Cultivating a Successful Project Management Culture at Your Company

Like every other company out there, your company works on projects.  Anytime you want to do something new, strategic, or challenging – that’s a project. Projects help bring order to chaos, and balance demands for resources. When delivered successfully, projects lower operating costs, improve efficiencies, and fulfill strategic objectives. However, many organizations fail to realize the benefits of projects for many reasons such as lack of buy-in from senior management and the absence of defined project management standards. In this article, I’ll explore three common reasons why organizations struggle to implement effective project management, and four ways to cultivate a successful project management culture in your organization.   3 Reasons Organizations Fail with Project Management 1. Lack of a Project Management Framework Quite often, individuals tasked with managing a project have no formal training in project management. As a result, the whole idea of “project management” is a new concept. In the absence of a clear approach, individuals will get creative and develop their own ways of working, leading to multiple styles in one organization!     2. No Best Practice Templates or Guidance The lack of standard templates, a collaborative tool, or a knowledge base with lessons learned forces project managers to…

2017 Highlights: Top 3 Project Management Webinars

The BrightWork webinar team were busy this year, running over 40 webinars covering a wide range of project management and SharePoint topics! Below are our top three webinars of 2017.  Pull up a chair, settle in, and get ready for project management success in 2018.   Improve Project Performance with Metrics and KPIs in SharePoint Easy access to data is key to project performance, helping to improve visibility, collaboration, and decision-making. Watch to learn more about: Real-time portfolio dashboards for immediate visibility Metric Tiles to keep everyone up-to-date Using Scorecards to review historical trends.   Task Tracking in SharePoint Struggling to stay on top of project tasks and non-project work? Using SharePoint to track your team’s tasks is key to tackling this challenge. Learn more about: Tracking project tasks using SharePoint lists Using the Work Tracker Template to track non-project activities Creating roll-up reports for a complete overview of current work.   Boost Team Performance with Your One-Page Project Plan in SharePoint Without a clear plan, common goals, and the right tool support, your project team will struggle to deliver as needed. This webinar explains how to: Develop a one-page project plan Create a team-focused project site using SharePoint Use automated…

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…

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…

Should You Track and Report on Project Risks?

Tracking and reporting on risk is an essential project management activity, which you ignore at your peril! Tracking risks influences how you implement or change upcoming tasks. Check out this video, taken from our free six-part risk management training series, for more details. Step 4: Track and Report   Goals The goal from this step is threefold: To monitor the status of your risk action plans, in other words, the progress towards the completion of contingency and mitigation plans. To monitor any project metrics associated with a risk that might trigger a contingency plan. To provide notification to the project team that a trigger, or triggers, have been exceeded so that a contingency plan can be initiated if needed.   Inputs There are two main inputs that are going to help you achieve these three goals:  Your risk action forms, which contain the specific mitigation and contingency plans you created, and which also specify the project metrics and trigger values to be monitored. The relevant project status reports used to track progress within the standard project management structure.   You may need to call on other sources of information depending on the specific project metrics being tracked, for example, a…

4 Steps to Effectively Track and Re-Plan Your Project

As any project manager knows, even the best project plan won’t last very long once the work gets started.  As you work through a project, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong, fall behind … surprises will crop up.  That’s why it’s so important to regularly check in and see how things are going, so you can adjust the plan to match the reality of what is actually happening.  Here are four key steps to easily find out the status of the project, see what’s going awry, and re-plan as necessary so as to minimize the impact on the project goals.  Find and Manage Exceptions First, manage the “exceptions.” Exceptions on a project can take a few forms, typically risks, issues or change requests. Risks are any factors on the project that have the possibility of becoming an issue.  You would have identified some risks in the project planning phase.  Some of them may have been dealt with already, or there might be new risks that have appeared.  If there are any open risks, you will need decide the best course of action to mitigate these risks or in some cases create a contingency plan.  Issues are risks whose time…

