Still Using Excel Spreadsheets for Project Management? [Guest Post]
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 that 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 the ultimate risk that plagues someone never to be trusted ever again.
All members of the team can provide leadership through collaborative mechanisms and have their voices heard. Instead, mistakes will happen, and as a result, we’ll all learn from those and find growth through making changes and recognizing ways to improve and evolve through processes for collaborating on what went well and not so well.
BrightWork provides a safe environment for company and individual growth through a collaborative project management framework with three guiding principles, as well as a free template for SharePoint that makes project management straightforward, consistent, easy, and possible.
Overview of BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework
First, let me introduce you to the framework’s “Three Guiding Principles,”
- Collaborate to Innovate – Projects deliver the innovations groups need to progress and projects are best delivered in a collaborative fashion with the entire team.
- Lead to Succeed – The most successful projects get real leadership from both the project manager and all of the team members.
- Evolve to Grow – Successful collaborative project management is not a capability acquired in a day; it evolves and develops in time.
The Three Guiding Principles and Stages of the Collaborative Project Management Framework
Learn Collaborative Project Management
It’s amazing to me just how many companies are simply using Microsoft Excel for managing projects. I understand it is the most common project management tool on the planet by far. Beyond that, it’s amazing to me how unstructured nearly all companies are in their approaches to project and portfolio management. While it’s not always possible to have a clear scope of work and clearly defined roles and responsibilities at the beginning of each project, there are some simple guidelines that can be followed to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page with milestones and the approach.
Without an agreed-upon approach to project management, chaos ensues as deliverables are not met, timelines continuously slip, and budgets are quickly overrun. That being said, I’ve seen many companies attempt to swing the pendulum to the other side to not only add structure, but add competency to their project managers and exist perpetually in analysis paralyses where speed and agility was the desire. You can’t snap your fingers and everyone is performing project management. It requires an agreed-upon approach.
The Collaborative Project Management Handbook outlines the practices, stages, and leadership needed to deliver collaborative projects successfully. Each chapter includes practical exercises and tips to help you get started.
The Framework is built on a foundation of collaboration and leadership with an emphasis on evolution at the speed of the organization.
- Collaborate to Innovate
- Lead to Succeed
- Evolve to Grow
- Organizational alignment across projects and project managers
- Get started quickly on projects and save time over time saved on simple status reports
- Consistent reporting through roll-up of dashboards
- Customization of templates for flexibility in adding additional tracking for less on lite and more on larger projects
- Portfolio rollup across department alignment with corporate strategic vision and plan
- Intuitive Insights and reports can tell at any moment where a project is in progress
- Visibility and control including transparent point of reference across the organization
- Start where you are and evolve
- Take advantage of your Office 365/SharePoint investment for Project Managers
- Templatized approach to delivering project, portfolio and work management.
What people are saying… “BrightWork has given us the opportunity to maximize how efficiently and effectively we manage a vast array of projects across our geographically dispersed organization.”
The current situation across the industries is the demands on teams for producing more with less has increased. In fact, according to a recent Microsoft study, the average employee works on 2x more teams than they did 5 years ago. Essentially our ability to deliver has not gone up, but the need to deliver has. How do you keep track of what you’re getting from these teams, document, excel, maybe a task list? What dates are they due? Keeping this in a spreadsheet? How do you provide status reports? How is this tracked at a team, group, department and/or for organizational reporting?
You’re starting to see what happens when hundreds of employees are trying to keep track of all these tasks on their own, in dozens or hundreds of different ways. You can also see how collaboration and transparency are so important in providing the ability to share simple reporting interfaces with technology the organization already owns.
BrightWork has focused on this area of building a framework that is easy to learn, understand, and use as a mechanism. There are templates provided both for free and enhanced reporting that you can get started with today. These SharePoint based templates for collaborative project management will run on Office 365 and all recent versions of SharePoint 2016, 2013, and 2010.
SharePoint Templates for Project and Portfolio Management
I remember a time when templates were the rage in SharePoint. Instead of creating a blank site, you’d get further with a team template that already had a number of lists ready to go. The same with the document center, set with version control, and designed with metadata search in mind. BrightWork takes the SharePoint template model and extends it past the old project template SharePoint delivers, including solving some typical SharePoint problems!
Dashboard Focused Project Templates
BrightWork provides enterprise-ready project management application that leverages your investment in Microsoft SharePoint. There are a set of best-practice templates for project, portfolio and work management that help you to focus on the right things as you learn about the things that are most important in successful projects.
- Projects and Work Tracker
- Never lost, easy to use navigation with simple Site Map
- Metric Tiles preconfigured out of the box and easy to configure
- Score Card Dashboard
- The 3-minute Status Report
- Project Scheduling Dashboard
- Wizard-based Project Creation
- Project Request Manager
- Built-in Side Bar Help.
