BrightWork Product Evaluation

A phased approach to SharePoint project management

Karen Forster

by Karen Forster on 4/30/2014

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If you're looking for solutions that address project management on SharePoint, you'll find no shortage of options. Here's the lowdown on BrightWork to help you narrow the field of choices.

Problem: Successfully managing projects through SharePoint without advanced project management expertise or varying levels of expertise


  • Use informal project management through tools such as Excel

  • Use an advanced and complex dedicated project management tool such as Microsoft Project

  • Purchase a third-party SharePoint project management tool

Product: BrightWork

"BrightWork is a best in class SharePoint solution for the management of projects, portfolios and work that is fast and inexpensive to deploy and simple to configure and evolve.

"BrightWork enables any organization to instantly deploy an affordable amount of project, portfolio and everyday work management, delivering immediate visibility and control.

"The unique best-practices templates approach, pioneered by BrightWork, allows organizations to start quickly and to gradually evolve by adding more templates and dashboards as needed and as ready.

"BrightWork is available on premise and online for both SharePoint 2013 and 2010 and on premise for SharePoint 2007."

What You Should Know:

Project management has become a sought-after skill and a necessary discipline for getting things done in organizations of all sizes and in all industries. However, many companies don’t have the resources to hire dedicated, experienced, certified project managers. And most companies would agree that projects suffer as a result.

Indeed, research validates concerns about project success and the role of project management: Michael J. Doherty, PhD, notes, “As projects continue to play an important role in business operations, many studies suggest projects in general, and information technology (IT) projects in particular, continue to have unacceptably low success rates.”

Doherty identifies 6 “critical success factors” for successful project management in IT projects:

  1. A strong commitment from upper management
  2. Clearly stated measureable goals and objectives
  3. Interpersonal and project management skills of the project manager
  4. Skills and expertise of the project team
  5. A detailed and realistic project schedule
  6. Clear, unambiguous and obtainable project requirements

For SharePoint projects, Wendy Neal identifies some of the same factors in her article, "4 Common Reasons SharePoint Projects Fail."

  1. Lack of Vision or Clear Plan
  2. Lack of Tie and Resources
  3. Lack of User Buy In or Change Management Plan
  4. Inadequate User Training

BrightWorks, a company specializing in SharePoint project management, has built a business around taking a pragmatic, template-based approach to addressing the need for project management and the lack of formal training and skills in many organizations.

BrightWorks CEO Eamon McGuinness observes, “Everything has become a project, but nobody is trained to be a project manager. A colleague of mine says we now have what he calls ‘PMBAs’—Project Manager by Accident.”

McGuinness continues, “Our philosophy is to meet customers at whatever amount of project management they think is appropriate and then add to that as their experience and needs grow. It’s based on experiential learning.”

Essentially, BrightWork has taken those success factors that experts have identified and boiled them down into a series of increasingly comprehensive templates. As a starting point, McGuinness says, “you have tasks and a project charter. You have two things.” And those of two of the most important things the experts recommend.

“People say that’s crazy. You need a lot more,” McGuinness continued. “Well, if I get my people to do this, it’s a lot better than what they were doing.”

Then, when the organization realizes, for example, that risk management is also important, BrightWork enables customers to add risk management to their template and replicate it to all their SharePoint sites.

“We give people a model, and it’s like a spectrum,” McGuinness explains. “Secondly, we recognize that you can’t have everybody in the organization at the same level of project management skill. So we allow different departments to use different templates. One SharePoint site would have a small amount of project management, and others would have different amounts.”

BrightWork offers a free trial that includes free training. You can get full access to BrightWork for one month for up to 5 users, and you get a training guide that walks you through the product.

Customer Results :

BrightWork provides customer testimonials to help anyone who is considering the product.

Among the customers that have used BrightWork is Microsoft: “BrightWork provides us with a project management tool based on how we work today and evolving to where we want to be.”

Another customer case study on the Audigy Group, which says, “BrightWork has proven to be a flexible and adaptable project management tool. We like the fact that is completely integrated with SharePoint and the way that the application brings best practices in the templates but also allows us to modify the templates to fit our business. The range of templates is impressive and BrightWork has been proactive in rolling out more for a wide variety of business needs. We’re looking forward to growing into our BrightWork project management solution”

What the Community Says :

Product reviews are a key tool for determining what products to buy. Recent studies find that more than 80 percent of decision makers rely on product reviews. BrightWork has a section of its web site dedicated to reviews of the product. In addition, here are summaries of community reviews of BrightWork.

"Product Review: BrightWork 11 Brings Unique Features to Market Solidifying Its Offering." by Mike Ferrara

“BrightWork yet again delivers a solid solution for project managers looking for control and flexibility in the same package. The new features highlighted in this review help add credence to the product’s stance amongst market competition. BrightWork offers several price points to help match budgets with actual needs, and they offer an affordable hosted solution as well.”

"Thoughts of a Project Manager; Ryan Endres, PMP"

"Conclusions: I think that pmPoint will work very well for smaller organizations with smaller projects. For larger organizations there may be a few hurdles to jump:

1. If you have multiple PMO’s then you would need the folks at pmPoint to do some customization to allow you to have, let’s say, 4 tabs for 4 PMO’s and 1 tab to bring in all of the PMO’s information into one dashboard

2. Getting PM’s use to uploading the XML file into their projects when they make a change to their Project documents (non-issue if you have SharePoint 2010)

"The key to make this more user friendly would be a flash based Project editor within SharePoint (are you listening Microsoft?). This will allow the PMs that have been using Project for +10 years the ability to edit and save it in one place, and will allow the users to have the same look and feel that we have seen from Project."

For additional product reviews, you can look here:

It's your call

The goal of this article is to give you a head start in your search for a project management solution. In the end, the best way to determine whether a product suits your requirements is to test it in your specific environment. Now you can compare other offerings to the information provided here.

If you have experience with BrightWork, please share your takeaways!

Topic: Product

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