Category Archives: Project Management

SharePoint: New Packaging Requests in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-01.jpgThis is yet another example of streamlining a process where incomplete information was given via various channels.

What was the problem?

One of our global brands was struggling with their packaging process. Being in the fast-moving consumer goods business, there were always many new products being introduced and many promotions going on at any given time. Very often (such as: “now 20% extra!”) this meant that a new packaging had to be designed and printed.

For reasons of cost-efficiency and standardization, all packaging from one brand had to be centrally purchased. The purchasing manager was receiving incomplete information through various channels. Next to that, the requests were often received too late to allow the supplier the necessary lead time. Consolidating all information and ordering exactly the right amount of the right product at the right time was therefore not an easy task. I assume you will recognize this2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

What is the solution?

You take one Team Site, as per my usual recipe2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

We have turned an Excel form (which was used occasionally) into a Team Site custom list.

We made use of mandatory fields to force people to add information they often forget, such as the budget number, or whether the seconday packaging needs to be changed temporarily as well.

A calculated field is used to determine the deadline for artwork. So, if you want your new packaging to be ready on October 1, you MUST deliver your packaging designs before August 1. This was one of the more frequent problems. With the new process, delivering late is no longer allowed.

A workflow allows the purchasing manager to check if all details have been entered correctly. All approved requests are visible to all members.

The packaging supplier has read-access to the Team Site. The official ordering is done in the supplier’s system.

What are the benefits?

Although marketeers did not really like the limitation of their freedom, (especially where artwork deadlines were concerned), the new process has had many benefits for the total organization:

  • The process has saved time for the purchasing manager because she now receives complete and correct information.
  • All artwork is now being delivered on time, reducing last-minute stress for all. This is more a result of the implementation of the process, rather than the Team Site itself, of course.
  • The purchasing manager can now combine different requests and get better conditions.
  • The supplier knows beforehand what he can expect.
  • All requests are creating a large database. Marketeers in different locations can see what their colleagues are doing or have done, so they can share experiences with a certain action, or combine a promotion and therefore save costs.

Once again, this is not rocket science, it does not even use sophisticated new code, it is just regular SharePoint with a bit of thinking.

This screenshot shows the data entry screen.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-03.gif
New Request Data Entry

Below you see the Homepage with all approved requests on the left, for everyone to see and share. On the right, a web part with only My Requests waiting for confirmation. (In the real situation, this would be all My Requests, but since I have created all requests, I had to use another filter to show a difference2013-11-10-NewPackaging-04.gif.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-05.gif

SharePoint: News Translations in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

This example may be interesting for Communication employees in multinational organizations.

What was the problem?

As in many international companies, the company language is English. Most people can read that, but general survey feedback showed that employees would really appreciate to read important business news in their own language.

So the Communications team decided that those messages would be translated into 14 different languages. Hiring an external translation agency was easy, but how to handle all those primary, draft and final documents (some of which were unintelligible for the Comms team) without getting confused?

What is the solution?

We set up an external Team Site with 2 libraries:

  • One library for the primary document, in English. The agency set an Alert (Added Documents, Immediately) so they know when they have to start translating.
  • One library for the translations. The agency uploads the translations to this library, using a special naming convention, adding the language as metadata, so we can group the documents by language.
    Designated local employees then check the translations, making sure that the texts fit country and company culture. These employees have set an Alert (Added Items, Daily) so they know when they have to correct a document. They can make changes online. When a translation is OK, a box is “final” is checked.
    (Since the Alert can not distinguish beteen languages, we suggest a Daily e-mail to avoid getting too many irrelevant emails)
  • Communications has also set an Alert to the Translations library, to monitor progress. (All Changes, Daily)

All documents with”the “final” checkbox are made visible to employees in special views by language.

(for advanced users: in a separate Team Site we have created one Web Part Page per language, and “project” the documents, filtered by language, on that page using Corasworks)

What are the benefits?

