How to Use SharePoint for Project Management

Everything You Need to Create, Manage, Track, and Report on a Project in SharePoint


Changes in technology, shifting business needs, and a move towards increased collaboration are changing how organizations manage projects.

Project management is now moving away from traditional managerial hierarchies to a collaborative approach, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. 

Unfortunately, teams are struggling to deliver successful projects for many reasons, such as the lack of an agreed process or project management software, and varying levels of project management experience.

Successful project management relies on three key elements: people, process, and technology.

  • People: Projects are delivered by teams, who need the right skills and experiences to work together.
  • Process: Organizations with an agreed, standardized process deliver successful projects consistently.
  • Technology: Project management software must enable the team to work together and follow the desired process easily


At BrightWork, we have two free resources to help you introduce and align these three elements.

Firstly, our free book, ‘Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook’, outlines a five-step to project management and offers leadership advice to help train your team.

Secondly, we have mapped the five-step project process to the Free SharePoint Project Management Template to make it even easier to develop a standardized process. The Template is free, forever, and can be used to manage as many projects as needed.

This guide introduces the five stages of collaborative project management and explains how to manage your project using SharePoint. The guide also outlines techniques to increase user-adoption of SharePoint for project management.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Join over 40,000 organizations who are using our free SharePoint Project Management Template to deliver successful projects.

Chapter 1.

Collaborative Project Management: An Overview

“If you’re in an organization and you want to do something new, strategic, exciting, challenging, difficult – it’s a project.”  – Éamonn McGuinness, Author, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, and CEO, BrightWork.

Project management is not going away but it’s not getting any easier! Projects fail every day with serious consequences for the financial stability and reputation of organizations. The causes of project failure are numerous:

  • Poor planning
  • Inadequate resource management
  • The absence of a risk management processes
  • Lack of guidelines or templates
  • Scope creep
  • Poor stakeholder engagement
  • Ineffective communication
  • Low levels of team engagement and motivation.


Managing a project successfully can be difficult for even a seasoned Project Manager. When you are an occasional project manager, the bar is set even higher.

At BrightWork, we use the term, ‘Occasional Project Manager’  to describe team members who are not formally trained as project managers but need to manage projects to fulfill their role. A good example is a marketer who is managing a new website project for the company.

To help our customers introduce a standardized approach to project management and train occasional project managers, we developed a guide to collaborative project management.

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 locations to complete a project.

Adopting 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.


Collaborative project management encompasses the following five stages:

  1. Initiate the Project
  2. Plan and Setup the Project
  3. Work the Project
  4. Track and Re- Plan the Project
  5. Close the Project.


Each stage will help you to implement the ‘people, process, technology’ elements needed for effective project management.

Read on for a brief description of each stage.  Later in the guide, you will learn why SharePoint is ideally suited to collaborative project management and how to manage each stage using the SharePoint Project Management Template.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template.

Get started quickly with a project site pre-configured for collaborative project management.

Chapter 2.

The Five Stages of Collaborative Project Management

Stage 1: Initiate the Project

Starting your project the right way creates the foundation for the work to come. During this stage, you will start to work with your project sponsor, decide how to manage the project, and create the project site.

The first two steps are focused on people and process whilst the third step is concerned with technology – in this case, a SharePoint project site.


A. Get the Project Approved, Sponsored, and Resourced

Depending on how projects are managed within your organization, the project sponsor will either launch the project to solve a business problem or be assigned to an approved project.

Either way, it’s important to engage the project sponsor early and often during the project.

A practical first step is to meet your project sponsor to develop a written project proposal, a project charter, or a project statement. A project charter or statement may contain the following information:

  • Project identification
  • Project description
  • Project objectives
  • Project customer
  • The proposed project manager
  • The type of the project
  • The status of the project
  • Start and end dates
  • Project Assumptions.


The sponsor will also allocate the people you need to work on the project and free up any other resources such as the budget.


B. Decide the Project Management Process

Once the project is approved, you need to choose an appropriate management process. As depicted in the diagram below, it’s useful to think of project management as a spectrum with different processes for each level.


project management spectrum


The Free SharePoint Project Management Template is based on the Project Lite template in BrightWork. The pre-configured project site includes all of the project management essentials to help you plan, track, and re-plan the project using the elements in the ‘Lite’ step above.





