Rapid Project Start Using SharePoint

Rapid Project Start Using SharePointThe project kick-off meetings are in diary. Your systems integrator and Guidewire consultants are booked. You have seconded internal team members for your new implementation. The scene is set for your Guidewire implementation. But where will you manage all the collateral that is produced from those first sessions? How will you track actions and deliverables? The answer could lie with a system you most likely already have in-house.

Microsoft’s SharePoint, tagline Empowering teamwork, provides a new project team with all the tools required to be functional on Day One. SharePoint provides enterprise content management (ECM), portals/websites, team collaboration, and business process management features in a single package. Quite possibly, SharePoint is already live in your organization. According to several sources, as many as 80% of Fortune 500 businesses rely on SharePoint (Source and Source). SharePoint was used at most of the Guidewire clients where I have consulted.

SharePoint’s feature set is broad and can be overwhelming. From experience, I would offer these tips to configure SharePoint for your new implementation:

  • Create a separate SharePoint site for your new project. You’ll find the separation will provide  you with fine-grained control over permissions and add-ons to enable.
  • Create a subsite for each product team such as PolicyCenter and InfoCenter. The subsite allows the team the autonomy to share information with just their members.
  • Create two document libraries under your main site. One library is for all “Requirements and Design Documents” and the other is for “PMO.” (Project management office contains your plans, reports, corporate presentations, etc.)  You’ll later find need for additional libraries such as “Change Management” and “Testing Artifacts” but the two mentioned allow you a rapid project start. Ensure that version control is enabled on all libraries.
  • Allow team members to “rate” documents. The feedback obtained from a simple 5-star rating can be valuable – know which requirements documents are hitting the mark, know what process documents team members find confusing, etc. Turning rating on is a valuable one-click option in SharePoint.
  • Train team members to use the Alert functionality to know if/when a document, list or other object in SharePoint has been updated. Keep the excuse of not knowing about an update at bay!
  • Create a list containing contact information for project team members. If you don’t have a co-located team, ensure that working days/time zones are included.
  • Create a list on each subsite to track actions.
  • Create a calendar that details the inception phase meetings. You can link this to your PMO Outlook Calendar and have a single source for meeting details.
  • Set up security and permissions per your corporate policy. If using SharePoint 365 (not on-premise), then you can permit non-Active Directory users to log in to your team site/subsite.
  • Encourage team leads (and make sure permissions are allowed at the subsite level) to use the SharePoint pages to disseminate team information.
  • Bonus! You can further expand your usage by creating BPM workflows against any of the content. An example would be for a new joiner – when they are added to the Project Team Member list, they receive a welcome guide and are automatically directed to your process & procedures.

These practical suggestions will provide the ECM backbone required by the new project team. Using SharePoint, you can have this set up in hours!