Get a Fast Start to Your Project – Track the Essentials

In this blog post, I will explore how you can track projects before you start fully managing them! And this ironically will help you manage them! “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” ~ Mark Twain Why Only Project Tracking? Why would we resort to, or maybe start with, merely tracking projects as distinct from fully managing projects? Well, there are at least two reasons: The project might be quite small or perhaps it’s a project that you find very easy to deliver as you have done it many times before. In these scenarios, it doesn’t make sense to deploy a very large amount of project management. You and the team may not be ready to deploy a large amount of project management. This can be the case even when the project deserves and needs lots of project management. Could be a lack of experience, a lack of time, a lack of budget, but in any event the team is just not ready for large amounts of project management.   In both of these cases, it seems wise to start with project tracking and do that well. A Project Management Spectrum Here is a very simple project management spectrum. In…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Create a Project My Work Report in SharePoint

So let’s say you’ve gone through the effort of creating a project management site template in SharePoint, complete with all sorts of lists for capturing all important project related data. Good for you! You’re well on your way to using SharePoint in one of the best ways it was intended to be used. But what good is all that data if it’s hidden away in various corners of the project site – wouldn’t it be better if that information bubbled its way up to more readily accessible locations on the site? Of course! I’ll show you one way to do just that in this post. We’ll be creating a new “My Work” page that will report on tasks and issues assigned to me (in this case “me” and “my” equate to the user currently logged into the SharePoint site and viewing the page). The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that you have the underlying lists “Tasks” and “Issue Tracking” as part of the site; these two list apps should be available to you out of the box with SharePoint as part of the template gallery. Feel free to add or hide columns on these lists to match your data gathering preferences.     Next…

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…

Supercharge Your Project Reports with BrightWork

Everyone loves a project report – except the project manager! Trying to prepare different types of reports for stakeholders and the team from various sources is often a very manual and time consuming process. It’s especially troublesome when a report is urgently needed for a meeting; if your information sources are not up-to-date, you’re in for a long day!  Reports are a vital project tool. Having the right reporting tools in place allows you to track progress, manage risks, maintain cost control, and improve overall visibility.  Reports also enable team members and stakeholders to contribute effectively to the project.   Reporting Tools The best way to tackle project reports is with a collaborative project tool such as BrightWork, which quickly pulls together relevant information from different sources into the required format. Better yet, you can also set up automated reporting to send reports to the right person as needed – daily, weekly, or monthly. Just think about how much more time you could have to work on your projects!   Types of Reports BrightWork comes with a range of reporting options including project and portfolio reports, ‘My Work’ reports for individual team members, and real-time high-level portfolio dashboards, which give…

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…

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…

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…

6 Ideas to Improve Your Project Resource Management

Resource Management is all about getting the right people, equipment, and materials in the right place at the right time. This is a top challenge for project managers everywhere! Lack of proper resource planning can lead to resource shortages during project execution, which can quickly derail or halt a project. The following resources will help you to identify, allocate, track, and optimize resources on your project.   What is Resource Management? 6 Definitions: Make sure you understand these six core principles of resource management – Resource Levelling, Critical Chain Planning, Resource Capacity Planning, Resource Tracking, Resource Communications, and Resource Commitments – before tackling your next project.   Do You Know This Simple Approach To Resource Management?: In  this blog article, PMO expert Ken Martin outlines a top-down and bottom-up approach to resource management. The use of both approaches together helps to refine sizing criteria for projects so an organization can determine resource allocations.   A Quick Resource Management Guide [SlideShare] explores a four-step resource management process: Plan, Acquire, Notify, and Retain.   How to Track Resources in SharePoint with BrightWork: Did you know you can use SharePoint as a portfolio management tool, rolling up crucial data from your projects into unified…

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…

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.…

5 Reasons Not to Use Excel for Project Management

Picture this. It’s Friday night. The office is empty. The only sound is frantic typing as you try to prepare a project status report for Monday’s meeting. You have to trawl through spreadsheets, spreadsheets, and more spreadsheets, cross-referencing data you can only hope is correct and up-to-date. The completed report is finally emailed to relevant stakeholders and team members. You can now leave for the weekend, knowing there will be confusion in the meeting as someone will make a change or update to their version of the report which no-one else can see. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you are not alone! Spreadsheets are the bane of many projects. Get started using SharePoint for project management for free today. No more spreadsheets and email!  It makes sense that many organizations turn to Excel for project management. It’s part of the Microsoft suite, making it familiar to end-users. Organizations often don’t want to invest in separate project management software, preferring to use readily available systems. In many cases, teams are forced to develop complex templates and workarounds in Excel and are reluctant to try a new method. Whilst Excel is a powerful tool, especially for data analysis, it’s just…