C. Create a Collaborative Project Site

This step is critical to successful collaborative project management. A project site acts as a single source of truth, making it easy for the team and stakeholders to know what has happened and what needs to happen so they are empowered to help you deliver and manage the project.

SharePoint is a great tool for collaboration but it takes time to configure a basic site for project management. The Free SharePoint Project Management Template provides key project management capabilities straight out-of-the-box, including:

  • The project homepage with key project metrics, status icons, and ‘Tasks by Status’ chart
  • Tasks List
  • Project Status Report
  • Project Wiki with project management guidance.


Later in this guide, we will review the steps needed to plan and set up a collaborative project site using SharePoint.

Stage 2: Plan and Set Up the Project

There are three steps to help you plan and set up the project using a SharePoint project site:

  1. Plan the project
  2. Desk check the project plan
  3. Notify the team of their responsibilities.


A. Plan the Project

Once you have downloaded and installed the Free Template, you will use the ‘Getting Started’ tiles to start the project. The guidance will help you to:

  • Add the Project Statement with key information such as the project name and description, project manager, status, and due date.
  • Create and assign tasks to the project team.
  • Add documents to the Document Library.


You will learn how to execute these steps in your SharePoint project site in Chapter Four.


B. Desk Check the Project Plan

It’s important to achieve clear alignment with everyone before the project starts to avoid project scope creep – changes to tasks and deliverables – later on.

Once the tasks are added to your SharePoint project site, a timeline will appear on the project homepage. Ask the team to review the timeline and project documentation to make sure they are happy with your plans.

project schedule SharePoint



C. Notify the Team of Their Responsibilities

Having finalized your plan, host a kick-off meeting with the team to explain the project and walk them through the project site.

Stage 3: Work the Project

To help deliver a successful project, team members should be able to find, do, and update their work quickly and easily.

It’s also essential to have a transparent issue management process in place; otherwise, problems will fall through the cracks!

Using ‘My Work’ reports and various reports on the project homepage, the Free Template will help you and your team to execute the project effectively.

It’s also important to create the ideal environment for your project team.  Remember – successful project management requires people, process, and technology.


A. Find work

Using the ‘My Work’ report, a list of work assigned to the logged-in user, your team can track and update their work, and raise issues.

open work report SharePoint


B. Do work

Naturally enough, everyone needs to work on their assigned tasks!


C. Update progress on work

Using the Excel-like datasheet view in SharePoint, team members can easily record progress on what is complete, in progress, and or in trouble.




Creating the Right Team Environment

The reality of project management is your team members are likely involved in a few projects and will have other non-project tasks. At the project kick-off meeting, ask the team to follow a weekly rhythm so they stay on top of their tasks.

Here is an example you can adjust as needed:

  • MondayReview the latest plan and your personal commitments (via dashboards or automated emails)
  • Daily: Do lots of work and make great progress!
  • Thursday afternoon: Make a progress update on your tasks and issues in the project site (if not already done)
  • Friday morning: Weekly team meeting for 30 minutes.

Stage 4: Track and Re-Plan the Project

Your project is not likely running exactly to plan. That is why it is called a plan! In order to get the project back on track, it is important to assess the status of the work, re-plan remaining tasks, and communicate the updates with the team.

Using the Free SharePoint Project Management Template,  there are three ways to track and re-plan your project.

  1. Check and understand the project’s progress
  2. Find and manage exceptions
  3. Re-plan the project.


A. Check and Understand Project Progress

You need to understand the status of the project before any re-planning can take place. The SharePoint project management template is pre-populated with a range of visual and intuitive project reports to help everyone involved in the project understand the status very quickly.

As explained further below, the reports surface key information such as:

  • The number of late tasks
  • Current projected finish date
  • Top Open Issues.


B. Find and Manage Exceptions

Before re-planning, it is necessary to check for outstanding exceptions such as issues, risks, and change requests. Issues are risks identified during project planning which have now become a reality.

