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SharePoint for Project Management by Dux Raymond Sy

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Preface

Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. (He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.)

Dr. José P. Rizal, Philippine national hero

Do you find yourself asking for more time whenever you work on a project? Do you ever get the extra time you asked for? Well, if you’re like me, you rarely get the extra time that you need from your customers. This got me thinking about how I can buy more time for my projects.

I decided to find out if I could gain more time by reducing inefficiencies within the project team (which also includes myself). In a recent project, I monitored and analyzed a few individuals for a week and was amazed at what I discovered.

During an average eight-hour workday, each individual spent about 45 minutes looking for information. For example, when asked by a client to retrieve a specific status report, the project coordinator had to look for it on the network share, in her email inbox, in the project folder of her computer, and she even had to call up another colleague to help her find it. This typical mode of searching took up time that could have been spent on something more productive. In addition, project resources were unproductive due to poor document management practices, inefficient project communication standards, and ineffective project collaboration tools. According to a May 31, 2007 New York Times article titled, “Time Wasted? Perhaps It’s Well Spent” (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/31/fashion/31work.html), a Microsoft study found that American workers, on average, spend 45 hours a week at work, with 16 of these hours described as “unproductive.”

Although 45 minutes may not sound a lot, when you look at the bigger picture, it essentially means that a team of 20 people wastes 900 minutes a day. In a three-month project, that is 54,000 minutes, or roughly 38 personal days—more than one-third of the project!

Other than time, how much does this cost the project and the organization? Well, depending on who you’re considering, 45 minutes a day might cost $50 for a project coordinator or $250 for a technical contractor each day.

Bottom line: time and money are not well spent. What if my team could regain just 20 of those 45 minutes wasted each day?

With SharePoint, we were able to achieve this and more. Apart from increasing productivity, we were able to:

  • Automate status reporting for stakeholders

  • Use collaboration to generate real-time project lessons learned that were easily accessible by a globally dispersed team

  • Synchronize standard project information such as calendars, contacts, and documents

  • Document and track project risks and issues

  • Maintain a quality log

  • Integrate existing project management tools, such as email, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Project into SharePoint

  • Create and manage a change control system

For me, the best part of using SharePoint was that once the IT/IS department performed the installation and initial configuration, I didn’t have to burden anybody to set up and further configure this unique Project Management Information System (PMIS)—I did it all myself.

That’s what this book is all about. By clearly mapping the relationships between project management processes and project stakeholders, and by leveraging tools like SharePoint, you will learn how to apply common and practical project management techniques using SharePoint. More importantly, this book will help you quickly master SharePoint so you can build a PMIS that can help you efficiently coordinate communication and collaboration throughout your project team.

Who Should Read this Book

This book will be most valuable to individuals working on projects who want to adapt SharePoint for project management, including:

Project managers

By managing a project officially or unofficially, project managers are involved from the project’s inception to its closure. Their responsibilities include project planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing. In addition, they lead a project team and are the project liaison with key stakeholders.

Project team members

Members of the team work in a project environment that requires participating in collaborative activities, such as project planning, status updates, risk monitoring, tracking, requesting changes, and maintaining critical project information.

Program managers

Program managers seek a standard, consistent, and best-practices approach to implementing a PMIS across projects in the organization.

IT/IS directors

Directors want to learn how SharePoint can meet the needs of project managers in the organization.

SharePoint consultants

SharePoint consultants can help you to leverage your SharePoint technical skills by offering a focused approach in implementing SharePoint as a PMIS.

What You Need to Best Use this Book

To maximize the benefits of this book, familiarity with basic project management concepts and terminologies is assumed. This book is intended for individuals with a project management background who are interested in leveraging SharePoint on their projects.

Furthermore, it is ideal that you have an existing SharePoint environment (WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007) where you can practice and apply the techniques that you will learn. If you are not sure about this, ask your IT/IS department these two questions:

  • Am I a member of an existing SharePoint site?

  • Am I allowed to create SharePoint subsites?

If the answer to both questions is yes, you are in good shape. If the answer to either or both questions is no, I suggest you ask for appropriate SharePoint access or rely on external SharePoint hosting vendors such as 1and1.com or TheHostingService.com.

Finally, apart from having a SharePoint environment to work with, your computer must be running Windows XP or Vista, and it must have Internet Explorer 6 and Microsoft Office installed. Certain sections of this book showcase the integration of Microsoft Office products with SharePoint. All of the examples in the book were created using Microsoft Office 2007.

My Assumptions in Writing this Book

My assumptions are that you:

Have some sort of project management experience

You have managed projects formally or informally and are familiar with fundamental project management concepts and practices.

