Thinking Of Using SharePoint for Project Management? Read These User Stories First

When it comes to project management, the tools you use make all the difference. Choosing an appropriate methodology is important, sure. But you must have the right tools to support that choice. As a widely used tool among many organizations, SharePoint is often used for project management. The four project managers below use it, though not all with the same degree of effectiveness. Their accounts show that while SharePoint may be right for some organizations, for others, a simpler alternative could be a better solution.

Using SharePoint For Project Management: Firsthand Accounts

As an enterprise platform, SharePoint has been developed to address a wide variety of use cases for all types of organizations. Andres Lares, Managing Partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, says the fact that SharePoint offered everything—project management, communications, collaboration, and content management—in a single solution was important for his team. They’d used a number of disparate systems before that were hard to manage and slowed down their workflows.

“Implementing SharePoint produced immediate, positive, and measurable results across the organization—workflow productivity, business development, and client relationship management,” said Lares. “It also enabled our teams to work cross-functionally together and with our clients across the world.”

Barry Moore, founder of Great Work Life, was also looking for a tool that could bring his large team together. “Microsoft Project and, to a lesser extent, Excel are fine when you have a small project. But it takes an enterprise solution like SharePoint to effectively manage large projects. When I was driving a $100 million program at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which comprised 80 subprojects, we needed a completely customized approach to enable all project managers to report in with their milestones, achievement updates, and requests for help. Since the organization was already familiar with SharePoint and the platform had what was needed to handle scale, it was the best choice.”

Reporting was also a critical piece. “We set up the system so that every two weeks all project managers reported their results into a customized form. From that, we could automatically generate a stakeholder presentation in PowerPoint, which I would deliver to the senior leadership team the next day.”

SharePoint is a Microsoft product, a fact that appealed to Jacob Dayan, CEO of Community Tax and Finance Pal. “One of the biggest selling points [of SharePoint] was that it integrates with other Microsoft Office products (which we currently use as well). This ensured a seamless integration. Overall, it helped us with our communication and collaboration, which I feel was somewhat lacking before.”

The Drawbacks Of SharePoint

While SharePoint is an effective tool in some ways, it has drawbacks that make it difficult for teams to get the maximum benefit.

Moore’s team, for instance, would not have been able to utilize SharePoint—particularly its reporting capability—to its full extent without help. “It’s important to note all this doesn’t happen on a whim. You need someone with specialized knowledge and experience—a skilled SharePoint developer. They’re the ones who make time-saving workflows like this possible by customizing the platform.”

In addition, many organizations find the platform to be overwhelming since it has numerous features that cover a broad spectrum of needs—and not necessarily ones your team has. “There are almost too many elements to [SharePoint]. So much so, that it can be intimidating at times,” Dayan shares.

Alena R., who works in banking, finds that SharePoint’s user experience is less than ideal. “I deeply dislike the interface. As a regular user, there’s not much I can do to make it fit what I want to see and how I want to see it. I end up creating workarounds, such as zooming in and out to look at the info I need at that moment. How it handles tasks is also something I don’t enjoy. For example, it doesn’t send me an email when something is assigned to me. In short, using SharePoint for project management will get the job done for many use cases, just not smoothly.”

These stories remind us how important aspects like reporting and user experience are for project management software. It’s not enough to be robust and secure. The right solution also needs to be flexible and easy to use to realize its full potential.