Find and resolve as many issues as possible, as these can be the biggest roadblocks in the project schedule.

You should also check work reports for late or unassigned tasks, and deal with these items as needed.


C. Re-Plan the Project

Note – before making major changes to the project, talk to the project sponsors and stakeholders for advice and authorization. Make sure changes are approved and signed off before you start re-planning the project.

To re-plan your project using SharePoint, update each item in the task list as needed – what is in progress, completed, or on hold. Include extra information to the task, such work completed thus far on the task. This will update the project schedule.

If you do change or re-assign project tasks, make sure you inform the relevant team member!

The new information will display on the various reports on the project homepage. Let the team and stakeholders know the project plan and site are both updated so they can review the latest timeline.

Stage 5: Close the Project

Closing a project correctly is a frequently overlooked step, but it is vital to conclude a project correctly. In this phase, the stakeholders take ownership of the deliverables; resources are released to work on other projects, and the team will document lessons learned.

There are two simple ways to close your project. The first step deals with your SharePoint project site whilst the second step focuses on documenting lessons learned.


A. Close Out the Project Site

During this phase, you need to review and update all project documentation including:

  • The project charter
  • Issue Reports
  • Project Status Reports
  • Task lists and timelines
  • Other documents such as contract and meeting notes.


B. Document Lessons Learned

The more you learn from the project you have just completed, the more successful you will be with the project you are about to start.

It is also important to remember as a project manager, you were the leader of the project, but not the sole owner of its processes and tasks.

The simplest way to run a project post-mortem is a team meeting. Use the meeting to answer three questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What should we do to improve our next project?


Review the feedback and suggestions to find actionable inputs to your next project. For example, if unassigned tasks were a roadblock, you need to use the ‘Work’ reports more frequently on future projects.

Finally, share these insights with the wider organization to help evolve project management practices across all teams.

So far, we have explored the benefits of collaborative project management, and the five-stages of this approach. Now it’s time to consider the second element of successful project management – your tool.
The next section introduces the benefits of using SharePoint for project management.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Get started quickly with an attractive project site without any coding or SharePoint experience

Chapter 3.

Why Use SharePoint for Project Management?

Launched in 2001 as a web-based collaborative tool, Microsoft SharePoint is used by over 200,000 organizations. One of the fastest growing products in Microsoft’s history, the SharePoint ecosystem – including 50,000 partners and 1 million developers – is valued at around $10 billion.

SharePoint is available as a server-based On-Premises solution, a cloud-hosted solution, or a hybrid solution, which combines an On-Premises installation with Office 365.

Unlike Word or Excel, SharePoint is not a single tool. Instead, SharePoint is a collection of tools designed to help organizations build intranets, manage documents, and collaborate in a secure environment. SharePoint is highly configurable, and connected to Microsoft suite of products.

SharePoint also offers numerous security settings such as encryption and permissions to help you control who can access and edit project data.

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.


Although SharePoint was not designed primarily for project management, it’s easy to see the benefits of using SharePoint for this purpose – especially when extended with software such as BrightWork.

With SharePoint and BrightWork, project managers can:

  • Deploy project sites aligned to internal project management processes and legislative requirements.
  • Bring all project information and documents into a centralized location.
  • Use standardized templates for consistent project delivery.
  • Use lists to manage tasks, issues, and risks.
  • Work closely with remote team members.
  • Implement workflows using SharePoint Server or Designer to automate key tasks.
  • Maintain project information with document management, version control, and permissions.
  • Create real-time dashboards, scorecards and metric tiles to track project progress.
  • Assign and manage project tasks, including overdue or unassigned work.
  • Save a site as a template to reuse in future projects.

Getting Started with a SharePoint Project Management Template

The problem with using SharePoint for project management is SharePoint doesn’t look like a project management tool out of the box. That’s where the free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork will give you a head start.

Used by over 40,000 organizations to manage projects on SharePoint, the template was developed by SharePoint experts, project management consultants, and inputs from BrightWork customers to give you everything you need to plan, track, and execute the project.

As the template is based on SharePoint, it will plug straight into your existing IT infrastructure with no coding required.