Are new to SharePoint

You may have heard of SharePoint or have been told to use SharePoint to manage your projects. If you have used SharePoint before, you will gain practical knowledge in applying SharePoint for project management.

Are using SharePoint for project management purposes

This book is focused on helping you leverage SharePoint for project management, regardless of what industry you are in. The concepts and techniques in this book apply to IT, construction, government, education, financial, and healthcare projects. If you are interested in using SharePoint to deploy a corporate portal, create an e-commerce website, or develop a proprietary SharePoint application, this is not the book for you.

Are not interested in the nitty-gritty technical details of SharePoint

I am not inclined to write yet another technical book about SharePoint. Though I am a certified SharePoint geek, there are tons of other books available that do a great job in discussing advanced technical topics. The level of technical detail I will cover is just enough for you to get your PMIS up and running.

Are comfortable using Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and a web browser

The technical background required to fully utilize SharePoint is minimal. As long as you are familiar with basic computing concepts, such as creating and saving documents, copying files, logging in and logging out, using passwords, surfing the Web, clicking on links on a web page, downloading and uploading, and distinguishing files versus folders, you are in good shape.

Are willing to change and try something new

Remember, to benefit from this book, you have to consciously decide that how you manage project information, facilitate team collaboration, and enable project communication must change for the better.

Additional Resources

Websites:

Books:

  • Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun (O’Reilly, 2008)

  • Applied Project Management: Best Practices on Implementation by Harold Kerzner (John Wiley & Sons, 2000)

  • Essential SharePoint 2007 by Jeff Webb (O’Reilly, 2007)

Contents of this Book

Using the hands-on workshops in this book, you will leverage a SharePoint PMIS just as you would in a typical project environment. You will integrate project management best practices and standards to fully reap the benefits of a SharePoint PMIS using the detailed step-by-step logical process provided in the following chapters:

Chapter 1, Project Kickoff
Chapter 2, Setting Up the PMIS
Chapter 3, Adding PMIS Components
Chapter 4, Adding Stakeholders to the PMIS
Chapter 5, Supporting Team Collaboration
Chapter 6, Project Tracking
Chapter 7, Project Reporting
Chapter 8, Integrating PM Tools
Chapter 9, Project Closing

A video demonstration of each hands-on workshop is available at http://www.spforpm.com.

Conventions Used in this Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:

Italic

Indicates new terms, URLs, email addresses, filenames, and file extensions.

Constant width

Indicates computer code in a broad sense, including commands, options, switches, variables, attributes, keys, functions, types, classes, namespaces, methods, modules, properties, parameters, values, objects, events, event handlers, XML tags, HTML tags, macros, the contents of files, and the output from the commands.

Constant width bold

Shows commands or other text that should be typed literally by the user.

Constant width italic

Shows text that should be replaced with user-supplied values or by values determined by context.

Note

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Warning

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Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the good Lord for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Again, He came through just as He promised in Matthew 7:7.

I would like to thank my wife, Ramona, and my son, Johannes, for being so patient and understanding when I gave up multiple Wiggles episodes, Saturday trips to the mall, and countless Thomas the Tank Engine readings in the evenings to write this book.

In addition, I would like to thank my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and colleagues from Innovative-E and Learning Tree International for your unwavering encouragement and unending support.

Also, I would like to extend my appreciation to my colleagues who formally and informally reviewed my work and provided invaluable feedback, namely: James Pyles, Susan Weese, David Gibbs, Afzal Muhammad, Joel Oleson, and Amy Thomson.

Thanks to team O’Reilly: Marsee Henon, Laurel Ackerman, Kathryn Barrett, Sarah Schneider, Jacque McIlvaine, and Marlowe Shaeffer for all your valuable support and advice.

Vielen Danke! Laurel Ruma, my editor at O’Reilly, for sending me two bags of the Official O’Reilly Author Blend coffee beans that kept me awake while I burned the midnight oil. More importantly, I thank you for giving me this authorship opportunity to impart my experience to fellow project managers out there.

Finally, this book is dedicated to my late father, Rodolfo Sy, who told me to “aim high and fly,” and to my mother, Violeta Sy. I owe it to both of you for paving the way and allowing me to be a passionate technologist, adventurous globetrotter, and eclectic entrepreneur. Thank you.

Off You Go

The last thing I want is for you to think of SharePoint as a burden or a necessary evil because your boss is making you use it for your projects.

My hope is that after reading this book, you will be able to use SharePoint to effectively manage your projects, make them less complicated, and make your team more efficient. Should you have any questions, comments, and/or feedback, feel free to visit http://www.spforpm.com or contact me at .

Enjoy!

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