Get in sync with Project® and SharePoint®

Abstract

In this paper, you will be introduced to the benefits of portfolio management and learn how the Project Management Office (PMO) can be used, based on the project management maturity level of the organization. You will learn about the features and capabilities of SharePoint® 2010 and the available integration with Project Professional 2010. Following, there is a discussion of how to obtain business intelligence within the portfolio by using Project Server 2010 with SharePoint® 2010. The final section of this paper summarizes a Microsoft® Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Lifecycle model that maps the organizational maturity level with regard to project management goals and recommended technology. By the end of this paper, you will have a better understanding of the combinations of technologies that are recommended for various maturity levels in an organization and will be able to use this information as a model for your organization.

Introduction

Many organizations struggle with trying to implement and gain widespread acceptance of project management software because they attempt to implement software and features that are not currently relevant to the organization. Instead, they should begin by implementing only the features that are relevant to the organization, based on its current level of maturity.

In this paper, we will explore the benefits a company receives when it reaches the portfolio management level of organizational maturity. This paper takes you through the three levels of the Project Management Office (PMO) and shows how the PMO compliments the five levels of Organizational Project Management Maturity. You will also learn about the capabilities of SharePoint®, how SharePoint® and Project Professional® work together, and about the capabilities of Project Server®. This is followed by a discussion of how you can get business intelligence from portfolio management. The paper will conclude with a summary of the Microsoft® Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Lifecycle model, and recommended software, which you can use to measure your own organization and support internal growth in project management maturity.

The Benefits of Portfolio Management

Portfolio management allows you to go from running a collection of projects with your available resources to running projects smarter by ensuring the projects you focus on have business value. What is portfolio management? According to Neville Turbit, portfolio management is a grouping of projects that focus on a company objective (p. 1). Also called Project Portfolio Management (PPM), the grouping is tied to an ongoing company initiative, such as improving customer retention rates (p. 2). Each organization may have its own specific benefits from PPM, but here are a few general benefits of managing at the portfolio level:

  • Focus on overall business initiatives instead of minute details at the project level
  • Blending of business and IT projects to collectively focus on the same goals
  • Faster response time, including the ability to adjust the portfolio based on shifts in needs (e.g., move projects into the portfolio or remove projects from the portfolio)
  • Targeted work, so resources succeed at a small list of projects instead of being stretched thinly across a large list of projects
  • Ability to watch dependencies between projects, spot resource issues, monitor progress, and manage demands (Turbit, pp 2–3)

Neither project, nor portfolio management across an enterprise can succeed without support, especially if there are a large number of projects/programs/portfolios, and the management experience is limited or weak. Support is usually in the form of a Project Management Office (PMO) (Craig Jones, 2007, pp1–2). Typically, the PMO is designated by its level, which will evolve with the project management maturity of the organization. To further simplify this discussion, I am going to focus on three levels:

  1. Basic – support role, focusing on tools, templates, methodologies, and processes
  2. Standard – auditing role, focusing on quality control, help during difficult situations, advanced training
  3. Advanced – staffing role, focusing on assigning project managers to the appropriate projects, ultimately being held accountable for project success, run by a manager of project managers (PMO Levels of Operation, 2008, p. 1)

According to the State of the PMO 2010 survey, “The vast majority of PMOs work on high-value strategic tasks. PMOs are highly regarded because they deliver value and continuously improve processes.” (Craig-Jones, 2007, p. 3) With the organizational goal of portfolio management tied to strategic objectives, the PMO can facilitate those goals, particularly when operating at the Standard or Advanced level. Growing the organizational project management maturity level with the level of the PMO delivers many benefits, including, as measured by the State of the PMO 2010 survey of nearly 300 companies, the following:

  • 30% reduction in failed projects
  • 19% increase in projects completed ahead of schedule
  • 30% increase in the number of projects under budget
  • 13% increase in resource capacity
  • 17% cost savings per project (as a percentage of total project cost) (Craig-Jones, 2007, p. 4)

Based on the foregoing information, it is only logical to support your organizational project management maturity level with the support of a project management office.

