –  we’ve made some of the material open for you to enjoy too!       2. Forging New Partnerships with Nintex and TimeControl 2017 saw us welcome many new partners and some new software integrations. Two such partnerships were Nintex for workflow automation and TimeControl for time management. The Nintex Partnership By combining BrightWork with the point-and-click automation of Nintex, you will get faster and better Project Portfolio Management to make successful project decisions quicker.…

How to Track Resources in SharePoint with Configurable Reports

SharePoint can be configured quite easily to provide a collaborative site to track and manage all project-related work. Tracking work and responsibilities, knowing who is doing what, and seeing how work is progressing is simple with your project site in SharePoint. Collaborative project sites in SharePoint are a great way to track the work on a single project.  But, I’m sure you have more than one project underway at any given time!  With BrightWork, you can transform your SharePoint environment into a portfolio management tool, rolling up crucial data across all your projects into a set of unified dashboard reports. Here are a few ways you can use BrightWork and SharePoint to track work and resources in your project portfolio easily and efficiently. Track work at a glance Senior executives like to get a snapshot of the projects underway.  It’s important to get the high-level overview to see what’s on track, what isn’t on track, and any issues that may be popping up. Here we see a roll-up dashboard report that shows all the work in the portfolio, this one showing the top 5 Open Tasks and top 5 Open Issues under each project in the portfolio.  You can easily see what work is in…

3 Ways to Help Team Members Contribute to Project Success

A common problem for project team members is they sometimes feel disconnected from the project and their peers. Poor collaboration coupled with lots of competing responsibilities often makes team members feel they are wasting their time working too hard for poor results and that little is changing to improve their situation. Team members want to contribute to project success, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do just that! Here we look at three simple ways to enable project team members.   Team-focused Project Site Collaborative sites enable real-time collaboration and communication for the entire project team. By using a project site, the project manager and team members can easily share and find project information in a centralized location. The site will not only guide the team through the project management process, but show clear and coordinated priorities, showing the work that is coming up, when it is due, and who is responsible.     Using a task planner, assign tasks with specific durations, start and end dates, and any predecessors. This will ensure each team member is clear about upcoming tasks and how their work impacts on other areas of the project.    Team Member Dashboards It is highly unlikely that your project team members…

Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint

One of the bigger shifts that have occurred in the modern workplace is the ability for team members to work remotely. With the internet, cloud storage, email, chat and video conferencing, and project management software, it has become incredibly easy for team members to “log on” and get work done from anywhere in the world. Remote working can be beneficial for employers and employees alike. Employers can reduce some overhead, minimize in-office distractions, and get access to a wider pool of talent.  For employees, they can reduce the cost of commuting to and from the office, freeing up time to pursue other passions.  Remote workers often report higher productivity and a better work-life balance. However, remote working is not without its challenges. The lack of in-person communication can lead to problems when it comes to team cohesion, shared vision, knowledge sharing, and general team engagement. If these issues persist for too long in remote teams, it creates barriers to open communication and collaboration, resulting in less-than-successful projects. So if you find yourself managing a remote team, how can you reduce these risks and help the team move work forward?  Here are three ways you can use SharePoint to improve collaboration…

This Thanksgiving, Take Time for Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful!  During good times and in tough times, I find gratitude is one of the most powerful tools we have to make a change in our family, our workplace, and the world. It all starts at home.  When my children were young, as we sat down for dinner, we started a tradition of saying one thing we were grateful for each day.  Instead of complaining about what a teacher might have done or that the bully took my lunch money, we started our time together appreciating what was good in our day.  This would set the tone for the rest of the meal. This practice spread to my workday.  Regardless of how stressful or busy the day, my goal is to find something that was positive.  You can set the tone for your workday with a little gratitude. I am grateful for my family. I am loved and supported by my husband, my children and the rest of my extended family. I am grateful for my team. I am blessed to work with incredibly intelligent and creative professionals who know how to have fun. I am grateful for our customers. Project Management can be challenging.…

Project Management on SharePoint: Build vs. Buy

A common conversation that we frequently have with executives and management at companies of all sizes and industries involves the decision to “in-house” develop project management systems or buy out-of-the-box. As a matter of fact, I heard one today where a colleague was on the phone with an IT Director discussing where they have been, where they are and ultimately where they want and need to be in terms of managing their projects. He has been at the company for ten years and from the beginning recognized that improving project visibility and collaboration in a centralized system would improve their success. Their IT staff is relatively small, so assigning internal resources to develop a system outside of the core business was not feasible, but they did hire a consulting company a few years ago to develop and maintain their current project management system. Fast forward to today. The cost to maintain has been overwhelming; they have frequent “blackouts” due to updates and “it really was not as intuitive as we had envisioned.” He mentioned that he was planning a blog post on this very subject and before I could complete the title he interrupted “BUY!” The timeliness of this conversation…

Project Management on SharePoint: Better and Faster with BrightWork and Nintex

With BrightWork powering your project portfolio management on SharePoint, combined with the point-and-click automation of Nintex, you will get faster and better Project Portfolio Management, so you can make decisions faster and move projects forward to success sooner.   Automated Status Reporting and Email Alerts BrightWork project management templates on SharePoint provide all the tools required for project managers to track both project progress and performance and keep stakeholders informed. One way of tracking project progress is by it’s phase. As project tasks are completed by team members, so are their relative phases. Using Nintex Workflows, you can automatically alert stakeholders via email that a phase is complete and indicate what the next actions are at this stage of the project.   Automated Exception Reporting BrightWork templates for portfolio management give senior executives high-level visibility into the health of multiple projects across the organization. Nintex Workflows make it easy to create new activities (e.g. issues or risks) in your projects, based on certain conditions. A typical example is that an issue is automatically logged if a critical milestone misses its deadline, which can then be tracked and assigned on the portfolio dashboards in BrightWork.   Flexible Project Request Management BrightWork…

