How to Successfully Launch a SharePoint PMIS
In my last post, I made the case on why SharePoint is a great Project Management Information System (PMIS). Now that you're convinced, here are five proven steps that you have to take before utilizing your SharePoint PMIS:
- Get started with a SharePoint site template
Instead of starting from the ground up or reinventing the wheel, create your PMIS by starting off with existing SharePoint site templates. There are two site templates that I suggest:
A. Team Site Template
The Team Site site template is recommended since it has all the common lists and libraries that a project team would need. This comes out of the box with WSS and MOSS.
B. IT Team Workspace
This site template comes with the Fantastic 40 templates that can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. Although it's called IT Team Workspace, it is well suited for a project because it comes with a predefined status-tracking dashboard.
- Define and customize site components
Once the site is created, the next step is to decide which features are necessary for the PMIS. At a basic level, PMIS components should allow the project team to:
A. Centralize project information
Project information includes project contacts, calendars, documents, templates, forms, and checklists. In addition to storing project information, the PMIS should maintain a history and define who has access to the information. So make sure you enable version history in your document libraries and lists.
B. Facilitate project communication and collaboration
Collaborative project activities include scheduling meetings, jointly developing proposals, and informally brainstorming project strategies. All activities of this type should be supported by the PMIS. Components such as Wikis, discussion board and document workspaces can support this.
C. Automate project processes
Automating project processes, such as change control, should be available in the PMIS. The PMIS can automate the submission of change request forms by sending the form to the appropriate members of the change control board, recording the decision, and routing the necessary actions to be taken to the appropriate stakeholder. Here are other project processes that can be automated: expense reimbursement, travel request, vacation request and salary increase request (you have this in your organization, right?). At a basic level, three-state workflow can be used, however, custom workflows created using SharePoint Designer works best to address specific project processes.
At this point, you have to identify which lists or libraries are necessary, and then customize the SharePoint site to make them available to your users. For example, the table below lists common components of a PMIS:
||Stores common project events such as meetings, deadlines, and resource avialability
||Stores project task information, assignments, and status
||Project task list
||Stores project risks information, priority, and status
||Issue tracking list
||Stores common project contacts
||Stores project resource information, skillsets, and rates
||Stores relevant project documents, templates, checklists, and reports
|Change request system
||Automated change request system that stores change request information, decisions, and actions.
||Custom list + Custom Workflow
||Stores relevant project announcements
||Stores project milestone information with baseline dates and actual dates
- Identify stakeholders' project communication needs
Creating the project communication plan is an important step in sound project planning. The communications plan facilitates effective and efficient communications with all project stakeholders, describing how project communications will occur while project work is being done. A good communications plan generally includes the following elements:
- Communication objectives
- Targeted project stakeholders
- Key communications format and content
- Communication methods and frequency
Why is having a project communications plan necessary for a SharePoint PMIS? Because part of setting up a PMIS is defining who has access to that PMIS and the level of access that he or she can have. In addition, it identifies reporting needs and key performance indicators or dashboards that needs to be created. Permission settings and reporting needs directly map to a project communication plan. For example:
||Project information requirements
|Chief executive officer
||Regular email updates on project milestones and risks
|Chief financial officer
||Access to project budget information and to review and update any change to project finances
||Review project tasks, milestones, and risks
||Review and update project information
The information above can effectively guide you in defining user permissions at the SharePoint site level, list or document library level or even item-level. Also, it can assist you in identifying what custom views and/or Web Parts you need in order to create customized reports or dashboards.
Create a self-help facility
Using SharePoint is quite different from what people are familiar with, so the last thing you want to do is build a SharePoint PMIS and not support your stakeholders appropriately. Make sure you provide a self-help mechanism where users can easily find snippets of information about SharePoint and the PMIS.
For example, you can create a list or document library with basic how-to guides that cover key topics like:
A good resource I recommend is SharePoint Screencasts which provides video snippets of SharePoint how-tos.
- How to check out/check in a document
- How to create a meeting workspace
- How to save a document to a document library from Microsoft Word
- How to update a project task
- Gather feedback
Provide a way for your users to give feedback about the PMIS. Allow them to provide comments on the usefulness of the PMIS, components that could be enhanced, anything missing, or components that should be removed. A good way to do this is to create a custom list in the PMIS that allows users to enter feedback.
Finally, if you are wondering: "So, this is all good, Dux, but when do I actually do this in a typical project life cycle?" Well, as you might have suspected, during project initiation - as soon as the project gets started. I hope you find this post insightful. Don't be a stranger, and let me know if you have questions by posting in the Project Management forum. Until the next time.
Sep 25 2008, 10:00 AM