How to Use SharePoint for Project Management

Everything You Need to Initiate, Plan, 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 shifting away from traditional managerial hierarchies to a collaborative approach, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation.

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.

 

Getting these three elements in place may seem like a time-consuming task!

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

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

Secondly, to help you put this five-step process into practice, we have mapped the stages to the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork.  The Free SharePoint Project Management Template is a pre-planned project site that will help you to start managing projects on SharePoint in less than five minutes.

The Free Template works on SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and SharePoint Online.

This guide explains how to manage a sample project – the redesign of a company website – using the Free SharePoint Project Management Template.  By the end of the guide, you will have learned how to initiate, plan, track, and report on a project using SharePoint.

Download the Free SharePoint Template now and let’s get started!

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.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.’  The purpose of effective project management is delivering a positive change for your organization or customers.

Project management is a vital business activity 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:

  • No tool or process for managing projects
  • Lack of project visibility
  • Work and data silos
  • Ineffective task tracking
  • Poor team motivation and engagement
  • Neglecting to document ‘Lessons Learned’ after each project.

 

To help our customers introduce a standardized approach to project management, win internal buy-in for project management, and provide training, we developed a guide to collaborative project management.

Collaborative project management helps individuals from different departments, teams, and locations work together to deliver a project successfully.

Collaborative project management encompasses 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 step has three associated sub-steps, addressing people, process, and technology over the course of the project. The steps are summarized below. If you want to learn more about each stage and collaborative project management, download a free PDF copy of Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook.

 

The Five Stages of Collaborative Project Management

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.

You’ll need to:

  1. Get the project approved, sponsored, and resourced. This will typically involve creating a project charter to help define the objectives of the project, the scope of work, timelines and so on.
  2. Decide on a project management approach.
  3. Create a collaborative project site.

 

2. Plan and Setup the Project

With the project site in place, you can

  1. Plan the project by adding tasks and a document repository to your project site.
  2. Desk check the project plan with the sponsor and the team. Update tasks and timelines as needed.
  3. Notify the team of their responsibilities in a project kick-off meeting.

 

3. Work the Project

During project execution, help your team to:

  1. Find their work.
  2. Do their work!
  3. Update their work quickly using various reports in the project site.

 

4. Track and Re- Plan the Project

Projects rarely run according to plan, making it essential to continuously track and re-plan the project.

Some project managers are natural re-planners and do this daily as work progress. For others, re-planning needs to be added as a task to the project plan. Whatever your preference, re-planning is a key project management activity.

To track and re-plan your project:

  1. Check and understand the status of the project using key reports.
  2. Find and manage exceptions such as Issues.
  3. Re-plan the project by updating tasks and adding a project status report.

 

5. Close the Project

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.

Once the project is completed, it’s a good idea to formally close the project.

  1. In your project site, mark tasks and issues as complete, and update any relevant documents in the project site.
  2. Run a project retrospective with the team and add a ‘Lessons Learned’ document to the site.

 

As you’ll see later on, achieving this way of working is very easy with the Free SharePoint Project Management Template.

Now that you’ve read about collaborative project management, it’s time to learn why SharePoint is a great project management tool. You’ll also find out more about the Free SharePoint template from BrightWork, which is an easy way to start managing projects on SharePoint.

Chapter 2.

Why Use SharePoint for Project Management?

Launched in 2001 as a web-based collaborative tool, Microsoft SharePoint is used by over 400,000 customers in 250,00 organizations worldwide, including 85% of Fortune 500 companies.

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 provides a number of features and functionality to help drive collaboration including:

  • Document management and sharing
  • Intranet portals
  • A newsfeed
  • Wikis and forums
  • Knowledge management.

 

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

On October 22, 2018, SharePoint Server 2019 was released to the general public. Key to this latest release is an alignment of SharePoint On-Premises with SharePoint Online.

