Using Dashboard Software for Projects – A Tutorial

ProjectManager.com

The project dashboard is a project management tool that displays information and key indicators of a project’s performance. It looks like the instrument panel on your car, though instead of dials, the data is illustrated in easy-to-read graphs and charts.

Every aspect of your project’s performance is measured, from the health, costs and progress to tasks, issues and risks. It’s an invaluable feature that gives you an overview of the project and its progress, so you can act quickly if there’s indication that you’re going off-schedule.

When you use dashboard software you’re able to get both the necessary bird’s-eye view to track overall performance, but also can drill down to get the details you might need to make the right decision or just share reports with your team or stakeholders and sponsors. If that dashboard is part of an online PM tool, like ProjectManager.com, then you’re getting the most accurate read on the project.

Let’s a look at how our project dashboard app can help you better monitor and report on your project.

dashboards monitor and report on your project

Real-Time Data

Let’s begin with how our cloud-based software gives you an advantage to tracking your project with static spreadsheets. First, you don’t have to manually input all that data. Instead of having to get reports from your team as they update their statues, and then take those reports and punch them into your spreadsheet or isolated desktop software, all this information is automatically fed into to the software and updated instantly.

Old data is no help. It’s like driving a car, but all you see in front of you is where you had been. That’s going to get you in an accident, which in project terms means you’re taking a big, unnecessary risk. Don’t do it.

You’re also wasting the valuable time of your team, who should be focused on their tasks, not to mention all the time you’ll be wasting importing to get updated data. Because our project dashboard is linked online, it’s constantly updating as your time finished their tasks. Your data is up-to-date. There’s no need to create a dashboard for a presentation. You can share that live data via the web or mobile, too.

The dashboard widgets are giving you the timely business intelligence that you need. There are metrics for monitoring tasks, teams, costs, health and much more. You can see how your team, your project or even a portfolio of projects is progressing in real time.

project dashboard with project progress and assigned tasks

Good Data In, Good Data Out

The dashboard is only a tool, of course, and therefore it works as well as the data you give it. There are ways to improve the real-time data you’re getting. You want to keep the data current and in real-time by having daily updates. If you’re waiting until the end of the week or the end of the month, then you’re undermining the real-time capacity of the software.

You also want to keep that data accurate by requiring each team member to estimate their own work and track their own time. If someone else is doing the estimations, then they’re not going to be as accurate. The team member should own that process, including logging in their time.

Finally, make sure the information you are getting is relevant. Do this by customizing your dashboards by who needs to see what. For example, when you share a team member’s data with them, it helps them to maneuver and prioritize their work. This produces efficiencies that are going to get your project running more productively.

a project dashboard can monitor and report on your project

Everything in One Place

Not only are you getting updated information instantly fed to your dashboard, you’re able to use this feature as a one-stop shop to monitor the progress and health of your project. Your team is updating their task status and timesheets, and you’re able to see that reflected on your dashboard.

But more than that, everything you need to know about your project is collected on one screen. You don’t have to jump from window to window or, worse, to a different application. It’s all collected in one place.

Track Workload and Timeline

One of the many widgets on the dashboard is one for viewing your team’s workload. From this graph, you’re able to see each team member’s progress and whether they’ve completed their tasks according to your schedule.

The data is delivered in an easily digestible color code, so you can tell at a glance whether someone has completed their tasks, has work remaining or is overdue. With this knowledge in hand you can then adjust the workload if that team member is overallocated and balance the tasks with the under-allocated members of your team.

For a larger-picture view, there’s the timeline widget. It provides you with the valuable comparison of how your project is progressing in real-time against where you planned it would be at this point in the life cycle. This information is also color-coded.

Instant Reporting

Monitoring is only part of the job. There’s also reporting. That’s another reason why you need a dashboard: you’re constantly generating reports to keep your stakeholders or sponsors informed or direct your team. Without an online dashboard, that’s a lot of work.

Instead of opening a document or using a screenshot or downloading a copy of your dashboard as a PDF and to email, you can give them access to the dashboard and its real-time data. Also, if they want to get more information about a specific aspect of the project, you can simply click and dive deeper into the data. You can’t do that with a static spreadsheet.

You can also customize the reports you create to target the audience you’re reporting to, whether they been executives who want broad strokes or team members who need details. By filter the data you can create the report you need for the presentation you’re making.

Setting up Your Project Dashboard

Dashboards save time, which is a valuable commodity when you’re managing a project. And they’re easy to set up, with no learning curve.

To begin, if you’ve created a task list in Excel or a CSV file, you can simply import it into ProjectManager.com and your data is instantly populated on the online dashboard. Now it’s dynamic and updated in real-time.

With PM tools, you can either set up a dashboard manually, by choosing which widgets you want as metrics to track for your project. Or the software does it for you by importing the data from other features to be reflected in the dashboard’s charts and graphs.

As for importing data from a spreadsheet into your PM software, that’s a simple command. Just click import, select what you want to import (you may have to rename columns) and it’s instantly updated into your system. Sharing is as easy too, whether by email or PDF or a spreadsheet. It’s just a simple keystroke.

If you’ve been working in something like Microsoft Project, those files can also be seamlessly imported into ProjectManager.com, where they’re not easy to edit and share, unlike on the clunky MS Project platform. If you’re organization insists on using MS Project, that’s not a problem either, as the changes you put into your MS Project file that has been imported into ProjectManager.com can be saved and exported, without losing the new formatting and data, back into MS Project.

Once your project is in our software, you’re good to go. The data is fresh, the information is laid out in an easy-to-understand format and you can share it with ease. It’s really that simple.

See how using an online dashboard can help you better monitor and report on the project. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software that gives you the real-time data you need to make the right decisions at the right time, and then share the project’s progress with ease. Try it for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.

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