5 Stages of a Project: Planning and Executing

I recently outlined the five phases of project management defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) with a particular focus on the first phase, Initiating. In this article, I will explore the next two phases of project management: Planning and Executing. Phase 2: Planning Using the project plan developed in Phase 1, work with your team and stakeholders to develop key documents required for project execution. Planning is vital to the overall health and success of your project so do invest time in this phase. Review and update the following plans: Costs: Estimate costs and create the project budget. Scope: Set the scope including tasks, costs, and outcomes. Duration: This should include ideal and likely timelines. It may be useful to start at the end goal and work backward to develop your timeline. Quality: Decide how deliverables will match the required criteria. Remember – quality is part of the triple constraints that impact on a project. Communication: Develop a detailed communication plan, outlining when and how key communications will occur. This should also include stakeholder engagement. Risk: Revisit the original risk assessment from Phase 1 and refine. Where needed, develop contingencies. Resources: Gather and allocate required resources. Metrics: Determine key reporting metrics and…

Top Three: Our Most Popular Project Management Webinars of 2016

Every year I say it, “we’ve had the best year yet with webinars here at BrightWork”…and my tradition continues! A fabulous year of top-class content, presenters  and awesome attendees. We covered everything from making project management easy, project visibility and portfolio reporting to and using SharePoint to select and approve the right projects, to cultivating collaboration within distributed project teams…and much more! Prepare for project management success in 2017 and check out our recorded webinars below. Enjoy!   SharePoint + MS Project = The Perfect Combination for Project Collaboration Using SharePoint and Project together, make an invincible platform for collaborative project management! See how you can use SharePoint and Project together to: Start with managing a simple project schedule with tasks, issues and deliverables Evolve to manage a more complex work breakdown structure, with timelines and automated reports Manage across project and portfolios with metrics, dashboards and status reporting   3 Must-Have Skills of a Project Leader Many people believe that managing and leading projects is an innate skill. Not true!   Watch this recorded webinar to learn more about three essential skills that a project manager must have and practice: Time Management Energy Management Email Management Portfolio Management & Resource Tracking Using…

Best of 2016: Our Top 10 Blogs of the Year

After a year of fantastic content on the BrightWork blog, here are our top 10 most popular articles from 2016. The posts cover a range of project management and leadership topics such as communication, report writing, motivation, and SharePoint use.  We are looking forward to another great year of project management content in 2017. Thank you for reading!   How to Tackle Poor Project Communication Unsurprisingly our most popular article of the year! In this post, Grace addresses one of the most challenging issues for project teams: poor communication! The article offers practical approaches to dealing with this issue and enhancing team communication to a level of collaboration needed for project success.   7 Steps For Effective Report Writing Report writing. Another bane of the project manager’s existence! This post offers 7 simple steps to make your report writing more effective and stress-free. This is really an area many of us could improve on for 2017!   4 Quick Steps to set up SharePoint for Project Management In this post, Billy makes a great case for using SharePoint to support your project management practices. He offers us four simple steps to setting this up and even provides two fantastic SharePoint…

Master Project Document Management in SharePoint

A smart project manager recognizes the importance of having the right project documentation in place.  Unfortunately, the absence of a single document repository and templates combined with the ongoing demands of the project often means that project documentation remains a low priority. This can lead to miscommunication with stakeholders and the team, below-par work and delayed projects.   Types of Project Documentation Depending on the nature of your project and local guidance, there are many types of project documentation to consider. Below is a suggested list of essential documents that every project should have: Business case: This document is part of the Initiation Phase and marks the start of the project. Project charter: The project charter is the most important document for any project manager. The document is the source of formal approval for the project and supports your authority as project manager. Simply put, the project cannot exist without it! Project management plan: The plan is often a collection of documents such as the scope baseline, Work Breakdown Structure, Schedule, Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Communications Plan. Risk Register: The document should include details of the risk and task owners. Reports: A collection of documents that track project progress and…

