One thing that I’ve often struggled with was how to effectively communicate pertinent details on project schedule and budget with my team members to the extent that it helps them help me manage those components, but doesn’t overload them with information that won’t help them. Like I’m sure many of you have done, I’ve tried a number of things – sending them status reports (that get usually routed to the recycle bin before reading), pulling up the schedule and budget during each status meeting (almost guaranteeing the multi-tasking to start during the meeting). Putting myself in their shoes, I was able to come up with a method that gives enough information to either simply understand or to ask more details.
Enter SharePoint & PowerBI
By building a SharePoint site that is dedicated to the project you have the ability to craft the site to ensure collaboration between you and your team members (including schedule and budget details). SharePoint offers the flexibility to construct data entities (custom lists) and pull from other data sources to effectively give a top-down, high level overview of your project. SharePoint has a nice web part that allows you to paste a link to PowerBI reports to show even more flashy visuals on your project status. SharePoint itself is not a business intelligence tool but Microsoft is recognizing the power (no pun intended) of PowerBI and ensuring seamless support from the SharePoint platform.
SharePoint offers a great visual timeline (which I’ve posted about before). By taking advantage of the Task List App within SharePoint you can quickly and easily build out a visual timeline that can be placed prominently on your home page to give your crew an overview of your schedule. No more reasons for your team to not know when your go-live date is, no matter how many times you say it in a meeting.
PowerBI is an incredibly powerful business intelligence tool that can be crafted to visually represent data from just about any system. By pulling data from your PSA system (most notably budget, actuals, forecasts) you can develop some great high level visuals to demonstrate the health of your budget. What I have found works is being able to show budget as a whole (i.e. total hours burned vs budget) to let your team know if there are concerns on the budget overall. Further to that though, you can easily build drill-down reports that show team member burn and forecast remaining to let them view their task list, see the budget remaining and allow them to proactively raise risks/issues to you if there are concerns over budget.
Risks and Issues
This is where the custom lists of SharePoint come in handy. SharePoint custom lists can be easily crafted to meet your needs of tracking risks and issues. Views of these lists can be designed to easily slide into your home page alongside your schedule and budget visuals to give your team a holistic view of the project status, and more importantly, spark them with ideas on how to potentially help – remember, it takes a village!