It seems almost quaint in the day of Google and Amazon hegemony but there used to be a lapel button around that said “Earth, a subsidiary of Microsoft.” That firm’s quest for world domination has been replaced by a struggle to maintain relevance at least in some product spheres. One area where they are not struggling is with their collaboration and web content product, SharePoint. The firm claims that “SharePoint supports 2 out of 3 information workers in the enterprise and more than 700,000 developers are building on SharePoint and Office.” Clearly a success story. No stranger to the concept of bundling one successful product with another (sometimes to the consternation of monopoly watchdogs), Microsoft is taking advantage of SharePoint’s success by integrating it with another popular product, Project Server 2013.
Whatever one might think of the nature of this marketing strategy, the effect in terms of functionality is not at all bad. For those looking to embed project management best practices into the enterprise collaboration platform, the suite offers some attractive capabilities as I have discovered working with a client on a PMO Best Practices project. The web site outlining the Project Server features is here. But to really appreciate what can be done you have to be working with hands on project managers trying to solve their day-to-day problems while at the same time establishing the accountability, repeatability and overall efficiency required at an enterprise level. Some simple examples will illustrate the point. There is a “My task” capability that allows SharePoint and Project tasks assigned to individuals to be presented on a single page; the latter are extracted from one or more project plans. Another example is the ability to establish standards for risk and issue tracking that allow for assignment to individuals and for aggregation across projects. Standards for formatting and some data editing can be built into SharePoint project sites.
There is still no substitute for deeply inculcating in everyone involved the principles of good project management and the practices that ensure those principles will be adhered to. That continues to be the best method to bring about the high-quality outcomes that the best run organizations expect and deliver. There are plenty of tools available for enabling the use of these principle and practices, but what is on offer from the folks in Redmond a is viable option.