Project Management in SharePoint or Office 365

2018-05-24

Project Management and SharePoint are the two best passions that can be combined. We have now reached a historical point in the evolution of a Project Management software. This is the first time in the history, we have a single platform that is robust and comprehensive yet flexible enough that it can be adjusted to any project management process and methodology and that single platform is Office 365 and SharePoint.

If you search for a project management software, you will find hundreds of vendors offering a myriad of online software tools to manage various projects online. From the basic task management solution to large PMO style solutions to manage large projects, people, tasks and risks. They all have a particular niche, which they serve, and I am sure it have a strong USP that let them stand out in the competition. No matter what the tool is, they all have almost the same typical characteristic of Project Management.

Here are some common ones:

• Document Management
• Task Management
• Resource Management
• Risk Management
• Calendar/Milestone Management
• Status Reporting
• Dashboards

All of the available solutions on the market available today essentially offer you a bundle of those features in some way or the other. Up until now, Microsoft had its own stake in the ground with a wide range of tools to achieve the same. However, they lack an environment to put it all together. While you had MS office suite to author documents, you had to store them on some file share or network drive. If you need to create complex project plans or Gantt charts, there was no easy way to communicate those tasks to the stakeholders. While you had cool calendars in the Microsoft Outlook they were not integrated with anything and were useless from project management standpoint. This has changed with the introduction of Office 365 in 2011. Microsoft had pulled in all its tools together for the first time including MS Office, Outlook and SharePoint into a one-stop solution type. They are not just placed in a single ecosystem and moreover integrated with each other to talk to each other. While this is a fundamental requirement which made most of the organizations to use Office 365. This has become a true game-changer for the Project Management Software development industry. The major features that help SharePoint and Office 365 stand out from the competition include:

Flexibility

None of the projects in an organization is the same. To have a quick start on your project, begin Office 365 group and collaborate in it within a matter of minutes. If you need a more long-term and expandable solution then SharePoint team site is an option.

Customization

SharePoint is highly customizable and can be customized in any way according to the project requirements. If you are a control freak and want to organize documents in a certain way on your project team site, you can use metadata in your document library to do it. With Task web part in SharePoint, you can track your tasks and send an email notification each time, the task is assigned to the user. Moreover, you can list all your risks in SharePoint list for easy sharing, you can change the color of your project sites etc.

Integration

None of the Microsoft tools out there does a better job without integrating them together. Many tools come in naturally for Microsoft suite of application. Outlook, Word, Excel, MS Visio, SharePoint etc. are all native Microsoft tools that are now magically connected to each other. This is absolutely critical from the Project Management perspective. Users have been using these tools for the last 10-15 years and they are already familiar with them. There is no need to learn another 3rd party software. Because of the tight integration, the difference is a value addition for your teams by which some manual steps and duplicate entries can be eliminated which ought to occur previously. For instance, if you need to surface all the tasks from your MS project in SharePoint tasks list, then just seamlessly sync them both.

Ease of Access and Sharing

One of the reasons why a lot of 3rd party project management software options became popular was due to the fact that they were all in the cloud and allowed for easy access and sharing of information from any place. This was never the case with Microsoft tools. Everyone used MS Office, MS Project for sharing files strictly within the organization network. There were no other easy ways to access and share content with external clients. Office 365 has changed this. The Microsoft firewall came with the introduction of Office e365. You could check your outlook email from anywhere, share the latest version of your projects in SharePoint or OneDrive and access all the files on a SharePoint project team site.

Searching and Reporting

This feature already exists and will continue to evolve in SharePoint/Office 365-the search capability. We live in a world that is search driven. Project Management also is the same. This lets you find someone’s document done years back. With a robust search mechanism, you can roll up all the incomplete tasks together from all your high-risk projects. With this beautiful feature, you can configure your search and roll up the data in any way you wish.

Summarizing, Office 365 and SharePoint are the best fit for Project management. The recent changes in the cloud space technology and the latest advances in Office 365, we are on the track to witness an industry shift in how we manage projects and what tools will be employed to do that.

May 21st, 2018 by