As a project is a highly collaborative activity, it makes sense to use SharePoint for project management. Think about common project management challenges – no process, lack of visibility, multiple versions of the same document, manual reports, poor communication and so on.

Using SharePoint to bring all project information and tasks into one central place can resolve many of these problems. The project site can be structured to match your project approach, helping to standardize project delivery and improve visibility.

A SharePoint project site has a number of elements to help you manage a project effectively. Let’s take a look at the architecture of a typical SharePoint site.

 

The architecture of SharePoint

SharePoint site architecture

 

1. SharePoint Site

A SharePoint site is used to organize different types of content, for example, a task list, project calendar, and a document library in one place to help teams work together.

Content saved to the site can be accessed and used by the site members, removing silos of information stored in various different places.

A site inherits key elements such as navigation, templates, and permissions from the umbrella site collection. However, you can configure each site can with its own content and security settings.

 

2. SharePoint Site Collection

A SharePoint site collection is a collection of SharePoint sites. Site collections are typically used in large organizations with different project requirements for each business unit.

As mentioned above, a SharePoint project site inherits properties from the site collection, so it makes sense to have a separate collection for your Marketing, Finance, and IT departments.

If you need to share documents or information with external users without granting access to your larger systems, you can create a site collection with restricted permissions.

It’s also possible to roll up data from multiple project sites in a site collection into a project reporting dashboard.

 

3. SharePoint Lists

A list is a way of organizing information in SharePoint. Made up of headings, rows, and columns, a SharePoint list is quite similar to an Excel spreadsheet, but with more flexibility.

Lists are core to project management so expect to see the following lists in your SharePoint project site – and in the Free Template:

  • Document Library: Use to create a single repository for all project documents. Users can upload, download, delete, and rename the documents – depending on the permissions you have set for each team member.
  • Issues: Use this list to track and manage issues raised by the team.
  • Tasks: Add tasks and subtasks to create the project timeline. You can also assign tasks to individual team members and track their progress.

 

With lists, it’s simple for the team to update key information and tasks in one place. The lists are available to all team members, making it easy to track work and collaborate together.

 

4.  SharePoint Web Parts

A SharePoint web part is a type of list used to store content in your site. Like an app on a smartphone, web parts such as contacts and announcements enhance the functionality of your site. There are 17 different web parts to choose from.

Web parts act as a project dashboard, displaying key project information in a usable way. 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.

You can add web parts for the information you need to see quickly on the project homepage, like tasks and issues.

Creating a SharePoint Project Site

As you can see, SharePoint is a powerful project management tool.

A SharePoint project site centralizes all project information, connects your team to the project, and makes reporting much easier. No more outdated Excel files!

There is a caveat, however; SharePoint doesn’t look like a project management tool out of the box. Below is an image of a typical SharePoint site without any configuration.

SharePoint site out of the box

 

If you decide to use out-of-the-box SharePoint for project management, you will need to configure your site – or ask your IT team to do so.

Creating a SharePoint project site  involves a number of steps including:

  • Decide the site architecture, i.e., where the site will site in your SharePoint environment.
  • Figure out what lists and web parts you need to add to the site.
  • Create the site.
  • Add and configure the web parts.

 

It’s a long process, especially if you don’t have any SharePoint development experience or simply don’t have the time.

SharePoint site apps

SharePoint Lists and Web Parts

 

Of course, if you do have some SharePoint development experience and are willing to roll up your sleeves, creating a SharePoint project site is not just adding lists or web parts.

You also need to make sure you have the right project management process in place. The formula for a successful project on SharePoint is something like:

 

SharePoint knowledge + project management knowledge + a project site = success

 

If one element of this formula is off, your project is at risk. That’s where the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork will give you a head start.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template Homepage

 

The Free SharePoint Template has everything you need to initiate, plan, track, and report on a project using SharePoint – straight out-of-the-box.

In addition to the lists and web parts mentioned above, the project site template includes metric tiles, RAG (red-amber-green) reporting, project status reports, Work reports, and a ‘tasks by status’ chart.

