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Enhanced Collaborating on Projects using SharePoint Discussions

January 17, 2014 by

Introduction

I was working recently with a Client who needed some advanced Collaboration techniques when managing their Projects on SharePoint 2013. Essentially, they needed Discussion Forums linked to Project Tasks in order to ensure their Projects were executed as effectively as possible.

The Discussion App in SharePoint 2013 has been redesigned and improved so it became an ideal component to improve collaborating on Project Tasks.

 

Design

The first step was to Design the Discussion App as a “Work Item” so that the Discussion could be processed as much as a Project Task. This was achieved by adding metadata to the Discussion App  e.g. Status, Due Date etc. Also having a lookup field to the Project Tasks list in Project was also required in order to link the Discussion to the relevant Project Task. The table below summarizes the columns added to the Discussion App:sharepoint discussions

When all columns were added to the Discussion App, the form rendered as below:

sharepoint discussions 2

Reporting

The next step of the Template design focused on reporting. It was important to provide meaningful reports on both the status of the Project Tasks and any Discussions linked to the Tasks. The additional metadata available to the Discussions enabled similar reporting to be achieved, namely:

  • Open Discussions grouped by Project Task
  • Overdue Discussions
  • My Discussions.

 

These reports were created using custom views for a single Project. Using the BrightWork Reporting Engine, custom dashboards and charts were built to report on Discussions across multiple Projects and Programs.

Summary

SharePoint 2013 provides additional  social features to the platform including the improved Discussion App. Linking SharePoint Discussions with Project Tasks takes the social capability to a new level when managing Projects on SharePoint.

 

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