The Ultimate Guide to Project Management Dashboards
A project management dashboard is one that offers a 360° overview of a project’s status, insights, and data points. It aggregates data from all significant project touchpoints and combines them into a single interface so both the project manager and the team can get the necessary information at a glance.
With a dashboard in project management, teams can:
- Visualize project insights in a meaningful manner,
- Track key performance metrics, and,
- Generate actionable insights i.e. get the information they can translate into actions or work on.
All in all, the project management dashboard serves as a monitoring tool for teams to track what’s working, what’s not, and what to adjust to achieve project targets.
What makes a good project dashboard?
Project dashboards are designed to help teams take quick decisions by bringing them essential data right where they are at. But how exactly does a project dashboard help achieve that? More importantly, what are the essential functions that make a good project dashboard? Find them below:
The basic aim of a project dashboard is to gather data from all the data points and reports where it’s projected to one simple interface where a team can pick up what they need and work with it.
It must stretch to gather all the essential data the team needs so that at every point in time, the team can be sure they have an up-to-date status on what’s going on with their running project.
A project dashboard that doesn’t cover all data points effectively falls short of its intended use and might get in the way of the team doing their best work and possibly, leading to bad, unproductive decisions.
Clarity and data highlighting
For a project dashboard to fulfill its role, it must not only collect scattered data into one layout, but it must also offer it back in as clear a manner as possible so the team can make sense of it.
In a fast-paced world where there’s no time to go through exhaustive reports, the dashboard must consistently deliver actionable insights to the team in a simple format so it’s easy to take that data and actually implement it. There needs to be charts and graphs that offer insights in a visual way.
Flexibility and in-depth user controls
Flexibility in this context requires that a project dashboard, or better still, the project management software tool used to control it should be as simple and technically responsive as possible, so the team can adjust and customize it to actually do what they need it to. A one-size-fits-all dashboard may not be useful to all use cases since every team’s need is different.
Benefits of having a dashboard for your projects
Project dashboards make it easy to visualize what matters in the project management process, i.e., to track and measure what matters. So, how exactly does a project dashboard help to better measure and manage projects more productively?
In the project management process, it can be easy for team members to spin off on their own, lose focus on key targets, and indirectly stagnate the project. With a project dashboard, it’s easier for the team to have one source of truth for everyone to reference. The dashboard tells everyone what needs to be done and when.
As a result, individual team members can have an in-depth look at how the project is progressing. That way, everyone can focus on what needs to be done to get targets achieved faster.
Increased data visibility
A good project dashboard takes important data and brings it right where the team needs it. The project management team can actually focus on taking those insights and turning them into action items and finished results instead of spending time on locating the ever-changing project metrics.
At the end of the day, the reason why project dashboards are used in the first place is to offer insights that can be interpreted and used to plot a course of action. Dashboards make it easy to see what is working and what’s not so the team can easily interpret and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.
Important features and metrics in project management dashboards
Some of the essential features & metrics a project management dashboard should cover to sufficiently serve a team’s data visibility needs include:
- Resource allocation widget gives a breakdown of how the project’s available resources have been allocated including how (i.e. what the resources are expected to achieve where they’ve been allocated), where (what exact part of the project), and to which specific tasks
- Task status widget offers the team a look at the status of tasks related to the project in question.
- Milestone tracking reports offer periodic updates on the progress the team has achieved on the smaller picture goals into which the project has been broken up into as well as the milestones the project has been slated to hit in the future.
- Progress reports & status widget gives the team & other relevant stakeholders a look at the project’s progress, it’s status (i.e. either ongoing, paused, completed, etc.) & allocated resources (i.e. budget).
How to create a project dashboard
The way you build a perfect project dashboard is by first, clarifying what exactly you want to achieve with the data it’ll be offering when it’s all set up. And to do that, you must break down your intended targets by asking questions that help you dig into why you even need a dashboard.
- Why? What data should this dashboard offer?
- Who is this dashboard designed for? The team? Singular individuals? Clarity helps in tailoring data for its end users.
- How much time does it take to analyze the data it’ll offer? Simplify dashboards to what your target users have enough time to actually use.
- What metrics are you going to tie into the dashboard?
- What tools are the dashboard going to be getting its data from?
- What data is most important?
- Who owns the dashboard? Who’s responsible for acting on all the data here?
- Finally, and most importantly, what actions do you want to drive from this dashboard? When someone goes through this, what do they do next?
In essence, these questions all ask one question, “what are we trying to achieve here?” These questions help you dig down, visualize the intended use of the data your dashboard will be putting together, so you can build a dashboard that fulfills what you have in mind.
Project dashboard improves transparency
The simplest function of project management dashboards is to take data that’s scattered across all the tools and workspaces where a team works from, and to gather it into one place where it’s easy to interpret and take action on. This way, it’s easy to adjust effort to focus on specific areas that need specific input, do what’s necessary, and achieve results on time & under budget.
You can build your own and use a pre-built one from a project management tool like Kissflow Project. Sign up for free today.