Used by over 40,000 organizations worldwide to manage projects on SharePoint, the Free SharePoint Template was developed by SharePoint experts, project management consultants, and inputs from BrightWork customers. This means your new project site has been tested and refined extensively.

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

In the next chapter, you’ll learn how to manage a project using the Free SharePoint Template. We’ll cover how to download and install the template, launch and set up your site, work the project, and track progress.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

Get a pre-planned project site with all of the project management essentials you need

Chapter 3.

How to Manage a Project on SharePoint

As mentioned above, we’re going to use the example of the website redesign project to explain how to use the Free Template.

To add some context to the following sections, here is a brief description of the project.

  • Summary: The Marketing team has identified the need for a new website for the company to engage new users and support existing customers.
  • Project Manager: Grace Windsor, a member of the Marketing team with some project management experience. However, she is not formally trained in the discipline of project management.
  • Project Sponsor: The Marketing Manager, Anne Wallace.
  • Timeline: The project started on October 1 and the proposed launch date for the new website is January 2Post-launch testing will be completed on January 4. The project will be formally closed by January 11, 2019.
  • Team: An internal, cross-functional team – Alex (marketing), Dan (developer), and Jim (designer) – will execute the project.
  • Project Management Process: Given the tight-timelines and internal team, the team will use a light amount of project management, following the five-stages of collaborative project management explained above.
  • Project Management Tool: The team needs a free, reliable software with a low learning curve. As SharePoint is already used within the company, they can get up and running with the Free SharePoint Template very quickly.
  • Risks: Resources and a tight timeline. As other projects are currently underway within the organization, some team members are already committed to other tasks and deadlines.
  • Communication Plan: A mix of daily stand-ups and team meetings as needed. All project documents and tasks will be added to a collaborative project site. A weekly update email, with screenshots of relevant reports, will be shared with the project sponsor.

The Five Stages of Collaborative Project Management

1. Initiate the Project

A. Get the Project Approved, Sponsored, and Resourced

The first step to completing the website redesign project is to get the project approved, sponsored, and resourced.

Let’s assume the Marketing team has prepared a project proposal for a new company website, which has been approved for execution by senior management.  The project sponsor is Anne Wallace, Marketing Manager, who is fully committed to the project.

With the project approved and sponsored, you need to secure project resources like key team members and budgets.

To do this, you will prepare a project charter. A project charter or statement may contain the following information:

  • Project identification
  • Project description
  • Project objectives
  • Project customer
  • Resources
  • Scope of work
  • The type of the project
  • The status of the project
  • Start and end dates
  • Project Assumptions.

 

Some of this information will be used to populate the SharePoint project site.

 

B. Decide the Project Management Process

Once the project is approved, you can choose an appropriate management process.

As the website redesign project is going to be managed by an internal, cross-functional team on a tight timeline, you decide to use a ‘lighter’ approach with a project statement, documents, tasks, and issues.

These elements are already part of the pre-planned project site in the Free SharePoint Template, saving even more time.

 

C. Create a Collaborative Project Site

With these key decisions in place, you can now create a collaborative project site for your team using the Free SharePoint Template.

There are three simple steps to download and install the template from the BrightWork website.

  1. Complete and submit a short form to download the version of the free template suitable for your SharePoint environment in a zip file. The Free Template runs on SharePoint 2010/2013/2016/2019 and SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Free Template download

 

  1. Install the template in your SharePoint environment following the steps in the online guide.

Install SharePoint project management template

 

  1. Using the installed template, launch your first project.

Install SharePoint project management template

2. Plan and Setup the Project

A. Plan the Project

Use the ‘Get Started’ tiles to add the project statement, tasks, and documents to the project site. As explained above, these elements are lists and web parts in SharePoint.

Setup Project links to the Project Charter or Statement. Click the icon highlighted below to edit the statement.