This setup is not ideal, since the information is still hidden in documents and there are no Alerts per language. A truely online process with targeted news in the correct translation on people’s Homepage would be better, but that is not available at this moment. Still, this setup does help to streamline the process:

  • All documents are in one place.
  • Notification emails that “you have work to do” are being sent automatically.
  • Documents are properly tagged with metadata.
  • No confusion with loads of documents in individual emails.
  • The data can be used for KPI’s, such as turnaround time, learning curve of the translation agency, and projected costs.

Another example of how some thinking and experience with SharePoint can solve those all-too-common business problems!

This is the Source library, containing the original English document:

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-01.png
Source Library, containing the original English documents.

And this is the Target Library, where the translations can be uploaded.

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-02.png
Library for the translated documents

SharePoint: Employee Directory and a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

Maria was one of our most dedicated administrators of the Employee Directory. She was working in one of our larger locations, and she was very motivated to keep her part of the Directory up-to-date. If you saw an employee profile from her location, you could trust it would be 100% accurate. Being that dedicated also took her a lot of time. So she asked me if there was a solution to her chasing everyone for the correct information.

What was the problem?

The Employee Directory was not (yet) connected to another system, so it had to be updated manually.

Maria’s location included many manufacturing and marketing employees, who changed jobs frequently. She received information about changes from various channels: e-mail, documents (via e-mail or snail mail). chat, fax, telephone and visits to her desk. Hardly anyone provided the full set of details needed, so she always had to ask people for the additional information.

What is the solution?

We set up a simple SharePoint custom list for her, in local language. We used pre-filled Choice or Lookup columns where possible, to make it easy for the requester and guarantee consistent information. We made two views: “In Progress” (default), and “Completed”.

Maria set an Alert (Added Items, Daily Summary) so every morning she knew the changes she had to make.

When she had made the required change for one person, she would tick the box “completed” in the request and the item would move to the “Completed” view. This way she always knew which requests were still waiting for her, and she also had an archive of finished requests.

What are the benefits?

  • Maria saved time, because the information she received was complete. There was no longer any need to chase someone for missing information.
  • The business was happy, because the changes were processed faster, making the Directory more accurate and trustworthy. (Of course they grumbled a little when they were confronted with a new process, but Maria sold the benefits very well – and simply refused to process any request via another channel2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-01.gif)
  • Many employees were now working in SharePoint lists, and this sparked ideas for other applications.
  • This was a very generic process which could be replicated to other locations easily. So even though this project did not generate many financial benefits, the project had a high priority because it was a very reproducible solution.

Another inefficient process was streamlined with little effort!

Please find below some re-created screenshots.

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-02.gif

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-03.gif

SharePoint: Telesales in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-10-20-Telesales-01.jpgOne of the teams spends their days making telephone calls to customers, asking them about a brochure or telling them about a new product or a special offer. This team has many calls to make each day, the more the better!

All phone numbers were in an Excel file, which was shared in a Team Site. Every Call Agent looked through the Excel file for the numbers assigned to them, and after the call edited the line item with the outcome of the call, as well as changes in information that they had learned during the call. (E.g. new contact person, change in telephone number).

What was the problem?

  • Opening the file and finding their assigned phone numbers took a long time.
  • Editing the item and saving the information caused waiting time (if the file was checked out by another call agent) or overwriting issues, (if a call agent forgot to check out)
  • All customers were in the file, whether they had been called or not
  • Management was always asking “how things were going” because they were curious and nobody had an overview of progress or results. This meant Call Agents had to spend time on ad-hoc reporting, which took time away from their calling time

What is the solution?

We opened up the Excel file by importing the data into a pre-configured Issue list in a Team Site. We created different views, such as:

  • New calls to be made, as well as call-back appointments, grouped by Call Agent
  • Completed calls, grouped by Result Code for a quick overview with sums (e.g. Appointment, Not interested, Business Discontinued, Offer)
  • Export view to export the data back into an Excel file for detailed analysis

By removing the finished calls to a different view, every call agent can see quickly which and how many calls he or she needs to make, without making mistakes.

We also added some real-time Excel graphs for management, so they can see progress and outcome of any promotional action in real-time. These graphs can also be used to evaluate the Call Agents’ performance and to share tips for a succesful approach between Call Agents.

What are the benefits?

