A new blog post will appear on June 4.
If your company uses Microsoft Windows for your computers, chances are you also have the free version of SharePoint available to you (ask your Windows administrators). If you do, SharePoint is a wonderful tool to use to assist in Project Management and to enhance communication and collaboration on a project.
In the upcoming posts I will address the following topics:
- Part 1 – The Home Page
- Part 2 – Announcements
- Part 3 – Key Lists
- Part 4 – Document Libraries
- Part 5 – Calendars
- Part 6 – The Project Status Dashboard
- Part 7 – Security
I am not going to describe the mechanics of working with SharePoint. Microsoft has plenty of online resources and courses to help you with that. I will focus on how you can take advantage of SharePoint features and functions to assist your project management.
One way to monitor and track the status of your project is to conduct a recurring project status update meeting. For most projects, weekly will suffice. Attendees should be the work stream leaders and key contributors. This meetings should be structured and have a standard framework that the attendees know in advance so they may prepare. Like all meetings, they also should be efficient. Stay on topic and finish early if possible.
Here is a recommended framework:
- Accountability:Review the task commitments planned for the prior week. For the ones not completed, get to the root cause of why. If there were obstacles preventing completion, work to remove them. That is an important part of the PM’s job. If the task is taking longer than planned, discuss with the team options for getting back on track.
- Commitment: Plan the tasks for the upcoming week. Assign owners and get commitment dates directly from the task owners.
- Awareness: Review the major milestones for the current month and the upcoming month. Make sure everyone has their “eyes on the prize”.
- Issues: Review the high impact issues. Determine how the team can collectively help resolve them.
- Risks: Review the high exposure risks. Determine if the probability or impact as changed. Ensure that the risk mitigation plan is being followed and the risk contingency plan is still sound. Ask if any new risks have arisen.
- Availability: Review planned time off for key team members. Make the sure the schedule accounts for this time and there is a backup plan.
- Open Forum: Ask each attendee if there is anything else they wish to discuss. It should be a topic of general interest to all or most of the attendees. This is important to make the team members know they have a voice in the project.
For larger projects I create a form for each work stream with the structure above. I update it at the status meeting and distribute it to the work stream owners at the end of the meeting. The work stream owners update the form by end of day two business days prior to the next meeting and send it to me. This has worked very well and I highly recommend this process.
Your Project Status Reports, like all communications, will vary with the audience. For large projects, your two main audiences are the Executive Steering Committee and the Project Sponsors. All status reports should have heading level information such as the Project Name and Number, a brief description, and the date and author(s) of the report.
Listed here are the elements I recommend including on the status report, with the designation “ESC” if you should include this item on the Executive Steering Committee report and “PS” for inclusion on the Project Sponsor report.
- The Project Health Scorecard (defined in the posts preceding this one) – ESC, PS
- High Impact Issues – ESC, PS
- High Exposure Risks – ESC, PS
- Upcoming Major Milestones and dates – ESC, PS
- Key activities completed since the last report – PS
- Upcoming key activities – PS
- Upcoming dates where key project team members have a planned absence – PS
- Call-outs (comments of significance you want to include in the report but don’t fit into the other categories) – ESC, PS
You can use MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint to format the report. Make it pleasing to the eye and uncluttered. In a future post, I will show you how to design a status report page on your SharePoint Project Site.