Still Using Excel Spreadsheets for Project Management?

BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework Overview

By Joel Oleson

Executive Overview

I have the privilege of seeing so many great projects and solutions. BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework and software are no exception. I first was introduced by BrightWork by Éamonn McGuinness, who has the vision of making successful project and portfolio management possible and easy for every organization. BrightWork has been providing project management solutions with SharePoint since SharePoint 2001. I learned more about BrightWork through the free downloadable Collaborative Project Management Handbook. Immediately I found some very useful insights including an open process for managing post mortems. I’ve been in some companies who fear failure and met many in those companies who would never willingly admit their mistakes. In one company we had regular post mortems whenever there were outages, but also a moment after every project where we took time to reflect on the project and talked about highlights and low lights. Let me tell you just how different the experience is when you’re on a team where collaborative project management processes are implemented. Everyone has a voice. Failure is not an ultimate risk that plagues someone never to be trusted every again. All members of the team can provide leadership through collaborative mechanisms and have their voices heard. Instead mistakes will happen, and as a result we’ll all learn from those and find growth through making changes and recognizing ways to improve and evolve through processes for collaborating on what went well and not so well. BrightWork provides a safe environment for company and individual growth through a collaborative project management framework with three guiding principles, as well as free templates for SharePoint that make doing project management straightforward, consistent, easy, and possible.

Overview of BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework

First let me introduce you to the framework’s “Three Guiding Principles,” 1) Collaborate to Innovate – Projects deliver the innovations groups need to progress and projects are best delivered in a collaborative fashion with the entire team. 2) Lead to Succeed – The most successful projects get real leadership from both the project manager and all of the team members. 3) Evolve to Grow – Successful collaborative project management is not a capability acquired in a day; it evolves and develops in time.

The Three Guiding Principles and Stages of the Collaborative Project Management Framework

Learn Collaborative Project Management

It’s amazing to me just how many companies are simply using Microsoft Excel for managing projects. I understand it is the most common project manage tool on the planet by far. Beyond that it’s amazing to me how unstructured nearly all companies are in their approaches to project and portfolio management. While it’s not always possible to have a clear scope of work and clearly defined roles and responsibilities at the beginning of each project, there are some simple guidelines that can be followed to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page with milestones and the approach. Without an agreed upon approach to project management, chaos ensues as deliverables are not met, timelines continuously slip, and budgets are quickly overrun. That being said, I’ve seen many companies attempt to swing the pendulum to the other side to not only add structure, but add competency to their project managers and exist perpetually in analysis paralyses where speed and agility was the desire. You can’t snap your fingers and everyone is performing project management. It requires an agreed upon approach.

The Collaborative Project Management Handbook outlines the practices, stages, and leadership needed to deliver collaborative projects successfully. Each chapter includes practical exercises and tips to help you get started.

The Framework is built on a foundation of collaboration and leadership with an emphasis on evolution at the speed of the organization.

  • Collaborate to Innovate
  • Lead to Succeed
  • Evolve to Grow

Business Value

  • Organizational alignment across projects and project managers
  • Get started quick on projects and save time over time saved on simple status reports
  • Consistent reporting through rollup of dashboards
  • Customization of templates for flexibility in adding additional tracking for less on lite and more on larger projects
  • Portfolio rollup across department alignment with corporate strategic vision and plan
  • Intuitive Insights and reports can tell at any moment where a project is in progress
  • Visibility and control including transparent point of reference across the organization
  • Start where you are and evolve
  • Take advantage of your Office 365/SharePoint investment for Project Managers
  • Templatized approach to deliver project, portfolio and work management

What people are saying… “BrightWork has given us the opportunity to maximize how efficiently and effectively we manage a vast array of projects across our geographically dispersed organization.”

The current situation across the industries is the demands on teams for producing more with less has increased. In fact, according to a recent Microsoft study, the average employee works on 2x more teams than they did 5 years ago. Essentially our ability to deliver has not gone up, but the need to deliver has. How do you keep track of what you’re getting from these teams, document, excel, maybe a task list? What dates are they due? Keeping this in a spreadsheet? How do you provide status reports? How is this tracked at a team, group, department and/or for organizational reporting? You’re starting to see what happens when hundreds of employees are trying to keep track of all these tasks on their own, in dozens or hundreds of different ways. You can also see how collaboration and transparency are so important in providing the ability to share simple reporting interfaces with technology the organization already owns.

