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Microsoft Project Server SharePoint Sites

When Project Server was first launched back in 2002 the SharePoint site functionality was a nice feature but not overly compelling. With the advent of Project Server 2007 the relationship between Project Server and SharePoint changed significantly. I have seen it mentioned that in 2002 the two were dating, in 2007 they were living together and with the 2010 version they are married.

I have to admit the living together step was where I started to get interested in SharePoint. Project Server became a shared service in SharePoint and the interaction between the two products became a lot more seamless and valuable.

I took the time to learn more about SharePoint and my interest was really caught when a speaker at an event I attended made the claim that SharePoint was going to have more of an impact upon business than email ever did, this was an incredible assertion to make given the ubiquity of email, however having immersed myself in SharePoint I can appreciate his position although time will tell if he is proven correct.

The project workspace site template that is shipped with Project Server provides users with a well established platform upon which to collaborate more effectively on their projects.

It is intriguing to note that whilst Project Server 2007 is tightly bound to SharePoint there are a significant number of Project Server users who do not avail themselves of the potential of SharePoint sites. In some cases it is because they have other document management systems in place or their own established processes for managing issues and risks. Frequently however there is simply a reluctance to embrace even more change than that represented by adopting Project Server 2007 alone. To me this is frustrating as these users are denying themselves the opportunity to achieve “joined up” project management that is possible when the potential of SharePoint is exploited.

The SharePoint project workspace is invested with a single document library, calendar, and lists for risks, issues, deliverables and tasks. It is also invested with announcements and discussions as well as a web part that displays a logo.

Once you start using SharePoint its natural alignment to and complimenting of more disciplined Project Management processes quickly becomes apparent.

As the name implies it is a single point where people can share information. Anyone engaged in a project is automatically granted access to the SharePoint site aligned to the project.

One significant feature of SharePoint that is not be underestimated is the rigorous control of access to information that is allowed by what Microsoft call “security trimming” – in essence users are granted access to a site and are authenticated, granted access, most usually by their windows user credentials. Individuals will automatically be assigned to one of the default security groups associated with SharePoint sites, visitors, members or Owners.

Membership of these groups invests the individual with specific permissions. At the lowest level members of the visitors group will be able to view information but not to modify anything on the site. Members can contribute to content on the site. Owners have full control over the site. You can if you wish create your own custom groups with more explicit permissions but that is outside the scope of this article.

With your project SharePoint workspace created (or provisioned to use the Microsoft terminology) you are now in a position to start storing documents in the library, recording issues and risks, manage deliverables and should you wish make announcements, conduct surveys and even have on-line meetings all within the SharePoint site.

A particularly powerful feature of this version of Project Server and SharePoint is the facility to include data on issues and risks in the OLAP cube built from data in the Project Server reporting database. The ability to generate dynamic reporting on issues and risks in Data Analysis views or even better in Dashboards using SQL Reporting Server data makes the recording of this information even more of a “must have” once people start seeing its potential.

Whilst the default SharePoint project workspace site template does significantly raise the potential value of SharePoint to project teams there are some limitations to it.

In my next article I will explore how creating your own custom SharePoint project workspace template can exploit the latent potential of this tool to deliver even more value to your projects.

Relevant Links:

Microsoft Project Server

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