Organizational Project Management Maturity Levels

Now that the levels of the PMO have been discussed, the organizational project management maturity levels will be introduced. These levels will be followed by a discussion of the capabilities of the various Microsoft® software used for project management. At the end of the paper, the organizational project management maturity levels will be mapped to the software described and other commonly available software.

The five levels of organizational project management maturity levels are:

  • Low/Request Management – trying to determine what needs to be done to meet the needs of the business and stay competitive, with a focus on coordinated task lists
  • Growth/Project Management – introduction of schedule standards by select individuals, with a focus on relationships between tasks to make up the entire picture of what needs to be done in a project
  • Progressing/Program Management – introduction of grouping projects into programs to manage benefits for the dependent collection
  • Progressing/Portfolio Selection – introduction of business drivers, which connect to the corporate strategy, and mapping those drivers to combinations of projects and programs to prioritize them
  • High/Strategy and Vision – using the successes already gained to build knowledge and continually improve, with a focus on long-term results (Microsoft® PPM Scalability Lifecycle, 2011, p. 1)

Consider how these five levels are best suited to the software discussed below and compare your findings with the PPM Lifecycle.

Capabilities of SharePoint® 2010

The purpose of SharePoint® is to help businesses collaborate (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, p. 6). This software tool supports internal collaboration for a worldwide organization and can be made available to a number of people outside the organization, such as remote workers, vendors, and partners (p. 6). Using a highly user-friendly interface similar to a web page, individuals can immediately begin using it with little training required for the basic user. Information is organized as a series of web pages, each of which has a specific purpose, such as a department page or project page (p. 6). Within each page, information is contained in lists, such as document lists and contact lists (p. 6). To summarize, SharePoint® is a list manager with information presented through organized web pages to help individuals increase business collaboration.

The main features of SharePoint® 2010 can be categorized as follows:

  1. Collaboration Sites
  2. Configurable Web Parts
  3. Content Management
  4. Search Capabilities
  5. Social Capabilities
  6. Quick Business Applications

Collaboration Sites

The most powerful feature is a collaboration site. A site is another name for a web page that presents all the information to the team and is customizable, based on the needs of the team (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, p.8). Each site can be personalized by using logos or graphics, and can include additional desired features, such as a discussion thread (p.8). Viewers are available that allow users to quickly open and modify Microsoft® Office documents online, thereby saving time by eliminating the need to download the file for editing (p.10).

Configurable Web Parts

Each feature presented on a site is a web part. Examples of web parts include document libraries, announcements, discussion threads, and contact lists. The main advantage of web parts is that there is the option to include or exclude features on specific sites or with regard to specific site members (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, p.7). All web parts have further customization options available, such as the ability to change the title or change the view. Most people discover that, by using web parts, they do not need a developer to get the desired look and feel, along with the functions necessary to managing information.

Content Management

Content management involves working with files of various types and structuring them in a way that is similar to a company network drive. SharePoint® content management allows better control for the organization and allows documents to be part of an organizational process (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, p.15). For example, before moving out of the proposed phase of a project, you may be required to complete a business case document.

Search Capabilities

Each day, the average business person wastes approximately one hour searching for information, such as an email message with product information in it or a presentation file with company statistics (Horwath, 2009, p. 100). Finding a new purpose for an existing artifact is a technique to improve efficiency, but how efficient can you really be when you spend extensive time searching for information? To reduce the amount of time spent searching for information, SharePoint® offers search capabilities that adapt to the user to better target the information being sought. SharePoint® 2010 provides search results in a familiar browser search-result window with short segments of information and the ability to review a “did you mean” suggestion to guide the search and correct spelling mistakes (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, pp 21–23). As the amount of content grows, document owners can provide metadata information through the process of “tagging,” which is a technique used to describe the document and improve the search speed by offering metadata-organized results instead of results stemming from a search of the entire document (p.16).

Social Capabilities

Due to the popularity of social media, such as “Twitter” and “Facebook,” businesses may want to incorporate a social media aspect into their project management. Social capabilities of SharePoint® include a personal My Site, which allows you to create a personal profile that can be connected to other sites with which you are involved (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, p.13). You can easily tag and bookmark sites and provide comments for others to read (pp 14–16). Within a business, this allows evaluation of resources with regard to particular assignments. In addition, when trying to improve a particular skill, you can see who has that skill and review his or her current reading list and work tasks.

