Solutions for presentation-worthy Gantt charts and project timelines

Solutions for presentation-worthy Gantt charts and project timelines

As a project manager, I often need a clean, professional way of showing a client what a project looks like via a Gantt chart or timeline, usually in a PowerPoint presentation. Often times, the information needs to be high level, too – so there’s nothing wrong with having a separate tool just for presenting this information. Sometimes you  just want to impress your clients with more than technical knowledge, right? I believe presentations should be useful and shiny.

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Ye Olde Candy Shoppe: Building an information architecture from scratch at SharePoint Saturday London 2015 #spslondon

Ye Olde Candy Shoppe: Building an information architecture from scratch at SharePoint Saturday London 2015 #spslondon

I’m just back from the fantastic inaugural SharePoint Saturday London held at the Imperial College! It was great to see all of the speakers, sponsors and volunteers who had worked together to make it so wonderful!

People really got into the Ye Olde Candy Shoppe case study and we built a good architecture together. We had a great time debating what kind of candy category ‘Boiled British sweets’ belong to.  The slides from the session are available via my OneDrive or can be viewed below. Note that the slides are really just the supporting information – the real work is always done on a whiteboard during the actual session.

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Add an extra group for management to a team site

SharePoint permission configuration is one of the hardest things for end-users to understand. Sometimes it is easier to explain a specific scenario instead of how the entire permissions concept works.

This article will explain the following scenario:

  • The DW&C team has a new team site
  • Visitors should have read access to the site
  • People in the DW&C should have contribute permissions
  • There should be a group of site admins for taking care of the site
  • There needs to be a separate document library that only the management team has access to

This scenario would work in exactly the same way if this was a project site.

To start off, we’ll assume that the DW&C department has already created a standard team site.


Standard team site permissions

Our scenario team site has now been updated to have an extra Management Documents library and a calendar.


When creating this site, we created new permissions, which means that SharePoint automatically created the following groups with the following permissions:

Group Permission level Users Explanation
DW&C Site Visitors Read All users On an intranet, it’s best to give as much read access as possible to ensure transparency and findability.
DW&C  Site Members Contribute All DW&C users All users in the department should have the ability to influence the information on their department site.
DW&C Site Owners Full control Owners/admins Choose a few users to manage the site, i.e. super users.

Note: some people suggest adding the department’s manager to the Owners group – after all, they are responsible for the department. However, managers should generally be added to the Members group. Specific users should be chosen to manage the site and be added to the Owners group. The managers will get extra access to their specific documents later in this scenario.

In the starting scenario, the users in these groups have access to all of the content on this team site as nothing specific has been configured.

SharePoint objects, i.e. sites, lists, libraries, folders and items, inherit permission from their parent item.

This means that all users also have access to that Management Documents library, which should be kept separate just for DW&C’s management team.  To configure that, we will need to set up a new user group.

Creating a new user group and filling it

In SharePoint, it is possible to assign permissions in three ways:

  1. To a SharePoint group (add Active Directory users, groups or SharePoint groups)
  2. Directly to an Active Directory group
  3. To an Active Directory user

The first two options are fine, in most cases. However, option #3 should generally be avoided. It is much better to create a group and assign permissions to the group rather than assign permissions directly to a user. The contents of the group is far easier to maintain rather than going through and changing a specific user’s permissions.

It is possible to directly assign permissions to AD groups, which does have advantages in some environments. However, when working with an intranet team or project site, SharePoint groups are usually the easiest to work with.

To create a new group for a site, do the following:

  1. Go to the site you wish to add the group to
  2. Click the cog wheel and go to “Site Actions”
  3. Choose “Site permissions”
  4. Choose “Create group” from the ribbon




Note: the new user group will be available for the entire site collection, not just this one site. You should name it accordingly – in this scenario, I will name it “DW&C Site Management” to keep with the current naming convention.