Add project statement SharePoint

 

 

Add key information such as the project name and description, project manager, status, and due date.

SharePoint project charter

  

Click ‘Add Tasks’ to start assigning tasks to the team.

Add tasks SharePoint

 

 

The template ships with a pre-populated list of tasks and sub-tasks of collaborative project management.

OOTB SharePoint task list

 

 

It’s easy to update each item in the list – just click the item to open the editing dialogue box.

SharePoint task list edit

 

 

Update the task as needed and save.

SharePoint edit task list item

To save time, you can also make bulk edits to the task list. Let’s imagine you need to update the status and owner of tasks for project initiation.

First, click ‘edit this list’ to open the datasheet view.

 

Next, update the status and task assignee for the first task. Drag these updates down to the relevant task and select ‘stop editing this list’ to save your edits.

 

Add some tasks that are specific to the website project under ‘Work the Project’, such as preparing new website content and a new design for the homepage.

Right-click the editing menu beside the relevant project phase and select ‘add subtask’. Here, we have selected ‘Work the Project’.

Add project subtask SharePoint

 

Follow the columns to add the ‘task name,’ ‘start and finish date’, ‘task status’, and ‘assigned to’.

Add project subtask SharePoint

 

You can also view the tasks and schedule in a Gantt chart.

SharePoint gantt chart

 

 

Using the third tile, add documents to the document library.

add documents SharePoint

 

 

Simply click ‘new document’ to upload the relevant file.

upload project document SharePoint

 

To make it easier to search for files, it’s a good idea to agree on some guidelines with your team, for example, file names.

For this project, let’s preface each file name by the area of work. For example, planning documents will include ‘plan’ in the title; the same applies to ‘content’, ‘design’ and so on.

  • Plan_Project Charter
  • Content_New Homepage Copy
  • Design_Brief for Forms.

 

If our designer wants to find a document, all they need to do is search ‘design’ in the document library.

Only one copy of each file will exist in the project site to avoid any confusion about the correct version. Ask the team to use the relevant file in the document library instead of creating multiple versions of the same document with different dates or notes added to the title.

Incorrect:

  • Content_New Homepage Copy_201118
  • Content_New Homepage Copy_211118
  • Content_New Homepage Copy_Final
  • Content_New Homepage Copy_Final Final

 

Correct: Content_New Homepage Copy.

Finally, files will not be stored in folders in the document library – the naming convention above removes this need.

Note – to ensure edits to your document are synced to the library, download the document using Microsoft Edge. Otherwise, you’ll end up with ‘read-only’ copies of the file you will need to save locally and re-upload to the site.

 

You may also wish to add users to the SharePoint site. Click on ‘configuration’, located under the ‘Get Started Tiles’.

 

 

Select ‘share your site’.

 

Add the relevant information to the invitation dialogue box and select ‘Share’.

 

You’ll notice the project homepage reflects the new information in the project site. Every time a task or issue is updated,  the reports on the homepage are automatically updated.  This helps to keep everyone informed about the progress of the project without the need for meetings or lengthy email chains.

updated project homepage SharePoint

 

 

Another useful feature of a SharePoint project site is the Quick Launch, a menu with links located on the left-hand side of the project site. The Quick Launch improves navigation around the site by grouping the various web parts and lists together by phase.

 

SharePoint project site quick launch

B. Check the plan with your team

With the project charter, tasks, and documents now added to the SharePoint project site,  ask the team and sponsor to check the site and the proposed timelines.

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.

 

C. Project Kick-off Meeting

Before any work begins on the project, use a project kick-off meeting to ensure everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities.

You should also establish some ways of working from the outset, for example, the team needs to update their tasks in the project site every Friday morning.

3. Work the Project

During this critical stage of the project, you need to give team members direction on how to:

  • Proceed with their tasks
  • Work on key deliverables
  • Work together collaboratively.

 

As mentioned above, daily stand-ups are a key part of communication for this project. Using the homepage of the project site in these daily meetings will help focus the team.

