Native SharePoint vs. BrightWork Free Template
Microsoft SharePoint is the preferred and practical platform for project teams. By leveraging SharePoint, project managers can easily apply a standard approach to project management, allowing teams to collaborate easily with improved visibility of the overall effort.
Quite often, project managers are tempted to manage projects on single tools such as Word or Excel and as a result, lose out on the collaborative features within SharePoint.
SharePoint’s strengths lie in the fact it is highly configurable, and seamlessly connects to Microsoft suite of products.
Here we’ll take a look at creating your project site in SharePoint using lists and web parts. We’ll also see how to use the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork, which provides a pre-planned project site
A versatile platform with a focus on collaboration, SharePoint is used for:
- Document management and sharing
- Intranet portals
- Building websites
- Managing workflows
- Controlling permissions and access to documentation
- Collaboration and problem-solving via wikis and forums
- Web parts
- Knowledge management
- Centralizing business intelligence from Excel, Power BI, and other Microsoft apps.
SharePoint doesn’t look like a project management tool out of the box. Configuring a SharePoint site for project management can be a daunting task, with pre-planning required before diving in.
Gregory Zelfond has a brilliant guide to creating a SharePoint project site where he outlines 10 steps, including:
- Deciding the site architecture, i.e., where the site will site in your SharePoint environment.
- Figuring out what lists and web parts you need to add to the site.
- Creating the site.
- Adding and configuring the web parts.
Once you have determined your Site Architecture and Site collection structure, you are presented with the SharePoint equivalent of a blank page.
This homepage can feature any layout that suits your needs by clicking on the Edit button on the top right choosing a Text Layout.
You can also Change the look to customize from the settings wheel. This is optional and depends on personal taste but it is important to consider standardizing the look and feel of your project sites for the benefit of your team members.
Next, you need to consider adding SharePoint Web Parts. A SharePoint web part is a type of list used to store content in your site. Like an app or widget on a smartphone, web parts such as contacts and announcements enhance the functionality of your site.
A web part is added to a page in your SharePoint site, acting as a shortcut to the underlying information. For example, adding the ‘project tasks’ web part to the project homepages provides a snapshot of the underlying tasks list. Simply click on the information to get more details.
Before you start adding web parts, you need to create your first subsite from your Site Contents.
Choose Team Site from the Template Selection and give it a name and corresponding URL slug.
From here you need to decide on what components (or lists) that will make up your project team site. Some common SharePoint Web parts that are of use to Project Managers include:
- Document Library
- Issues Log
- Contact List.
For the purpose of the article, we will take a look at adding a Document Library and Tasks List.
First, navigate towards Site Contents which is accessible from within the Quick Launch on the left of your screen.
From here, you can add an app.
Your Apps gives us a sense of SharePoint’s potential with 17 web parts to choose from. Select Document Library, choose an appropriate name and navigate back to the home screen of your subsite.
There are many ways to configure your SharePoint Document Library and I would refer you again to Greg Zelfond who has some great tips including using metadata instead of folders.
To add a Task List, repeat the above steps but in the Site Contents, choose the Tasks web part.
The more time you spend configuring your team site, the more it becomes increasingly obvious that you are merely scratching the surface of SharePoint.
It can take many valuable hours, planning out the structure of your site, adding web parts and configuring your site to make it simple and easy to use. All of this before you have even started managing your project!
Creating a SharePoint project site is not just adding lists or web parts. You’ll also need to think about your SharePoint development through the lens of an established, proven project management process. The formula for a successful project on SharePoint is something like:
SharePoint knowledge + project management knowledge + a project site = success
Granted, at the end of this long process, you can save your hard work as a template to be used again but what if all of this work was done for you?
Free SharePoint Project Management Template
The BrightWork Free Template is a simple and intuitive tool that allows teams to start managing their projects on SharePoint instantly.
Using the template means you don’t waste any time building a project site in SharePoint or trying to find someone to do it for you. All you need to do is download and install the template, and deploy a pre-planned project site – all in less than five minutes – with no coding required.
The Free Template includes pre-configured lists and web parts to deliver project management essentials to help you plan, track, and re-plan the project:
- Getting Started Tiles
- Project Homepage with dashboards
- Quick Launch
- Tasks List
- Issues List
- Project Reports
- Document repository.
Developed by SharePoint experts and project management consultants, the ready-to-use SharePoint Project Management Template allows you to focus on the project itself.
Not only does the Free Template feature pre-planned web parts but it connects them to homepage dashboard reports which are updated automatically as each individual report is updated.
Instead of simply adding and updating tasks you can track and report on the health of the project. Or determine what work is overdue, due soon, open, closed or unassigned. Drill down into any report for more information as needed.
The beauty of the BrightWork Free Template and indeed, SharePoint, is that it is non-restrictive and doesn’t dictate your process but merely starts you on the right foot.
The best practice wiki is always present to consult but if you find your team is moving its project in a certain way, SharePoint’s flexibility allows you to evolve your project site to with your project management approach.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Outside of work, Micheál likes to find new stories through podcasts, movies, sport and travel.