This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for our Customers!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. It is one of those periods when we can take the time to reflect and think about the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for. A time to express this appreciation in a wholesome way and to be happy. At BrightWork, we’re especially thankful for all our families, friends, co-workers, customers, and community members like you! We wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and hope you enjoy this great holiday season. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy. Here is a selection of some of the customers we are grateful to know and work with. If the turkey is taking too long in the oven or the football doesn’t quite keep your attention then take some time to read and watch their stories as well as many others. AmSurg standardizes project management processes with SharePoint templates. APi Group IT Uses BrightWork to Implement Software Across 50+ Subsidiary Companies. Ascend Performance Materials Increases Work Visibility by 40% using BrightWork. Camden National Bank Eliminates More Than 60% of Extra Project Documentation – With…

Track and Re-Plan Your Project with SharePoint [SlideShare]

Projects rarely go according to plan! Unexpected risks, delays, lack of stakeholder engagement, poor team collaboration: the obstacles to successful project management are numerous! It is critically important to periodically track your project and re-plan as needed. This will help to keep the project on track and let your team know of any new tasks or deadline. There are three key steps to consider: Assess the current status of the project:  Use scorecards, metrics tiles and dashboards on the individual project level to review project health, overdue tasks, issues, and other relevant data. Manage exceptions and risks: Explore and manage issues, risks and exceptions with configurable reports. Re-plan the project: This includes re-assigning tasks and resources, and communicating these updates to your team.   Our recent webinar, 3 Steps to Track and Re-Plan Your Project with SharePoint, demonstrated how to use SharePoint to track and re-plan efficiently. Check out the webinar slide deck below  or access the full webinar here.     These additional resources provide more tips to track and re-plan your project: Get a Fast Start to Your Project – Track the Essentials Portfolio Management & Resource Tracking Using SharePoint [Webinar] How to Track Resources in SharePoint with BrightWork…

4 Quick Steps To Set Up SharePoint For Project Management

If you are not using SharePoint templates for project management today… you should be! SharePoint is a feature-rich platform for team collaboration. With a few simple configurations, it can mimic the structure required to manage projects of all sizes and type. It’s not very difficult, you just have to know what to do! FREE DOWNLOAD: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES FOR SHAREPOINT Here are 4 things you can do to set up your SharePoint site to manage a project. 1. Use the Quick Launch to manage the project management process In SharePoint, you can create team sites, which are essentially web pages for teams to connect and collaborate on work or a project.  With some edits to the Quick Launch, you can map your SharePoint site to manage the project management processes (with as much or as little process as you want). You can add different lists and apps to manage all aspects of your project, including project issues, risks, tasks, goals, change requests, and project status reports. In the screenshot below, you see how the Quick Launch can map to various project phases. On the left you see a “lite” amount of project management broken down into Initiate and Plan and…

5 Ways to Optimize Project and Portfolio Management

Implementing successful project and portfolio management (PPM) is highly beneficial for organizations. By taking a high-level view of current and requested projects, PPM focuses on executing the right projects to fulfill strategic and commercial goals. PPM also improves resource management, forecasting and reporting whilst ensuring that more projects are delivered on time and within budget. Getting PPM in place is complex and challenging. Prioritizing project requests; tracking multiple projects; balancing large and small projects, and resource management are just some of the obstacles associated with PPM. However, research conducted by PM Solutions reveals the business value of PPM. 26% of surveyed organizations recorded a 25% or greater ROI from implementing PPM processes. Overall,  the survey indicates that more organizations are introducing PPM to improve business outcomes and customer satisfaction. Here are 5 articles and resources to help optimize project and portfolio management in your organization. In his One Page Plan for Successful Portfolio Management, PMO expert Ken Martin explains the benefits of PPM, the implications of not using PPM and key actions needed to establish a Portfolio Management Office. The video blog, Project Management Tip: Manage Your Portfolio, identifies seven ways to start managing and controlling your portfolio – in under 90 secs!…

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!