The Free Template is intuitive and easy to use, even for team members with little SharePoint experience. With a low learning curve, you and your team can focus more on the project itself.

You can use the template to manage as many projects as you need, for as long as you like, for free!



The template, developed by and available exclusively from BrightWork, ships with a pre-populated project site based on the five-phases of collaborative project management. The phases are mapped to the Task List with further information on each phase included in the project wiki.

These features will help you to launch your next project quickly and get the team working on tasks in a consistent, clear way.


Keep reading for a practical walkthrough of using the SharePoint project management template to execute your projects using the five-stages explained above.

Chapter 4.

How to Manage a Project on SharePoint

Stage 1: Initiate the Project

Based on the project initiation tasks outlined above, you need to secure sponsorship and resources for your project before deciding how to manage the work.

Assuming you are going to use the free SharePoint project management template, you will need to download and install the template from the BrightWork website. The template runs on SharePoint 2010, 2013, and 2016.

There are three simple steps to follow:

  1.  Complete and submit a short form to download the version of the free template suitable for your SharePoint environment in a zip file.
  2. Install the template in your SharePoint environment following the steps in the online guide or the below video.
  3. Using the installed template, deploy your first project site.


It takes less than five minutes to download and install the templates, and deploy your first project site. No coding or technical skills are required!

The steps are explained in the short video below.


Stage 2: Plan and Set Up the Project

Next, plan and set up your project using the ‘Get Started’ tiles on the project home page. SharePoint getting started tiles

  1. Setup Project links to the Project Charter or Statement. Add key information such as the project name and description, project manager, status, and due date.
  2. Add Tasks provides a link to the Tasks Lists. Here, you can add tasks and plan the project schedule.
  3. Add Documents opens the document library in your SharePoint site. Use the library to store and collaborate on any project documents or deliverables.


Adding this information to the site brings structure to the project without creating too much complexity or process for the team. All key project elements are brought together in one central place, making it easier to plan and track project work.

The Quick Launch – a menu with links located on the left-hand side of your site – provides further structure to your project. These links will help you to plan, execute, and track work. SharePoint Quick Launch menu

Once the project site is complete, ask the team and project sponsor to review the proposed tasks and timelines.

Stage 3: Work the Project

During the third stage of the project, you and your team can leverage a range of tools and reports to complete the agreed work. Options include the ‘My Work’ report, the project issue list, the project document library, and the project wiki. The project homepage also offers ‘at-a-glance’ reports to keep the team focused.


The ‘My Work Report’

The ‘My Work’ report, a list of work assigned to the logged-in user, keeps team members on track with a view of tasks and issues. The report ensures everyone knows what they are responsible for and when work is due whilst making it easy to share updates on progress on a particular project. Team members can filter the report by Open Work, Work Due Soon, and Overdue Work to prioritize their workload. my work report sharepoint

As per the weekly team member schedule outlined above, the team should update the tasks at least once a week.  Using the Excel-like datasheet view, team members can make bulk edits to their tasks and easily update the status of a task as shown below. project schedule SharePoint To provide a more detailed update, team members simply expand the relevant item to add comments, due dates, comments, and percent complete.

Issue Management

Your team will likely encounter issues when working through their tasks. Unfortunately, without a formal process to report or escalate an issue to the project manager, it’s easy for an issue to fall through the cracks and derail the project. Using the Project Issue List in the template, a team member can flag the problem by simply ticking a box on the task form. project issues list SharePoint The new issue becomes part of the Issue list and associated reports for you to investigate as needed.

Document Management

During project initiation, you added key documents to the project site. This centralized document repository will allow team members to find the relevant information whenever needed and work together on documents. Not only will this ensure a standard approach to the project, it’s easy to track and roll back updates to a document as needed with version control. No more outdated Excel files!

project documents SharePoint

Team Collaboration

Using blogs, wikis, and discussion lists, team members can collaborate and solve problems together, regardless of their location. Increased collaboration keeps work moving forward as no one has to wait for an answer or try to tackle a problem alone – they just need to ask for a little help. SharePoint project site wiki

Project Homepage

The project homepage surfaces key information such as:

  • Status of the project, with details on project health and % complete.
  • Metric Tiles, which displays the number of late tasks, estimated finish date, and the date of the most recent update to the site.
  • Overdue Items, including due date and task owner.


