5 Ways to Improve Project Communication with SharePoint
In order for a project to be successful, project stakeholders need to know what is happening at all times.
From team members knowing their work and responsibilities to senior management who need to know the overall status of all the projects, communicating project information clearly is crucial every step of the way.
Without open, accurate and consistent project communication, it’s almost guaranteed your project will fail… or at least run into some major problems along the way.
These days there are so many collaboration tools designed to facilitate proper project communication. But naturally enough, our favorite here at BrightWork is SharePoint!
Here are 5 ways you can use SharePoint and BrightWork to communicate project information the right way, at the right time, and to the right audience.
5 Ways to Improve Project Communication with SharePoint
1. Notify team members of responsibilities
Planning is the first step in any project journey. Once you map out the steps needed to reach your destination, you’ll need to let team members know the plan for success.
The more high quality and consistent communication you have with your team, the greater your chances of success. Project team members are eager to contribute to the success of projects, so make sure they have the information to participate fully in the project.
Some ways to communicate these responsibilities to the team include:
- Hold a project kick-off meeting to review the plan, key milestones, and roles.
- Use a collaborative project site to assign tasks to team members.
- Create “My Work” reports to help team members find, do, and update their project tasks quickly.
- Setup scheduled emails with nudges for upcoming or late work – more on this below.
2. Centralize project information and reports
Your project team is time-poor and likely working on multiple projects. Likewise, stakeholders are often involved with numerous projects and portfolios at any time.
Team members and stakeholders need to easily find out what’s happening on the project. However, if everyone is using different work tools and places to store documents, easy project communication is impossible!
According to a study by Planview, inaccessible project information and poor visibility are among the top collaborative challenges facing teams. The survey also found that teams are using around 4.5 tools to manage work with 33% of respondents reporting everyone on their team was using a different tool.
This situation can only lead to poor communication and a lack of transparency around project tasks.
A collaborative site in SharePoint can solve these communication challenges by bringing all project information, tasks, and reports into one single location.
Let’s take a look at two key capabilities – document management and project reporting.
SharePoint Document Management
Project documents are essential to all areas of your project, from outputs to reports, timesheets, and issue management plans.
Storing all documents in a SharePoint library eliminates any confusion about where to find information or which version to use. Team members can co-edit files in real-time, and if needed, roll back to a previous iteration using version control.
In addition to keeping working project documents in the document library, store any training materials, the communication plan, risk management policies, and so on in the library for easy access.
It’s all about transparency and streamlined communication.
As a project manager, you’ll spend much of the project tracking and reporting on progress!
You’ll need to communicate his information easily with the team to keep everyone in the loop.
SharePoint reporting options include tasks, issues, risks, and work. It’s simple to customize the project homepage with metrics tiles and other reports to place key information at the forefront of your project.
Visual charts and display options such as Gantt charts help to present complex information for ‘at-a-glance’ updates.
The key here is that all project team members and stakeholders know where to go to understand the project big picture and find their piece of the puzzle.
3. Deliver program visibility
Busy stakeholders often want high-level reports about project portfolios, with the option to drill-down in problematic projects.
A simple way to deliver this requirement and streamline communication is to add traffic light indicators, R-A-G status, and one-liners about the project using portfolio reports.
Your stakeholders can see enough information about a project without delving into nitty-gritty detail all the time.
4. Schedule automated reports to stakeholders
An easy way to keep your team up-to-date is to create tailored reports for specific audiences, which are automatically emailed out at pre-set intervals.
For team members, you can share the ‘My Work’ report every Monday morning to help the team plan their tasks for the week.
If you have a regular meeting with a project sponsor, you can share a recent status report in advance
This way, you are giving the stakeholders the information they need, when they need it.
Automated reports are not just for the team and stakeholders. You can also schedule key reports about tasks and issues to your inbox on a daily basis. This way, you can track the project without having to constantly ask your team for updates.
5. Microsoft Teams
With collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, project teams are more connected than ever.
In addition to creating teams and channels, your team can:
- Use group chats to discuss a problem or share an update with the whole team.
- Collaborate one-to-one with private messaging.
- Communicate across any device.
- Hold online meetings with video conferencing.
A key benefit of using Microsoft Teams is the ability to add links to external sites, such as a SharePoint project site, as a tab in a team.
As documents created and stored in Teams are synced with OneDrive and SharePoint, your team can access documents from their preferred system whilst maintaining a single version of project truth.
Using SharePoint for project management helps to simplify communication whilst delivering the right information to the right people, the right way, at the right time.
Billy is a graduate of the Villanova School of Business and holds a Master’s degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Outside of BrightWork, he enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.