How to Use SharePoint as Project Management Office (PMO) Portal

How to Use SharePoint as Project Management Office (PMO) Portal

Are you planning on using SharePoint as your project management office portal?

That’s actually a great plan, especially when your organization mainly uses the Microsoft ecosystem of apps.

In this article, I’ll walk you through creating a project management office portal in SharePoint Online and all the steps you need to take.

Let’s get started.

Why use SharePoint as a project management office portal?

Since you’re here, it’s likely that your organization has its own PMO team that defines and maintains project management standards.

Now, there are many apps out there that can help you create a portal for your team. But SharePoint is one of the best out there.

In fact, here are some advantages of using SharePoint Online as your project management portal:

  • The ability to manage different projects in one secure location
  • The ability to create one site per project and enroll them in a hub site

Both advantages are related:

Since SharePoint Online can be something like a focal point for your team, it will make it easier to access all documents and information related to the projects.

Furthermore, with recent updates from SharePoint, like the modern experience, you will be able to make use of hubs and other new features.

Later on, I will show you how to configure your hub as well as the permission of the associated sites so you don’t have to do it manually.

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    How to create a project management office portal in SharePoint

    To get started, follow these steps:

    Step 1: Create the portal site first

    Naturally, you will have to create the portal site first. This will be the main project management office portal that you will be using.

    Now, there are different types of sites in SharePoint Online. But the two types you need to be mainly concerned with are these:

    1. Team sites with Microsoft 365 group
    2. Communication sites (no Microsoft 365 group)

    Team sites with Microsoft 365 group are the better option here since you can use more apps and the site features to collaborate with your team.

    Communication sites are mainly used to share information like reports and statuses. They don’t include apps like Calendar, Teams, Planner, and more.

    Notes: If you want to read more on this, check out my article about the different types of sites in SharePoint Online.

    To create your portal team site, follow these steps:

    • Go to the start page of your tenant through the home button
    • Click on the “Create site” button
    • Click on the “Team site” box
    Click on the team site box on the create a site panel

    On the next page:

    • Give the site a name
    • Choose the “Private” option on the “Privacy settings” to make the site more secure
    • Click on the “Next” button to proceed
    Fill out the required information for creating a new team site

    Some notes here:

    • The group email address and site address will automatically be filled out
    • Site description is only optional
    • Privacy settings refer to who can access the site — private (members only) or public (everyone in the organization)

    On the next page, you can add members of your team. Just click on the “Finish” button once that’s done.

    Click the finish button after adding team members to the new site

    After that, the system will bring you to the home page of your new site. However, during this part, there’s no need for you to customize the home page just yet.

    Step 2: Create a project tracker list

    The project tracker list will work as your main dashboard where you can see all the projects and their progress.

    Here’s the good news: 

    Unlike before, there’s no need for you to start from scratch by creating a custom list (although you can). There’s now a template you can use.

    Note: For more information about lists, check out my main guide on lists where I also talked about the different methods of creating one.

    To create the project tracker list, follow these steps:

    • Make sure you’re on the home page of your site
    • Click on the “New” button in the command bar
    • Select “List” from the options
    Click on the new button on the command bar and select list from the options

    Right after that, you will see various templates available.

    From here, click the “Work progress tracker” template.

    Click on the work progress tracker list template to proceed

    The window will then show you a preview of this template along with all the columns it comes with by default.

    Don’t worry if there are columns you don’t like or you found missing. You can always edit this list later and customize the columns.

    For now, click on the “Use template” button at the bottom.

    Click on the use template button to continue

    In the next window, you will be able to name the list properly, provide some description (optional), or show/hide the list from the navigation.

    Click on the “Create” button to continue:

    Click on the create button to continue

    Right after that, you can then customize the list:

    Customizing your project tracker list

    Starting with the most obvious, you may want to rename the item list title column header into one that fits your needs.

    To rename the column header, do these steps:

    • Click on that header first
    • Hover your mouse over “Column settings
    • Select the “Rename” option
    Find the rename option from the column settings right after selecting a column header

    A small window will then pop up:

    • Enter the new column name
    • Click on the “Save” button
    Enter the new column name and click the save button

    You can also add new columns to the list.

    To do that:

    • Get to the right-most column in the list
    • Click on the “Add column” header button
    • Select the type of column you want to add
    Click the add column header button and select the column type you want to add

    Note: Make sure to include a column where you can insert the site links of the projects.

    Here are some ideas on how to further customize your list:

    Adding data to your project tracker list

    After making the necessary changes to your list, you may also want to enter the current data that you have.

    This will also help you visualize the portal page in the next step once you complete the whole page and embed the list.

    To enter data into the list, simply click on the “New” button in the command bar:

    Click on the new button to add new list items

    On the right panel:

    • Enter the information for your project
    • Click the “Save” button once you’re done
    Click on the save button to add the new list item

    Repeat as many times as needed until you’re able to enter all the projects that you have.

    Step 3: Complete the portal site page

    Now that you have the project tracker list ready, it’s time to complete the portal site page and enter all the web parts that can help.

    By default, team sites have the following web parts on the home page:

    • News
    • Activity
    • Quick links
    • Document library

    To start editing the page, click on the “Edit” button on the right side of the command bar:

    Click the edit button on the right side of the command bar

    While in edit mode, there are a lot of things you can do:

    • Move web parts and sections around
    • Add new web parts and sections
    • Delete web parts and sections

    There are handles and buttons for adding (plus), deleting (trash), and moving (arrow cross) elements around the page.