As such, it’s important the team can find, do, and update their work as well as report issues easily.

As we’ll see below, the ‘My Work’ report is designed to do this. We’ll also take a look at the ‘Work’ report (for project managers) and key data on the project homepage.

The ‘My Work’ Report

Located under ‘Execute and Control’ on the Quick Launch menu is a link to the ‘My Work’ report. My Work report SharePoint The ‘My Work’ report is a list of work assigned to the logged-in user. Each individual team member can track and update their own 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.

To edit an individual item, click the relevant task to access the editing options.

Alternatively, to make bulk updates to the lists, simply click ‘edit this list’:

edit My Work Report SharePoint

Work Report

The Work report is very similar to the ‘My Work’ report except it displays all work across the project for the assigned project manager. This means you can easily check overdue, work due soon, open work, closed work, and unassigned work. overdue project work SharePoint The interface works in the same way as above – simply click on the task you need to update and make the changes.

Issues Report

The Issues Report is located under ‘Execute and Control’ on the Quick Launch.

project issues list SharePoint

 

To add an issue, click ‘new item’ and complete each field on the dashboard. add a project issue SharePoint The issue is now added to several reports, including:

  • Top Open Issues on the project homepage
  • The relevant tab in the ‘Work’ report, for example, work due soon
  • The ‘Project Status’ report, accessible from the project homepage.

 

Project Homepage

The website project – like most projects – will move quickly once work begins! The team is likely assigned to a few projects so you need a simple way to help them get focused when working on their tasks.

The project homepage, which summarizes key updates and data from the reports on the site, is particularly useful. 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.

 

To drill down for more information, for example, to view which tasks are late, simply click on the relevant tile.

late tasks metric tile SharePoint

 

This will open the task list. The late items are highlighted in red below. You can also see the task owner and the status such as ‘waiting on someone else’ or not started.

 

late project tasks SharePoint

4. Track and Re- Plan the Project

No project ever goes to plan, and unfortunately, this website project is no different! To get the project back on track, you should assess the status of the work before re-planning the work.

 

A. Check and Understand the Project’s Progress

Instead of distracting the team with meetings and emails,  use the reports in the SharePoint project site to check the current status of the project.  If further clarification is needed, meet with the relevant person directly.

The Free SharePoint Template is pre-populated with a range of visual, intuitive project reports for ‘at-a-glance’ information. If everyone is updating their tasks weekly, the information should be correct.

Let’s start with the project homepage.  Key project metrics (highlighted below) surface late tasks, the current finish date, and the date of the most recent update to the project site.

 

Key project metrics SharePoint

 

As explained above,  simply click on the tile to view the underlying information.

Next, use the Work report to identify problem areas, like overdue or unassigned tasks.

An issue has been added regarding new content for a page, which is delaying design work.

Work report SharePoint project issue

You will need to follow up with the content owner to resolve the delay.

Another way to check issues is the ‘Top Open Issues’ report on the project homepage. This report surfaces all issues on the project.

Top Open Issues 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.

Red-Yellow-Green status indicators SharePoint

 

Having gathered this data and spoken with the team where needed, you can now re-plan the project.

 

B. Re-plan the Project

Let’s start by updating tasks.

Here, you can bulk edit tasks, for example, to change the dates of three tasks by one week.  Firstly, update the due date of the first task, and then drag the new date into the other tasks.

 

bulk edit project tasks SharePoint

 

If needed, use the same drag and drop functionality to update the status or owner of tasks as needed.

Once the tasks are updated, a new timeline is generated. It’s important to compare the revised projection against the original plan and share with the sponsor.

If the date is too late, you’ll need to work on a revised plan, such as dropping some requirements or adding extra resources.

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

The next step for re-planning the project is to add a project status report, which takes around three minutes to complete.

