Product analysis by Vlad Catrinescu – requested by BrightWork, but thoughts are my own.
SharePoint is an enterprise platform that aims to be the central point of information of every company. Even if at its core, SharePoint was built to be a central repository of documents, SharePoint is often used for a lot more thanks to its ability to be customized and adapted to each client. One of most common problems companies have and wish they could centralize in SharePoint is project tracking. Without a centralized way of tracking and managing projects, every new project manager coming in the company often use their own ways of dealing with projects, making it a mess to follow them and have an overview of all the projects happening in the enterprise. Furthermore, not only will your resources have to get used to the new way ways of the project manager and losing time and efficacy, but project information and history will often get lost on local drives, Excel spreadsheets and Outlook mailboxes.
When companies have to find a way to manage and track projects in SharePoint, there are mostly three choices that come to mind: Microsoft Project Server, develop fully custom code, or buy a third-party project management solution for SharePoint. In this Blog post, we are going to review a third party project management solution by BrightWork. Before we go into the review, here is the description of the product taken from the company website:
- BrightWork is a best in class SharePoint solution for the management of projects, portfolios and work that is fast and inexpensive to deploy and simple to configure and evolve.
- BrightWork enables any organization to instantly deploy an affordable amount of project, portfolio and everyday work management, delivering immediate visibility and control.
- The unique best-practices templates approach, pioneered by BrightWork, allows organizations to start quickly and to gradually evolve by adding more templates and dashboards as needed and as ready.
- BrightWork is available on premise and online for both SharePoint 2013 and 2010
and on premise for SharePoint 2007.
For the purpose of the review, I used a free 30 day trial of BrightWork that is available on their website. I honestly have to say that having an online trial like BrightWork gave me allowed me to test the product without having to setup a VM to install the product. After requesting the trial, I received my login information, as well as a nice email from one of their reps that included free resources on how to use the product as well as his contact information if I have any questions.
Templates adapted to your needs
Brightwork is aware that not all projects require the same level of management and not all companies and project managers are ready and capable to start to manage projects with all the Project Management features available. Sometimes it’s better to start where they are ready and evolve as needed.
That’s why BrightWork includes 16 project templates with different features and objectives to allow Project Managers to start quickly with the amount of project management they need. Here is an overview of the available templates and where they fit on the Project and Portfolio Management Spectrum.
In the following screenshot we can see a quick difference between the Project Lite and Project Standard Template. The Project Lite template includes five items (Project Statement; Tasks; Documents; Issues; and Status Reports) to manage the project in a lightly structured manner. The Project Standard template contains everything in the Project Lite template and adds the following features: Risks, Goals, Metrics and Resource Reporting. Furthermore,
all templates include the possibility to sync Tasks and other details with Microsoft Project.
Even if the 16 templates are already made, the BrightWork Templates Area allows you to modify the templates to fit your company’s processes and practices. You can add extra out of the box SharePoint features
as well as BrightWork configuration options. Furthermore, by using the Template Design Sync, you are able to push the template changes to all the active projects that currently use a certain template.
Business Intelligence (BI)
One of the important features for the business is probably Business Intelligence. Business Owners and Stakeholders want an easy way to see how their projects are going, if they are on schedule, late or in danger and if the budget is respected. Here are two screenshots that represent the Project by Status Reports as well as the Gantt
Furthermore, the reporting platform is configurable to allow you to create a personal view of what really matters to you in a way that you enjoy.
Creating projects and managing them was pretty easy and intuitive. Once you create a project, the template includes some easy steps to follow to get you started quickly and properly.
Once you get everything up and going, you can take off the getting started tiles so you and the team see what’s important to you and work on the project.
As a SharePoint Consultant I have seen and worked with many Project Management solutions built on SharePoint, including third party solutions, Microsoft Project Server and custom built solutions. When clients evaluate which solution to choose, they often wonder which one would be the cheapest and the fastest to implement as well as which one integrates the best with their current processes. After creating and playing with quite a few projects in BrightWork, I have to say that I was extremely surprised with the number of features included out of the box and how easy it was to work with them. Even if I am not a very experienced PM, I was able to create my own project, assign tasks and find everything really easily, something I can’t always say about Project Server.
Another thing that I found amazing was how easy it was to configure the templates in BrightWork. Most third party solutions do not allow much place for template configurations, however BrightWork is not only allowing you to do it, but has tools in place to make it easy for you to adapt their built-in templates to your company. Furthermore the built-in Business Intelligence delivers the scorecards and project reports that executives want to see.
If you are looking for a Project Management solution running on SharePoint, I highly encourage you to request a free BrightWork trial and try them out for yourself. It will take you about 15 minutes and you will have your own environment in the cloud to play with!
You can also check out some out these free resources from BrightWork:
- Free SharePoint Project Management Templates to get started managing a project with out of the box SharePoint today.
- Collaborative Project Management eBook that delivers a simple and easy to follow guide to initiate, plan, track and close a project to success.
To find out more about BrightWork, visit their website www.BrightWork.com