IPM Day 2017: People, Passion, and Purpose in a Digital Age

We are delighted to announce that BrightWork will be exhibiting as a Gold sponsor at this year’s International Project Management Day! IPM Day is a live online virtual conference that you can attend via your desktop, laptop, and/or mobile device, on November 2, 2017. Gain insights from Project Management experts, practitioners, and influencers around the globe from the comfort of your own desk. The conference, which has been running for 14 years, is tailored to project management and agile professionals, as well as other business leaders who utilize project management methods to achieve business success. With speakers such as Shobhana Gupta, Maxine Hill, Harold Kerzner, and Jeff Sutherland, IPM Day 2017 is expected to attract 50,000 attendees.  Further details on the agenda are available here. IPM Day 2017 provides attendees with up to 26 PDUs, aligned with PMI®’s Talent Triangle,  and two bonus courses. The price is USD $55 per person and includes 60-days access to the conference. Register here! Why attend? Exceptional content and speakers Networking and engagement Bonus access to two on-demand courses Valuable professional development On-demand conference access Great takeaways.   As always, we will have a range of ebooks, guides, on-demand webinars, and Free Project Management Templates for SharePoint in our booth. Be sure to stop by our booth, fill…

Are You Haunted By Poor Project Management?

In many organizations, the ghosts and goblins of poor project management are haunting all year round, not just at Halloween! A Frightening Scenario Here’s a scary scenario that anyone involved in project management will probably recognize: Projects are not meeting expectations! They can drag on over-scope, over-budget, over-schedule, or under deliver on promised deliverables. Executives do not have real-time visibility into all projects! If they have visibility, senior executives and project managers can begin to pull on the levers of control. The people working on projects are not trained in formal collaborative project management! The people involved in the project – especially those managing the project – are not experienced and trained enough in collaborative project management. A term that has been in use for many years now is “P-MBA” or Project Manager by Accident! This label describes the project management reality of many organizations. Your organization does not have best practice processes and guidance for project managers! This includes documentation, explanations, templates and training that explain to people how you want projects run and how you want them to be successful. It Doesn’t Have to be so Scary! Does the scenario above seem all to familiar?  Well… it doesn’t have…

The Complete Guide to Project Management Education and Becoming a Certified PMP

The undisputed number 1 project management certification is the PMP from the Project Management Institute. Becoming a Project Management Professional is the most well-respected form of education within the discipline and with that, it is quite a demanding certification to earn. The PMP exam will be changing in Q1 of 2018. So now is the perfect time to get ahead of the change and become PMP certified! This article will give a brief overview of the certification and touch on the other options before going on to break down the PMP certification and provide resources to help you acquire it. To begin with, you may have heard the term PDU bandied about in the world of PM and you may have asked the question: What is a PDU in Project Management? A PDU stands for a Professional Development Unit; a way to measure ongoing professional development. Once you’ve earned your Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, you’ll need to fulfill your PMP PDU requirements to maintain your credential. As a Project Management Institute (PMI®) credential holder, you’ve proven that you have acquired the knowledge and experience necessary to meet certain eligibility requirements. In addition, your PMP certification shows your dedication to your profession,…

Reporting on a Hierarchy of Sites and Projects in SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is the perfect solution for collaborative project management. Native SharePoint sites can be configured to provide a centralized workspace to manage a project. All team members need is access to a web browser to be connected to their work and to their peers in SharePoint. No more worrying about what’s on the project plan or who has the latest versions of a document… it is all housed in one central project site! BrightWork even has two Free SharePoint Project Management Templates to get you started (so you have no excuse!) Manage Many Individual Projects in SharePoint Here you see an example of a SharePoint project management site in BrightWork, tracking information about an individual project: This one happens to use a loosely structured approach. You can have as many project sites like this as you have projects, with varying amounts of project management rigor. Limitations of SharePoint for Project Management There are, however, limitations to out-of-the-box SharePoint. One of those boundaries is that native SharePoint does not allow for reporting across multiple project sites. You could have ten, twenty, one hundred or even a thousand individual project sites on the go, but reporting across them at the Project…

3 Ways to Handle Complex Projects [Guest Post]

In every team or office work, a complex project is almost always part of the daily routine – especially in marketing, architectural, construction, design and IT firms. One aspect of a complex project is the number of people involved in it. Sometimes, it is hard to even identify who’s who when it comes to the assignment of specific tasks – adding more complications to the project as it already is. Difficult projects are preferred by many employees because they are inherently challenging and very fulfilling once it gets done. The project also enriches their work experience, skills, and even improves collaboration and relationship with their co-workers. Companies also benefit from complex projects. Once such a project is successfully completed, the credit goes to the company’s name – and this can help build up their authority and credibility within the industry. Before such projects can be successfully delivered, project managers should know how to oversee them correctly. Of course, the most important aspect is to come up with a quality output to impress their client/market within agreed deadlines. So how can this be handled? There are three possible ways to do that. 1. Divide the tasks to identify which are easy…

A Brief Introduction to Project Portfolio Governance

Trying to run successful project management in an organization without knowing what projects are underway, what projects are planned, and who is doing which work is like flying blind.  Inevitably, some projects are doomed from the start. An article in CIO Magazine shared two anecdotes (and I’m sure you can tell me more just like them!): A director of information services in one organization estimated that his department had 20 projects in flight. Turns out, they had 60! In another organization, three project managers arrived at a planning meeting with project plans that all required 100 percent of available resources.   Situations like this are quite common in project management, making strong project portfolio governance essential.  The rest of this blog will explore the importance of project portfolio governance in an organization, including a few ways a tool like BrightWork can help! What is Project Portfolio Governance? The Association for Project Management defines project portfolio governance as: “the selection, prioritization, and control of an organization’s projects and programmes in line with its strategic objectives and capacity to deliver. The goal is to balance change initiatives and business-as-usual while optimizing return on investment.” Just because someone has an idea for a…