    Here are some customizations I recommend:

    Embed the project tracker list

    To start:

    • Hover your mouse over the place where you want to insert the project tracker list
    • Click the plus button that appears
    Hover your mouse and click on the plus button

    Search for the list web part and click on it:

    Search and click the list web part

    You will then see a list of all the lists that you have on the site. If you followed the earlier step, there will only be one list here.

    Click on the list that you made earlier:

    Click on the name of the list that you made earlier

    If you republish the page, you will now see the project progress tracker list on the home page:

    Seeing the project progress tracker list in the home page

    Add quick links

    It’s also a great idea to insert quick links so users can quickly go to certain pages that are important (like external resources).

    Now, you have two choices here:

    • Edit the existing quick links web part
    • Add more quick links web part

    To edit the links, simply select the link box and click on the pencil icon:

    Click the pencil button to edit the individual link

    On the right panel, you will be able to change the link, the title, and even insert a thumbnail and its alternate text field.

    Change the information of the link items on the right panel

    Changing anything on the right panel will automatically reflect on the web part.

    If you want to add a new web part instead, simply search for “quick links” and click on it:

    Search and click the quick links web part

    Note: I have mentioned this functionality as one of the ways you can mimic the “promoted links” in the classic experience.

    Add relevant document libraries

    Similar to quick links, it’s also a good idea to include a web part that will enable you and the users a quick look at a document library.

    There’s already an existing web part included in the team site by default. The same with the step earlier, you can either edit this one or create new ones.

    Preview of the document web part in the team site

    Add relevant wiki or knowledge base libraries

    Whether or not your knowledge base lives in SharePoint Online or not, it’s a good idea to include your wiki articles on the home page.

    Some scenarios:

    • If your wiki articles are outside SharePoint Online, then you may want to create a separate list and embed them on the home page.
    • The other choice for external wiki articles is to use quick links and embed them on the home page.
    • If your wiki articles are in SharePoint Online, then you can use the highlighted content web part to display them on the home page.

    Below is an example of how it might look for internal wiki articles:

    Highlighted content web part based on SharePoint wiki pages

    Note: If you want to create your own internal wiki, check out my guide on how to create a wiki knowledge base in modern SharePoint.

    Step 4: Create your project sites

    The next part is to create the individual sites of your projects.

    Now, you may be confused about whether it’s better to create a subsite and place it under the main PMO portal site or simply create a new site.

    My recommendation here is to create a new site for the following reasons:

    • If you create a subsite, you will likely run out of server resources and storage right away.
    • There may be times when you need to share content with external guests.

    Note: This is an interesting topic so I decided to write a stand-alone article about sites vs site collections in SharePoint.

    Now, in the end, the decision lies with you. But regardless, don’t forget to update your project progress tracker with the links:

    Step 5: Configure the permissions of the project site

    Permission levels basically refer to “how much access” you give to a particular user or group to do actions on the site.

    To configure your site permissions, follow these steps:

    • Click the gear icon on your site
    • Click “Site permissions” from the settings panel
    Click site permissions under the settings panel

    On the next panel, you will be able to change the permissions for site owners, members, and visitors of your site.

    There’s also a button for:

    • Site sharing
    • Managing guest expiration
    • Advanced permissions settings
    Preview of the permission settings in the right panel

    Now, permissions and security in SharePoint are topics of their own, so I suggest the following articles for more information:

    Step 6: Sync permissions in the hub

    If you have created different sites for your projects, then you can group them together in a hub — with the PMO portal as the hub site.

    To proceed:

    • Click the launcher icon on the upper-left side
    • Click the “Admin” option
    Click on the admin app under the app launcher panel

    Expand all the admin centers and choose “SharePoint” from the list:

    Find SharePoint under the admin centers group

    What you need to do now is register the PMO portal site as a hub site.

    Follow these steps:

    • Go to the “Active sites” page
    • Search and select the project management portal site from the list
    • Click the “Hub” in the command bar
    • Select “Register as hub site” from the options
    Select the site and register it as a hub site

    Right after that, the system will ask you to name the hub and those who can associate sites with the hub (optional).

    Click on the “Save” button once you’re done:

    Give the hub a name and save it

    Now, to associate sites to the hub:

    • Select those sites to associate (can be in bulk)
    • If you selected more than one site, click the “Bulk edit” button on the command bar and then select “Hub association
    • If you selected only one site, click the “Hub” button on the command bar and select “Associate with a hub

    The system will then ask you to select the hub to associate those sites. Select the hub and click the “Save” button at the bottom.

    Select the hub to associate the sites with

    Now, to save time, you can sync hub permissions to associated sites.

    Follow these steps:

    • Go back to the hub site (which is also your PMO portal site)
    • Navigate again to the “Site permissions” panel (instructions in the previous step)

    You will now notice a new tab in the panel named “Hub”.

    • Turn the sync feature to “On”
    • On the “Hub visitors”, enter “Everyone except external users”
    Sync hub permissions to associated sites and set hub visitors to everyone except external users

    This type of permission will force your project team users to manually invite and share a project site with an external user if there’s a need.

    Using SharePoint as a project management office portal

    That’s it! This was a bit lengthy article but I hope you were able to set up your project management office portal in SharePoint.

    Naturally, I didn’t cover literally all the side steps like further customization and other extra steps you can take.

    Those are steps you can take on your own and there’s no one way to outline those steps since what you want for your site matters.

    But anyway, do you have any questions? If so, feel free to leave a comment below to start a discussion.

    For inquiries and other concerns, kindly use the site’s contact form to reach out and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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