Project Dashboards Reference Guide
Project Dashboards are a quick summary of the project status and project health. They are normally used for management communication and/or team member communication.
When to Prepare a Project Dashboard
Dashboards are a communication tool. A dashboard is prepared as part of the communication plan. They are the best practice for quick communication with stakeholders and management. They are also very helpful for extended or virtual project teams. However, the format and content would be different for those two applications. The format for management dashboards normally follows a standard company template and focuses on “big picture” issues like project objectives and project-level boundaries. These dashboards are updated prior to sending out the management communication. The format for project team dashboards is usually derived from the project planning artifacts (schedules, task lists, etc.) and focuses on the daily progress and status of activities. These dashboards are normally updated as part of a team meeting.
Steps for Preparing a Project Dashboard
Project Management Dashboard
- When the project plan is initially approved, the planning information is entered into the dashboard template.
- Periodically (based upon the organization’s communication policy) the dashboard is updated to reflect current project status and current project health.
- Often the health is shown with Red/Yellow/Green indicators.
- The organization will usually have a scale to use for determining which color should be used.
- If no scale is provided, use Red for areas that cannot meet the project objectives, Yellow for areas that are experiencing problems but that the team believes they can solve, and Green for areas where there is an adequate plan and approach in place.
Project Team Dashboard
- When the project plan is completed, the project team decides which project planning artifact(s) it will used to track status and progress.
- At each project team meeting, team members report their progress and the status is shown on the project planning artifact(s).
Hints and Tips
- Dashboards should be quick and easy to update – if it takes too long, no one will do it.
- Dashboards are meant to communicate status and risk – don’t hide issues, expose them.
- Graphs and charts are easier for people to understand than tables of data or bullet items on text – use charts as long as they are easy to create and update.
- Don’t let your management dashboard become too cluttered. If management can’t find the information they want, they will ignore the dashboard.
- Keep dashboards current – then you are always able to quickly provide a project status.
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