BrightWork has focused on this area of building a framework that is easy to learn, understand, and use as a mechanism. There are templates provided both for free and enhanced reporting that you can get started with today. These SharePoint based templates for collaborative project management will run on Office 365 and all recent versions of SharePoint 2016, 2013, and 2010.

SharePoint Templates for Project and Portfolio Management

I remember a time when templates were the rage in SharePoint. Instead of creating a blank site, you’d get further with a team template that already had a number of lists ready to go. The same with the document center, set with version control, and designed with metadata search in mind. BrightWork takes the SharePoint template model and extends it past the old project template SharePoint delivers, including solving some typical SharePoint problems!

Dashboard Focused Project Templates

BrightWork provides enterprise-ready project management application that leverages your investment in Microsoft SharePoint. There are a set of best-practice templates for project, portfolio and work management that help you to focus on the right things as you learn about the things that are most important in successful projects.

  • Projects and Work Tracker
  • Never lost, easy to use navigation with simple Site Map
  • Metric Tiles preconfigured out of the box and easy to configure
  • Score Card Dashboard
  • The 3-minute Status Report
  • Project Scheduling Dashboard
  • Wizard based Project Creation
  • Project Request Manager
  • Built in Side Bar Help

A few of the key features demonstrated to me include the 3-minute status report, which is designed as a quick report that requires little time to produce and yet powerfully answers the key questions stake holders have in any status call or portfolio review. Think about that. How can it get easier than that? Boom! Answer the 3 key foundational questions and your report lights up. The tile based scorecards make reporting simple and focused on the key metrics in a project and can easily be configured to display what the stakeholders are asking for.

First imagine a lightning fast simple task of bringing in all of the status spreadsheets from each of your project managers to then simply use quick edit in a very similar excel like interface. This quickly gets the data where it can be reported on and tracked. All parties will quickly see the value.

Once the data is aggregated and reported on for each of the projects. The Project Tracker can now do its job of rolling up the data with the simple red yellow green on the most important KPIs “Is it healthy? on time? on budget?” in a simple red yellow green with a simple Gantt view. Seriously powerful.

Many companies struggle to get out of seeing SharePoint beyond a next generation file sharing platform, but these templates do an incredible job tying together the data it gathers from the projects into a robust reporting dashboard. Not only does it keep the project managers honest about their work, but also provides transparency to the stakeholders and allows resources to log their own status and provide milestones.

The range of BrightWork templates enable organizations to start fast with an amount of project management appropriate to the level of project management maturity and project complexity that exists in the organization.

The project reporting built into BrightWork gives senior executives and program managers the visibility and control they need to deliver project success across the organization and ensure happy customers.

The easy customizability of the templates enables organizations to easily evolve organizational project management to their desired level of maturity. Project and portfolio report as complex or as simple as you want to be.

The approach of BrightWork is really in the approach of start simple, and evolve as you gain experience and maturity in the process.

BrightWork Templates Spectrum: Project based Site Templates requirements of time and complexity

Portfolio Management Templates – The BrightWork templates for portfolio management give senior executives high-level visibility into the status and health of multiple projects across the organization, resource allocation and new project requests.

Project Management Templates – Site templates for SharePoint allow project managers to deliver successful projects with simple and collaborative project management templates with streamlined reporting.

Advanced Reporting Dashboards – Project and Portfolio templates provide powerful project and portfolio management reporting dashboards so you have the visibility to keep projects on track. They take the guesswork out of putting together powerful dashboards.

Smart Project Management – In the templates are several enhanced features for Smart Project Management, all designed to make project and portfolio management on SharePoint as easy as possible.

Template Management – You can customize BrightWork templates, just like a SharePoint site and can pull that changes into sites created from that template.

What are their customers saying?

“Deploying BrightWork has exceeded expectations from a consistency and accountability perspective; both the number of project requests and active projects have more than doubled since deployment and we have eliminated approximately 40% of work that was historically being done off to the side.”

– PMO Managers at Ascend Performance Materials

“BrightWork provided us with an economical, scalable solution for managing our project portfolio. We now have better standards for collecting project data and an intuitive tool that makes the work visible and accessible.”

