The metrics you choose to track in your projects will be specific to the objectives you want to achieve. For example, imagine your priority is operational excellence. Since the goal of operational excellence is to ensure customer expectations are met on an ongoing basis, one of your metrics might be your total number of deliverables.
And, if your objective is to speed up project delivery, one of your metrics might be the number of change requests. The lower the number of change requests, the faster your project moves along.
No matter how you plan to measure success, you need a reliable way to track your metrics. A PMO will provide this by creating a project dashboard that will consolidate your data, so you can view and analyze it in one place.
But what features should your project dashboard include? And, what features can you not do without?
11 Things Your Project Dashboard Must Have
1. Activity Tracking Dashboard Component
This will give you a general overview of all project-related activities, including:
- Deadlines. The more projects in your portfolio, the more difficult it will be to keep track of deadlines. Activity tracking will make information like deadlines and project dependencies easily available, and notify you when a deadline is imminent.
- Upcoming events. You have multiple events surrounding a project, such as client meetings and internal project reviews. Activity tracking will remind you when these events will take place, as well as flagging any scheduling conflicts.
- Resource availability. Do you require certain skill sets for an upcoming project? You can use the activity tracking component to ensure the necessary resources don’t have conflicting projects or upcoming leave.
2. Risk Status
Risks, good or bad, will have an effect on your projects. As such, you’ll want to know what events or conditions might occur, as well as the impact and probability of each risk.
A project dashboard should provide detailed information on risks and issues, including their impact and severity.
You can then evaluate your risk status, and decide what actions to take:
And, of course, in your project dashboard, you can log these actions, so all stakeholders are aware of not only what you did, but why.
For more mature organizations, you might also need to track financial data. As such, you will want to use your project dashboard to follow:
- Net Present Value (NPV): This is the difference between income and outlay over a period of time and indicates whether or not a project is profitable.
- Internal Rate of Return (IRR): This is the rate of growth that a project generates within the year.
- Expected sales: Breaking down your sales forecasting by region will help you make more informed decisions about your marketing efforts, capacity planning, resource allocation, and more.
4. Information on Strategic Alignment
What are your business objectives? What key results would indicate whether or not you meet your goals?
When you put your strategic vision at the forefront, you prioritize projects that align with business objectives. Projects that don’t fall under this vision shouldn’t make it into your portfolio. But how do you keep the business strategy front of mind for all stakeholders, so a less valuable project doesn’t slip through?
A modern project dashboard will enable you to input your OKRs and track your success in a tangible, data-driven way. That way, you can see what actions, both past and present, serve your business as a whole.
5. Ways to Capture Change Requests and Decisions
One of the biggest barriers to project success is lack of change control. Without seeing all project change requests and decisions, you might not implement the right changes. And this could impact the success of your project. Or, you might implement these changes, but your stakeholders won’t know. This will cause misalignment between their expectations and yours. And this can result in stakeholders being dissatisfied with the project.
An accessible project dashboard that stores all change requests and decisions will act as a single source of truth. This will ensure your stakeholders’ understanding of the project continues to align with your own.
6. Time Tracking
Time tracking reveals how long your resources spend on specific tasks, and how long it takes to complete an entire project. This is important on 2 levels:
- It allows you to assess your time estimates, and more effectively allocate tasks down the line. This will ensure your resources won’t be under or over-capacity.
- You can better understand the skill sets of each resource, and who is performing above or below expected productivity levels. This allows you to pinpoint who needs additional training and who is ready for a greater challenge.
Project budgets help you determine your limitations when sourcing and allocating resources. However, as your project progresses—possibly with changes in deliverables and scope—you must have continual visibility over your spending. This will enable you to prioritize the more important project tasks, should it be necessary.
A project dashboard lets you keep track of your spending, ensuring you don’t run out of money before project completion.
8. Resources Used vs. Estimates
You may go into a project with a clear understanding of the skills, materials, and facilities needed. But knowing the amount of resources you need is another level up, as you must take into consideration things like capacity and resource availability.
Therefore, your estimate of resources may differ from the resources you actually use. If you can track this metric in your project dashboard, you’ll be able to allocate resources more accurately to future projects.
9. Personal To-Do-List Dashboard Component
There are multiple moving parts to any project. You might not outline what each task involves exactly when assigning work to your teams. It will be up to them to take a certain set of actions so as to effectively execute their tasks.
An easily accessible and updatable personal to-do list will empower all stakeholders to track and modify their own progress.
10. Project Deliverables
A project deliverables report within your project dashboard will show real-time progress on each deliverable. Ideally, the report should tag any blocked deliverables due to issues or dependencies.
This is important, as it allows you to mitigate the situation. A project deliverables report will give you the visibility to reallocate resources to the necessary tasks. Or, you can schedule a meeting with stakeholders and help them adjust their expectations around deadlines in good time.
11. Milestone Tracking Reports
Milestones are the beating heart of a project. Tracking them is a sure-fire way to determine your project’s health.
But it takes more than just knowing if and when you’re meeting your milestones. In fact, to successfully assess your project’s progress, you need to know:
- if you are on track to meet your milestones
- if you are at risk of missing them
- any milestones already missed
This is a lot of information to process. As such, your dashboard should display data in a way that’s easy to process, such as a Gantt chart.
The Project Dashboard: A Must-Have for Project Success
Without real-time information and data-driven analysis, successful projects can come down to luck.
Project dashboards unearth insights that give your projects solid direction. And, because they’re dynamic and easy to update, they allow all stakeholders not just to view the data, but filter the data most relevant to them.
Imagine you’re using your project dashboard and you notice a metric in red. When you click on it, you can see the underlying data that points to the nature of the problem. This, in turn, allows you to rectify the situation.
But of course, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t receive any red metrics. One of the benefits of having a good project dashboard is that you’re less likely to encounter problems like these. It will allow you to track metrics that indicate the success of your current projects—and direct you towards better practices in future. So you can practice continuous improvement in your project management and enjoy ongoing success.