  • Call Agents know exactly which customers to call or follow-up; editing a line item is much faster than editing a file so they can do their work more quickly
  • Call Agents make less mistakes in calling a customer twice or overwriting someone else’s edits
  • Management has a real-time overview of progress and outcomes, and they can see that without bothering the Call Agents
  • It is now possible to see progress as you go along, enabling the Marketing Manager to make adjustments during the promotion
  • It is clear which Call Agent is most succesful, which enables exchange of good practices between Call Agents

All in all, this simple Issue list has enabled the Call agents to make TWICE as many calls a day as before!

So, small wonder that other departments have embraced this solution as well – by now there are 3 teams calling in this way.

Another succesful cure for Document Addiction!2013-10-20-Telesales-02.gif

Please find a screenshot below, this shows the real-time Result Codes (e.g. Call, Written Proposal Requested, Meeting Requested, Already Bought This; Not Interested etc.) on the horziontal axis. Vertical is the count of this result code. The graph is slightly distorted because screenshot was made early in the Action, when there were still many calls (3344) to be made.

2013-10-20-Telesales-03.gif

Below is a screenshot of the results by Call Agent. On the horizontal axis the names of the individual Call Agents, on the vertical axis their stack of different result codes. This enables management to monitor both their productivity (# calls made) and their effectiveness (# of calls that have a favourable result). Please note that Call Agents do not all work fulltime.

2013-10-20-Telesales-04.gif

SharePoint: CRM in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

One of the most successful “SharePoint solutions” has been the Incident Log of one of the APAC companies. It was built to be a temporary (1.5 years) site to solve an urgent business problem, until SAP would provide the proper CRM functionality. Due to postponement of the SAP rollout, it is still heavily used today (more than 3 years later). The site is praised for its user-friendliness and transparency. In fact, rumors are that users are NOT looking forward to changing this system to SAP 2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-01.gif

What was the problem?

The country’s Customer Service Desk received their customer complaints in various ways: from 7 different systems, via email, snail mail, telephone, fax and by going to the Customer Service desk. Information provided was seldom complete, and there was no central system or agreed process to log and manage complaints. Many complaints were lost during the process, and if they were not, turnaround could vary from 2 weeks to 2 years.

All complaints were reimbursed to the customer, because it was almost impossible to properly investigate a complaint.

There was no insight in root causes of complaints, so it was not easy to make any improvements to systems or processes.

What is the solution?

The country organized a workshop with all involved disciplines, describing the current and the desired process. The Business Process Owner Order-to-Cash and I worked together to turn an Issue List into a streamlined Incident Logging, Processing and Managing system, that would enable all involved parties (Customer Services, Quality Assurance, Warehouse Managers, Finance, and even the external Transport Company) to quickly add, review and edit information. Every complaint was one list item.

On the Home Page an overview of all open incidents, and their accumulated value, are shown as a very high-level dashboard.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-02.gif
The Homepage is dashboard for open incidents and process information.

We added some Corasworks tricks, such as a Search function and an automated email that would copy much of the Incident’s information into an email to the transporter, in case a delivery had to be taken back to the Warehouse.

Of course, with a major process like this, it took a long time to get this realized. But as usual, thinking was the most work. What is the current process? Where does it hurt? What is the best flow? How can we make it complete, but keep it simple and workable? How do we train people? How do we manage changes? How do we make this truly a part of a new way of working? The BPO and I spent long hours discussing both the process and the functional implementation.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-03.gif
First part of the data entry screen.

What are the benefits?

  • The country now has one database for all Incidents, enabling different ways to sort, group or filter: by Product, by Complaint Type, by Customer, Open for longer than 2 weeks, etc.
  • Key Performance Indicators have been agreed and can be monitored.
  • System and process are agreed and transparent, eliminating the need to discuss the process repeatedly
  • Turnaround time has decreased to as low as 2 hours due to more insight and less handling
  • Due to the better insight it has been possible to improve processes and performance. One transport company has already been discontinued since they caused many problems. Others have been given a warning. Changes have been made in the factory to solve certain issues. This has decreased the total number of Incidents by about one-third.
  • Significantly less money has to be paid to customers. Now that the process has been agreed, it is easier to assign responsibility. If the customer has caused the problem, no money is reimbursed. If the transport company has caused the problem, they have to pay.

