A project dashboard is a view into your project, with simple-to-read charts and graphs that reflect various metrics. It measures the progress, health, costs, tasks and much more all on one page or screen, which you can then use to present quick and easy reports that show real-time data.
Not only to do get an overview of the project, but you can adjust data inputs or filters to see just the information that you need at that time. There are many ways to create a custom dashboard. You can create custom project or portfolio dashboard views, or you can also create custom group dashboards according to team or project groups or PMOs.
Additionally, each dashboard can offer unique data sets. Depending on what you want to monitor at the time (and depending on your dashboard software’s features), there are many data widgets you can use or assemble to make a custom dashboard, such as:
- Project Health Checker
- Total Cost & Overruns
- Project Progress
- Time Tracking
- Task Status
- Team Workload
- Risk Tracking
- Issue Tracking
- Change Management
- And more…
Why Create a Custom Dashboard?
The simple answer is that it makes your life a whole lot easier. You have all the vital information on the project collected on one page.
When your project management software is cloud-based and team members are updating online, you’re also getting real-time data, which gives you the most accurate read on your project’s progress.
- Task Management. Because your team members are updating their tasks and timesheets online, you are getting a view of the tasks as they are happening. You can tell when a task is on schedule, whether it’s falling behind, and then act accordingly to get the tasks back on track.
- Workload Management. If you’re looking to manage your team’s workload, you can view each team member’s progress and monitor how much work they’re have completed, according to their schedule. By color-coding the data, it’s even easier to see at a glance whether they’re over- or under-tasked.
- Timelines. Not only can you view the project through its tasks and team members, but you can monitor how the whole project is progressing against your plan. Again, progress is color-coded to give you a quick view into whether the project is on track or falling behind schedule.
Having a window into your project, which gives you a view in real-time, is a valuable asset. The next step is taking all that information and filtering it so you receive only the data you need, otherwise you can become overwhelmed and not see the signal in the noise.
5 Tips to Making a Customized Project Dashboard
The value of a project dashboard is clear, but until you’ve customized yours to give you the information you want, you’re not taking full advantage of the tool. There are ways to improve your project dashboard. The following are some tips to steer you in the right direction when using your project dashboard.
1. Be Consistent
Consistency is king, especially when measuring results. You want to make sure the data you’re feeding into your dashboard is consistent. If you don’t then you’re going to have a lot of discrepancies to clear up before the information you’re seeing is meaningful.
Dashboards are color-coded, so you can see what the project’s progress and where it’s on schedule or off-track. Normally, red is going to signify a slowdown, while green means all is going as planned. Don’t get too creative with color choice, and certainly stay consistent so you don’t have to figure out what color means what in each widget.
That goes for the icons you use, and the way you format the dates on your dashboard. Be consistent across all aspects of the project and especially if you’re working on a program. Having different icons or time formatting over your project or projects is a sure way to make mistakes.
This might seem trivial, but abbreviating terms, names, whatever, is going to make the graphs and charts you view on your dashboard that much easier to read. You want this information read immediately, with as little processing as necessary, so abbreviate, especially when you’re working with larger figures.
3. Be Selective About Data
Any project, big or small, is going to overflow with data. There’s a constant churn of information you’re dealing with, but remember that not all information is created equally. When you’re customizing your dashboard ask yourself, Does this data bring the story I want to tell into focus? If it doesn’t, then you don’t need it. It’s like the old adage: good data in, good data out. The more you can filter the information you are measuring, the better you’ll be able to manage the project.
4. Use Filters
Speaking of filters, there’s much you can do with them in your dashboard after it’s been populated by your project’s data. Filters help simplify the complexity of project data. By sorting and filtering the data, you have another tool to see just want you want to see or what you want to share.
5. Know Your Audience
Finally, dashboards are great communication tools. They tell you how the project is going, where it’s lagging and were you might be overallocated and can reallocate your resources. This is essential information for anyone tasked with leading a project to a successful completion.
But there’s another side of dashboards. They’re a great way for you to communicate with your team or stakeholders. Because you can customize your dashboard, it’s possible for you to take the project data and filter it to speak to team members when you have something specific to relay to them or more generally for stakeholder’s interests.
Therefore, it’s important that you know who you’re talking to before you customize the dashboard. If you’re not aware of your audience, you’re not going to effectively communicate with them. It’ll be like speaking a different language. So, before you do customize remember to know who you’re targeting and then work backwards from that knowledge.
Real-time dashboards are one of the most important tools for managing a project. They give you the most accurate view into the progress of your project possible, so you can address issues that come up before they become problems that can sidetrack the project. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that gives you that real-time data, which is than channel through the widgets of your dashboard to give you a multidimensional picture of the project. See for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.