Just about everything we do can be thought of as a project or series of projects. In our professional lives, companies create their strategic plans and budgets based on a series of initiatives, programs, and projects which filter down throughout the organization. And collaboration within organizations mostly revolves around the fundamental element of work today -- the project. When you think about using a technology platform like SharePoint to facilitate the management of things like strategic planning and the project management process, there are a few different levels to consider:
1. Project Manager Level - scope of an individual
2. Project Teams - scope of an single project
3. Portfolio and Project Management (PPM) - more complex and broader reaching scope with executive level oversight
You also need to think about the maturity level and culture of your organization. How formal is your project management process? Do you have a formal methodology and certified resources? Or is most of the work you do project management "light" with some structure, use of MS Project, team sites, and resources who become "PMs by accident"? Or do you have a formal mature Project Management Office? Answering these questions will help you think about what technology capabilities you need to help facilitate the project management process in your organization. For example, the diagram below shows what technology you might leverage depending on how mature your organization is when it comes to PM.
For individual project managers, SharePoint provides a platform to help you share, manage, and secure information. Fortunately as a PM, everything in SharePoint is really just a list (in simple terms). And tracking things in lists is core to what PMs do everyday: issues, risks, requirements, change controls, tasks, status, etc... Unfortunately, many PMs just don't understand how to leverage SharePoint to manage project information and use the technology as a communication tool to both project teams and upper management. As PMs, we continue to use Word tables and Excel and email documents to each other. We're held hostage by our inboxes, methodologies aren't always followed consistently, project artifacts wind up in multiple repositories including SharePoint, and project information and status lack visibility.
With that understanding, there are several things an individual PM can control and implement on a SharePoint site simply by educating yourself a little or getting some assistance from a resource who has some SharePoint knowledge. If you want to take it one step further, you can begin to leverage your SharePoint site as a "project information management" dashboard as well. However, I won't go into more detail here in this post. As a reference, I am providing a link to a presentation (free-to-download) that I gave on this subject with screenshots and more insights: http://www.slideshare.net/getrichieb/managing-projects-on-sharepoint-rich-blank-july-2010
I want to close by helping you think about what that ultimate vision is for leveraging SharePoint for project information management. The diagram below illustrates this vision. It starts with information architecture and governance of the PM methodology to define what project information and artifacts are required and what metadata and content types are needed. Instead of burying tables of redundant information in multiple Word or Excel documents, think about how you can surface those same rows & columns inside SharePoint. Also, envision the ability to aggregate the project information you are storing in SharePoint lists across all project team sites. Think about the ability to view and filter critical issues and status across projects, drive analytics and executive decisions based on the information managed by SharePoint. Think about how you can leverage SharePoint to reduce overall risk of execution and ensure PMs deliver on time and on budget with a high level of quality.