All in all, this Team Site has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and there is much less discussion about the process.

SharePoint: Teleconference requests in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-01.jpgThis is another example of how you can work with external partners via a Team Site.

What was the problem?

The company I used to work for was a big fan of conference calls, with or without a Live Meeting. We were facing some issues:

  • Computer audio did not alway provide good quality, so for calls with 3 or more people it was better to use a ”teleconference bridge”: a set of telephone numbers (one per country) with a unique entry code per meeting. Many employees, departments or project teams had their own permanent conference bridge.
  • Many employees did not use the preferred supplier, often because they did not know we had one or who it was.
  • It was not very clear how one could obtain a conference bridge.
  • Additionally, the Telecom department was unaware of the amount of conference bridges in use, and who owned one.

It was time for the Telecom department to give more attention to the request process.

One of the teams developed a form in HTML, which automatically added your Employee ID. Neat! After completion the form sent an email to the Telecom department. Telecom then added the Cost Center number, and forwarded the email to the telecom provider. However, the form was on a local server which could not be accessed by everyone, and the emails had to be manually stored by Telecom as individual requests, making it difficult to create overviews. For other locations, there was a manual process where you contacted Telecom and they completed another form.

They asked my team if this process could be improved. And guess what…it could! 2013-09-27-Teleconferences-02.gif

What is the solution?

The HTML-form was replaced by a Custom List in the employee-facing team site for all IT-related questions and information.

Every requester enters their Employee ID manually, but since you make this request only once (this being a permanent conference bridge), this is not perceived as a problem. I modified the “New Entry” URL so upon completion, the requester goes to a page with the next steps of the process. (Read here how to modify the URL, scroll to 2f.)

The Telecom department has set an Alert for Added Items, so they know about all new requests immediately. They enter the Cost Center code to the request and then the form is ready for the telecom provider.

Of course I suggested to set up an Alert for Modified Items for the telecom provider, but after some tests and discussions we decided to send the content of the request as an email to the provider with cc to the requester. (via Corasworks)

By using ”Reply All” the telecom provider then sends the conference numbers and other information to both the requester and the Telecom department.

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-03.jpg
The part of the form that employees have to complete.

2013-09-27-Teleconferences-04.jpg
The part that Telecom has to enter.

When “Send Email” is “Yes”, Corasworks will send the content of the mail to the provider’s email address. That field does not have a default value to avoid accidental sending of incomplete content.

What are the benefits?

  • The request form is much easier to find and the process is more transparent; this means more people use the preferred way, saving costs and reducing complexity.
  • The Telecom department saves time on entering and managing requests.
  • Telecom department has an overview of the number of bridges in use, and who owns a bridge. This helps them to check if the invoices are correct.

I would have preferred to just give access to the telecom provider, and ask them to add the bridge number to the original request. That would have given the Telecom department even more information without them having to do anything. But well, you can’t always win2013-09-27-Teleconferences-05.gif.

You may also like to read about these examples where we used Team Sites with external partners:

High Tea Reservations
Crisis Management
New Packaging Requests

Another 4 processes to streamline with SharePoint


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-20-4ProcessesStreamline-01.jpgIn an earlier post, I discussed 4 very common time-consuming processes that you can make more efficient by using SharePoint. But I guess that the next 4, although perhaps less common, still occur quite often.

You can make your project managers, your business venture managers and your IT department very happy if you can show them that you can facilitate these processes with a SharePoint Team Site.

5. Corporate projects needing input from many countries/businesses

Forget sending large status updates in PowerPoint or Excel per email. For large central projects, use a site where you can collect the status updates from every country or business in a list. If you need security, or want to allow that country or business to share their project documents and other information, you can use a site collection instead, where every country of business has their own site. You can use a Content Query Webpart to collect all updates in another site for the Project Manager.

It helps to create one page where the collective progress is shown – you may lose confidentiality but it will reduce the time needed to create reports and it will help the business to see how their own efforts contribute to the projects’ or company’s goal. Of course everyone will be able to set alerts.

