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 projects 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 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 project 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 project 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 real-time data and actually implement it. There needs to be project management 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 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 to. A one-size-fits-all dashboard may not be useful to all use cases since every team’s need is different.
Why should I use a project dashboard?
Project dashboards make it easy to visualize what matters in the project management process, i.e., to measure and track project progress. So, how exactly does a project dashboard help to better measure and manage projects more productively? Let’s find out.
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 the project management metrics and how the project is progressing. That way, everyone can focus on what needs to be done to get targets achieved faster.
2. 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.
3. Actionable Insights
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. Dynamic 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.
Metrics and features to have in the project dashboard
Some of the essential features & metrics a project management dashboard should cover to sufficiently serve a team’s data visibility needs include:
1. Resource allocation widget
It 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.
2. Task status widget
It offers the team a look at the status of tasks related to the project in question.
3. Milestone tracking reports
It offers 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 project milestones that have been slated to hit in the future.
4. Progress reports and status widget
It gives the team & other project stakeholders a look at the project’s progress, its status (i.e. either ongoing, paused, completed, etc.) & allocated resources (i.e. budget).
Project management KPIs to measure in a dashboard
The KPIs to measure in a project are likely to change depending on the type of project. However, these 5 are likely to figure in most types of projects.
- Cost efficiency: How much value is generated based on the amount spent on generating that value? This metric is also called the Cost Performance Index (CPI).
- Alignment with company goals: You need to periodically measure if your project remains aligned to the project goals of the wider organization. This can be done through alignment ratings received through surveys administered to key stakeholders.
- Time: It’s important to measure the time taken to complete the project (cycle time) and specific phases of the project. The quicker the turnaround, the faster the return on investment.
- Return on Investment (ROI): This metric measures the return on every dollar invested in the project. Higher the ROI, the more the profitability of the project.
- Productivity: This measures how much of the project’s allotted time is actually spent on output per team member. The output is likely to differ from project to project.
How to set up and create a project dashboard?
When building a project dashboard, first clarify what exactly you want to achieve with the data it’ll offer when it’s all set up. To do that, break down your intended targets by asking questions that will help you dig into why you even need a dashboard.
- Why? What data should this dashboard offer?
- Who is this dashboard for? The team? An individual? Clarity helps in tailoring data for end-users.
- How much time will it take to analyze the data it’ll offer? A dashboard should offer easy-to-analyze data.
- What metrics are you going to tie into the dashboard?
- What tools is the dashboard going to be getting its data from?
- What data is most important?
- Who will own the dashboard? Who’ll be responsible for acting on the data from it?
- Finally, and most importantly, what actions do you want to drive from this dashboard? When someone goes through it, what should they do next?
In essence, these questions all ask one question: What are we trying to achieve here? These questions will help you dig down and visualize the intended use of the data your dashboard will offer.
Struggling to pick the perfect project tool?
A comprehensive guide to help in your searchRead for free
Once you’ve managed to answer these questions, your next endeavor will be to identify the right project management tool to use for your dashboard. Novices usually go with Excel, but there are more excel alternatives in the market that make tracking your metrics a breeze.
Finally, the step will vary based on the tool you decide to go with. You’ll need to populate your dashboard with the metrics you intend to track.
How Kissflow project dashboard help improve transparency
A project dashboard is all about transparency and visibility. Kissflow Project enables you with both. Our one-of-a-kind team collaboration solution lets your entire team be in the know in real-time about project progress.
In a nutshell, Kissflow Project
- is simple and intuitive to use,
- frees you from constantly tracking teammates,
- offers multiple views to visualize projects
- provides “Done”, “In-Progress”, and “On Hold” states for clarity on status,
- gives you access to powerful reports to make data-driven decisions, and
- reminds you when tasks near their deadlines.
There’s a whole lot more to Kissflow Project. Sign up for free today to get acquainted with its simple yet powerful capabilities!