3 Project Reporting Scenarios Your Senior Executives Will Love

One of the most common challenges faced by senior executives is a lack of visibility into ongoing and proposed projects. When this happens, projects are in trouble beyond rescue before anyone notices, approved projects may not be aligned with the strategic objectives, and good resources can be way under-or way over-allocated. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are three project reporting scenarios (in SharePoint!) that will give your senior executives the necessary visibility they need into project statuses, resources, and the project pipeline in order to be able to make decisions and provide guidance to keep projects on track. Scenario #1: Project request management for selecting the right projects The idea of managing project requests seems like it should be simple.  Is the project going to provide value? Yes? Approved! But, it’s not that easy. In many organizations, the process for deciding which projects get approved or dropped is informal and inconsistent.  Just because someone has an idea for a project does not mean it is the right project for your organization! Having the ability to capture and log project requests is the critical first step.  How can you rank and prioritize new projects if you don’t even know what they…

Using Project Metrics for Successful Project Management

Easy access to accurate data is key to project performance, helping to improve visibility, collaboration, and decision-making. Project metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are particularly useful because they provide an objective measure of project health and allow project managers to make important decisions about a project. What Is A Project Metric? A metric is simply a measurement of something.  When managing a project you can choose to use project metrics or not. An example of a project metric could be: the estimated cost of the project, the number of issues that are late, the duration of a project.   You then track how the project is performing relative to that measure over time, and therefore you have a metric. Using Metrics for Better Project Reporting Project metrics are a very efficient way to assess the health of a project because they tell the project manager how the project is doing relative to the key performance indicators that have been selected.  This makes it very easy to identify the areas of a project that require attention. So let’s think about the simple cycle here and why project metrics are incredibly useful if implemented and reported the right way. Project team members execute their work and…

[Infographic] BrightWork New Release – Charting, Performance and Usability

This week BrightWork released a new version of our project portfolio management solution for SharePoint. This release is all about improving reporting performance, ease-of-use, and facilitating the delivery of training to new users. The highlights of this release are outlined in the infographic below. Enjoy and remember you can try out the advancements and more in our 30 Day FREE trial!      

The Latest Release of BrightWork Has Arrived – Gorgeously Simple Project Portfolio Management on SharePoint

Today, BrightWork announced the latest release of our project portfolio management solution for SharePoint.  Supporting our mission to deliver gorgeous simplicity to their software, the latest version of BrightWork is all about performance and ease-of-use to make it as easy as possible for customers to successfully manage projects and portfolios with SharePoint. “At BrightWork, our mission is to deliver a gorgeously simple project management solution based on SharePoint, to make project management success a reality for every organization,” says Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork. According to Fintan Manning, VP of Engineering, ‘Usability is the first pillar of performance. With that in mind, we have focused on several new features and improvements to existing features to enhance usability and performance.’  He adds, ‘These features will make it easier to get started with projects quickly as well as when evolving your implementation over time.’   Key highlights of the new BrightWork release include: Charting The latest release introduces a new style of charting, offering a more modern and elegant look and feel.  In addition to the improved visualization, the charts are now interactive with hover-over functionality, the ability to highlight particular data sets, turn chart items on and off in the legend.  Other enhancements…

The Business Case for Project Portfolio Management Software

You would think because project management is a relatively old and mature discipline, it would be practiced successfully everywhere, and there wouldn’t be many failed projects. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What we find is a landscape littered with delayed, challenged, and unfortunately, failed projects. Unfortunately, while we would think that project management is easy and natural, careful and effective project management is still needed. Deploying a project portfolio management solution will help you get projects under control and on the right track. FREE EBOOK: PROJECT & PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE EVALUATION GUIDE Project Management Quiz Let’s start with a few questions to assess the state of project management in your organization: Are all your projects performing to expectations? Have you real-time visibility into all projects? Are all the individuals involved skilled and trained in Project Management? Are there templates (i.e. guidance) on how to deliver projects collaboratively?   If the answered “No” to some or all of the above questions, it may be helpful to deploy a solution to support your project management initiatives. The Cost of Failed Projects One of the biggest reasons to invest in a PPM solution is the bottom line.  Failed projects are a waste of…

The Upcoming BrightWork New Release: Enhanced Charting, Performance, Usability, and Training

At BrightWork, we want to deliver a gorgeously simple project management software solution to make successful project portfolio management possible for every organization.  In the coming weeks, the latest release of our solution for SharePoint will become available, offering better performance, enhanced charting, improved usability, and a training zone. Let’s take a look at the benefits of each capability.   1. Better Performance Reports are an invaluable tool for project teams so, in this release, we have improved cross site reporting and reporter caching. Cross site reporting In previous versions, if a user wanted to view a report, they had to wait for the page and all data to load before any information appeared on-screen. In the new release, the web page loads first, followed by Reporter web parts. Thanks to the addition of an activity indicator, users know the data is loading, reducing the temptation to refresh the page and allowing you to start interacting with the page immediately.     Open Work and Project Cache Customers need to pull lots of data from multiple sites and multiple lists, together in a central report quickly. As your project implementation evolves to incorporate more projects and data sources, you will…

[CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT] – Universal Health Services, Inc.