Quick Business Applications

Using a combination of the discussed features, you can quickly create a business solution. A SharePoint® Composite is a solution created from SharePoint® components that meets a particular business need, such as an order-tracking database using Access Services or an organized display of enterprise information from another application using Business Connectivity Services (SharePoint® Evaluation Guide, 2010, pp 33–37). Quick business applications mean there is no need to write code or hire a developer; instead, you can leverage features available in the software (pp 33–37).

How SharePoint® and Project® Work Together

SharePoint® has a reputation as software that, “once you try it, you adopt it.” Therefore, many organizations use it as a starting point for applying structure around their project management/portfolio management practices. If you then begin using Microsoft® Project as your scheduling tool, you soon discover that communication and interaction among resources are critical. To assist with the need for interaction, SharePoint® , and Project Professional® 2010 offer two areas for integration—schedule posting on a SharePoint® site and task list synchronization (Sync with SharePoint®, pp 1–2). If you simply want to share a schedule with a team and later complete additional communication via other channels, such as face-to-face meetings, the recommended approach is to post the schedule on a SharePoint® site in a document library. Although this is not the only technique for doing this, having a recent/favorite site in Project® speeds up the process to update the schedule later. The second option allows for task list synchronization in a two-way fashion (p. 2). Resources can make updates through the site for the scheduler to receive and the scheduler can also post changes to the site (p. 2). Conflicts will be marked for the scheduler to resolve (Project® 2010: Introducing Sync to SharePoint®, 2009, p. 2). The main advantage of task list synchronization is that Project Server® is not required (p. 3).

Capabilities of Project Professional® and Project Server® 2010

Although Project Professional® is a powerful scheduling tool it is not designed for extensive enterprise collaboration across a collection of projects. For this level of collaboration, consider Microsoft®'s Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution, which includes SharePoint®, Project Server®, and Project Professional® working together (Project Server® 2010, 1). Since SharePoint® is a central part of the EPM Solution you get the benefits mentioned above, in addition to the features listed below when you choose the complete EPM Solution (p. 1).

The main features of the EPM solution can be categorized as follows:

  1. Centralized Projects
  2. Centralized Resources
  3. Timesheeting
  4. Task Updating
  5. Reporting

Centralized Projects

The key advantage of Project Server® is being able to see what is occurring within a company in a single location in a web-friendly format through Project Web App (PWA) (Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Product Guide, p. 1). An organization can look for improvements in managing new and in-flight projects by centralizing its project information. In contrast, with a collection of project schedules on a network drive or scattered across SharePoint® sites, it is difficult to apply rules to the entire group of schedules to expose patterns or identify successes and failures within the entire group. Often, the first goal of a company after choosing the EPM Solution is to achieve centralized projects.

Centralized Resources

Without centralized resources, the workload within a company may be assigned in a haphazard way, and may include bartering or constant shifting of resources. If all resource work is visible in one location, the organization can make smarter decisions and shift resources to high priority projects or be alerted to upcoming resource shortages (Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Product Guide, pp 1–2). It can also lay out the long-term expected staffing needs and showcase skill sets that will be in demand for future work (pp 1–2).

Timesheeting

Tracking what you do in a day can be exhausting, but when you are involved in multiple projects, you are often the only one who has full knowledge of your workload. By using timesheets, all the hours that each project manager/resource manager has planned for you show up in a timesheet view and you can provide feedback by reporting hours actually worked on specific days through the same timesheet feature (Time Tracking in Project Server® 2010, 2009, pp 1–5). A major advantage of this feature is that it provides resources and management visibility across the enterprise of resource allocation and can help identify where shuffling of resource assignments could prove valuable (pp 1–5).

Task Updating

Often confused with timesheeting, task updating tracks progress toward a goal; sometimes, even after several hours of working on a task, little has been accomplished in terms of progress (Time Tracking in Project Server® 2010, 2009, pp 1–3). For example, consider the task of eliminating a thumping noise emitting from a vehicle. It may take ten hours of research to figure out what is wrong, but only two hours to fix it. During the research period, progress may have been frozen to near 10%, while your hours worked were increasing. One of the advantages of the task updating feature is that when you enter progress it will report it to the scheduler, which can then choose to automatically apply these updates to tasks in the Project® schedule (pp 3–5). Updating all tasks in one central location saves everyone time and helps you remember your assignments. Should an organization not differentiate between hours worked and task progress, these two features can be combined into one (p. 2).

