How to Use a KPI Dashboard

ProjectManager.com

What is a KPI dashboard? KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator, so a KPI dashboard is one that has been set to measure value that demonstrates how effectively a project is achieving its key business objectives. It’s a great tool for evaluating if the project is successful at reaching its stated targets.

Why Do You Need a Project Dashboard?

Having real-time data about a project performance is only going to help. You can see when a schedule is falling off track or if resources need reallocating. Being able to make informed and goal-oriented decisions on information that is timely and accurate means you’re acting more on fact than feelings.

If you report on your project daily, then you’re getting a true picture of the project as it progresses over its life cycle. Quick decision-making based on hard data gives you the time to lead the project and not follow issues constantly. Better still, you can filter that KPI dashboard to show you the information that you need when you need it.

The project dashboard offers a progress report whenever you want it. You can see every aspect of the project, from costs, budget, time and health to workload, progress, risk, issues and changes, plus more. The data is delivered in real-time to one-page, where the information is presented visually in easy-to-read graphs and charts.

You can respond to specific request with a project performance dashboard, for example, by focusing on one section of the project and generating a graph for a presentation or just to drill down into a particular aspect of the project and measure its progress. Some people love numbers and can pour over a spreadsheet plucking the ripe fruit from the thistle, but others prefer the more visual representation that the KPI dashboard provides.

A lot of people might ask, “What is a dashboard, and why do I need one?” But once they’ve used it, they never go back.

an example of a kpi dashboard

Parts of a Project Dashboard

What is a KPI dashboard for projects made up of? Many things, all relating to various parts of your project, so you can view them alone or in congress with the whole project.

Tasks

One of the most important indicators of a project’s progress are the tasks that make up the road to that project’s stated goal. All those tasks are put into your project management software and feed into the key metrics dashboard. Once you have that data in the system, you can do things like color-code it to represent whether that task is in progress, completed or overdue. Then that information is translated into a pie chart and percentages.

Task Duration

Once you’ve gotten your tasks listed in your PM software, you’re next going to want to determine the duration for each one. By creating this timeline you’re able to see where tasks are falling behind schedule and address their needs to get them back on track.

Workload

The workload is reflected as a bar chart composed of every team member, with a line item for the group. Progress is color-coded, like tasks, to indicate what’s in progress, not started or overdue. You can customize these settings to adjust to which workload you want to track.

 Cost

Beyond the tasks, schedule and workload, budget is the fourth leg of the project that you need to monitor. You planned a budget before executing the project, and now that the project is underway you have to make sure those estimated costs are in line with your actual expenditures. The project reporting chart calculates planned versus actual budget.

benefits of a kpi dashboard

Using a Project Performance Dashboard for Managing Projects

Now you know what a KPI dashboard is, what it can do for you and some of the parts that make it up, so let’s get to making use of the great tool. You can already see how it’s more functional than a spreadsheet merely adding up columns.

Once you have all the data of your project imported to your online project management software than you are ready to go. The dashboard is designed to help you manage your project more efficiently by doing stuff like this:

  • Crunching numbers so you don’t have to
  • Updating the progress of your project in real-time
  • Generating and sharing reports instantly

To use your project dashboard, follow these simple steps:

  1. Import Data You can import data from a spreadsheet or punch it in directly to your PM software. Either way, you want to get all the pertinent tasks, durations, workload, budget, schedule, etc., into the system, so you can begin to track it.
  2. Analyze the Data The next thing you want to do is look over all the data you have imported and start to prioritize it. There’s a lot of information there, which is good, so filter it so you don’t lose the signal in the noise.
  3. Customize the Data That’s it. Once you’ve imported the data, it’s already populating the dashboard, and will continuously update as team members change their statuses and submit their timesheets. All you have to do at this point is update the colors and add any data filters you wish to apply.

You can use the dashboard to both monitor and report on all aspects of the project by filtering the data it shows and having the project dashboard customized for your team or sponsors. Then you can easily share that information as an attachment on email or in a variety of formats, even printing a hard copy if you’d prefer.

Additionally, you can track risks, issues and changes as they arise on your project. They also appear on your dashboard, and display how many high, medium and low impact risks, issues and changes there are.

When your dashboard is a feature of an online project management software, then you’re getting the most accurate view of the project possible. Those graphs and charts are using current information and instantly calculating off data uploaded to the cloud by team members wherever they are and whenever they’re updating their statuses and timesheets.

ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that teams can use anywhere and at any time. Its KPI dashboard collects all the project, task and team information on one page, making it easily digestible and simple to share. Because ProjectManager.com is an online PM tool, data is instantly updated, which means you know where your project is at that exact moment and are not looking at old data. See for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial. 

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