Company Overview Universal Health Services, Inc. is one of the largest and most respected hospital management companies in the United States. Founded in 1978 the company operates through its subsidiaries more than 350 acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities and ambulatory centers in the US, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom. More than 81,000 dedicated and talented employees treat more than 2.5 million people each year in this Fortune 500 Company. In this interview, Michelle Boyes, Project Manager, explains how the PMO team is using BrightWork to deliver and manage multiple projects.   What is your experience of Project Management at Universal Health Services, Inc (UHS)? I have been a Project Manager with UHS for 8 years and I currently sit on the Project Management Office (PMO) team which falls under the corporate Information Services (IS) umbrella.   The PMO Team is a busy one: 9 team members Supporting 3 divisions of IS employees, 330+ employees: 1. Behavioral Health 2. Acute 3. Enterprise teams  Overseeing an average of 150+ active projects at any one time.     We use BrightWork for project portfolio management and have been doing so for 7+ years. The PMO team typically…

4 Tips for Project Management Reporting

No matter what project management tool you are using, one of the most important capabilities you will have is the ability to quickly and easily report on project data and share that information with the relevant audiences in a format that works for them. Having accurate, up-to-date, and accessible project reports is critical to understanding how a project is progressing and helps the team to make better,more informed decisions. Since project reports provide the visibility to deliver necessary successful projects, I wanted to put together some reporting best practices to help kick-start your reporting efforts! The examples we are using in this blog are based on SharePoint project management reporting and BrightWork, but these ideas could be applicable to project management reporting in general. Your project reporting is only as good as the data you put it You know the saying: “garbage in, garbage out,” and of course, that is going to be true with your project portfolio management as well. On any project, you will have many people updating and looking for information in the project site.  Therefore, you need to make sure that all the data entry points are grooming the data as it is entered.  Make sure there are processes in…

Your Checklist for Effective Communication [Infographic]

To build on my post from last week –  Seven Communication Secrets of Great Leaders  – we know communication is the language of leadership! With that, some key objectives of a leader who aspires to be a great communicator are to; successfully convey the goals and desired results, gain support for goals, and build rapport with the stakeholders and those whom they are responsible for leading in the process. And you can check out the seven secrets here! This week, I bring you a checklist for effective communication, lead by 7 C’s. The 7 C’s of effective communication provides a useful structured checklist, resulting in both written and verbal communication processes performed in a clear, concrete, target group-oriented and well-structured manner. At work and at home, we can almost spend our entire day communicating. So, how can we provide a huge boost to our productivity? We can make sure that we communicate in the clearest, most effective way possible. Use this infographic checklist below to pave your way to effective communication:     What are your next steps? Is it to create a project communication plan? Check out a recent post from my colleague Grace, How to Create a Project Communication Plan Is there…

BrightWork Announce Integration with HMS Software

BrightWork have teamed with the publishers of TimeControl to integrate timesheets into their project and portfolio solution for SharePoint (Boston, MA – June 2, 2017) BrightWork are delighted to announce the availability of a new integration with TimeControl, the leading multi-purpose timesheet system from HMS Software. The integration links the TimeControl enterprise timesheet product to BrightWork, allowing users to report on timesheets right from their collaborative project management system in SharePoint.  The alliance between BrightWork and HMS was announced several weeks ago and the new integrated link between their products is now available. “Integrating with best of breed systems such as TimeControl is one of the benefits of the SharePoint-based architecture of BrightWork,” says Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork. “TimeControl extends the already extensive functionality of BrightWork to make task updating a natural part of ending one’s day or week.  We already have some clients in common using both TimeControl and BrightWork and we are very much looking forward to working with HMS on other clients.” The combination of the BrightWork project management solution for SharePoint with TimeControl will deliver comprehensive project planning and tracking with task-by-task progressed timesheets.  Not only will BrightWork now be able to have timesheets with…

Which Collaboration Option is Best in Office 365?

Office 365 has some of the best team collaboration options on the market today. But as you start to use these tools more and more (you can connect Office 365 and BrightWork by the way!), it can be hard to wrap your head around the various collaborative options available.  You could use Teams, Planner, SharePoint, or other some combination of apps and tools! So which collaboration tool should you be using?  How do you pick? I don’t think you should or really even need to pick one winner.  What you have to keep in mind is that with these collaborative tools, each one has slightly different use cases.  In this blog, I’m going to cover three that we utilize here at BrightWork, and how you can use them to suit our different collaboration needs. FREE DOWNLOAD: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES FOR SHAREPOINT AND OFFICE 365 Teams for a chat and conversations Teams is a Slack-like app within Office 365 that provides a chat-based workspace for teams to talk and collaborate.  At its heart, Teams is a messaging app.  You create different “Teams”, or channels, for a department, or a team, or even a sub-set of people working on a particular project.  By default, threads are visible to the entire team…

Top 5 Effective Communication Skills for Project Managers [Infographic]

The word communication has been evolved from the Latin word “communis” which means common, general or public and “communicare” meaning “make something common”. When we communicate, we are trying to establish “commonness” with an individual or a group. We have a requirement to collaborate and share information, an idea or thoughts among the team involved in a project. Communication is an essential process in our day-to-day life, and the entire world revolves around it – and now, effective communication skills are an essential element in the skill set of a project manager. According to the PMI (Project Management Institute), it’s been estimated that project managers spend 90% of their time on communication related activities! The success of a project largely depends on how effective the communication process is. This process beings during the first stage of your project (project initiation) and continues right though each stage into the final stage as you close out your project Communication is not like time, it is not a finite resource – however, we need to use this resource effectively and efficiently. You can never assume that the receiver of information will interpret the message the same way as the sender intended it. Because of…

