Here at StitchDX, we pride ourselves on our best-in-class websites in WordPress and intranets in SharePoint and Powell Software. But for every new project that launches, there is a lot of work to be done — from keeping track of customer requirements to change orders to progress updates. It can be overwhelming. We’ve developed an approach to project management with Microsoft that lowers the stress and helps ensure success – here’s how we do it.
Why project management with Microsoft works for us.
First a note on what we value in our process. When a customer engages with us, we take their ideas seriously. Customer input is a critical factor in each stage.
Second, we commit to creating the very best solution for each customer’s needs. Since neither of those activities can be faked or shortchanged, we need our project management to be ruthlessly efficient. The less time we spend on our internal processes, the more we have to spend on building great websites and Digital Workplace solutions.
Over the years, we’ve tried lots of tools – Asana, Jira, Box, Google Drive, you name it – but we’ve consolidated to Microsoft because they all work together. We reduce the time we would waste hopping between platforms and trying to remember where everything is.
Project management with Microsoft, step by step.
Step 1: Getting underway
This is always my favorite part of the project – it reminds me a bit of the beginning of the school year when I would get all my school supplies organized.
Once a customer greenlights a project, we begin by creating the project infrastructure:
Microsoft Teams – Using Powell Teams templates, I spin up a dedicated team for each project. The team comes preloaded with:
- The channels we use for each stage of the project
- Tabs for connections to Planner, Toggl (our time tracker), and other useful tools.
We set up the Powell Template to follow our internal naming convention for projects and assign the appropriate members. This makes governance and accountability much easier.
Planner – Using Microsoft Planner, I copy our standard website project template and begin to plan out the project. The system notifies each team member as I assign tasks and the plan is pulled into the relevant team in Teams via the Powell template described above. While Planner is sufficient for most of our website builds, this process works the same with Microsoft Project. We can also add and assign tasks in Planner right from Teams.
Azure DevOps – For projects that require more complex coding and development, we manage the development phase using the more robust DevOps tool. Spinning up new projects and assigning tasks through DevOps is made easy through its integrations with Teams and Active Directory.
Word – Our standard Powell Team template creates and links to Microsoft Word document that we use for our running meeting notes. Whether my colleagues access this doc through Teams, SharePoint, or their own hard drives (if synced with OneDrive), it is the same document. We can rest assured knowing that we are not creating new versions or writing over each other’s work.
Step 3: Delivery and launch
As we get closer to launch, we spend an increasing amount of time with keeping track of multiple times like outstanding tasks, pages, change requests. We use Microsoft tools here too.
SharePoint Lists – SharePoint Lists are really just spreadsheets. However, their cleaner, more simple interface makes them easier to share with clients and quickly understand. We use them to:
- Monitor the status of each page of the website from design through final review
- Track bugs and change orders
- Countdown to launch
Stream – One of the hallmarks of a WordPress site is its ease of use for content contributors and admins — but some training is required. To assist with client training, we can record short instructional videos in Stream . As part of the Microsoft universe, each video can be auto-transcribed and presented with captions. All of the content is searchable, making each training module easy to find and return to.
A cohesive whole
There are certainly plenty of tools for managing website projects (something Microsoft does NOT have a monopoly on!). However, we have found the seamless transitions across SharePoint, Teams, Stream, Planner, and Lists reduce the amount of time necessary to build the infrastructure needed to deliver projects with excellence– on time and under budget.
(Questions? Contact our Digital Workplace team here or click the orange chat button at the bottom right.)