A typical Project Status Report includes red-amber-green indicators and captures other information such as details on project issues and 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.

project status report SharePoint

This section also links to previous status reports.

view all project status reports SharePoint

 

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. Let the team and stakeholders know the project plan and site are updated so they can review the latest timeline.

5. Close the Project

After months of hard work and extensive pre-launch testing, the new website is live! Close the project by updating the project site and running a retrospective with the team to document ‘Lessons Learned’.

 

A. Close Out the Project Site

Firstly, review all tasks to make sure nothing has been overlooked.

Once this review is finished,  mark all tasks as complete using the bulk edit function as explained above. Likewise, you can use the bulk editing functionality to mark all issues as resolved.

Next, add a final project status report to the site to capture some thoughts about the project overall.

Finally,  review and update project documentation as needed.

 

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?

 

Here are a few tips to help you frame the discussion and answer these questions.

  • Start with a recap of the project’s goals and objectives.
  • Compare the desired results with the final deliverables. Did you achieve your goals? Is the client or stakeholder satisfied with the project outcome?
  • Review each stage of the project in terms of successes, mistakes, outputs, and learnings.
  • Look at how the team worked together. Did everyone follow the agreed procedures? Was the project site easy to use and update? Was the project plan useful to the team? Did the team communicate and collaborate together?

 

Review the feedback and suggestions to find actionable inputs to your next project. For example, if unassigned tasks were a roadblock, you can 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.

And that’s it – a walkthrough of managing a project using the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork.

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

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

Chapter 4.

How to Improve User Adoption of SharePoint for Project Management

The doer alone learneth. – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Philosopher (1844-1900)

If you are ready to start meaning a project using the approach and tool outlined above, go for it! There is simply no better way to implement the guidance or leverage SharePoint than by trying it.

Practice is key to successful project management on SharePoint.

Practice with a plan and intent will get you there even faster. Make sure to gather inputs from the team during and after project execution to accelerate your journey:

  • Schedule time to get feedback from the team about the new project management approach and using the Free SharePoint Template, for example, during the weekly team meeting.
  • When the project is finished, carry out a project post-mortem to reflect on your learnings, using the process explained in Chapter 3.
  • Based on the learnings from the post-mortem, document the ‘Lessons Learned’ and revise your approach for the next project.

 

As you start to use the Free SharePoint Project Management Template, you’ll likely face two scenarios:

  1. Having experienced success with the new approach, you decide to introduce the template to the rest of your organization. However, you don’t have the authority to make a company-wide change to processes.
  2. Some team members did not embrace your new approach to project management.

 

In both cases, you need a change management plan to win internal support and drive user adoption. Successful change management involves numerous elements such as:

  • Making a clear case for the change
  • Stakeholder analysis and engagement
  • Strong leadership, both from the project manager and senior leadership
  • Effective communication about the change
  • Relevant training and upskilling
  • Working with ‘role models’ or early adopters of the change to help win more support.

 

Building on the concept of ‘Practice’, below is a framework – the 3 Ps – to help you increase user adoption of SharePoint for project management using these best-practices.

  1. Purpose: Build a powerful case for change to engage the team and win stakeholder support.
  2. Preparation: Pick your approach and run training sessions for the team.
  3. Practice: Implement the new approach on your next project and document your learnings.

 

The following section applies the 3Ps to increase user adoption of SharePoint for project management. If needed, it’s easy to apply the same steps to winning support for project management.

 

The 3Ps of User Adoption: SharePoint for Project Management

1. Purpose

A. Build the Case for Change

Firstly, you need to start with a clear vision of why the team should use SharePoint for project management, the benefits of this change, and how the Free SharePoint Template will help.

Connecting individuals to the ‘why’ behind a change helps to inspire people to change their behavior.

Be able to explain why you want to introduce SharePoint for project management and what you hope to achieve with this change.

Start by preparing answers to some common questions about SharePoint:

  • What is SharePoint?
  • Why should we use SharePoint for project management?
  • How long will it take to train the team on SharePoint?
  • Who will manage our SharePoint site?
  • Can we configure SharePoint for our needs?
  • Why are we using the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork?