9 Tips for Facilitating Better Project Meetings

As I sat down to put write this blog post, my mind ran to the poster on the right that one my colleagues shared with me a few years ago. I know it’s a bit facetious, but it does make you think about the purpose and function of meetings in our work day. I’m sure we’ve all been there many times.  We’ve agonized through a meeting we had no business attending.  Or the meeting that had no set agenda to drive the conversation and direct decisions. Or the meeting that attendees were not prepared for, which is both frustrating and counter-productive. However, in the right context with the right agenda and attendees, meetings are a very effective way to move work forward.  But to get the most benefit from a project meeting, they must be facilitated efficiently. 9 ways to facilitate better project meetings Only invite necessary attendees Start by keeping the list of attendees as small as possible and limited to those who absolutely need to be there.  There must be a better way to communicate with your teams if every update comes from an all-hands meeting.  Bigger groups are certainly useful for a brainstorm-type session where you need the creative juices to flow openly.  But generally speaking,…

3 Ways BrightWork Makes Task Management Easier in SharePoint

Most people on your team are working on more than one project at once.  With so many competing priorities, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of what needs to be done. Here’s a common scenario we hear from customers: It’s difficult to keep track of their assigned work and when it is due, especially across competing projects Team members struggle to contribute to projects and providing status updates is too time-consuming There is no objective way to highlight when they have an issue or have too much on their plate Project deliverables are not managed in a central library and version control is lost. Task Management Made Easy with BrightWork and SharePoint SharePoint is the perfect platform for team collaboration, with some robust task management capabilities.  BrightWork is designed to extend those capabilities to give team members a simple work management system in SharePoint. With BrightWork, all team members can: find their responsibilities easily carry out the some of the project work quickly report on progress right from the project site in SharePoint.   Find your work Project management templates from BrightWork give the team a virtual workspace to connect and collaborate on the project.  At any time, team members…

Tracking Project and Non-Project Activities in SharePoint

BrightWork is well known as a wonderful environment to capture all of your project related tasks, and I will provide some info about how to easily and effectively do just that in this article. BrightWork is also a great place to capture, manage, and report on non-project related work (and there’s a lot of that going on every day!) – more about this later on.   Tracking Project Work Tracking all of your project work in BrightWork is very straightforward.  Choose a project related template to start from, such as Project Lite/Standard/Structured, or Projects and Work Tracker (among others). Select the type of work you want to track such as Tasks, Goals, Issues, and Risks. Locate the relevant list along the Quick Launch of the project site (down the left side of the page). Create a new piece of work by either clicking ‘New’ towards the top of the list, or by clicking on an existing work item and choose to ‘Edit’ it with any progress you’ve made.         Tracking Non-Project Work Now what about that non-project work I mentioned earlier?  Easy – we have a pre-made template for that named appropriately enough “Work Tracker” (WT). With…

Still Using Excel Spreadsheets for Project Management? [Guest Post]

Executive Overview I have the privilege of seeing so many great projects and solutions. BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework and software are no exception. I first was introduced by BrightWork to Éamonn McGuinness, who has the vision of making successful project and portfolio management possible and easy for every organization. BrightWork has been providing project management solutions with SharePoint since SharePoint 2001. I learned more about BrightWork through the free downloadable Collaborative Project Management Handbook. Immediately I found some very useful insights including an open process for managing post mortems. I’ve been in some companies who fear failure and met many in those companies who would never willingly admit their mistakes. In one company we had regular post mortems whenever there were outages, but also a moment after every project where we took time to reflect on the project and talked about highlights and low lights. Let me tell you just how different the experience is when you’re on a team where collaborative project management processes are implemented. Everyone has a voice. Failure is not an ultimate risk that plagues someone never to be trusted every again. All members of the team can provide leadership through collaborative mechanisms and have…

Managing the 2017 Epic Upgrade Project for Group Health Cooperative [Guest Post]

As a Project manager, have you ever managed a project where you find yourself a bit out of your comfort zone due to your lack of subject matter knowledge? As most of the projects I manage are focused on the Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC) business, I find this happening to me more often than not. Managing projects that are specific to Supply Chain Management, Financial Systems or GHC’s electronic medical record software (Epic) are not business areas that I have previously had career experience in. As such, it has been critical for me to use a tool that is both flexible and customizable so that projects can be built out in ways where team members can participate in a meaningful way to ensure that the project documentation is accurate and tells the true story of a project from start to finish.   What is the GHC Epic Upgrade Project? For those of you that may not be aware, 190 million patients have a current electronic health record in Epic. The Epic electronic medical record software is used in; hospitals, retail clinics, skilled nursing centers, rehab centers, hospices and many other types of organizations across the globe.…

5 Ways BrightWork Transforms SharePoint Into a Project and Portfolio Management Solution

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you have lots of projects happening in your organization, across several teams, departments and maybe even regions.  And it might not be a stretch to say you’re already using SharePoint for document management and basic collaboration. Why not leverage the SharePoint platform to manage projects and portfolios in a simple and practical way? Here at BrightWork, we’ve built a project management solution that plugs right into SharePoint to help you get up and running quickly with project management on the platform.  The project and portfolio management templates bring together all the project data floating around in email, Excel, and various tools, and turn it into robust reporting dashboards in SharePoint. In this blog, you’ll see five key ways that BrightWork transforms SharePoint from that basic file sharing platform you might have thought it was… into a complete project and portfolio management solution. 1. Easy to Navigate Project Hierarchy Those of you familiar with SharePoint will know that you can build out the environment with a set of sites and subsites.  BrightWork builds on this concept and helps you organize all your projects into a logical hierarchy.  Below is a sample image…