When creating the group, the current user is set as owner. In most cases, this should be set to the site owners group, so that they can maintain the membership of this group.


I suggest giving this group “contribute” permissions.


Once the group has been created, you can add users to the group by clicking “New” and “Add users”. You should be able to select the applicable management users from the Active Directory by typing in their names, emails or user IDs.

For more information on adding users to a group, please see Manage SharePoint groups.

Changing the permissions for the Management group

Now we have the DW&C Site Management user group, but we need to change the permissions on the Management Documents library so that only the Management user group has access to it. To do that, we will need to break the permission inheritance on the Management Documents library.


To change the permissions on the Management Documents library, please do the following:

  1. Go to the library
  2. Go to the “Library” tab and choose “Library settings”
  3. Choose “Permissions for this document library”
  4. Observe that the library currently inherits permissions from its parent, the DW&C Site. Click “Stop inheriting permissions” to break the inheritance.
  5. Now the library has unique permissions; the options in the ribbon have changed.  If you want to revert back to inheriting permissions, you could click “Delete unique permissions”.
  6. Remove the visitor and member permissions by selecting the groups and choosing “Remove user permissions” in the menu. As of now, the users in these groups will not have any access to the Management Documents library.

As a final step, you should determine if the DW&C Site Owners group should retain their permissions. Note that one group will need to have “full control”, so either the Owners group will need to stay or the Management group will need to have their permissions upgraded.


Technet: User permissions and permission levels in SharePoint 2013
Technet: User permissions and permission levels in SharePoint 2010
Office support: Manage SharePoint groups
Technet: Best practices for using fine-grained permissions in SharePoint Server 2013

What is governance in SharePoint 2013?

Microsoft has a ton of information regarding SharePoint governance. Considering that it’s such a broad subject, lots of documentation is good. The challenge is finding the most important bits.

The article that provides the best overview is Microsoft’s Technet article What is governance on SharePoint 2013?  A related TechNet article is Governance planning on SharePoint 2013.It includes a download of one of my favorite Microsoft SharePoint governance resources: the huge overview image that shows how to tie it all together (see it on ZoomIt). Microsoft made one of these for SharePoint 2010 and possibly for SharePoint 2007. It has evolved as the product has matured but is a fantastic resource.




Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

I did a video/podcast with Modermodemet last week, concerning personal productivity (note: English and Swedish). It was a fun chat that covered your own personal assistant (Jarvis?) to how to manage multiple calendars.

During the conversation, I mentioned two things that seemed to make an impact:

  1. I include travel time in my agenda.
    Especially when you travel to multiple locations, having this time booked means you have a much better chance of not being double booked.
  2. My travel time automatically gets a special color (conditional formatting in Outlook)

This is a very simple example from my calendar:


I am running Outlook 2013 in this example, but I have been using this since Outlook 2007 or so. I know it got a little bit more complicated in Outlook 2010, so here’s an example for configuring appointments with “travel” in the subject to be a specific color.

  1. When viewing the calendar, go to the view tab in the ribbon and click on “View settings”:conditionalformatting2
  2. Click on “Conditional formatting…”
  3. In this dialog, you manage the conditional formatting rules. Click “Add” to create a new rule. In this same screen, add the type and choose the color. Finally, click “Condition…” to configure.
  4. For this example, just fill in “travel” in the subject. The conditions can become far more complex if you want to.
  5. Click “OK” to finalize all changes and return to the calendar view. My travel appointments are now the blue color I configured them to be automatically:

During the discussion, I also mentioned that my partner and I generally don’t share a calendar. For example, if we have a work obligation in the evening, we create an event and label it with either “H: event title” if it is me, or “F: event title” if it is him. Then we invite the other person to it.  In my calendar, anything that starts with “F:” automatically is turned red so I know it is an appointment for my partner. It’s a very similar idea to the conditional formatting for the travel time.


This is such an easy thing to configure and the automatic colors make it so much easier for me to see what’s in my calendar at a glance.