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What is the most streamlined and effective way to use Sharepoint to track and manage events?
May 12, 2008 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Hello, cat-herding, project management expert mefites! Please help me figure out the most streamlined and effective way to use Sharepoint to track and manage events.

I work at a non-profit currently going through some growing pains. We added more people to our education department and are taking on much more work than in the past. We are updating our systems to manage that work. The chosen system, by managerial fiat, is Sharepoint. The additional work that I am responsible for is the management of our outside speaking engagements.

Here is what the tracking of a typical speaking engagement entails:

*We are hired to speak at someone else’s event, so I need to gather all the details of their conference (due dates, location, agenda)

*Set up all of the travel arrangements & accommodations for the speakers (our staff)

*Set and meet lots of deadlines, different for each event (Oh, I wish this was automated somehow. Since I manually add these to people’s calendars, it’s like I need reminders to add reminders)

*Make sure everyone on both ends understands what is going on, has all of their materials, the final versions of presentations, etc.

*Be able to quickly and easily report on the status of each several events that are all at different stages – what’s due when, what is missing, what the different players need to do, what’s been completed, what’s been discussed between various players.

I don’t really come from a meeting planner/events management background and struggle a bit (okay, a lot) with time management. I feel like there must be a simple strategy to get a handle on this stuff beyond the one used by the staff member who used to do this. She just kept everything neatly filed and scheduled in her brain. My brain lacks that feature; I need something external.

I have been told that I make things way too complicated and I agree. I have been using this ugly access database as glorified checklist, loose pieces of paper with scribbled notes, and flagged outlook emails. This non-system system is a big FAIL in many ways too boring to go into detail. Also, the outside speaking engagements are only one of many projects I am keeping track of in my department and it really gets in the way of completing other things, so that’s another issue.

So, I am writing this because I thought some input from experts might help me figure out if some of the ideas I’ve come up with to transition all of this from my current method of operation to Sharepoint were off track and the beginning of another ineffective mess.

Also, yes, I realize that the ineffective mess in this scenario may primarily be me and a new system won't really make a difference. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how much I’ve been befuddled by all of this, so yay for the anonymity of the tubes.

I don’t want to make this question even more long and boring, so I’ll pop in and answer your questions if this is all too vague…
posted by thewrongparty to Work & Money (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the key to using Sharepoint effectively is to just use the components or functions that you need to use - it's quite a powerful tool, but most new users can't figure out how to use it at first, and give up in frustration. You may find yourself spending more time educating people about how to use Sharepoint than actually getting them to the events, which is your first priority.

If you really want to use Sharepoint effectively, it will take about a year to get new users familiar with it.

For now, I would recommend, as an output that will help you do your job, using the shared calendar function on Sharepoint. Dump ALL the event details into the calendar, call them "meetings", assign meeting participants, and send them meeting reminders.

Meeting materials can also be hosted on Sharepoint, and folks can access the materials using a hyperlink.

I just think it's way better to keep it simple. In fact, don't even mention Sharepoint. People just spin their wheels.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 AM on May 12, 2008


Sounds like what you need is a meeting workspace for each engagement.
You'll probably want to customise it, save it as a template and then create all the future ones based on the template.
posted by Lanark at 3:18 PM on May 12, 2008


Second the meeting workspaces, or perhaps lists with custom metadata. Also second KokuRyu...SharePoint (especially the full-blown 2007 version) is a massive, gargantuan beast, so just bite of chunks of it at a time. I'm a SharePoint administrator at work, all the way from system-admin-type stuff, to developing for it, and lemme tell ya, the #1 thing I deal with is people getting overwhelmed by it (or the geekier types getting too caught up in its array of shiny objects). Start small and deal with the extra functionality as you run across it, not incredibly necessary to read a 1,000-page-book on it first. I manage a lot of my projects just by creating a custom list with whatever metadata I need...simple, effective.

Feel free to shoot me a MeFi message if you have specific questions.
posted by quixxotic at 5:04 PM on May 12, 2008


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