How to Use Project Data for Better Decisions

Project management is the art of decision making. Every project needs a decision maker, the person responsible for making the big decisions – the project manager. The project manager is faced with multiple choices and should strive to choose the best option. However, when a decision is made, it triggers events that the decision-maker has no control over. Each combination of choices is followed by unique events which lead to an outcome with some measurable value. As Deepak Chopra, Founder of the Chopra Foundation, warns in his article “The Secret to Making Good Decisions” “One good decision can have positive repercussions for years, but so can one bad decision.” As the project manager, how do you present your choices as the best options that will lead to the greatest outcomes? You simply need to get the most accurate project data! Accurate project data will tell you what has happened, what is happening and what may happen. You can sometimes find this information through talking or meeting with the key people; stakeholders, project members, colleagues and team members. Another option is to look at reports and documents to understand what has or is happening. This will give you a snapshot from a point…

5 Women Leading the Way in IT Project Management

International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action. It marks a call to action for gender parity – not only for International Women’s Day, but for every day. This aim for equality infiltrates all industries and roles, including project management. In 2015 The Institute of Project Management Ireland published findings from their annual survey of practitioners that were eye opening: “41% of the respondents and practitioners were women” “When questioned about their role in Project Management, women were more likely than men to consider project management as their primary profession, though they were less likely than their male counterparts to work exclusively on projects, being more likely to spend 25-50% of their time working in Project Management related activities, and the remainder of their time in other roles.” “Looking at the variety of projects and teams, women are slightly more likely to work on a wider variety of projects compared to their male counterparts.” “When questioned about the type and value of projects undertaken, women are more likely to work on projects of a shorter duration and of a lower monetary value than their…

Decision Making: 3 Approaches to Help You Make “The Right” One!

Decision making is hard. I put my hands straight up and admit, I am one of those people who always want to make “the right” decision. How do you make the right decision? “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.” – Mark Twain But how many people want to admit this – who wants to make a bad decision? The quote above is one I have to remind myself about, every time I have a big decision to make! Decision making is a task which faces us everyday, through personal decisions and professional decisions. For this part of my post, I will be referencing one of the newly added chapters to the Collaborative Project Management Handbook, Second Edition – Make Good Decisions. Making good decisions is a key part of project management and furthermore, making transparent decisions with your team is a critical part of collaborative project management. Project teams are staffed with intelligent team members from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines who expect to be involved in the decision making of a project. With this, decision points occur at all five stages of collaborative project management. As a project manager, you need to merge…

Why We Love Project Dashboards (And You Should Too!)

As a project manager, I am sure you have spent countless hours sifting through project data to prepare various reports for senior executives and stakeholders. Project reports are only useful if they provide easy access to actionable information. Project dashboards – a high-level summary of a project – can really help managers, teams, and executives review, monitor and manage a project on an ongoing basis, reducing the need for constant manual reporting.   Project Management Dashboards A project management dashboard provides a high-level summary of the project, allowing project managers to track the progress of the project against the original plan and deal with any risks or issues.   Project dashboard benefits include: Increased visibility for managers and senior stakeholders in one place. Depending on your solution, you can also use automated reports, KPIs/traffic-light indicators, metrics scorecards and other views for even more information. Ability to drill-down for additional information as needed. This can also be configured to an individual’s role, which prevents team members becoming lost in the detail! Increased collaboration as each team member knows where the project is at and what they need to do to be successful. This is especially useful for remote teams working in…

BrightWork Launches the 2nd Edition of Their Collaborative Project Management Handbook

Today, BrightWork launched the second edition of their book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook. In recent years there has been a shift away from the traditional managerial hierarchies to a much more collaborative approach to managing projects, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. With that in mind, BrightWork last year published the first edition of their Collaborative Project Management handbook to outline the processes, resources, and leadership skills required to manage projects collaboratively with a team. In this new edition, they have built on the practical guidance in the first book and introduced a three-step framework for implementing collaborative project management in any organization (Collaborate – Lead – Evolve). Speaking about the new edition, Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork and book author, explained, “Modern, effective project management is about collaborative project management. It’s people working together, enjoying the journey on the way to an agreed, better destination.” He added that “The handbook is intended as a practical resource for new or accidental project managers, team members, and experienced project managers who need to coach new managers.” What’s inside this expanded edition? This second edition expands on the first version of the handbook and adds: A new 3-step Collaborative Project Management Framework with suggested implementation steps An expanded section on leadership, with new chapters covering Personal Leadership and Situational Leadership.   Praise for…

Make Collaborative Project Management Easier with the Right Tool

Someone once said ‘All right stop, collaborate and listen’. Now if you know your 80s music, you are probably wondering why I’m starting with a quote from Vanilla Ice! Setting aside questionable musical tastes, he has a point. Project teams can only collaborate efficiently by making time to do so. Managers and team members often need to stop, take a step back to figure out what is happening with the project, and listen to each other before moving forward. Sounds easy? There is a catch; many organizations don’t have a central project management tool to make this happen. Let’s take a look at this problem and a solution in more detail (with a little more inspiration from 80s music!).   ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ The lack of a central project management tool creates numerous challenges for project teams such as: Stakeholders need more reports and meetings to stay up-to-date Remote workers are left out of the loop, and struggle to stay on track as the project changes Key files are stored in different locations and formats, making it impossible to know if you have the correct version. Excel is especially tricky to use for project management for this reason!…

Using SharePoint for Project Management – An Overview

Microsoft SharePoint is an amazing collaborative platform that can be easily configured to provide a more coordinated environment to track and manage a project with your team. One of the biggest benefits of using SharePoint for project management is that each project site can be set up to match and expose your project management processes. We’ll see what this looks like and how you might get started in this blog.   Free Download: Two Project Management Templates for SharePoint and Office 365   Collaborative Project Sites in SharePoint Below is an example of what an out-of-the-box SharePoint site can look like when configured for project management. Using SharePoint sites to manage a project helps you bring all project information together in one collaborative environment. The project homepage (pictured above), for example, gives you a straightforward dashboard that shows you how the project is doing with a summary of work, goals, project status, and so on. The links on the left-hand side make up the Quick Launch of your different processes. The Quick Launch can be tailored so the grouping and taxonomy mimics the PM process you use in your organization. All of the processes you need can be built right in.…

Happy Holidays From Our Family to Yours!

