In its simplest form, BrightWork is a product aimed at work, project and portfolio management on SharePoint. In its eleventh release, BrightWork has solidified itself as a strong player in the project management space on SharePoint. It’s packed with a bevy of features you’d expect to see in a PM tool that provide for many use cases when looking to simplify the complexities of managing projects on SharePoint. In this review, I will highlight some of the new features in this release that I think are worth investigating when deciding on what product to choose.
A series of highly customizable templates formulates the core of the product. The templates fall in the following categories: Work Management, Project Management, Portfolio Management, and Demand Management.
BrightWork’s approach to delivering a highly effective PMO on SharePoint is best described by the below diagram.
The concept is simple. Projects come in all shapes and sizes, which can dictate the amount of control that you will want to have. Some projects need a lot of control whereas some may be loosely structured projects that do not need heavy oversight. In the diagram above this is depicted perfectly.
Some of the new features in BrightWork 11 include:
- Template Design Sync
- In-report dynamic-column sorting and filtering
- Personal Reports with the ability to not only define the columns, grouping and sorting that appear in a permanent personal report, but also the ability to easily create cross-site report filters for the personal report
- Report Distribution options now available on the Reporter Tools Ribbon
- PM Basics help features for self-service training
- Metrics enhancements
- Added support for the French language
As I mentioned in the introduction, the purpose of this review is to help familiarize readers with some of the new and innovative features of the product. But make no mistake, this product is very mature. You can watch and read some general overviews of all of the product features here.
Template Design Sync
This is certainly a marquee feature for this release. Often the most time-consuming and frankly, annoying, aspect of managing many SharePoint sites is the inability to replicate site templates changes to existing SharePoint sites. The scenario is simple. You create a SharePoint site template with various customizations, and then you create many sites from this template. You then make a change to this template. How do you replicate the changes to the sites that were created from it? The answer is unfortunately, not easily.
The bread and butter of any PM solution built on SharePoint is the ability to create project site templates to simplify project site creation, and BrightWork is no different. The problem stated above is now no longer an issue with this innovative feature in version 11. You now have the option to sync changes with either push or pull synchronization. In other words, you can force feed any template changes to the respective project sites or you can pick and choose which sites should have the changes replicated. You have a decent amount of control here of what specific changes you would like to replicate and each sync process produces a report of the results.
You can watch a live demo of this feature here.
This is a fantastic feature. I’ve always been a big fan of BrightWork, but this addition solidifies it in my opinion as a legitimate best of breed choice. Updating sites from a template is always a thorn in the side of site administrators, and this will make project managers and IT support very happy.
This feature is all about you! The ability to give users some flexibility when it comes to report-making is not always an easy task. But you could arguably say that a really good PM tool needs to have on-demand report capabilities that allow users to create reports without calling the helpdesk. In this release, you’ll have just that. If enabled, users will be able to select their own columns with custom grouping and sorting. These reports become permanent for future reference.
BrightWork joined forces with IIL to deliver an on-demand solution for firms looking to give their users quick access to project management training. It’s about 12 hours of self-paced content that covers the fundamentals of project management from the PMBOK Guide. Not all of us have a PMP and are fluent with all the jargon. Rather than searching the internet, which can frequently be unreliable, you have access to correct information right within the project sites themselves. The ability to learn and complete a task within the same site is certainly a welcome addition.
Currently BrightWork 11 is supported on the following platforms:
- WSS 3.0
- SharePoint 2007
- SharePoint Foundation 2010
- SharePoint Server 2010
- Hosted SharePoint (BrightWork Online)
At the time of publishing, support for SharePoint 2013 has not yet been announced, however I’m told the news will be forthcoming soon. Something to note about the support for hosted environments is that BrightWork can be purchased in the “online” flavor through a variety of price points depending on the features requested and term of contract. You can read more on pricing for all supported platforms here.
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. If you’re looking to take a test drive yourself, you can request a free 30-day trial by visiting BrightWork’s website.