How to Tackle Poor Project Communication

Every day, we communicate in person, on the phone, by email, text or online. The human brain actually evolved to favor our social nature, meaning that we are hard-wired to communicate with others. Despite our natural predisposition to social interaction, many people are poor communicators. The professional consequences of ineffectual communication are manifold: conflict with colleagues; missed business opportunities; stalled career development; stress; low morale and so on. Poor communication is particularly damaging in the context of project management. Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. More worrying is the finding that 56% of budgets allocated to projects are at risk due to poor communication. Communication can make or break your project. Understanding the roots of poor communication and the impact of this risk is critical to developing a communication plan that works.   Reasons for Poor Communication We take it for granted: Communication often fails because we take it for granted. Project managers assume that communication takes place as project teams attend in-person and virtual meetings, use emails and IM,…

OneNote 101: Getting Started with the Basics

Call me a little old-fashioned but I love taking notes with a pen and paper. I can jot down an idea or plan a meeting agenda using a physical notebook far quicker than opening and saving a Word document. There is something comforting in the act of writing, a sense of permanency in recording your ideas. I have several notebooks and many illegible post-it notes on my desk as a result! My attachment to writing notes made me a little skeptical of Microsoft’s OneNote when I first started using the application a few months ago. However, I am becoming a convert – even more so after researching this article. I am going to share a few ideas and tips to help you leverage OneNote to track ideas and work collaboratively.   What is OneNote? OneNote is a digital note taking application  and productivity tool. Use the app to take notes, record audio, capture screenshots, and so on. Notebooks may be shared with others (even if they do not use OneNote), which makes collaborative project management easier.  The app is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome, and Android. Integrating with the rest of Office, OneNote automatically saves and synchronizes your notes.…

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.…

Improve Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint [Video]

Lack of project visibility is a common complaint across many project teams. Poor project visibility means that team members do not know what their tasks are, making impossible for project managers to track and report on the project status to stakeholders. Reports, dashboards and real-time data allow project managers and stakeholders to have an all-important overview of current projects within an organization. Our recent webinar, Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint, examined three key ways to improve project visibility: Data roll-up from project offices for immediate visibility across all projects Use of real-time dashboards and metrics to track project progress, health and risks Project reporting for teams and stakeholders with the ‘My Work Report’ and automated emails.   Watch highlights from the webinar below or check out the full webinar here.   Using the right project management tools can increase project visibility, boost the quality of completed work and increase the number of active projects. BrightWork provides a range of powerful reporting templates, including 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. Find more details of the templates in…

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…

All These Small Projects Are Starting To Add Up!

In many organizations, the only projects that get formally tracked are large, complicated projects. They tend to be complex in nature, with a long duration, lots of stakeholders and many moving parts. And those kinds of projects do require a high level of project management process. But those certainly are not the only projects that an organization typically works on! Every department, team, and group will have their own initiatives and project work to carry out. They might have one or two of those large and medium projects, but others will only need a few tasks and a place to store some documents and that’s it. Just because the projects are small, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to be tracked.  These smaller projects can start to add up over time, creating strains on personnel resources and time allocation. So what can you do to get the visibility into these projects?   GET STARTED MANAGING PROJECTS WITH SHAREPOINT OR OFFICE 365 WITH OUR FREE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES!   Smaller projects are just as important as the bigger ones! A lot of the time, the projects that get “formally” tracked are the ones that require significant capital investment. Smaller projects happen without the visibility into how they fit into the overall strategic picture. So start…

