How to Engage Project Sponsors to Keep Projects on Track

One of the most difficult parts of the job for a new project manager is managing the relationships and expectations with senior executives and project sponsors. This vital relationship should not be overlooked. In ‘Pulse of the Profession 2018‘, the Project Management Institute reports organizations with engaged sponsors report 40% more successful projects than those with a lower percentage of projects with sponsors (less than 50% of their projects). At BrightWork, we have also identified active project sponsorship as a critical project success factor. Often, poor communication tool is the root cause of inadequate sponsorship engagement.  For a variety of reasons, project updates are often inaccurate and not provided to them in a timely manner.  As a result, sponsors and senior executives don’t participate in the project to the fullest extent possible. It’s not that they don’t want to be helpful, as they have a vested interest in the successful delivery of the project.  But when they don’t have a clear picture of the state of the project, it is hard to give quality feedback to provide guidance. Don’t turn sponsors into roadblocks.  With open and accurate communication, you can turn them into enablers who can help get a project back on track…

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…

Project Reports – Know Your Audience!

Having accurate and up-to-date project reports is critical to project success.  But when it comes to creating just the right set of project reporting dashboards, it’s important to know your audience. Everyone involved on a project will need to see a slightly different set of information depending on their specific roles and responsibilities on the project.  For example, team members should be able to easily find their open tasks on a particular project, while senior executives are more likely interested in the high-level status of many projects. The key is to enable every person involved in the project to do their job more efficiently by getting rid of the clutter and providing them with the right project reports, with relevant data, at the right time. For the rest of this blog, I will look at three main roles of a project team and an overview of the key project reports they each audience is likely looking for. Project Reports for Senior Executives One common challenge for senior executives is that they have to go through multiple channels to get status updates regarding all the projects in the organization. The information they receive is often of varying quality and timeliness. Occasionally, by…

Using SharePoint for Project Issue Management

A former project manager colleague of mine once quipped “Project Management…what’s that? My job is Issue Management!” The other project managers and I all had an uncomfortable chuckle and nodded in agreement because it certainly did feel that way at times. Seems not a week went by that we weren’t trying to put out some project fire (aka “issue”) that flared up. Although we can’t entirely stop issues from coming our way, we can indeed make them more manageable and visible by introducing SharePoint into the mix. Gathering Project Issue Data Before we begin clicking away in SharePoint, let’s come up with some requirements. What kind of metadata about the issue should we capture via columns in our SharePoint list? Here are some starter ideas: Title of the issue Person who identified the issue (SharePoint person lookup type column) Person assigned to resolve the issue (SharePoint person lookup column) Priority – suggested choices to allow for sorting later on: (1) High, (2) Normal, (3) Low Issue status (choice type column) Type of issue (choice type column) Full description Resolution due date Status comments.   Tracking Project Issues in SharePoint Using the above data, you can now add an Issue Tracking list…

Project Reporting Round-Up: 9 Must-Read Resources

It goes without saying that timely, accurate project reports are paramount to successful project management. Whether you are checking project status, resource allocation, risks, or upcoming tasks, reports provide a single source of data to keep everyone on the same page. To help you maximize project reports, I have gathered nine useful resources covering a range of essential topics.   7 Benefits of Project Reporting: Let’s get back to basics. If you or anyone on your team doubts the importance of project reporting, you should read this article.   Top 5 Types of Project Management Reports (Video): Jennifer Whitt explores five essential project report types: timesheets, resource workload, expenses, status, and portfolio reports.   5 Common Project Reporting Mistakes to Avoid: Project reports take time to prepare. Don’t undo your hard work with a simple and avoidable mistake.   Status Reporting, Clarity, And Accountability: George Pitagorsky explains the purpose and benefits of status reports as a tool for moving forward, documenting project learnings, and identifying areas for improvement.   Everything You Should Include in Your Project Status Report (Checklist): Staying with project status reports, this handy checklist will ensure your report contains everything you need every time. The additional tips and…

5 Common Project Reporting Mistakes to Avoid

A report is described as a document with key information covering a specific time period, and communicated in oral or written form. Or, more commonly, the bane of every project manager’s life! Between gathering data, accommodating the needs of every stakeholder, formatting, and getting the document distributed on time, project reports are often a time-consuming task. However, there is no denying the value of reports both as a means of controlling your project and improving team communication. If you want to make reports a little easier to prepare and more useful for your audience, try to avoid these five common mistakes.   1. Not Including What Your Audience Actually Needs   Project teams and stakeholders are busy people who are unlikely to appreciate anything that wastes their time. Before creating a report, take a step back to consider what information your audience needs to support your project. Ideally, the communication preferences of each audience were documented during the project planning phase. Refer to the communication plan to identify key factors such as  the frequency or format of a report. If the plan doesn’t exist – just ask! As the project progresses, remember to check in with report recipients periodically to…

Project Reporting Explained! [Video]

Reports are arguably the most valuable tool available to project teams. From tracking and visibility to risk management and cost control, reports allow team members and stakeholders to stay on top of projects and avoid failure. Unfortunately, daily tasks and unexpected issues often push reports to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list. If you or a team member need a quick reminder as to why reports are so important, check out our introductory video which explains the function and benefits of reports, and potential consequences of neglecting this critical tool. Watch to learn more about: How to gain insight into how your project is performing, regardless of size Why reports are for everyone on the team Using reports to track tasks and progress Making informed, data-driven decisions with reports Learning and knowledge sharing.       For additional tips and tricks for getting the most from your reports, try these blog posts and resources: 7 Benefits of Project Reporting Project Report Types 4 Tips for Project Management Reporting Improve Project Clarity with Emailed Reports SharePoint Reporting for Project and Portfolio Management [on-demand webinar].   Image credit 

Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint [Infographic]

Staying on top of projects across an organization can be tricky! The lack of visibility into projects is one of the most common complaints we hear from our customers and the wider community. The complaint is often:  senior management needs more accurate reporting into project and portfolio information. However, senior executives are not the only ones who suffer from poor project visibility – everyone does! Poor project visibility results in team members unsure of what their tasks are and no reporting on the status of those tasks for project managers – not to mention how you are supposed to communicate all that to stakeholders! Project visibility is one of the keys to unlock successful project management. Project portfolio reporting is another. BrightWork provides a range of powerful reporting templates, which include a range of configurable dashboards that enable project managers to keep projects on track and gives senior executives the visibility and control they need to deliver project success across the organization. Check out this infographic below for a snapshot of a sample of templates:   In addition, just this week we had a hugely successful live webinar on Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint – and you can check out the recording here! This…

How to Choose the Right Excel Chart for Your Project Report

Tapping into the data generated by past and current projects within your organization can enhance numerous elements of project management including the project approval process; resource management; addressing risks; forecasting and tracking. However, more often than not, the relevant data is locked within spreadsheets that are difficult to navigate. Using the right chart to visualize data is a great way to quickly access and analyze existing data. Choosing a chart for your data is just as important as gathering the data. The value of your data is radically affected by your ability to communicate the results. The wrong chart will confuse your audience, generate incorrect interpretations of the data and lead to flawed decision-making. Any doubts regarding the significance of chart type are addressed in this interesting article by Quartz! Excel 2016 currently offers 15 types of charts, ranging from column charts to line, stock, area and waterfall charts. Access these various options using the Insert Tab.         Here are some tips for using three categories of charts within Excel; Comparison, Trend and Data Composition. The type of chart that you will use depends on the data source, the type of analysis required and the question that you are trying…

7 Steps For Effective Report Writing

Many project teams utilize the reporting options and tools available in their collaborative project site to track work, identify risks and issues, and keep stakeholders informed about the project.  Depending on the project and organizational processes, additional reports with in-depth analysis and recommendations may also be required when a project ends.   Keep stakeholders up-to-date with automated reporting in SharePoint. Get started free today!   Preparing a report is a useful opportunity to evaluate the project, document lessons learned, and add to your organization’s knowledge base for future projects.   Seven Steps to Create Effective Project Reports 1. Decide the Objective: Take some time to think about the purpose of the report. Do you need to describe, explain, recommend or persuade? Having a clear purpose from the outset ensures that you stay focused, which makes it easier to engage your reader. 2. Understand Your Audience: Writing a formal annual report for your stakeholders is very different to a financial review. Tailor your language, use of data and supporting graphics to the audience.  It is also useful to consider the personal communication style of the reader, for example, how do they write emails or structure documents? Reflect their preferences where possible.…

Project Report Types – Pick Your Pleasure

Most of us are very familiar with the power SharePoint gives us for entering and tracking data through different types of forms in lists. But let’s not forget about how powerful SharePoint can be to share all of our valuable project data, with many different report types. Particularly if you choose to extend SharePoint capabilities with a product such as BrightWork (from which the screenshots below are taken), you’ll have quite a tasty menu of choices for how to present your project info to stakeholders. Let’s look at three different report flavors that can be used in your SharePoint project sites with add-on capability: Gantt, List, and Resource Reports.   Gantt Charts Gantt charts, developed by Henry Gantt way back in the 1910s, is very useful for seeing the start/finish dates and percent complete of work:     or of overall projects:     List Reports List reports can be viewed as a close cousin of Gantt charts. You’ll still be able to see the names of the tasks or projects, start/finish dates, and percentage complete, but without the graphical section. The lack of the bar chart section can open up a bit more real estate for you to include…

Project Status Reporting in SharePoint

As we all know by now, SharePoint is an excellent tool for capturing all the details about your projects, and for sharing these details and various metadata with your project collaborators. But let’s not forget that some of your stakeholders only require (and may only have time to review) a mile high overview of your projects. Can SharePoint handle this crucial status reporting as well? Absolutely! Let’s start with the data entry piece, which when translated to SharePoint means adding a custom app list to your project site; name it something like ‘Project Status Reports.’ Next, we’ll massage the column configuration in this new list a bit. Some suggestions: The default ‘Title’ column: This column is not really necessary in this context, but since it’s not one we can delete, let’s give it a default value of anything that suits you and then we’ll hide it from the list views ‘Week Ending’: This Date and Time column can be given a default calculated value as follows to add some convenience for your site users: =Today+6-WEEKDAY(Today) Let’s report the current phase of the project as well with choice column ‘Current Phase’ and whatever phase choices make sense for your environment, such as…

Creating your own Web Part Page Layout Template

In this series of posts I will show you how to: Create your own web part page layout template Reuse this layout (with web parts) Enable the Quick Launch on standard SharePoint web part page layout templates   One of the ‘curiosities’ of out-of-the-box SharePoint are the web part page layout templates. Whilst there are a few useful layout templates, the weird thing about them is the absence of a Quick Launch. A web part page is a natural extension of a site. Why shouldn’t it have the site navigation? Anyway, mini-rant over! Fortunately, BrightWork includes a web part page layout template with the Quick Launch. However, we only give you one template – the default one. While of course this will suit 90% of situations, there may be situations where you need or want to have a layout suited to your needs and that is what I will describe how to do here. I will use SharePoint Designer 2010 to do this. You can download it for free from here: 32 Bit | 64 Bit. If you are not yet on SharePoint 2010, the basic principle of what I will show is pretty much the same in SharePoint 2007. The principle also…