So long as the team is updating their tasks regularly, the homepage is an accurate snapshot of the status of the project. Using the Quick Launch menu, you can access two useful reports under ‘Execute and Control’:

  • Work Lists, including Open Issues, Overdue Tasks, and Unassigned Work. As the project manager, your report will include all work assigned to the team and your own task – not just your own tasks as per the ‘My Work’ report.
  • Status Reports provide a snapshot of the project at a particular time, allowing you to track and identify trends or problems that could derail the project.


The next section explains how to create a project status report.

Stage 4: Track and Re-Plan Your Project

As explained above, the project is unlikely to progress to plan. To get the project back on track, you will need to assess the status of the work and re-plan remaining tasks.


Check and Understand the Project’s Progress

The SharePoint project management template is pre-populated with a range of visual and intuitive project reports to help everyone involved in the project understand the status very quickly.

The tiles and reports also automatically update as you and the team make changes in each section.

Key project metrics (highlighted below) surface late tasks, the current finish date, and the date of the most recent update to the project site.

project metric tiles SharePoint


The Tasks by Status Chart provides a high-level snapshot of tasks.

project task report SharePoint


Using the Manage Issues List, track issues created by the team. Remember – it’s vital to find and manage issues to prevent further disruption to the project at a later stage.

project issues list SharePoint


The Red-Yellow-Green status indicators provide at-a-glance insights into the status of the project in terms of Time, Health, or Cost, and percent complete.

Having gathered this data and spoken with the team, it’s now time to re-plan the project.


Re-Plan the Project

Start re-planning the project by updating each item in the task list as needed – what is in progress, completed, or on hold. Include extra information to the task, such work completed thus far on the task.

Updating the task list will update the project schedule:

project schedule SharePoint


Next, add a project status report by updating the drop-down menu for each column in the report. A typical Project Status Report includes red-amber-green indicators and also captures other information such as details on project issues and other items of note. The report adds more context to your project and will help you to track trends over time.

The ‘Project Status’ report is located under the ‘Execute and Control’ section of the Quick Launch.

This section will link to previous status reports.

SharePoint project status report


Simply add a new item or click “Edit this list” to add a new status report.

SharePoint project status report


Using the datasheet view, work through each column:

  • Overall health, time, cost  – color status
  • Date of report
  • Current project phase
  • Expected finish date
  • % complete
  • Status comment
  • Activities planned.


The new information will display on the various reports on the project homepage.

SharePoint project homepage



For a practical demonstration of how to track and re-plan your project, watch the below video. As you will see, creating a project status report takes less than three minutes in SharePoint!


Stage 5: Close the Project

During this phase, you need to review and update all project documentation including:

  • The project charter
  • Issue Reports
  • Project Status Reports
  • Task lists and timelines
  • Other documents such as contract and meeting notes.


You should also take the time to document lessons learned with your project team to improve the outcome of future projects.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Download your free template with everything in one place on the project homepage for ‘at-a-glance’ visibility

Chapter 5.

Using SharePoint for Project Management: The Start Evolve Approach

At this point, we have explored the benefits of project management, why SharePoint is an ideal tool for successful project management, and how to manage a project using a SharePoint template.

Before you delve into your next project on SharePoint, it’s important to reflect on the current state of project management in your organization and team. This will help you to deploy the right level of project management processes to engage your team and provide real business value quickly.

Often, organizations struggle to realize the benefits of project management as they try to implement too much process too quickly without supporting end-users. Teams simply find another way to get the work done, which results in numerous different ways to manage projects in one organization.

Instead of trying to do everything at once, use the ‘Start-Evolve’ approach

  • Start with the appropriate level of project management process for your team and the project itself.
  • Evolve your practices and processes with time and experience.


Think of project management as a spectrum, with different levels of process and rigor needed for each level.


project management spectrum



Once you have identified your approach, you can map your requirements to your project site in SharePoint. With some updates to the Quick Launch, the team will have access to an approach appropriate to the current project.

