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How an Office 365 Intranet Can Help You Achieve Project Management Success

Is your business still using excel spreadsheets to manage projects? Do you have to circulate these documents via email to get your team member’s weekly updates? These are old and outdated methods and frankly even if you do use a Project Management tool, if your solution is not in the cloud, is not available on various devices and is not accessible from anywhere at any time, you are still using an archaic system.

In either scenario, you need to play catch-up and get acquainted with more tech savvy project management solutions. There are thousands of products out there that can help you, and many of them will do a pretty decent job of helping you and your team members communicate and collaborate effectively, manage tasks and track progress. The key is to find one solution that fulfills your needs based on the features that are most important to you.

Considerations for Choosing a Project Management System

These are some of the features your project management system should have:

  • Cloud based – this is an absolute must have. When projects are managed by team members who are scattered over the globe, a cloud based solution makes it possible for everybody to access the project, make updates, flag delayed tasks and track progress.
  • Effective and Easy Communication –project success is a myth without effective communication between team members. The tool should have robust communication features which make it is easy for the team to connect and collaborate using voice, video or chat to share ideas and resolve issues.
  • Document Management – every project generates documents and a project management tool must come equipped with a repository to house them, keep them linked to the project and provide safety. It should also allow for collaborative authoring, easy versioning and sharing of documents.
  • Tracking Tasks – there should be easy task management capabilities with the facility to create and assign tasks to team members, set priorities, define statuses and due dates for each; and since hundreds of tasks can be part of a project, there should be a way to filter them to see tasks assigned to you, or those with a high priority.
  • Dashboard view – this is a time saver for project managers who are juggling multiple high priority projects and who want to see if their projects are on track and progressing at an appropriate pace. In a dashboard view all the important components of a project are presented on one page, it gives a consolidated view of tasks and resources, it helps monitoring tasks and makes planning and prioritizing much easier.
  • Getting Everyone on one platform – the tool should present all the above features on one platform so that work can be accomplished within one system where team members can get a consolidated view of the status of the project, its risks, communicate and discuss issues, find solutions and implement them; all from one place.

Office 365 accomplishes all of the above and gives users a few options with tools it offers for managing projects. Being cloud offerings, these tools allow teams with dispersed members to work seamlessly from anywhere and at times that are convenient to them. Members are able to work on their favorite browsers and update their tasks as they progress which makes it possible for project managers to make better informed decisions.

Project Management Tools Offered by Office 365

Project Online –If you have used the desktop version Microsoft Project, you already know that it is a full-scale, advanced, project management tool which allows you to manage multiple projects and resources, enhance your project portfolio and deliver on business goals.

Project online gives you the same capabilities as the on premise version, has a familiar, intuitive and user-friendly interface, which helps you get up and running with your projects in no time. Its tight integration with Skype and Yammer makes communication simple and straightforward.

You can manage your resources, view how they are used across projects, and govern project costs. You can also run optimization scenarios and use the reporting capabilities and summary dashboards to stay informed and aware of all the components of your projects.

SharePoint – If you are currently using SharePoint for document management and collaboration, you should absolutely leverage its project management capabilities. SharePoint is a feature rich platform for collaboration and it can be configured to manage any size of projects.

Project sites can be based on available templates, which reduces setup time and costs. Along with all features of a traditional project management software, SharePoint’s integration with other Office products offers the capability to sync tasks with Outlook, house documents in a searchable library and share calendars which gives you a quick view of upcoming events and meeting availability of employees.

SharePoint projects can also integrate with MS Project, allows setting up task dependencies, and helps to manage resources, capacity, costs, and baseline schedule.

Planner – It is used for small projects that can’t be accomplished using to-do lists but which don’t require a complex portfolio project management system. Planner is a fun-to-use app and resembles a social tool like Facebook or Pinterest. It uses agile methodology, is quick and easy to set up and get started.

Projects are organized as Plans, which are broken up into themes or stages called Buckets, which are further divided into Tasks. Tasks are created on cards which can be tagged, labeled and customized. They can be moved from one bucket to another so you can alter the way you organize your plan as your needs change.

When you add users to a Plan, they get added to a group which can be used to collaborate, chat and share documents.

Teams – This is a chat based workspace which is designed to provide an easier way for small groups of people to communicate and collaborate. It enables teams to work together via one-on-one chat, group chat, and voice calls.

With Teams you can manage and accomplish small projects. It doesn’t offer task and resource management like true PM systems, but its collaboration capabilities and its integration with other Office 365 components allows users to seamlessly switch between editing documents, shared dashboards and planners; making it a simple, useable tool for project success.

If you want to learn about how you can use any of the above tools for Project Management or need help in selecting a tool, feel free to email us bizinfo@bizportals.com. We are here to help.

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