Every company undertakes some form of project management. Whether it’s a project to launch a new product; or perhaps it’s to come up with a new logo; maybe even it’s a team to look at updating the staff handbook – to a greater or lesser extent every business involves some form of project management. In fact, there’s a whole industry out there providing software and business tools to help staff members effectively manage the projects in their organizations. However, for small businesses these tools can be difficult to use and often require extensive training for employees to get the most out of them. In fact, many examples of project management software have a very steep learning curve, which makes them an impractical choice for a small organization with limited resources and time pressures. What’s the option then for the small business that wants to formalize their project management procedures but within existing systems? Well, have you considered the company intranet? The truth is the office intranet can provide a simplified project management tool. And, because it’s already being used by employees on a daily basis, a project management procedure can quickly and easily be introduced. Let’s look in detail at the various stages a typical project goes through to see how the intranet can help the projects in your business achieve their objectives.
Putting together a project team via the intranet is easy. Appropriate personnel can be sought by inviting applications on the intranet’s home page or through staff blogs and message boards. If the project requires particular expertise in say marketing or design to come up with a new logo, then staff members with the relevant experience can be identified from the employee directory which includes biographical information and expert subject knowledge.
A project area is then set up on the intranet with closed membership restricted through a series of site permissions to the project team only. In this area project team members can brainstorm ideas, share insights and best practice as well as data and background research relevant to the project. What’s more, a cloud-based intranet means that the project team can be having these discussions and sharing ideas even if they are located in various offices that are separated by many miles and different time zones. In addition, senior managers or the project sponsor are able to maintain oversight and control of the project by checking in on progress in the project area of the intranet.
The next typical phase of a project is the detailed planning and coming up with a project plan. The project plan identifies the budget, a schedule and project milestones as well as determining the resources that will be needed.
Once again this task is easily achieved through the company intranet. The intranet project page allows staff members to collaborate on producing the project plan. A simple plan can easily be created using Google Apps suite of office programs. This can then be shared by embedding it in an intranet page so that it can be commented on and edited by the project team members. There’s no need to email a new version of the plan every time a change or update is made. This means that project team members can have absolute confidence that the very latest version of the plan is held on the intranet. No longer will team members need to sift through their in boxes to find the most up-to-date version. Not only is this a great time saver for team members, it also eliminates the potential for mistakes in using outdated information.
Project Launch And Execution
The intranet is the perfect vehicle for launching the project. Let all staff know about it with an item on the intranet’s news feed or on team-specific news items. And use Google Sheets to assign specific project tasks and responsibilities across the team or organization as appropriate.
One of the downsides with MS Project, in particular, is the inability to collaborate online. Good communication is after all at the heart of good project management, especially in today’s connected world. The fact that the project plan is held centrally in the intranet means that team members can work collaboratively, without the need to constantly email updates to team members. The intranet makes for easy communication across the project team which gives it a distinct advantage over other tools.
Monitoring progress, tracking tasks and making adjustments to ensure the project’s objectives are achieved is fundamental to good project management. And the ease of communication that the intranet facilitates between project members will greatly assist in this task. Team members can report on progress using the centrally held Google Sheet. And virtual team meetings can be held within the shared project space to review progress and make any necessary changes. Furthermore, if appropriate, all staff can be kept updated on any organization-wide critical projects through the intranet’s news feed.
This is the final stage within a standard project process. All the project tasks are successfully completed, the outcomes are approved by the project sponsor or the board and are published on the intranet’s news feed.
An essential element of the project closure stage is an evaluation that highlights the project’s successes as well as any learning or improvements that could be made to the process. The intranet is the ideal vehicle for managing this sort of organizational knowledge in a central knowledge management set of pages or best practice blog. In this way, staff members in other departments or office locations can also have the benefit of the experiences of project teams that have gone before them in the organization.
Simple Project Management
As we’ve seen, the company intranet offers a suite of tools that can be easily adapted to manage projects within your organization. There’s no need for additional software or an extensive program of staff training. What’s more, staff are already using the intranet in their day-to-day work and so it’s a logical and very easy step to also use it for project management.
Another advantage of the intranet is that it more naturally lends itself to collaboration and easy communication than other software options. And good collaboration and communication are the hallmarks of excellent project management.
So, why not use your office intranet for increased visibility, transparency and greater control of project management within your business.