Evolve from Project Management to Project and Portfolio Management

Another way to think about your ‘Start-Evolve’ journey is the movement from reporting on just one project to reporting on across multiple projects, or portfolios, in one dashboard.

The free Sharepoint Project Management Template from BrightWork is designed to manage and report on one project only. You can download and use the template for as many projects as you wish, for as long as you wish.

However, you cannot cross-report against the various sites at once. For organizations who require project and portfolio management, the full BrightWork solution includes a spectrum of templates and cross-project dashboards. As the Free Template is based on the Project Lite Template in BrightWork, the transition to project portfolio management will be quicker and easier.


BrightWork Spectrum-Diagram-1

Using BrightWork for project and portfolio management, project teams can

  • Deliver instant visibility into the status of projects and portfolios with automated reports.
  • Make project planning a breeze with pre-configured project management templates.
  • Enable teams to collaborate more effectively and get work done with centralized project sites in SharePoint.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Join over 40,000 organizations who are using our free SharePoint Project Management Template to deliver successful projects.

Chapter 6.

How to Improve User Adoption of SharePoint for Project Management

The introduction of a new tool or process is often met with resistance from end-users. Individuals need good reasons to relinquish their own ways of working in favor of a new approach! Let’s take a look at seven strategies to improve user adoption of SharePoint for project management.


7 Ways to Improve User Adoption of SharePoint

1. Make a clear case for change

Connecting individuals to the ‘why’ behind a change is a powerful means to engage the team. Explain the reasons for the new approach to project management from both an organizational and individual perspective.

At an organizational level, you may wish to highlight positive outcomes such as competitive advantage, improved resource management, and collaboration between departments.

Team members will likely appreciate faster reports that reduce administration time, more engagement with remote team members, and increased visibility into upcoming tasks.


2. Explain the project methodology

Next, explain the project management approach to the team. This applies to new approaches and existing practices; in both cases, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page from Day 1.


3. Start-Evolve

This point has been covered earlier in the guide, but it’s worth repeating.

Configure your SharePoint project management template to match the project and the experience of the team.

Once the team have experienced success and are more comfortable using SharePoint for project management, add more functionality as needed.


4. Offer role-based training

The SharePoint project management template is quite intuitive and does not require any technical or SharePoint expertise. However, it’s still a good idea to develop training materials for the various role types who will be using the template – team member, project manager, and stakeholder.

Informed and trained users will be more willing to adopt the new methodology you are trying to implement. A typical training session agenda could be as follows:

  • Topic 1: Local project management training with slides or a whiteboard and discussion to establish the desired project management approach.
  • Topic 2: A practical walkthrough of using the SharePoint project management template to initiate, plan, work, track and re-plan, and close the project. Depending on the audience, focus on different elements in more detail, for example, explore the ‘My Work’ reports with team members and the status reports with stakeholders.


In time, integrate the training into onboarding programs for new team members.


5. Get feedback

A feedback session with the team after some initial usage will help you determine items to be adjusted. Ask:

  • What do they like or dislike about the project management approach?
  • What do they like or dislike about using SharePoint for project management?
  • What would they change?


Some of the items can be adjusted immediately whilst others will be added to some sort of prioritized backlog.


6. Continuously improve

Hopefully, you have a vision of where you want to get to with your project management on SharePoint.  Listen to the feedback, needs, and requirements of the users to make sure you reach this destination in a sustainable way.  Building up your process bit-by-bit will enable you to achieve the level of project management you desire at a pace your team can handle.


7. Lead by Example

An easy way to show the team and stakeholders you are committed to this change is to use the project site in meetings for reports and updates.

Next Steps

This guide has explored the five-stage of collaborative project management, and how to deliver a successful project using a SharePoint.

Bring these tips and advice together on your next project with the free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork.

The template, available for SharePoint 2016, 2013 and 2010, provides a pre-configured project site for a quick and consistent start to your next project.

Use the template to manage as many projects as you want, for as long as you want, on SharePoint for free.


Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Get started quickly with an attractive project site without any coding or SharePoint experience.