What is a Project Dashboard?

Remember when a grade school teacher put pictures on the blackboard to easily explain to young students the day’s lesson? How this helps a young child’s mind process the information as vividly as the picture represents without a long explanation.

This model can be applied in facilitating a group discussion wherein your goal is to convert extensive amount of information into a graphical representation which will enhance understanding of the whole report without the task of reading and going through the pages.

A project manager can highly benefit in using a project dashboard as it will make meetings, presentations and discussions easy to understand and facilitate. Project stakeholders usually don’t have the time to sit down and discuss long pages of a status report that tackles all the aspect of the project in a 3 hours meeting. A project dashboard will revolutionize all of that.

A dashboard presents a standard format for everyone that can easily be understood and accessed. It will provide a status tool that will show project milestones and resources and correlates the data between these two. A project dashboard is compared to a car’s dashboard wherein the vital information a driver needs to know in order to drive the car smoothly is provided to him in real time and updated as he drives. The accelerometer is likened to the project schedule and timeline; the gas meter is likened to the budget resource for the project. The data is automatically updated; as the car takes on miles it depletes gas and as the car accelerates the nearer you get to the destination. The project dashboard presents vital information regarding the project status correlating every important aspect like schedule, resources and project progress. All in one glance, the project manager, project stakeholders and team members will be able to know where the project is, where it is going, at what rate and how efficient it is running.

Utilizing the project dashboard is not just for information availability. It can also be useful in making key decisions on a project as it will tell if one approach is effective or not. Since factors are being measured on a project dashboard then one can determine whether scheduling is working to finish deliverable on time, resources are enough to sustain the project to its finish or that manpower is enough to work on the budget.

A dashboard is a helpful tool but is not the only tool needed to put your project to a success. Communication is still an important key to be able to get the message of the dashboard across your team members and project stakeholders so that immediate action can be taken in order to put the project towards its goal. As a project manager you need to be able to recognize where to use the project dashboard, some projects need to be detailed and thorough. But if all you need is to look at the big picture then the project dashboard is the way to go.