How to Start Managing Construction Projects in Microsoft 365 – Part 1
This is part one of three in a series of blogs called How to Manage Your Construction Projects in Microsoft 365.
More and more construction organizations are moving to Microsoft 365 to manage their businesses and provide their employees with the tools they need to get work done. Logically, one of the first questions in a construction company is: "Can we run our construction projects from Microsoft 365?"
The good news is that Microsoft 365 has many features that are ideal for managing projects. The not-so-good news is that identifying the right mix of Microsoft 365 tools for your organization to use for projects can be overwhelming with so many service options available.
So, where do you begin? In this first installment of our latest blog post series, we will help you navigate your way into managing construction projects in Microsoft 365. In future posts, we will dive deeper into your options.
Five tips to get started managing construction projects in Microsoft 365
Do these things first to manage your construction projects with Microsoft 365 successfully:
- Start small and build on wins
We recommend starting small in your approach and focusing more on upfront planning. It's best to pick a pilot project and phase the work as much as possible.
- Plan, plan, plan
We always recommend spending as much time as you can in the "planning" phase before moving forward with any real development. If you have not already, check out our four-part blog series on implementing a Project Management Information System (Planning, Evaluating Technology, Implementing, and Supporting) to get the big picture.
To get started, consider the following:
- Define the problem. Make sure to clarify what problems you are trying to solve. By documenting and agreeing to a problem statement, you will keep the team focused on solving that problem. You will also be able to develop a cost-benefit analysis for implementing a solution.
- Establish the budget and schedule. Before embarking on your journey, make sure to set aside a budget and a deadline as to when you would like to have this solution in place.
- Assemble your team. Identify and build a team of subject matter experts who will use the solution. It would be best if you involved this team to some level throughout the entire process, from requirements gathering to implementation.
- Define your requirements. This step is the most critical in any software implementation. Take the time to document your as-is business processes (what you are doing now) and your to-be processes (what would you want to do). There are multiple ways of collecting requirements: interviews, surveys, use cases, etc. Check out our blog posts on requirement gathering in general, as well as how to use case studies.
- Develop document controls processes. Invest in developing your document controls processes to ensure that you standardize the data you collect and how you use it for reporting and search.
- The best way to signup for Microsoft 365
If your organization is already using Microsoft 365, you are all set. If not, be wary of reaching out to third-party Microsoft 365 licensing providers to set up your environment. We have seen some providers lock down their clients' tenants and restrict access to many services available in Microsoft 365. Our recommendation is to contact Microsoft directly to set up your own Microsoft 365 company tenant. If you need help, check out our Microsoft 365 managed services.
- Research your options
Depending on your license, there are many tools and services available in Microsoft 365 (e.g., Teams, Planner, To-Do, etc.), some of which provide overlapping features and functionalities. If your organization prefers to work in one service over another, that service should be central to your design. For example, if your team likes to work in email, then explore forms, reports, workflows, and so on that can be made available within Outlook.
- Understand your licensing
Microsoft licensing is always changing and can be very confusing and potentially expensive. Ensure you have the right licenses to deliver all aspects of the proposed solution, from reporting to workflows. Make sure to monitor licensing continually to ensure you are paying for what you need.
One thing to note is that Microsoft 365 provides for guest licenses, which lets you provide limited access and share information with users outside your organization. Guest licenses can be handy when working with subcontractors that you wish to allow access to your projects. Allocating guest licenses does not incur a charge, but there are limitations to this feature. Also, make sure to document any access given using guest licenses to make sure internal or confidential information is not unwittingly shared.
Are you interested in managing your construction projects with Microsoft 365?
We will dig deeper into the Microsoft 365 services available to manage your construction project in our next blog post. Stay tuned!
If your construction organization needs help setting up your Microsoft 365 environment, you can request a free one-hour consultation. If you are looking for a turnkey construction project management solution or a specific construction app for Microsoft 365, check out ConstructionViz.com.