It’s staggering how much an organization can improve its efficiency and workflow utilizing SharePoint project portfolio management tools supported with training, communication and other essential ingredients. The foundations for managing projects in this leading web-based content management platform include a well-defined business case document, an effective change management process and regular status reports with quantitative and qualitative data. Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be, as long as you understand the key features of SharePoint and the essential steps to configure a project portfolio management system, which are outlined in this simple guide.

Setting up SharePoint

When setting up your new SharePoint system, it’s important to have all your end goals in mind. Decision makers and stakeholders should have a clear picture of what this solution will look like once up and running, how users will report on the data and how users will want and need to view information. This preliminary research and analysis phase should create an essential foundation that can be built upon later as the organization matures. These are the essential steps for implementing SharePoint once you have all your end goals in mind:

  • SharePoint 2013 Overview: There are both online and on-premises versions of SharePoint. You must first decide which of these solutions, or a hybrid solution, works best for your organization’s wants and needs.
  • Define Your Taxonomy: Taxonomy can be defined by the attributes of documents or columns in lists sorted by classifications such as Project ID, Project Name, Project Status and others.
  • Establish Custom Fields at the Site Level: Anything in the taxonomy that would be utilized across lists, such as Project Name, can and should be centralized.
  • Create the Lists and Libraries: Once your team has determined which version of SharePoint is most appropriate and has defined your taxonomy and custom fields, then it’s time to create lists and libraries categorized by Change, Issues, Risk and Task.
  • Determine the Security Model: the security model will be determined by factors such as who can edit lists, who can add attributes to lists, what type of templates need to be created and many other relevant factors.
  • Add Web Parts to Create a Dashboard: Your team will need to add web parts to the site in order to create a dashboard. Your organization may need to filter web parts based on any number of factors, such as issues and tasks, which can be filtered into custom views.

Document Management

With your SharePoint system in place, you can easily develop the document management solutions that are most appropriate for your needs. Grouping documents by metadata helps improve the usability of document libraries, while status columns lay the groundwork for future automation. Here are the most essential tasks that SharePoint 2013 will support for this critical component of your operation:

  • Establishing business case templates as content types
  • Replacing folder structures with site columns and other custom fields by grouping documents
  • Implementing status columns that lay the groundwork for future process flows

Task Management

There are many improvements that organizations can make to the task list that help individuals and teams quickly and easily capture work and assign it to the proper resources. These task lists can also be included in future project portfolio management platforms. The 2013 version of SharePoint includes new features such as the timeline view and enhanced Gantt Chart view, which are important to take advantage of. The metadata defined here also establishes the basis of custom fields in future project portfolio management tools. SharePoint 2013 offers a number of ease-of-use features that improve task management, such as:

  • Contextual date formatting
  • Lync integration
  • Strikethrough of tasks
  • Task indentation

SharePoint Lists

Consistent use of SharePoint lists in your project portfolio management system will establish a well-defined structure that requires minimal effort. Site columns and process-specific views can increase usability. A list may have an input view, an update view and a reporting view to ensure that users are not overwhelmed with the number of columns. It’s important to make sure everyone using your SharePoint project portfolio management system understands how the listing functions work and that they take advantage of key features such as the following:

  • Grouping and filtering options to create reports within various views
  • Quick Edit view that provides simple bulk editing
  • Tools for managing Changes, Risks, Issues and other aspects of projects in single registers

Dashboards & Reports

Views are the most basic reporting mechanisms that users overlook. SharePoint 2013 allows users to filter web parts to create custom dashboards and expert views to Microsoft Excel for further analysis. Views can easily filter, group and sort list data, providing context-specific reports at a glance.