Everyone uses spreadsheets. They’re as ubiquitous as the paperclip in an office. But even the ever-handy paperclip is finding less use as businesses move to a paperless system.
Spreadsheets aren’t on their way out the door just yet, but they are met with a sigh from your boss when you sent one as an attachment. Why does everyone still track things in spreadsheets, especially if bosses almost universally hate them?
Who can say? Change happens slowly. But if spreadsheets are too granular and not visual in a way that invites an easy interpretation of the data for your boss to quickly understand, then maybe it’s time to find a more efficient reporting tool.
How Online PM Tools Can Help with Reporting
The reams of paper wasted daily on printing out boring spreadsheets feels so last century. Who does that anymore? The information collected is already old. It’s not going to help your boss make a reasoned decision. Not to mention how long it takes to prepare the presentation.
Then there’s the meeting itself. You have your spreadsheets laid out, the boss notes a line item and asks about going deeper into that detail. You can’t because you never printed it out. To print out every piece of minutia about the project to cover your bases would take even more take and waste a forest of paper.
That’s only going to frustrate your boss, who wants current information and details on the specifics he is interested in. You want to have fresh data, reported on in real-time, and the ability to drill down into detail when and where it’s requested.
Related: Project Status Report Template
What you want are dynamic reporting tools to impress your boss and help you better report on the project. Here are three tools that report on a project in ways that give your presentations greater impact. They’re sure to impress.
1. Real-Time Dashboard
With a cloud-based project management tool you’re getting updates in real-time and can generate reports that give the most accurate and timely picture of the project possible. It’s the best way to relay the project status. That’s the Holy Grail of executive-friendly reports!
The data is fresh off the vine, so to speak, which means it’s relevant and not a stale plate of yesterday’s leftovers. Executives want to stay in the loop, and will feel more confident in your work and the progress of the project if they’re viewing reports that reflect what’s happening now.
Better still, they’re not looking a tombstone of numbers stacked dully on a spreadsheet. Instead, you can wow them with colorful graphics, easy-to-read pie charts and other types of graphs that deliver the data in a more powerful and dynamic fashion.
The dashboard on your PM tool is broken up into various widgets that chart the metrics of health, tasks, risks, issues, costs, etc. Therefore, you can focus on the specifics your boss wants. You can also deliver that data how the executive prefers it, projected on a screen, passed around on a table or shared on their mobile device.
2. Kanban Boards
What is Kanban? A Kanban board is a visualization tool for work and workflow. They can be physical board, literally with sticky notes on a whiteboard to show status, progress and issues, or they can be displayed digitally in the form of Kanban software.
This productivity tool is great for project management executives who want a highly visual way to see the organization of your team’s work. They can now see data progress in a variety of ways, such as by prioritization of the work to come.
You can also set up the Kanban board to highlight projects and key deliverables in an engaging and visual presentation. For example, you can add images, and a picture is worth a thousand words‑and a lot quicker to digest.
Kanban boards can be designed as either pivot charts highlighting key data points or as a line graph, which offers a simple review of key points in-line with a visual, timeline view of the project. The Kanban board can also be set up per employee to review work done and the work ahead.
3. Gantt Charts
Okay, we know Gantt charts have a bad name. They’re probably up there with spreadsheets in terms of an executive’s most hated document. They’re just a glorified spreadsheet, right? Yes, but that’s a static Gantt chart. Put a Gantt chart online and you’ll see a smile brighten your boss’ face.
Why’s that? Because an online Gantt chart has that visual component, an interactive timeline that rests besides the old-fashioned spreadsheet, which gives a clear picture of the duration of tasks, where the team is in terms of completing them and how they fit in the overall schedule of the project.
When you present to your boss on the progress of the project using an online Gantt chart, you get a colorful display that’s easy on the eyes. They can easily see the project’s progress, too. All of it, remember, is being displayed in real-time, and if they’re interested in digging down deeper into a detail, you can access that with just one click.
Executives, like you, are busy. They want a general overview of the project, which is exactly what the Gantt chart can do. Is it on track or not? Done. But an executive might have some questions about how much time is left on the testing phase or how a certain team member is progressing on their task list. Because the Gantt chart is online, you can get that information up on screen instantly, and it’s in real-time. Your boss is going to love that!
Get Over Paper Reports
If you’re still using spreadsheets and printing out paper presentations to pass out at meetings, your boss isn’t the only one who’s going to love these digital reporting tools. You’re going to love them, too. You’ll ask yourself why you ever stuck to such antiquated technology.
The executives overseeing the project will be happy and you’ll have built up newfound confidence in yourself and your team. Real-time data sharing with your boss will create more confidence in your ability and your team’s as well. So, what’re you waiting for?
There you have it, reporting tools are a boon to executives, managers, teams and just about everyone involved in a project. They give you the tools to stay on track and communicate more effectively. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software, which means it’s reporting is based on real-time data that can then be easily shared and customized to filter just the information you want to see.