All this will reduce inbox overload, make the project progress much more transparent and save the Project Manager lots of time in reporting.

Some examples:

  • Centralizing the organization
  • Capturing procurement terms and conditions
  • Local milestones for a divestiture
  • Action plans following the global employee satisfaction survey
  • A global sustainability project

Example: PMO in a Team Site

6. Business experiments

Why spend time and money on dedicated software if you are not 100% sure that your new business venture will be successful? Start with a process in SharePoint and see how things turn out. It will perhaps not do everything you think you need, but as you work with it you will learn more about your eventual software needs, helping you to define better requirements. And if your pilot fails, you do not have to add software costs to your losses.

Example: High Tea Reservations.

7. Temporary pre-ERP solutions

If your “Problem Process” is not yet in scope for your ERP-system, why not check if you can move it to SharePoint before making the leap to ERP? It may not be the ideal solution, but you may be able to iron out those process wrinkles, which will make your process more efficient now. And moving to your ERP-system later will be less painful because you have a better process to start with.

Example: CRM in a Team Site, now with screenshots!

8. Legacy processes

Chances are that you still have a few of those one-trick-ponies from the nineties or noughties in your application portfolio. The companies that created them have merged ten times or gone bust, there are no updates or support, the manual is lost, the user interface is outdated and they may even need separate log-on. This is a good opportunity to free up a server, use the regular support system, apply SSO and a familiar look-and-feel and generally reduce complexity.

We have used an InfoPath solution to replace an outdated Idea Submission programme, and replaced a visit-pass-request-system by a simple Custom List.

All these examples will help with “The daily dose of SharePoint” that your employees need to become more familiar with SharePoint. The more different uses of SharePoint they see, the more they will learn that SharePoint is a versatile tool that you can use every day, for almost every process.

4 Common processes that SharePoint can streamline


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-06-SharePointProcesses-01.jpgSo your organization has a SharePoint intranet. Your Communications team has done their best by creating and executing a communication plan including a teaser video, a naming contest (Check out this collection for inspiration), emails, intranet news articles and posters. They have given you a training and perhaps a nice gadget like a pen, a mug or a USB stick. The intranet is here and it will be used for news, blogs, video, employee services, policies and procedures. Oh yes, and you can have Team Sites for collaboration. Good luck with it, folks!

But how often does an employee change their personal details online? How often do they go and find a policy? How many video’s will they upload? If they do these things only occasionally, they will never learn how SharePoint can help them in their daily work.

Few people know that SharePoint is very good at streamlining those annoying little processes that have been wasting your time for ages. Here is a list of processes that can be found in every organization, where SharePoint can add value by saving time and effort.

1. Recurring projects

Many projects occur regularly and follow the same procedures. Think about innovations, promotion campaigns, year plans and recalls.

You can create a tailor-made subsite and make a template out of it. If you use this in one site collection you will be able to create a ready-to-use team site for every project in almost no time, have all projects in one place and support consistency in your process.

Example: Crisis Management

2. Requests with incomplete data coming from multiple channels

How often do people send you a request, by plain email, telephone, or Word/Excel document? And how often do you have to contact them again to ask for missing information?

Depending on the complexity, you can use a simple SharePoint list, an Office template in a Document Library, or an InfoPath form in a Forms Library, with mandatory fields. As additional advantage SharePoint stores all your requests in one central place, so you do not have to spend time on filing them. You can even add a filter to show only those requests you still have to process. The finished requests can be used to gain insights in your process.

Examples: Employee Directory and Packaging Requests

3. Editing an online Excel file by many people at the same time

When several people are updating one Excel sheet in a document library, especially when this has to be done in a short period, e.g. at the end of the reporting period, you are asking for problems.

  • If you use mandatory check-out, editors may forget to check-in and you will have to chase people to check-in or to override the check-out yourself.
  • If you do not use mandatory check-out before editing, chances are that people edit the file simultaneously and overwrite each other’s changes.

Why not use a list, where everyone can update their own line items independently from others? Not only will it save problems, but you will also have much more transparency and better overviews if you do not “hide" your data in a document.