A few of the key features demonstrated to me include the 3-minute status report, which is designed as a quick report that requires little time to produce and yet powerfully answers the key questions stakeholders have in any status call or portfolio review. Think about that. How can it get easier than that? Boom! Answer the 3 key foundational questions and your report lights up. The tile-based scorecards make reporting simple and focused on the key metrics in a project and can easily be configured to display what the stakeholders are asking for.
First, imagine a lightning-fast simple task of bringing in all of the status spreadsheets from each of your project managers to then simply use quick edit in a very similar excel-like interface. This quickly gets the data where it can be reported on and tracked. All parties will quickly see the value.
Once the data is aggregated and reported on for each of the projects. The Project Tracker can now do its job of rolling up the data with the simple red-yellow-green on the most important KPIs “Is it healthy? on time? on budget?” in a simple re- yellow-green with a simple Gantt view. Seriously powerful.
Many companies struggle to get out of seeing SharePoint beyond a next-generation file sharing platform, but these templates do an incredible job tying together the data it gathers from the projects into a robust reporting dashboard. Not only does it keep the project managers honest about their work, but also provides transparency to the stakeholders and allows resources to log their own status and provide milestones.
The range of BrightWork templates enables organizations to start fast with an amount of project management appropriate to the level of project management maturity and project complexity that exists in the organization.
The project reporting built into BrightWork gives senior executives and program managers the visibility and control they need to deliver project success across the organization and ensure happy customers.
The easy customizability of the templates enables organizations to easily evolve organizational project management to their desired level of maturity. Project and portfolio report as complex or as simple as you want to be.
The approach of BrightWork is really in the approach of start simple, and evolve as you gain experience and maturity in the process.
BrightWork Templates Spectrum
Portfolio Management Templates – The BrightWork templates for portfolio management give senior executives high-level visibility into the status and health of multiple projects across the organization, resource allocation, and new project requests.
Project Management Templates – Site templates for SharePoint allow project managers to deliver successful projects with simple and collaborative project management templates with streamlined reporting.
Advanced Reporting Dashboards – Project and Portfolio templates provide powerful project and portfolio management reporting dashboards so you have the visibility to keep projects on track. They take the guesswork out of putting together powerful dashboards.
Template Management – You can customize BrightWork templates, just like a SharePoint site and can pull that changes into sites created from that template.
What are their customers saying?
“Deploying BrightWork has exceeded expectations from a consistency and accountability perspective; both the number of project requests and active projects have more than doubled since deployment and we have eliminated approximately 40% of work that was historically being done off to the side.” – PMO Managers at Ascend Performance Materials
“BrightWork provided us with an economical, scalable solution for managing our project portfolio. We now have better standards for collecting project data and an intuitive tool that makes the work visible and accessible.” – Senior PMO Director at GroupHealth
“Using the BrightWork templates, we now have a much better understanding of all projects underway, as well as a system to review and manage new project requests. We have greater visibility into what is on track and what is falling behind.” – Head of SharePoint Team at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
The list of customershttps://www.brightwork.com/about/testimonials go on, but AmSurg used the BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework to standardize their processes with the SharePoint templates.
The key things many customers are doing is looking to standardize project management with templates, leveraging SharePoint to manage processes, organization-wide portfolio management, establishing a framework for reporting.
Very happy with what I found from BrightWork. Incredibly helpful team with a simple way to get started.
I recommend a project manager struggling on a team read the Collaborative Project Management Handbook. It’s helpful not only for project managers but also for team members that are trying to collaborate. I found it helpful for having a common vernacular to collaborate with the team. The book is free and the tips are perfect for a team that hasn’t adopted a structured project management methodology or framework. Even an agile team needs a tool to share their status, reporting, and project-based portfolio rollups.
Personally, I think there’s a lot of reasons to look at these templates and read about the framework. Who couldn’t use better collaboration? Who couldn’t use better reporting and transparency? I highly recommend you check out the links for getting started.
Getting Started with Collaborative Project Management Framework
Looking for more? There are a few resources that will help you get started.
- First check out the BrightWork getting started page.
- Read up… get the Collaborative Project Management Handbook
- Next download the free SharePoint Project Management Template
Guest Author Bio
Joel played a pivotal role in the success of Microsoft SharePoint as the first full time dedicated employee hired by Microsoft IT to deploy and operate it internally. He was the first architect for the first beta of SharePoint Online prior to popular Office 365. Joel was Senior Technical Product Manager for SharePoint when it really took off in 2007 as a key voice of the product for the IT audience. Since his time at Microsoft 11 years ago he’s focused on evangelizing intranet, cloud, productivity, and collaboration solutions while growing and connecting the global technology community traveling to diverse places sharing technology, transforming lives and in his quest to build communities around the world. He has been recognized in the industry as a community leader, top IT writer/blogger, and influencer.
Joel has been recognized by Microsoft and awarded MVP, and Regional Director for his contributions and community leadership and influence.