– Senior PMO Director at GroupHealth

“Using the BrightWork templates, we now have a much better understanding of all projects underway, as well as a system to review and manage new project requests. We have greater visibility into what is on track and what is falling behind.”

– Head of SharePoint Team at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics

The list of customers go on, but AmSurg used the BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework to standardize their processes with the SharePoint templates.

The key things many customers are doing is looking to standardize project management with templates, leveraging SharePoint to manage processes, organization wide portfolio management, establishing a framework for reporting.


Very happy with what I found from BrightWork. Incredibly helpful team with a simple way to get started. I recommend a project manager struggling on a team read the Collaborative Project Management Handbook. It’s helpful not only for project managers, but also team members that are trying to collaborate. I found it helpful for having a common vernacular to collaborate with the team. The book is free and the tips are perfect for a team that hasn’t adopted a structured project management methodology or framework. Even an agile team needs a tool to share their status, reporting, and project based portfolio rollups. Personally I think there’s a lot of reasons to look at these templates and read the about the framework. Who couldn’t use better collaboration? Who couldn’t use better reporting and transparency. I highly recommend you check out the links for getting started.

Getting Started with Collaborative Project Management Framework

Looking for more? There are a few resources that will help you get started.


Lanteria HR Management Solutions on SharePoint and Office 365

Overview of Lanteria SharePoint Products for SharePoint

Every organization has a human resources department. Every company struggles with determining which software to use for acquiring, strengthening, and managing those valuable resources. From recruiting to learning management needs to core HR documents and forms around onboarding and succession planning, each one of these areas could be a different system for your Human Resource Management System (HRMS) needs. It’s not a challenge to realize that human resources is key to an organization; employees are the center of the organization and, in most cases, the most valuable assets. In this agile world we live in, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with variety of different HR platforms including learning management systems (LMS), Recruiting, Performance Management, Employee Onboarding, Employee Portals, and so on… Many departments continue to keep their business policies, and teams manage their documents and resources in SharePoint sites. Many even keep key employee data in special HR sites. In the buy verses build choice we all face when considering any product, this solution comes a long way in providing common business processes that companies need for managing their HRMS, which can simplify the decision of a growing business. In this Product Overview you’ll see a variety of different modules and see a small piece of this large HR investment from Lanteria. If this is an area you are in need, I recommend spending time on their website and seeing a demo for yourself.

I recently spent time with the Lanteria team and was impressed by their great progress. I had a chance to review their solution a couple of years ago. It has come a long way with many new modules including reporting, finance, budgeting, training, and more.

One thing that is clear is the focus on the various roles needed for effective HR solutions. Effective interfaces for the employee, the manager(s), and the HR teams all providing insights that can provide for happy employees, more effective managers, and the reports the HR team needs to succeed in making the right choices at every step of the way, from recruiting to onboarding to learning and performance management to final succession planning.

Lanteria HR is a SharePoint based HR and Talent Management solution, which facilitates and automates a company’s entire HR management cycle. The modules organize centralized storage of all HR information, including training, performance, leave and so on for each employee and organization as a whole. The solution provides both employee self-service as well as comprehensive HR Management and reporting in one place.

Human Resources

Lanteria HR management system provides 7 modules for operating different HR processes:

  • Core HR
  • Time and Attendance
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Recruiting and Applicant tracking
  • Performance
  • Learning management
  • Talent and succession


  • Lanteria Budgeting

Some thoughts on Lanteria’s Approach

The Lanteria approach of “why not take advantage of your platform investment” is a breath of fresh air for many who have both become familiar with SharePoint capabilities. Adoption by the business of SharePoint continue to be a challenge, for others it’s integrating existing business process with the popular collaboration platform. When you’re using dozens of tools to get your work done, it’s a challenge to gain the necessary insights and analysis that is possible in simple out of the box reporting.

Figure 1: HR Performance Dashboard

Employee Tools

The Learning Management Catalog provides employee assessment in a company by planning and delivering targeted training programs. Adding your own videos, trainings, and documents is simple. Light weight workflows capture the essentials to see employee progress and capture feedback.

Figure 2: Lanteria Learning Management Solution – Learning Catalog

Core HR includes org charts to simplify employee lookup and employee information with only a few clicks. Both management and HR can see additional information that assists in the management of the entire company’s hierarchal structure, and allows one to define the relationships between the various departments, teams, employees, and their leaders within the organization.

Figure 3: Lanteria Core HR Org Chart – Employee Chart

Figure 4: Lanteria Core HR – Employee Details

Time and Attendance

The Time and Attendance module provides you with the proper tools that help set up the time available for employees, including holidays, sick time and vacation time. It also includes company’s absence policies, tracks employee leave records, and can include details such as time spent on various projects and activities.

Figure 5: Lanteria Time and Attendance – My Absenses

HR Management Solutions Examples

Performance Management

The Performance module streamlines the management of employee performance and appraisal processes, making it quicker and easier to track, quantify, and rate productivity for each employee.

Figure 6: Lanteria HR Performance – Performance Review Form

Goal Management

Employees and managers add goals and track progress providing transparency that makes review time much more effective and time well spent focused on the goals of the team and of the company. Reporting and analysis in this module, as well as many others, is rolled up for HR as you’ll see in the dashboards.

Figure 7: Performance: Goal Management DashboardFigure 8: Lanteria HR: Compensation Dashboard


The Recruiting module is an HR software that unifies and automates the entire recruitment process to ensure that you get the right people onboard. With Vacancy Tracker as part of the Recruiting module, managers can provide needs, and HR can more effectively staff and work with managers to find the resources with transparency with simple dates, roles, locations, and organizational information. This streamlines the hiring process.

Figure 9: Lanteria HR Recruiting: Staffing Vacancies

Once interviewed, all data can be collected in a single place for the most effective decision making and review cycle.

Figure 10: Lanteria HR Recruiting: Applicant Tracking

Supported Platforms:

The solution is available on SharePoint 2010-2013 as an install on your on premises farm as a solution with support for SharePoint 2016 coming soon. It also is available as a hosted SAAS solution and integration with Office 365.

No additional hardware is required. Licensing of Lanteria is based on the number of employees and the modules you are interested in purchasing.

Demo’s and free trials are available, as well as many more videos and screenshots on the Lanteria website.


Lanteria has done an effective job of focusing on three distinct audiences, the core HR function, the employee and the manager. This audience-based approach to usability including work streams, business processing, and reporting has really made the solution come together. Realistically I do see it as a great example of a solution. In the real world many will find they already have X Y or Z that’s part of this solution. Maybe you already have something for budgets, or something for performance management or LMS. The flexibility here of choosing the modules you need definitely makes that a better sale, but also in the extensibility and integration of what you get. The solution is designed to be the core solution or can be integrated with other information stores. As a modular solution where you can add what you need and only pay for what solutions you’re interested in, it provides purposeful solutions. The purpose is simply to work together as a solid team, increase performance and efficiency and achieve company goals.

I once worked at a company where employee profiles where in PeopleSoft and employee performance data and salary and compensation was in Oracle, but the users and HR documents and processes were in SharePoint. Having gone down the build vs. buy road on this one, we already had a lot of the platform decisions already made, but hand coding a single module from forms, workflows to lists and database integration in SharePoint was extremely timely and expensive and to say the least, the maintenance, upgrade and upkeep will plague them for many years. While it was great to show the solution as fully in SharePoint with backend Oracle and PeopleSoft integration, the resources we could have saved by using an off the shelf solution like Lanteria HR could have saved us a ton of time and money.

Managing employees can be one of the biggest tasks of a company, since they represent it and if they aren’t happy, clients will know it. Through an HRMS, the Human Resources department has a better view of the current heartbeat in the company, as well as being able to better connect with and reach out to employees with their needs over time, or as they evolve through their position in the company.

Interested in more?

Watch the overview of Lanteria video on demand or request a demo or trial

And visit their website at for the latest information on Lanteria HR.

This product overview was written by Joel Oleson for the benefit of both Lanteria and the SharePoint and Office 365 community to provide awareness and further information on products and solutions that help with adoption of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies. Joel Oleson is a top SharePoint and Office365 influencer that enjoys seeing solutions that address technical product gaps and further address business problems and promote business productivity.

Product Announcement: Content Panda – New Free resource to integrated SharePoint and Office 365 training

My friends at Content Panda have put together an amazing resource for your SharePoint 2013 or Office 365 environment.  They’ve done some really clever things and they’re giving away a perpetual free version.  There are paid options so you can add your own content and do additional branding and premium content, but there’s a lot of expert content in the free that’s already available and integrated.  If you want the panda to be a clippy or the wizard, you could do it.  So if you don’t love pandas, don’t let that stop you.

Let me start with more of what Content Panda is and why I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

“52% of organization users are introduced to SharePoint/Office365 with no training…” quote from “The Road to Awesome SharePoint Adoption in your Organization”

I bet the 52% surveyed organizations includes administrator and developer training.  In my experience the total percentage of users that are trained or have access to training inside the organization is less than 10%.  Seriously it’s sad how much SharePoint gets pushed at employees and they’re told to go figure it out or search google or youtube.  I’ve been there.

What is is?
Content panda is Inline, In-Context Help for SharePoint.  The help content is articles, videos, blogs, and rich content to help your users better understand how to be effective with using SharePoint.  The ultimate goal is to help train your users on the technology and increase adoption by increasing user satisfaction.   Content Panda embeds the most relevant videos for you to play along as you solve problems or get that little reminder of how to complete a task.  Users no longer spend hours on YouTube searching for the “right” video.(You don’t need to track down the Office/SharePoint question mark that often isn’t contextual or that helpful.)

What does it do?

Delivers the most relevant and curated help content available in the world exactly when and where you need it .  With Content Panda you now have your own personal search engine inside of Office 365 connected directly to Microsoft Bing web services.  We have hand-curated the most optimal keyword search terms so you never have to leave the software to find an answer to your questions.

Did you say Free?

The free version of Content Panda is available for anyone using Microsoft Office 365 – SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013. Content Panda is an easy app to install and is activated with one click. It is immediately helpful and opens the door to thousands of the right answers you need on-demand, real time on a daily basis.  You will start to want some panda in every software program you use.

Figure 1: Content Panda in action…

Turned On

Once enabled any menu item now has more information and context.  Simply clicking on the plus will provide answers on what the feature does.  It’s a SP 2013 App, so it meets all your 2013 customization goals as well.

Find more about the new Content Panda SharePoint and Office 365 app at  They give free demos and would be happy to chat with you.  Heather Newman and Simeon Cathy are both super nice and happy to chat with you about your training and adoption strategies.

Product Review: SharePoint Joel —The Person, The Blog


While Joel is cruising in the Caribbean without much access to the internet, he asked me to share a little about my work with him. I would normally not crash someone’s blog and start writing, but hey…. since he asked, I’ll share a little about our work. In fact, I decided to pattern it like a product review. The product:

Joel is totally in a different league than I am, but I find him speaking my language—commitment to his faith, commitment to his family, commitment to growing the SharePoint community, and commitment to helping get products known in the community. About those things I am also passionate. It makes for a great team.

When I first became president of the Richmond (Virginia) SharePoint User Group I had a very small vision for our area—SUGAR—SharePoint User Groups Around Richmond. We have two groups that meet now, but I still consider that initial dream. I started meeting user group leaders and community leaders and hearing their passion for community. Then I met Joel at the inaugural SharePoint Saturday event in Virginia Beach in 2009 and started following him through Twitter and Facebook. I read the accounts of his visits to user groups around the globe and realized how technology had brought so many people together in a way I had never witnessed. How incredible is that! My vision then broadened to include connecting with the global community.

So, what is it like working with Joel? Well, there’s truly never a dull moment. Planning and coordinating product reviews, sponsored blog posts, announcements, webcasts, etc., around a travel schedule that most of us just dream about and scheduling demos and phone calls around his regular work day in two time slots in Mountain Time that can coordinate with most of the other global time zones. It’s quite amusing, but so far it has worked. I continue to be amazed at the flexibility that companies have to work with us through this process. For that, we are thankful!

I’ve realized for a couple of years through my work with Nothing But SharePoint and through SharePoint Joel that our SharePoint companies have great products and services and really are trying to get their products known. Not just that… many of them have become part of the community—sponsoring our events for SharePoint Saturdays in our communities, sponsoring our user group meetings, sponsoring blog sites, large events, etc. It’s been a win-win relationship! Bringing those relationships to SharePoint Joel has been such an extension of networking, connecting, and getting to know so many on a personal basis.