With the holiday season in full swing and as we prepare for the weekend festivities, we spent some time here at BrightWork reflecting upon and celebrating our many blessings and successes! We are grateful for you, our readers, for your constant support and attention. For our customers, who have given us their confidence and the opportunity to serve their needs over the past 21 years. And of course we celebrated together, as employees after another amazing year, laying the groundwork for a very positive start to 2017 – which we are looking forward to already! It has been an unforgettable year. We introduced a new release of BrightWork for SharePoint 2013 and 2016, launched our first book – The Collaborative Project Management Handbook, with proceeds going to Concern Worldwide and we even redesigned our website – with a surprise coming to it early next year. As we are closing the year, extreme excitement shines through us all – wait until you see what we have planned for 2017! From us all here at BrightWork, we wish you a happy holiday season accompanied with a healthy and happy new year!

Making Project Management Easy with SharePoint and BrightWork [SlideShare]

SharePoint is a great tool for team collaboration. Native SharePoint platform capabilities such as shared sites, document management, co-authoring, version control, discussions give you the tools necessary to collaboratively manage a project. SharePoint can also be extended with project management templates, portfolio dashboards and smart project management capabilities to create a powerful project and portfolio management solution. Watch the recorded webinar: “Making Project Management Easy with SharePoint and BrightWork” Now! Tools like BrightWork will help you deploy additional project and portfolio management capabilities to create a complete collaborative project management tool right in SharePoint. Check out the SlideShare below our recent webinar to find out how BrightWork will make project and portfolio management easier for you. You’ll see how BrightWork will help you to: Manage projects with best-practice project management templates Control portfolios and track the health of all projects across the organization Bring all project information together in one collaborative environment Easily capture, reuse and deploy new processes.   Watch webinar now!

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Effective Project Management

To be an effective leader, you need to first know yourself and be self-aware. Applying models such as the Enneagram to leadership can radically improve management, collaboration and communication, the tools for successful project management. I am going to introduce a second popular personality model, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), to inform your exploration of personality types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) The MBTI was developed by mother and daughter, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, in the 1940s and 50s, extending Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type from the 1920s. Jung gave us Extrovert or Introvert, Sensing or iNtuition and Thinking or Feeling. The MBTI extends Jung’s work by helping us to see patterns in how we prefer to use our perception and judgement. Perception is how we come to knowledge, whereas judgement is how we come to conclusions. Since we all differ in how we perceive and judge, we differ in how we relate to the world around us. The MBTI mirror or instrument views personality through four lenses as follows: Extrovert or Introvert – Do you relate more to the external or internal world? Sensing or iNtuition – How do you prefer to take in or perceive information? Thinking…

5 Key Success Factors for BrightWork Deployments

BrightWork has been deployed to thousands of customers over the past twenty years. Having spent some time reviewing customer success, I have identified five key success factors behind these deployments as follows:   Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements Use an Agile Iterative Deployment Plan that ensures all requirements are accomplished Design and adjust the site templates for ease of use Get management support for the process and BrightWork Have regular solutions reviews to assess the tool’s effectiveness and alignment to process priorities.   Let’s take a closer look at these key factors. 1. Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements First, any project and portfolio management tool is only as good as the process it serves. It is important that everyone involved in project management has a clear understanding of the requirements the organization will follow. Know how much of the process is being used today and, more importantly, how the organization wants to evolve and mature in their use of project management in the future. Prioritize the important capabilities that will meet these requirements. Make sure everyone agrees this is the path the group wants to go on now and in the future. 2.…

Making the Right Decision with the BrightWork Project Request Manager

Projects are expensive things to do so you need to be 100% sure that you are making good use of your resources when you decide to approve a project. Project are also prone to failure; in fact, a Gartner survey (2010) that showed only 39% of projects are successful, with 61% either ‘failed’ or ‘challenged’. All the more reason to ensure you have a strong business case in place with the Project’s Scope, Budget and Timeframe agreed (remember your triple constraint). BrightWork introduced the Project Request Manager (PRM) Template in order to automate the process behind requesting, qualifying and approving a new Project. The template has been very popular with PMOs as they struggle to make the right decision on a new Project. The process is also very configurable as you can simplify the stages in the approval process and re-caption the steps according to your own business taxonomy. Using the built-in Alerting with the PRM Template, the right stakeholders can get right information at the right time to review, recommend and approve a new Project request. The most powerful feature of PRM is the ability to launch a new Project from the approved request and automatically filling in the…

IPM Day 2016: Leading with Agility and Embracing Change

Projects drive change, and project managers are the agents of change The countdown is on once again to one of the biggest project management virtual events this year. We are delighted to announce that BrightWork will be exhibiting as a Gold sponsor at this year’s International Project Management Day! IPM Day is an online virtual conference that you can attend via your desktop, laptop, and/or mobile device, live on November 3, 2016. IPM Day 2016 provides up to 30 PDUs and includes 90 days of on-demand access , 25 Videos and 6 Keynote sessions, and valuable takeaways!  The event promises to be as spectacular as always and will provide you with the opportunity to gain the latest insights from thought leaders in project management, leadership and business strategy. In addition, some of the the very best speakers, will provide insight, commentary, and guidance on making you the best change agent you can be…and you can attend for just $45! Why attend? Exceptional content and speakers Networking and engagement Bonus access to two on-demand courses Valuable professional development On-demand conference access Great takeaways   Plus, all registrants receive a complimentary white paper on Benefits Realization by Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. You can register to attend here! As always, we will have our…

