Many PMO's have turned to SharePoint to help manage their projects, but in order to have a fully functioning SharePoint environment lots of customization is necessary to work with ones project management process within their organization. To help reduce the development time it may be prudent to see if there are off the shelf applications that will plug into SharePoint to help you down this road of a PMO managed within SharePoint. Currently my organization is doing just that. We are evaluating some of these plug-ins and the first one we reviewed was pmPoint by Brightworks.
What we are looking for:
1. ~4 templates for 4 different types of projects (SDLC, smaller software projects, clinical trials, R&D projects)
2. Pull information from the templates into a dashboard for organization and executives review
3. Must be able to view and pull data from Microsoft Project documents within SharePoint
I started reviewing pmPoint which is an application created by BrightWork which is a SharePoint plug-in. pmPoint includes a set of project management templates, web parts, dashboards, tools and lists that mimics the project management process found in most organizations.
You can start your free trail at:
Enter your information and it immediately sends an email with your username and password.
There is a guide to help you with the basics:
Within the guide the 1st step is to setup the PMO (basically you are just installing a template); then under that you insert your various projects (they offer over 15 different templates including one on Agile for capturing the phases, bugs requirements, documents . They also have other templates (with videos about them) listed on their website). http://www.brightwork.com/templates/
Within the PMO view you can customize the views if you like and install other SharePoint features (alerts, discuss boards, doc libraries ...).
I installed 3 projects and then made a couple of changes to the PMO reports. The PMO reports pull from the timeline or task information to give you graphs and charts of all of the project metrics at once.
Within the projects there is a link named “Project Statement” that has some of the info that will be pulled into the PMO dashboard. They also offer links to roles, team members, issues, risks and all of the other normal SharePoint items you can build in like: wiki’s, discussion boards, document library, build your own data capture form, email alerts and so on.
For each project there is a dashboard to look at planned cost, current cost, actual cost, planned worked actual work, resource charts, issues, risks, and so on (In the PMO view it shows all the projects at once). It pulls data from your timeline to populate the dashboard.
To build a timeline you have 2 options. One, enter in tasks (these are the normal SharePoint type of tasks). Or two, upload your Microsoft Project timeline. I uploaded one of my Microsoft Project timelines into a project (~500 tasks). It was able to import it (as an XML file) and you can view it but there are some cons:
1. If you have longer task names it doesn’t wrap the text, and you cannot resize the columns (it may be a trial version issue or I was not able to make it work)
2. You cannot just upload a Project document it needs to be an XML file; so that means if you update your project document that lives within SharePoint via Project, you have to save as a XML file and upload into SharePoint every time you change the timeline (this is a big negative). After a bit of research I found out that SharePoint 2010 will offer synchronization that will solve this problem.
3. Tasks have no numbers (which I’m use to)
4. If you tie in one task to multiple tasks there is just the text of the task, not the task number of the predecessor
5. If you have more than 50 tasks it is just too clunky to think about editing it within SharePoint
6. When editing within SharePoint if you open one task to edit there is no budget information for the task (I bet you can turn this on)
7. Doesn’t import calendar settings, but it will pick up a custom SharePoint calendar
1. Allows users without Project the ability to view the project and filter for their tasks, or tasks coming up in the next 7 days
2. If you don’t have Project you can just create tasks (which is fine for a small project with less than 50 tasks)
3. Within the PMO view, with the projects under it, you can view all of your tasks for just your projects you are associated with
4. If you use SharePoint making changes to reports within pmPoint will feel familiar
Conclusions: I think that pmPoint will work very well for smaller organizations with smaller projects. For larger organizations there may be a few hurdles to jump:
1. If you have multiple PMO’s then you would need the folks at pmPoint to do some customization to allow you to have, let’s say, 4 tabs for 4 PMO’s and 1 tab to bring in all of the PMO’s information into one dashboard
2. Getting PM’s use to uploading the XML file into their projects when they make a change to their Project documents (non-issue if you have SharePoint 2010)
The key to make this more user friendly would be a flash based Project editor within SharePoint (are you listening Microsoft?). This will allow the PMs that have been using Project for +10 years the ability to edit and save it in one place, and will allow the users to have the same look and feel that we have seen from Project.
Other reviews on pmPoint: