The next level of project confidence is all about good communication and the right tools.

For the Rogers Raising the Grade initiative by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, a nationwide program focused on helping youth achieve more in school, good communication wasn’t just a necessity for good project management—it was vital to the success of the project. So when we were brought in to develop the tools needed, we knew that a communications-optimized SharePoint implementation would be the ideal solution.

Because of the nature of a national program headed by multiple teams in various locations, good communication would be founded on a straightforward organizational structure that would provide a clear flow for teams to work with one another. It would also be crucial to ensure the teams could easily access the information they would need most frequently and then work without any unnecessary distractions. Likewise, because SharePoint can be such a massive application, it needed to be developed in such a manner so that it wouldn’t become another time-consuming and complicated task in the midst of the project.

As we discussed the project requirements, it became clear that open communication, accessible project management, and an environment conducive to success would be our mission. We honed in on several key elements that would enable this to happen:

  • Custom dynamic teams: We created a custom sorting feature in the team contact section of the project directory, enabling each user to see just the information related to the team they’re interested in. This made it easier to find people with a specific expertise or role in the project. Likewise, each team has their own specific sub-site with a unique forum and notification features.
  • Custom personal profiles: Right from the dashboard, a personal profile is accessible with team and contact information, allowing users to send email with a simple click on their photo. Moreover, as many team members were working off-site, this allowed a face to be placed with the name, encouraging better collaboration.
  • Custom user roles: Three user-types each with their own splash portal helped to make the SharePoint experience more usable. Depending on login type, each user would have an interface suitable to their needs and the type of communication in which they engage.

When tools do more than their simple, mechanical job, that’s when we know we’ve hit on something that takes it up a notch. Through better visibility and better usability, these elements provided the foundation for something more important: confidence.

Better Visibility

As every project stakeholder is aware, it’s a tremendous amount of assurance to know that there’s never a time in which you don’t know what’s going on. Whether it’s project files, a team member’s contact information or documents like meeting minutes, it’s all in one place and easily accessible from anywhere via SharePoint.

By leveraging SharePoint as a single, organized communications and resource medium, the entire project is more visible. Similarly, at any point in the project, stakeholders can share different levels and views of the project as needed. And when the project is finished, there will be an entire timeline of documentation for reference.

Better Usability

No one wants another program to use—especially when it gets busy. We were careful to develop SharePoint so that it would be manageable if a team member is pressed for time or working long-distance. We stripped out the unnecessary elements they didn’t need and hid other features that would prove distracting or non-beneficial. Likewise, we tailored the homepage for each user-type so that the information most needed would be easy to find.

Taking collaboration into account, the homepage was designed for better connection between team members by improving the organization of the team directories and including personal profiles with relevant information. This way the entire application was optimized for improved usability specifically for this project.

Thus far, our SharePoint implementation has helped make the Rogers Raising the Grade initiative a success, inspiring confidence in the project through better visibility and usability. Fortunately, it has the ability to be enhanced and modified as the years go by, so it can continue to support the project into the future.