Do you really know what all Joel offers to the community? Have you ever requested a media sheet to review his services? At first glance, SharePoint Joel’s SharePoint Land looks like a blog, but it’s so much more. Joel Oleson offers full services to companies who want to get their products and services reviewed, discussed, analyzed, and promoted in the community. He offers an honest look at a product’s viability and success in the current marketplace and provides feedback and encouragement. His passion for writing keeps the site fresh with new content as he experiences new solutions and continues to connect with technology professionals who need answers. He provides his expert findings and advice for thousands of readers each week.

Figure 1: Taking a Look at the Home Page

Looking around on the home page of is the main blog post with the opportunity for you to Tweet, share on Facebook, LinkedIn or email to a friend. There is a search box to search for an article or topic on the site. If you notice on either side, there are ads. These ads can be purchased directly from us or they are automatically added from affiliate. The banner ads can be displayed on either side. Once a product is reviewed, the product is listed on a sidebar so referencing it later is easier.

Figure 2: SharePoint Product Reviews Listings

Understanding Challenges Today

Companies are writing: "Can you review my product?" "Would you blog about my solution?" "Can you give me your opinion about our mobile product?"


The community is asking or Tweeting: "Tell me what you think of that." "What are you using?" "Which do you like better, this product or that product?" "How can I find out what others are doing?" How can I connect with the community?"


Joel listens, blogs, tweets, shares, speaks, and tries all possible angles to get answers to the community. He hears from companies and individuals who are looking for a specific answer to their immediate need or who have an idea that will solve a problem. He is honestly passionate about helping and goes above and beyond to do the best job possible in providing an answer. He created the SharePoint Yammer Community #SPYam to help connect the community even more and now has over 1600 SharePoint enthusiasts communicating daily with their questions and solutions and making announcements about events in their communities and around the world.

My Experience with

My experience with SharePoint Joel—the person— is about integrity, openness, honesty. My experience with—the product—is that it has become the place and vehicle to get a SharePoint product or service into the community. Why? Because Joel knows the community first-hand. It’s not just a "distance relationship," it’s "up close and personal." He has visited and talked with more end users and technology professionals throughout the globe than any of us ever will. He has met with company owners, Microsoft leaders, service providers, etc. and can give you an honest assessment that will help your product be successful.

Where I find the real strength for is his approachability. He wants to meet you and get to know you. He wants to know what is making you successful and wants to help you. I think that’s what sets him apart.

So what’s the downside?

"Well, this is always a tough one." Regarding, I’ve noted it, and hopefully, it will be corrected in the next version/upgrade (or before), but I would really like for the top bar or the logo to take me back to the home page. When I’m reading a specific blog post to which I’ve linked from Twitter, Facebook or other, I have to navigate from the address line instead of just being able to press a home link somewhere.

Another downside (or upside) is that Joel’s services are very popular now and our schedule is very busy. Sometimes our schedules have to change for unforeseen circumstances. We are so glad that you understand that and are willing to work with us to reschedule. We always want each post to yield results and we do all we can to ensure its success through social media and other mentions.


If you’re looking for a place to have your product reviewed or sponsor a blog, look no further. We will be glad to talk with you and help you in any way. We offer so many services and even will work with you on a regular basis to supplement your marketing programs. Many of you send newsletters each week. I know. I get them and I open a lot of them. I’m always curious about what you are doing. We can help you with those announcements to enhance your readership.

We hope you will visit us at SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. Stop by the SharePoint Community Hub and meet Joel. If you are an attendee, we want to meet you and connect you with other SharePoint leaders. If you are a vendor and are interested in discussing some options where we can help, we look forward to talking with you.


Respectfully written and posted by Bonnie Surma, Advertising and Services Coordinator for Twitter @sharepointmom. Send all requests to If you still have not joined the SharePoint Yammer Community, please let me know. I’ll be glad to invite you! We don’t want to exclude anyone wanting to join. was voted by the community as Top SharePoint blog and viewed monthly in over 100 countries worldwide. Would you like your product or tool reviewed by a Top SharePoint influencer?