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…

5 Project Management Stories from the Healthcare Sector

Healthcare organizations often need to track many medium-to-large projects at once. In one of the more scrutinized industries, project errors can be costly and can often bring down an organization. Hence there is a need for a project management tool that is reliable and scalable. With BrightWork, these organizations can install standard project management practices and get the visibility and transparency to know what is going on across large programs of projects and make better decisions. Here are 5 project management stories from Healthcare organizations using BrightWork: Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Track Project Milestones with BrightWork Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics manage 100+ projects of differing types (operations, new product development) at any given time. One of the major aspects of Siemens Healthcare project management process is Milestone Trend Analysis. This graphically illustrates time-related discrepancies with project milestones and how their finish date could change throughout the life cycle of a Project. Using a set of filters and workflows in SharePoint, a log is built in the background of the project site using SQL. Once the log is built, BrightWork uses SharePoint’s charting features to display a graphical chart which is fed from the log. The milestone log updates automatically, so the charts are…

A Quick Guide to Project Request Management

Project request management is a vital process that ensures the right projects are chosen to fulfill your organization’s short and long term strategic goals. Depending on your organization’s size and type of projects, project request management can be quite tricky. Questions to consider include: Where do the project ideas come from? How are requests logged? What is the selection criteria for a new project? How do you select and approve the right projects? There are five easy ways to develop a project request management process which will you help to approve the right projects and maintain a healthy project pipeline. Step 1: Define a process You will need to decide things like: Is there going to be a committee to approve projects? And if so, who is going to be on it? What kind of data about the project requests will be required? What is the timeframe for approving projects?   Step 2: Decide what information is required Implementing a standardized project request form will make it much easier for you to rank, assess and compare various submissions. The required information will depend on your organization and the scale of the project. Here are a few items worth including: Project…

Business Intelligence and BrightWork

Summary: Business Intelligence (BI) is becoming a more and more popular concept that enables access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance. SharePoint is an ideal platform for BI because of its inherent collaboration features and also its ability to connect to other systems using “external lists”. This article details how you can use BrightWork to connect to other systems for BI purposes by leveraging SharePoint technology. The scenario covered here will use a BrightWork Reporting Engine feature called “SQL Datafeed” that will send BrightWork project data to SQL Tables thereby enabling it to connect to other systems e.g. ERP or CRM and then connect back into SharePoint as an external list using SharePoint’s Business Data Connectivity (BDC) feature. Figure 1 below illustrates the process. This article contains the scripts and other collateral to get you started. The relevant scripts are indicated in each step and are available to download in the zip file at the end of the article.     Step 1: Create a BrightWork Report Definition to Query the Project Data. It’s recommended to have a separate BrightWork report definition to query the source data that you want to feed to SQL tables.…

Start Your Work Breakdown Structure in Two Steps

One of the first major projects that I worked on ran over time and budget for a simple reason. The team jumped straight into doing the work without thinking through the required deliverables and associated deadlines. In short, we did not create a work breakdown structure (WBS). A work breakdown structure is the core of project planning, resource management and avoiding project scope creep. The WBS is used to organize the work into manageable sections, often measured in time, for example, two weeks. By focusing on the bigger picture, the WBS ensures that no element of the project is overlooked during the planning phase. This, in turn, makes resource allocation much easier. Once the project is under way, the WBS acts as a roadmap, helping the team to deliver the original requirements. The project sponsor can consult the WBS to gauge the project’s progress and decide if any adjustments are needed. The WBS will also impact upon any Gantt charts or dashboards used for project reporting and management. Depending on the project, your management process and organization requirements, the WBS is often accompanied by: The WBS dictionary, which defines the scope of work, deliverables and milestones A scope baseline comprising the…

Track Non-People Resources using SharePoint [Video]

Resources are the nuts and bolts of any project. Getting the right resources – people, equipment and budget – in place is the first step in resource management. You also need to track how resources are used over the course of the project to ensure that resources are optimized and available when required. Non-people resources refer to any materials and equipment essential to the project. This includes product supplies, test equipment and workspaces. As with people resources, non-people resources will impact upon the project budget and timeline so it is very important to factor these elements into your project plan. As the project progresses, monitoring the use of non-people resources will identify any over-allocation issues before they become major risks. There are two ways to track non-people resources in SharePoint: Establish a global list and specific reports Use SharePoint groups and assign the resource as needed.   Learn more about each step in this short video:     Watch the full webinar for further details on setting up your collaborative project site, managing resources and configurable reports. 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…