Why Office? “To keep projects on track.”

Project execution is important no matter who you work for or what department you are in. You have to know who is accountable for what, where information can be found, and keep everyone up to date when things change.

Jennifer Kensok writing again—I’m a product manager for Office (see my last post about a customer using Excel and PowerPivot). Project execution is something I learned a lot about when I first started working here at Microsoft – mostly through rough stints on projects that didn’t execute so well. Since then, I’ve learned a few things about what works, and one of those things is storing team documents on SharePoint, and taking them offline in a SharePoint Workspace.  My team today has a OneNote 2010 shared notebook in a library on our SharePoint team site, where we keep meeting notes and bounce ideas off one another or get feedback on plans. With our SharePoint Workspace to take our documents offline, imageI can work on documents and spreadsheets through SharePoint Workspace 2010 even if I’m offline or away from the network. The next time I’m online, SharePoint automatically syncs the changes I made. So if I’m travelling, say to a glamorous launch of Office 2010, I can make changes to team docs on the plane, sign on to the network at the hotel, and head to dinner as SharePoint Workspace uploads my changes to SharePoint.

People sometimes wonder about SharePoint Workspace’s syncing feature causing versioning issues if multiple people work on a doc at the same time. We’re very cognizant of these types of issues and routinely monitor blog comments to help out (so let us know if you’re having problems).  We also hear from customers about how SharePoint Workspace is working for them. Here’s one: hhpberlin, a fire safety consultancy based in Berlin, Germany who my team wrote a case study on for the Office 2010 launch. The company provides services during all phases of construction projects for anything from office buildings to stadiums and airports. As a professional services firm, hhpberlin’s people and their knowledge are its primary assets. With a growing business and a lot of large projects, its employees are constantly looking for ways to work better together and share expertise. Its CIO, Stefan Truthän, told us, “The organization has changed in recent years from a business model that used to be one local engineer on one local project producing one final output. Now we work in global teams, requiring us to leverage expertise across the organization to deliver projects.”

clip_image004During inspections, hhpberlin inspectors must be physically at a construction site, where they frequently have low-bandwidth Internet connections—or nothing at all. As they perform inspections, they have to enter fire-safety data into documents such as Microsoft InfoPath 2010 inspection forms, SharePoint lists, or other Word documents. They also take pictures to add to the documentation, which they store in OneNote.

When they complete an inspection, they can store all of the information they collected in a SharePoint Workspace. When they connect to the network again, all their data is securely and automatically synched to a Project Center they created in SharePoint. This even works if they have a lower-bandwidth connection, because SharePoint Workspace 2010 only transmits update packets instead of whole files or documents. Stefan explains, “Our Project Center will help us streamline the process of organizing and uploading project data. With SharePoint Workspace 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, hhpberlin will significantly reduce the amount of time inspectors spend on post-inspection activities back in the office.” This time savings means inspectors can increase their on-site inspection days by 10 to 25 percent, which helps increase revenue.

Like my team, hhpberlin also uses OneNote 2010 to keep project content stored on SharePoint organized. Team members have seen a real productivity boost with the improved search capabilities and new author indicators because they can find what they need quickly and see who has added or changed content. Andreas Dahlitz, a Senior Engineer and Project Manager at hhpberlin, explained, “OneNote, SharePoint Server, and SharePoint Workspace help us share all meeting notes and updated documentation with the entire team. This improves our productivity and allows us to take on more projects.” Using the integration between Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, hhpberlin employees can actually expand their business – meaning more fire safe buildings for the rest of us!

Read more about Office 2010 customers, and look for more “Why Office” posts from me soon.