How to Use a Project Status Dashboard

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The project status dashboard is your eyes and ears into the progress of your project. It is populated by the data fed into it from team members as they progress through their tasks and move to a successful completion. It is here that you can steer the project out of the ditch and back on the open road to reach your destination on time and within budget.

Dashboard Features and Uses

The project dashboard has many useful features to help you get a bird’s-eye view of the work and then drill down to the gritty details if you need. Some of the features a dashboard provides are:

  • Real Time Data Updates
  • Visual Charts and Graphs
  • Text-based Lists
  • Interactive Charts
  • Dynamic Charts

There are many types of dashboard data you can track. The long list includes

  • Project Health
  • Project Progress Status
  • Task Status
  • Team Workload Status
  • Project Risks
  • Project Changes
  • Personal Task Lists
  • Business Intelligence (BI)
  • Project Portfolio Progress Status

project management dashboard

Real-Time Data

There are many ways to use a project dashboard, which is a crucial tool when managing any project. But there are dashboards… and then there are dashboards. That’s because not all dashboards are created equal. If you’re using a dashboard that requires you to input data, then you’re creating more work for yourself and, worse, using data that’s dated by the time you’re viewing it on your dashboard.

What you need to get the most out of your dashboard is online project management software with real-time dashboards, which instantly updates you on status updates from you team. This way you’re always up-to-date when monitoring tasks, teams, cost, health and more of your project’s important metrics. You can also see how your tasks, team and projects are progressing and not a snapshot of a period that has already past.

Real-time data also helps you follow your team’s workload. On the dashboard you see each team member’s progress. It’s easy to track their work progress with color-coding that notes if they’re on schedule or behind schedule. Now you can reallocate resources to help the over-tasked and reassign those who are idle. This creates project productivity and a more efficient workflow.

To reiterate, there are many benefits to using a dashboard that is populated with real-time data.
  • Data is always up-to-date
  • No time required to “create” a dashboard for a presentation
  • Can share live data via web or mobile
  • Can share live data in presentations

History of the Dashboard

Dashboards, of course, have been around for years. However, the digital dashboard has been around in business settings since the 1970s. By the early 1980s, dashboards were being used in business. They were called Executive Information Systems (EIS). But there were problems. Information was often incomplete, unreliable and spread across too many disparate sources.

It wasn’t until the 1990s, with the advances in speed and data warehousing, as well as online analytical processing, that dashboards finally came into their own as practical tools of the trade. Later that decade the dashboard spiked in popularity as Key Performance Indicators (KPI) became trendy. Now the dashboard is an essential tool for business, and as noted, with real-time application, its usefulness continues to grow.

how a dashboard helps your project

How to Get More From Your Project Dashboard

Okay, so how do you push your dashboard to do even more? To get you the information you need to improve efficiency and add to the productivity of your whole team and provide relevant data to stakeholders? The dashboard, like any tool, is only as powerful as the way you use it.

Here are a few tips on getting the most out of this useful tool:

1. Good Data In, Good Data Out

The dashboard is a great window into your project, but you only get back what you put into it. Luckily, with real-time dashboards, you know that your PM software is automatically updating your dashboard so you always know the data is up-to-date.

But you do need to make sure everyone on your team is updating their tasks and their timesheets accurately. Communicate with your team the importance of tracking their own tasks and keeping their hourly inputs updated daily. If it’s an established part of the culture, and everyone is aware of the importance of that data not for micro-management, but for data and project analytics, then you’ll get more buy in and won’t have to chase people down.

Then, when you’re analyzing your dashboard data, be sure you filter to get only the information you need for tracking progress in your project. You want to know when tasks are complete, if they’re running behind, who is over-allocated and who is under-allocated on your team. These are are critical metrics to keeping your project on track. Too much data, however, can hide this valuable information. Make sure you’re seeing only what you need to see.

2. Target Your Audience

A project progress dashboard isn’t only a way for you to monitor progress, but you can use it to report on the project as well. Therefore, when presenting your dashboard, you have to have a clear picture of who is your audience. For example, let’s say you’re talking to your team about reallocating resources to help balance their workload, then you’re going to need to filter your dashboard to show only that information relevant to team members.

When you’re reporting to sponsors or stakeholders, they require a completely different picture. Their interests are not going to be served by digging down to the minutia of the project, like risks or changes. They’re going to want to see a larger picture of your project or portfolio performance, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve filtered the various graphs and charts on your dashboard to showcase that broader data.

3. Share, Share, Share!

Once you’ve tailored and customized your project status dashboard to produce the proper charts and graphs, you can now present them live at team meetings or as a presentation for stakeholders and sponsors of the project. There are many tips for project management presentations. You can customize and filter for your specific audience, as we noted above. The dashboard then can shared by email or online or you can print bold and colorful charts and graphs that help visualize the hard numbers. And because it’s in real-time, you’re disseminating information that is useful and not merely an historic picture of the project at a previous point in time.

When sharing data from your dashboard, you want that information to be as clear as possible, while at the same time connecting to the audience you’re presenting it to. You have access to sharing all aspects of the project, from budget to schedule and more, and that data is at your fingertips. That means real-time data, but also dynamically presented to capture your audience’s attention and engage them more fully in the project. What you’re doing is telling a story, and once the audience is hooked to the narrative, you’ve got their attention and will lead a more effective and productive meeting.

A project monitoring dashboard can help you steer your project to success. Because ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software, our dashboard is populated with real-time data, instantly updated, providing you with the most accurate picture you can have of your project’s progress. Now you can better allocate your resources, manage team workload and present to your stakeholders will engaging and relevant information. See how it can help you today by taking this free 30-day trial. 

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