You can’t run a project without a plan, and you can’t plan in SharePoint. That’s the major failing of this book. Microsoft SharePoint doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Project, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t integrate with anything a little bit more out of the box like LiquidPlanner or Genius. Although they might integrate with it.
So the options for having a schedule in SharePoint are: copy all your Microsoft Project (or other tool) tasks into SharePoint, losing all the dependency data; or, store your Project plan as any other document in a SharePoint document library.
This is the first reason why I think SharePoint for Project Management is limiting. Dux Raymond Sy (@meetdux) writes well, the book is clearly laid out, it’s easy to read and a great beginner’s guide to SharePoint with loads of examples and screenshots. I like the case study which takes you step by step through all the different features of the software and uses ‘workshops’ to walk you through creating lists and document libraries, amongst other features. But if you know anything about SharePoint already then you won’t learn much about applying it in a ‘project management’ way here.
I’m not the target audience for this book: I’m an experienced project manager and I’m an experienced SharePoint user – some of my projects in France were even rolling out SharePoint sites to different national groups, so I have a clear idea of what it can and can’t do. I’ve used excellent SharePoint sites and rubbish ones – some of which I designed myself. Sy makes some assumptions in the preface about who will read the book, and it’s clearly aimed at new arrivals to SharePoint. If that’s you, you will find some useful things in here – but you have to be very new to SharePoint, at least new to SharePoint admin and site creation.
Being new to a topic is also the second reason why I think SharePoint for Project Management is limiting. Sy says:
Remember, to benefit from this book, you have to consciously decide that how you manage project information, facilitate team collaboration, and enable project communication must change for the better.
However, none of that stuff is in the book. There is no section that addresses how to help other people make that leap. Besides, wanting to change and thinking that things could be better is not the same as being able to actually change and actually make things better. People need a prod in the right direction but if the change feels too hard then they won’t go all the way. It would be really useful to have a chapter on how to encourage your team to use SharePoint, once you are sold on the benefits. Otherwise, all your hard work in following through the chapters, completing the excellent checklists and building a wonderful SharePoint site will have been pointless.
This isn’t a bad book, but it is a basic book. If you are a SharePoint newbie it would be excellent for you. I hope I’m not doing it a disservice and reading it with too jaded an eye. It’s highly likely that whatever your level of SharePoint experience you will find something in here – even if it is just a reminder of how best to structure sites to make things easier later on, and what to do with your site when the project is over.
The point about encouraging people to use SharePoint is something I feel strongly about, so I’ll come back to it in a future post. Got a story to tell about how you have engaged a team in using a new tool? Let me know!
SharePoint for Project Management by Dux Raymond Sy is published by O’Reilly (2009; paperback, 233 pages).