 

Next, find examples of successful projects delivered using SharePoint.

Finally, plan any training sessions you will need to carry out. One of the key reasons people fail to change is a belief that they can’t change or learn something new. Training and upskilling help people to feel competent and more motivated to adopt a new process.

The information in Chapter Two is a good starting point. You can also use the Free Template training video from BrightWork.

 

B. Gather Inputs from Your Team

A key principle of change management is identifying and engaging stakeholders early in the process. It’s important for your team to feel the change will make a positive impact on their work; that they have a say in the change, and that they can play a key role in the success of future projects.

Using tools such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, and brainstorm sessions, find out how the team is currently managing projects. Common project management tools include email, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Ask your team to share the challenges they face with such tools, such as multiple versions of the same file. Remember – you need to understand the limitations of the current project management tools to build excitement about SharePoint.

Finally, ask a member of the senior management or executive team to sponsor your efforts and get their feedback about SharePoint for project management. In addition to removing roadblocks at a senior level, a prominent role model will encourage others to try the new approach.

 

C. Tell the Story of Where You Want To Go

Using these inputs, share your vision and plan with the team. Use a project kick-off meeting to:

  • Explain the benefits of using SharePoint for project management such as collaboration.
  • Introduce the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork as your starting point.
  • Set out a plan for moving to SharePoint for project management including training workshops.
  • Get feedback and update your plan as needed.

 

2. Preparation

A. Set Up a Project Site with the Free SharePoint Template

Download and install the Free Template in your SharePoint environment. With a little help from IT, you can create a SharePoint site collection for each team member. This means each person can install and use the template in their own environment.

 

B.  Run Training Sessions with The Team

Based on the five-steps of collaborative project management, run a series of workshops with the team. A sample set of sessions to run is as follows:

  • Session 1:
    • Introduction to SharePoint – what and why?
    • Introduction to the Free SharePoint Project Management Template from BrightWork – what, why, and how?
    • Using your site collection.
  • Session 2:
    • Initiate the Project
  • Session 3:
    • Plan the Project
  • Session 4:
    • Work the Project, including task and issue management
  • Session 5:
    • Track and re-plan the Project
  • Session 6:
    • Close the Project
    • Recap of Sessions 1-6.

 

Try to keep each session to 60 minutes in length and share notes in advance to help everyone prepare. Make these sessions as practical as possible.

Set a weekly task for each team member to complete, for example, use the learnings from Session 2 to launch their own project site on SharePoint.

If possible, record the sessions so people can review in their own time. This will also ensure anyone who misses a session can catch up quickly.

 

C. Collaboratively Plan a Mock Project Together

Armed with this new information, bring the team together for another workshop – this time, planning a mock project together.  Work through each phase together to generate a collaborative plan. During this session, resolve any issues the team have experienced with the Free SharePoint Template and agree on ways of working, for example, how to name files.

 

3. Practice

A. Use the Free SharePoint Template for your next project

Now it’s time to use the template to manage your next project on SharePoint. As recommended above, schedule some time to get regular feedback from the team about using the process.

 

B. Carry out a post-mortem to reflect your learnings

Once the project is complete, carry out a project post-mortem to reflect on your learnings. You can use the same process explained in Chapter 3, asking:

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

 

C. Update your approach using ‘Lessons Learned’

Based on the learnings from the post-mortem, document the ‘Lessons Learned’ and revise your approach for the next project.

Next Steps

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

Applying collaborative project management with the Free SharePoint Template will help you to align the ‘people, process, technology’ elements needed for successful project management.

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

The template provides a pre-planned project site for a quick and consistent start to your next project.

The Free Template works on SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and SharePoint Online.

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

 

Created By

Grace Windsor

Grace Windsor

Marketing

Free SharePoint Project Management Template

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