Reporting

Once all the information is in one place, you can take advantage of reporting features that manipulate the data and provide useful real-time information. All the pages in PWA are updated in real time and offer a variety of pre-built views that are essentially an online report (Sinha, 2010, p. 1). Report formats can be generated into other software products, such as Excel® and Visio®, or can be presented online in programs like PowerPivot® (p. 1). In my experience, Project Server® 2010 is quickly adopted by new users once they realize they have the ability to create their own reports or customize/configure existing reports by simply checking boxes or by clicking and dragging fields. Since Project Server® 2010 has SQL Server® behind the scenes, you can extend your reports and data analysis views with help from a database specialist (p.1).

For an illustration of the benefits of Project Server®, refer to the case representing deployment at Intel Corporation http://www.Microsoft®.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000010276.

Driving Business Intelligence From the Portfolio

Business Intelligence means, “[being] able to provide current and predictive views of business operations” (Business Intelligence, 2011, p.1). This can be accomplished by taking advantage of the portfolio features available in Project Server® 2010 and aligning what you do with your corporate strategy (Product Information, p.1).

Project Server® supports robust portfolio analysis and management with its new integrated Portfolio Strategy features, which include the following:

  • the ability to capture business drivers,
  • the ability to prioritize business drivers per specific executive's personal preferences,
  • the ability to adjust cost or resource limits to generate a forecast of impacts to the portfolio, and
  • the ability to make project selection either automated or manual before project work begins.

(Project® 2010: Introducing Portfolio Analysis, 2009, pp 1–2)

The following steps are required to achieve business intelligence views incorporating your corporate strategy:

  1. Create a list of measurable business drivers that are derived from your corporate strategy.
  2. Complete a business driver to business driver multi-step comparison that generates a score that can be applied when project requests compete against each other.
  3. Optionally incorporate other assessments, such as a risk assessment, on each project.
  4. Run a what-if analysis for cost or resources against a preferred driver-weighting schema.
  5. Analyze the results and make manual adjustments until you have fine-tuned the placement of the projects, matched cost, and resource restrictions against the analysis.
  6. Finalize selection of projects that will support the corporate strategy and assign them to a project manager (Business Intelligence, 2011, pp 1–2).

Although the steps seem to indicate a one-time selection of strategic projects, that is not how strategic alignment of projects work. Intermediate analysis is needed as driver weightings change or as executives reorder priorities. Future analysis will be easier if extra time is focused on steps one and two.

While it may be tempting to jump directly to the portfolio stage of organizational maturity, it is recommended that companies achieve a lower level of maturity first, because change is better embraced by organizations when it is introduced in a gradual fashion and because higher levels of maturity require building on methodologies and/or processes that are successful at lower levels of maturity.

Recommending Technology Based on Organizational Maturity

To help guide a company through a path of low to high organizational maturity, see Exhibit 1, which was adapted from Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Scalability PPM (Project Portfolio Management) Lifecycle chart (Microsoft® PPM Scalability Lifecycle, 2011, p. 1). Although this life cycle focuses on Microsoft® -based technology, it can easily be adapted to support the technology favored by your organization.

One point of clarification is needed with regard to Recommended Technology, as it relates to Project Server® 2010 running on top of SharePoint® Server 2010 (below). In order to use Project Server® 2010, SharePoint® Server 2010 must also be installed, because Project Server® is a SharePoint® application, and the purpose of Project Server® is to display schedule-related pages to the user, one of which is typically a shared document workspace/website on SharePoint®. However, it is possible to use Project Server® without the SharePoint® workspace or with very limited use of other SharePoint® features. As maturity grows, most organizations increase the number of SharePoint® features that are being used to include those that stretch beyond schedule management into personalized pages, configured web parts, or specialized business applications. To contrast this with the Project Professional® and SharePoint® collaboration that might be found in the Growth/Project Management level, in this case, you are simply using SharePoint® features to share information (much like a network drive).

Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Scalability PPM Lifecycle (Microsoft® PPM Scalability Lifecycle, 2011, p. 1)

Exhibit 1 - Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Scalability PPM Lifecycle (Microsoft® PPM Scalability Lifecycle, 2011, p. 1)

For more information, refer to the PPM Scalability Lifecycle (English/Spanish) and associated white papers and videos available free through the Microsoft® website at http://www.Microsoft®.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=17336. I would like to caution you that simply telling your company this life cycle is the path you are following is not the best approach; instead, you need to look at where your organization fits in and try to see what you can improve on in your existing level, highlight those successes, and then recommend a plan for growth. The advantage of Exhibit 1 and the corresponding life cycle chart is that it maps software usage at various levels of maturity so an organization can determine if there is a mismatch. For example, installing and trying to use Project Server® when an organization has no way to keep track of tasks will not be successful.

Conclusion

Implementing a robust software tool is not the path to organizational project management maturity; instead, you need to plan for gradual growth starting at a basic level and gain the support of a Project Management Office, which will grow with the organization. The PMO growth follows a path of: Basic, Standard, Advanced, whereas the organizational maturity follows a five-level path of: Low, Project Management, Program Management, Portfolio Selection, and, finally, High. Maturity levels can be complimented with available software tools, including SharePoint® for collaboration, Project® for scheduling, and Project Server® for enterprise scheduling and resource management. SharePoint® features can be integrated at both the Project Professional® and Project Server® levels, depending on the maturity of the organization. After an organization begins to manage at the portfolio level, numerous benefits are received, such as prioritization of projects according to the corporate strategies, ability to quickly change the portfolio as business needs change, and better alignment of resources through the organization. Working with portfolios, organizations gain business intelligence, which drives organizational success. As an evaluation tool, you can use the Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Scalability PPM (Project Portfolio Management) Lifecycle chart to determine the maturity level of your organization and map software tools and future actions to align with the goals of the organization.

Business Intelligence. (2011). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_intelligence.

Cermak, T., Runcie, T., & Dochtermann, D. (April 2011). Project Server® 2010: Get the Most for Your Organization, Now and for the Future. Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=17336.

Craig-Jones, C. (2007). Evaluating the Maturity Level of Your Project Management Office (PMO). Retrieved from http://www.pmsolutions.com/collateral/research/State%20of%20the%20PMO%202010%20Research%20Report.pdf.

Horwath, R. (2009). Deep dive. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

Microsoft® Project Server 2010 Product Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/project/en/us/project-server-2010-product-guide.aspx.

Microsoft® PPM Scalability Lifecycle. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=17336.

Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010 Evaluation Guide. (2010). Retrieved from http://technet.Microsoft®.com/en-us/library/cc262881.aspx.

PMO Levels of Operation. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.mpom.com/tips-hints/2008/09/17/PMQ-Levels-of-Operation.

Product Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mpom.com/tips-hints/2008/09/17/PMO-Levels-of-Operation.

Project® 2010: Introducing Portfolio Analysis. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/project/en/us/project-server-2010-benefits.aspx.

Project® 2010: Introducing Sync to SharePoint®. (2009). Retrieved from http://blogs.msdn.com/b/project/archive/2009/10/19/project-2010-introducing-sync-to-SharePoint®.aspx.

Project Server® 2010 (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/proiect/en/us/proiect-server-2010.aspx.

Sinha, S., & Gatte, T. (2010). Project Server® 2010 – Reporting Deep Dive. Retrieved from http://www.Microsoft®.com/showcase/en/US/details/206bb36f-e90d-4bf6-9e36-d4ca759baa40.

Sync with SharePoint®. (n.d.). Retrieved on June 28, 2011 from http://www.Microsoft®.com/project/en/us/sync-SharePoint®.aspx.

Time Tracking in Project Server® 2010. (2009). Retrieved from http://blogs.msdn.com/b/project/archive/2009/11/23/time-tracking-in-project-server-2010.aspx.

Turbit, N.(n.d.). Project Portfolio Management. Retrieved on June 28, 2011, from http://www.projectperfect.com.au/info_ppm.php.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2011, Cindy Lewis
Originally published as a part of 2011 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Dallas, TX

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