A large share of organizations utilizes SharePoint for Project Management. As I have previously written in many of my blog posts, SharePoint out of the box provides an extensive list of functionalities that in my opinion make it a perfect and logical option for project management. From the robust ability to manage documents, to task management, seamless integration with MS Project, and superb security configuration – SharePoint has got it all. With this blog post, I would like to explain the steps involved in the creation of a simple, but very practical Project Management Office / PMO portal in SharePoint.
Step 1: Determine proper site hierarchy for your PMO portal
I usually advocate for a very simple site hierarchy. The idea is that there will be a PMO homepage (site) listing all the projects and all project sites will be set up as subsites, 1 level below the PMO homepage. The below diagram depicts the proposed hierarchy. By the way, if you want to learn more about SharePoint site hierarchy and best practices on structuring sites, check out this post.
Step 2: Determine which site collection you will build the PMO portal in
This is a very important decision. If your project sites are for internal collaboration, you can then create your portal in your root (default) site collection (where the other Intranet sites reside), just like in the image above. However, in case you will be sharing project sites or some content with external parties (clients, vendors, contractors), you will need to build your PMO portal in a separate site collection. In case you are wondering why that is the case – you might want to read this post.
Step 3: Create a PMO site with Project Dashboard
It is time to roll up the sleeves now. The big idea behind this PMO Homepage is that it will contain all the information about project management, links/knowledge base on Project management methodology, project management forms and templates, but most importantly – a list/dashboard of all the projects in your organization. I will leave it up to you how you want to organize your templates (this could be just a simple document library with Word/Excel/PDFs organized via metadata.
The main centerpiece of the PMO site is the PMO Dashboard – a list of all the projects. I bet you already have one in your organization – it is probably stored in Excel. So essentially the dashboard is a SharePoint list with custom metadata (columns). The idea is that your dashboard might eventually have tens and hundreds of projects and you can use the dashboard to sort, group and filter by any metadata/columns (i.e. show active projects only or group by Department or Project Manager). Here are few tips for creating that Project Dashboard:
- Start with the Custom List Web Part
- Rename Title Column to Project Name Column (this will allow users to click on a project name and be able to view/edit all project properties on the dashboard)
- Create all your columns using various column types (i.e. Project Manager – People picker, Department – Choice Column or Managed Metadata/Term Store, Start Date/End Date – Date field, Budget – Currency field, Project Status – Choice field (i.e. Active, Closed) and so on.
- One of the columns will be a Hyperlink type column so you can enter the URL address of a project site
- Create multiple views for your dashboard (i.e. group by Status, Project Manager, Department, etc.)
This is how a finished project dashboard might look like
Step 4: Add other web parts to PMO Site
Dashboard list might be the only thing on your PMO Homepage, but you can also add other web parts for other types of content. Here are few ideas for you:
- Promoted links web part to point users to specific content or websites
- Document library with various project management templates/forms (i.e. Agenda, Meeting Minutes, Project Charter, Project Schedule). You can also use metadata to organize it all
- Instructions/Methodology document or Wiki/Knowledge Base – this could be a wiki library of some sort with text and images
Step 5: Create a project site
I have actually written a pretty detailed post with step-by-step instructions on how to create a project site from scratch. Check it out here.
Step 6: Save Project Site as a template
Once you have created your SharePoint Project Site, you need to save it as a template so you can easily provision new project team sites from the custom template. To learn how to save site as a template, reference Step 10 in the above post.
Step 7: Configure security for all the sites
Once you are set with the design of all sites, it is time to take care of security/permissions for the PMO Homepage + all project subsites. I document all the steps you need to do as far as security in this post. Here are few tips for security specific to PMO portal:
- For PMO Homepage (the site with the project list/dashboard) – you might want to let only the select few users to be able to edit the site – so that means that only few folks will be in the Members Group with Contribute permission level, while everyone else will be in the Visitors group with Read-Only privileges
- For the Project Sites – you might want to allow project members to share the site with others (Step 7 in above post). Unlike department sites which have fixed rosters, project teams change all the time, so you want to keep it flexible. This way you (PMO) can focus on project management and not security management.
Step 8: Educate/Train others about the new process
Once you are finished with the “technical” piece – you need to train your user base on the new sites. It is not just the SharePoint side of things. Yes, you do need to show your users how to navigate around the sites, how to work with documents and build schedules using Task List. But, this is also a great opportunity to educate and train your PMs and team members on the PMO process and methodology as well. Long story short – training is mandatory and a critical piece of successful user adoption.