Example: Telesales

2013-09-06-SharePointProcesses-02.png
Checked-Out Document

4. Collecting data by sending (Excel) files to a large audience

This is still a favourite process in many organizations. As the process owner who asks people to complete a form by the end of the month, you will have many files to chase and store. Then you have to spend your valuable time cutting and pasting the information into a report before the due date.

If you use a list to collect the information, you will have less inbox overload (just a small alert email when someone adds their information will do) and much more time to spend on analyzing your data and setting a strategy. That is what they hired you for, after all! And the results will be more transparent to your audience.

In fact, you may not even need that report at all…

Example: Travel arrangements in a Team Site

Do you recognize these situations? Could you please share some examples of how you have handled these processes with SharePoint? All tangible examples help us to help our colleagues save time and effort.

SharePoint: Machine Installations in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-09-02-MachineInstallation-01.jpgWhile everyone in the SharePoint field is writing about the new features of SP2013, we may want to remember that the organizations we work for are just looking for a solution to a work-related problem. Whether that is on SP2003 or 2013 is not really an issue for them, since they can only work with the platform they currently have. SP2013 has, of course, a couple of great new features, but I know that many day-to-day projects can be facilitated perfectly by an older version.

So I thought it would be time to show another example of a simple Team Site that has had a great impact on the business.

One of our most successful solutions of all time has been the Team Site we configured when we had won a large new customer in the US.

What was the situation?

A fast food chain with about 3000 locations had bought our machinery. Before the machines could be installed, a third party plumbing agency had to fit water and electricity at each location. The information needs were:

  • For the fast food chain: progress – in how many locations had the new machines been installed and when would the project be finished?
  • For the plumbing agency: planning and progress – where were the locations and how was plumbing proceeding – were there any issues?
  • For us: planning and progress – which locations were ready to receive the machines, and in which locations were the machines installed?

Until then, the normal process was to send an Excel sheet back and forth. Every party would update this every day and send around again. Of course all parties stored every version in their own archives.

For smaller projects it was workable, but it frequently happened that it was not clear if any document was the latest version. This was a much larger rollout than we normally had, so our Sales Team asked us if we could create a more robust process to manage this project.

What is the solution?

An external Team Site was set up for all 3 parties.

The customer added a list of all locations, including address details, telephone numbers and local manager. This Location List could only be edited by the customer.

The plumbing agency used this list as a pick list to schedule their work in the Work List. This list was the backbone for progress reporting and it could be edited by the plumbing agency and ourselves.

Each location had one of the following statuses:

  1. Waiting for inspection
  2. Ready for installation
  3. Inspected-minor issues
  4. Inspected-major issues
  5. Machine installed

When the status was “2. Ready for Installation” our Sales Team could install the machinery. The Work List therefore also served as our work supply and our status update.

2013-09-02-MachineInstallation-02.gif
Editing the Work List by the plumbing agency and ourselves

We created various views to enable every party to see the items they needed in an optimal way. Several managers set an Alert to the Work List to know how the project was progressing.

2013-09-02-MachineInstallation-03.png
Different views of the Work List

We also added some real-time graphs to show progress. Every day the 3 parties had to update the list before a certain time. A daily conference call followed to discuss any issues.

What are the benefits?

  • Because the Work List was the only version of the truth there was no discussion about versions or status. This made the calls very focused and effective.
  • The views allowed all parties to see only the relevant items.
  • The Alerts and the real-time graphs kept everyone informed, so there was no need for additional progress reporting to management.
  • At the completion of the project, our customer complimented our team with the effective way they had handled this. We later heard that they requested the same process when they had a rollout with another supplier.
  • But also internally the success of this process was clear. It became standard procedure to use a similar setup for every large implementation. And because we learned with every rollout, the Team Sites were created better and faster each time.

I can not say this often enough: it does not require a rocket scientist to do this. All it needs is a bit of straightforward process thinking, creativity and two SharePoint lists. It did not even need SharePoint 20132013-09-02-MachineInstallation-04.gif.

SharePoint: A Program Management Office…in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

As promised in my last post I will elaborate some more on the “PMO Team Site”.

When do you use this configuration?

