Setting up a Project SharePoint Site Part 3: Key Lists

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

The SharePoint List is a powerful feature. It has a lot of the features of Excel but because it is native to SharePoint you don’t have to open a document to use it. You can also create views and web parts from a list, as well as sort and filter on columns. When I address the Project Status Dashboard, we will use views over lists to create some of the pieces of the dashboard.

Here are some of the key lists you should create as part of your project site. You may find a need for additional lists based on the needs of your project.

  • Action Items – I use this to track tasks that are at too low of a level to be on the MS Project schedule. Typical fields on this list are: description, assigned to, date assigned, date due, status, completion date, and comments.
  • Risks – I use the SharePoint list for risk management because of the versatility as noted above. Typical fields on this list are: risk description, status, date created, probability, impact, exposure, risk trigger, mitigation plans, contingency plans, risk owner, and comments.
  • Issues – I also use the SharePoint list for issue management because of the versatility as noted above. Typical fields on this list are: issue description, status, date created, assigned to, impact to project, date closed, and comments.
  • Milestones – I take the major milestones from the MS Project Schedule and place them in a list for easy reference. These are also used on the dashboard. Fields are: Milestone description, planned date, actual date.
  • Test Cases – having your test cases in SharePoint is especially useful for projects with two or more testers. It makes it easy to assign work and check status across the testing team. The testers can update the list themselves for assignments and status updates.
  • Test Issues – SharePoint has the ability to link lists. Since there are usually more than one Test Issues associated with a Test Case,¬† I like to link the Test Issues list with the Test Cases list to get a complete view of each Test Case.

In Summary, the SharePoint List is a powerful feature and I highly recommend you consider creating lists to replace any Excel project tracking documents.

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Setting up a SharePoint Site Part 2: Announcements

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Using SharePoint Announcements web part¬† is a good way to convey small amounts of important information on your site’s pages. I like to use Announcements mainly on the home page and the project status dashboard page.

You can set an expiration date for each announcement which is useful if the information will no longer be of value after a certain date. You can leave the expiration date blank if you wish the announcement to be “sticky” (i.e. will never disappear from the page).

Here are some example uses for announcements:

  • The “Welcome!” announcement. This is placed on the home page with no expiration date and orients the user as to where they are, how the site is used, and who to contact for questions.
  • The “Latest News” announcement on the home page. This contains a brief status update and I usually set the expiration to one week.
  • The “Project Summary” announcement on the project status dashboard page. This contains the project name, number, sponsor name and project manager name. It also gives a brief description on the project.
  • The “Project Status Update” announcement on the project status dashboard page. This is usually filled out by the project manager with input from the main point of contacts from the business and IT sides.

Ask your project team members for ideas in which to leverage announcements for your specific needs.

Setting up a Project SharePoint Site Part 1: The Home Page

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

The Home Page of your project SharePoint site is the initial landing page for collaborators and stakeholders. As such, I like to keep it clean and uncluttered. Here are the elements I like to include:

Heading (Top of Page):

  • Project logo (if you have one) and the official name of the project

Left Side of Page:

  • SharePoint populates the home page left side with the navigation to lists, Document libraries, calendars, etc. You can customize the order in which things appear and use Security to determine if they appear at all for some users. I recommend listing the most useful or most used items first.

Center of Page:

  • The “Welcome!” announcement. This is placed on the page with no expiration date and orients the user as to where they are, how the site is used, and who to contact for questions.
  • The “Latest News” announcement. This contains a brief status update and I usually set the expiration to one week.
  • “Calendar of Events”. I use this to show key upcoming events such as regularly occurring meetings, key milestones and any other event of interest.
  • “Upcoming Time Off Calendar”. This one shows the upcoming planned time off for key project contributors.

Right Side of Page:

  • Project Logo (larger than in the heading, if you placed it there.
  • External Links. I list quick links to other key sites of interest to the project stakeholders.

That’s it for the home page. You do not want to overwhelm your visitors with information on any one page as that will discourage them from using the site. For some users not used to using SharePoint, you may have to use some formal “Change Management” to get them on board.