SPLF 2012: Tim Cermak’s ‘Maximize Project 2010 with SharePoint 2010 for PM Success’

Tim Cermak presenting at SharePoint Leadership Forum 2012

A certified PMP, Innovative-e Managing Partner Tim Cermak, began his session at last Thursday's inaugural SharePoint Leadership Conference by stating that "SharePoint is evolving into a business platform … and is becoming critical in that respect."  Tim then asked the attendees if they could identify the "most used project management tool today."  The first guess was for Excel, and after he revealed that Excel was actually "number three" on the list, Tim certified the correct response as being "email – a1973 technology."

Referencing the findings of a recent Gartner study, Tim noted that with top priorities having been identified as analytics/BI, mobile technologies, and others, "IT [had] focused on technology and [was] starting to compromise their visibility to the business users."  As Tim put it, "the business is changing [and we're] seeing it [evidenced in consumer social media] in our personal lives and in the more social aspects of business."

What these changes argue for, Tim suggested, is the facilitation of "Project Management on Your Terms" (PMOYT) within organizations.  Having made investments in tools and technology, Tim said, "you have to allow people to do what they do best."  Doing so may require (but is not limited to) recognizing: the need to allow users to bring their own device; the easy availability of on-demand project metadata; needing to do more with less; and social engagement, which may find your employees working outside the system if adequate social tools aren't provided within the system.

Discussing a PMIS (Project Management Information System), Tim defined it as a "structure that's in place to allow you to do project management from beginning to end."  Tim then asked attendees to consider where they/their organizations are in terms of project management maturity, asking "How ready are you?" and saying that you "have to look at process/structure and the people side to gain adoption."  To be successful, Tim said that it's critical that you "concentrate on the technology platform and the culture/processes in an organization."

Addressing the need to initiate and plan projects, Tim began a demo in SharePoint (via Office 365) with a site featuring a pre-loaded SharePoint template for a new project site.  Tim went through the steps of building a schedule using Microsoft Project, adding a project plan with start/end dates, pushing the plan to his SharePoint site, and showing how to invite others to participate in the planning exercise via the Project Tasks link.  Tim then showed how, by assigning tasks to himself, those tasks are instantly incorporated into the tasks list (displayed as Gantt chart in SharePoint).  Tim also demonstrated that by setting vacation days, slippage is called out immediately.  While making changes, Tim demonstrated syncing between SharePoint and Microsoft Project by shifting seamlessly between the two environments.

Addressing the topic of facilitating team collaboration, Tim underscored the importance of communicating effectively by first adding to his project demo mix some Excel and Word components from a document library (e.g., change analysis).  Using Lync, Tim then demonstrated the ease of asking an online colleague to make a change to a document.  In Excel, Tim then quickly built an equipment list with associated costs and, using the "Publish and allow Sync" button in the Ribbon (a feature avail since 2007, Tim pointed out), instantly synced the data with his SharePoint site.

Finally, Tim addressed tracking and reporting, demonstrating in SharePoint how to take the data from his equipment list and use it to add, customize, and display it in a chart via the Chart Web Part.  Just "connect a chart to data," linking it to add BI, bring in expenses from the Excel sheet, and ultimately expose it graphically.  Tim then demonstrated how to export the data to Excel from SharePoint and gain the ability to perform a Pivot analysis and more, all of which is made possible by working across the Office platform.

Tim concluded his SPLF session by reminding attendees that PMOYT is, at its core, "about the business, and the culture" of a given organization.    

Complete coverage of SharePoint Leadership Forum 2012:

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