We have used this for every large program with many individual projects. It can be global (such as actions from the yearly Employee Satisfaction survey), business-wide (e.g. increase the profitability of a business unit), or local ( like improving efficiency of a production location) project, with the following characteristics:

  • a set of projects (generally > 10)
  • where all results and revenues are reported together
  • there is a Program Manager for the complete set of projects
  • each individual project is managed by a different project manager
  • to be finished in roughly the same timeframe

What were the issues?

The risk of a set of projects, managed in different ways, is that the Program Manager has to chase everyone for updates, will receive these updates in various formats, and needs to spend a lot of time turning these diverse bits of information into one proper report. While the official reporting is done once a month, management is always asking the Program Manager “how things are going”, which means the Program Manager has to know the status on a daily basis. And this may cause some stress…

What are the benefits of this setup?

Every project manager updates his or her projects in the Team Site in one list. This enables uniform reporting and automated aggregations.

There is no document editing involved, so no issues with check-in/check-out or overwriting changes.

The Program Manager can spend time on analysis, progress and solving issues, rather than on collecting and aggregating data.

The online reporting also allows for many different permanent slices-and-dices (views) and real-time graphs of progress, making the need for official progress reports even less.

The priority of these configuration projects is generally very high:

  • Many people save lots of time by having one place to go for the project’s progress
  • These projects are generally very much aligned with business priorities
  • External partners can have access to the Team Site and online meetings, so they spend less time and money on travel

How is the TS set up?

  • The backbone of the site is an issue list or custom list, with “versioning” on. Versions are useful to store monthly updates, but also to see the progress of the project over time.
  • Every project is one line item.
  • The “Assigned To” is the project manager. She or he edits their own item(s) on a regular basis.
  • We use many different metadata columns depending on the project, e.g. country, department, business unit, workstream, project type, etc.
  • The fields that are updated most often are on top, allowing the project managers to edit with as little scrolling as possible.

     

    2013-08-07-SharePointProramManagement-01.gif
    Frequently edited items (highlighted) are on top of the edit form

  • We prefer choice fields over lookup fields. The project’s metadata are known and do not change during the project, so we do not need to make it easy to add options; and choice fields in the list reduce the risk of someone accidentally adding, deleting or editing an option.
  • Project managers have no ”delete” permissions to avoid accidents.
  • “Traffic lights” give a quick overview of progress and pain points.
  • We create many views to slice and dice the information.
  • In most cases, making all projects visible to all project managers is beneficial and stimulates discussion and a healthy sense of competition. In some cases we filter all views on “Assigned To”= [Me]. This is the case when layoffs, reorganizations, acquisitions, divestitures or other major business critical outcomes are expected. In those cases, the Program Manager will set personal views. (Most people do not know how to create personal views or do not want to take the time, so this is quite safe)

     

    2013-08-07-SharePointProramManagement-02.gif
    Overview of all projects, sorted by Due Date.

Using traffic lights

Everybody always loves traffic lights as status indicators, which makes it easy to see “the good and the bad” at a glance. We have used 3 ways to create them:

  1. Texts (Green, Yellow, Orange, Red), with a description of what these terms mean. This is very basic, but often works well. It is also the most simple and stable solution.
  2. Uploading coloured icons and asking people to add the appropriate link.
  3. Using a calculated field to color code. This is a more sophisticated way, but not always necessary. I do not have much experience with it.

     

    2013-08-07-SharePointProramManagement-03.gif
    2 ways to work with Stoplights, 1. Text, or 2. Picture

Some interesting views and graphs

  • Projects not modified in 30 days or more. This view is helpful for the Program Manager to chase the project manager for updates
  • Red and Orange projects. This view shows the projects that need management attention.
  • Projects grouped by Phase, by Workstream, by Country etc. These views all help the Program Manager decide where to take action and where to find success stories and good practices.
  • Views with sums on the realized savings or revenues.
  • Gantt Chart
  • My Projects
  • Graph of projects by Phase. This shows progress of the complete PMO and is very useful for Management. (See also my Telesales example)

     

    2013-08-07-SharePointProramManagement-04.gif
    From left to right: Start of Program, During Program, and End of Program.

Are you also managing programs and individual projects in Team Sites? Please let me know!