Kick-start Your Project with a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a simple yet highly effective tool that supports collaborative decision making, project planning and risk management. SWOT refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are generally internal to your organization and can either help or hinder the project. Opportunities and Threats are external factors that may support or derail the project.     A SWOT analysis may be carried out during the planning phase of your project to identify potential risks and optimize resource management. A SWOT analysis can also be used to quickly address challenges and unforeseen issues once the project is underway. Before conducting the SWOT analysis, consider: What is the objective of the analysis? Is the SWOT part of project planning? Do you need to address an unexpected stakeholder requirement mid-way through the project? Who should take part in the analysis?   The following are suggested questions for the SWOT analysis. Adapt as needed and keep things simple! Strengths: Do we have the right resources – skills, budget and materials – for the project? What is the commercial goal of the project? Has the team completed similar projects? Are the necessary processes and standards in place? Weaknesses: Are the budget…

3 Must-Have Skills of a Project Leader [Video]

Many people believe that managing and leading projects is an innate skill, something anyone can do! That is simply not true.  We have identified three must-have skills that all project managers should have and practice: time, email and energy management. Let’s take a further look at why these skills are so important. Time: Time is a finite resource that cannot be replenished or replaced. As a result, we have to make the most of the amount of time given to us Energy: Whilst it is not possible to ‘top-up’ our time, controlling our energy ensures that we can be more productive in less time. Managing your energy refers to both physical and emotional factors that can distract and drain Email: Did you know for that for every 5 unnecessary minutes you spend on email each day, you are tracking to lose 1 full work year of your life? Implementing an approach to email will reclaim this time.   Our recent webinar, 3 Must-Have Skills of a Project Leader, explores each area in more detail with tips and advice to optimize your time, energy and email. Watch the highlights below.   Ready for more ideas? Check out our posts and free…

5 SharePoint Resources to Boost Team Collaboration

Collaboration refers to two or more people working towards a common goal. When applied to project management, collaboration means bringing together a team from different departments, offices, companies and countries to complete a project. Adapting a collaborative approach to project management offers many benefits including: Increased commitment to the project Effective communication Innovation and creative problem solving Knowledge and skill sharing.   Sounds great? Implementing collaborative project management can be trickier than expected.  Challenges include different approaches to using collaborative project sites and documentation; a lack of guidelines and standards for project managers to follow and the rising number of ‘project managers by accident’ who are not formally trained in project management. At BrightWork, we firmly believe that collaborative project management is a great route to project success.  These five resources provide tips, ideas and technical advice to boost team collaboration. Creating a Culture of Collaboration on Your Project Team: Learn more on increasing team productivity, problem solving and contributing to team expertise PM Tip: Create a Culture of Collaboration with SharePoint [Video]: This short video introduces document management,  search, and knowledge management tools in SharePoint 5 Ways to Improve Team Collaboration with SharePoint 2013: Learn how to develop a culture…

A Quick Resource Management Guide [SlideShare]

Project managers need to manage a finite resource pool – people, budget, equipment and IT – in an effective way in order to deliver successful projects consistently. The essence of resource management is identifying what you actually need to complete a project and when. There are four principal steps in resource management: Plan: Identify what resources you need Acquire: Think about how you will secure the required resources. When working with new team members, you also need to consider how you will get them up to speed with the workings of the project Notify: Use meetings, emails and reports to circulate tasks and responsibilities Retain: Make sure that your team stays in place for the project!   Our quick resource management guide offers more tips and details on each step. Resource management is difficult but vital to your project. And it can be done. Download our free pocket guide to learn more about: The basics of Resource Management A Simple Resource Management Process Best Practice Tips to Ensure Success.

Build Your Project Team with The Four Cs [Video]

In order to create an atmosphere in which your project team will thrive, it is important to focus on the 4 Cs: Companions, Collaborative, Challenging and Can do attitude. Our video blog explains each idea in more detail.   Companions: The atmosphere should be friendly and enjoyable – no need for fear Collaborative: You should all be on the one team helping each other Challenging: Challenge each other – but respectfully and with the conflict required for innovation. Be comfortable asking and answering uncomfortable questions Can do attitude: There is no such thing as I/we cannot.   In addition to creating the right atmosphere for your team, you should decide on a team model, and build a team with the right balance of skills, experiences, and attitudes. One way to build your team is to use the Belbin team roles framework. The model identifies nine types of behaviors or team roles needed for successful teamwork. Using these roles as a guide, you can harness the full potential of each team member and develop high performing teams.     Image credit 

10 Ways to Gather Project Requirements [Infographic]

One of the first steps when planning your project is to figure out exactly what the project requirements are. Another common term for this is to define the scope. It’s vital to get input from your project stakeholders, but how you can you get that information from them? What is the best method that suits the project? If your project consists of stakeholders that located around the world, it might be difficult, not to mention, very expensive, to get all the people in the one room. I would suggest using the one that best suits your project, taking into account cost and duration. Remember, it’s not all about what the stakeholders want but what it does to help the project to achieve its goals and objectives. If you go off track, you may end up creating a rocket instead of a bicycle! Always think, “How will this help solve the problem and the reason that we have this project?” Project Requirements I created an infographic with some suggestions to gather requirements for stakeholders. I’m sure there are a lot more. I’d love to hear about the creative and innovative ways that you do your requirements gathering in the comments below.    …