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How to create and use an effective PMO dashboard to achieve business success

The use of technology to support the construction sector has exploded over recent years and this digitisation of the industry has generated a tidal wave of data.

This has presented the industry with many challenges, namely knowing what data to capture and how to create meaningful analytics from it. However, there are great opportunities for innovative companies to leverage this data to improve project efficiencies and develop agile organisations powered by data-driven decision making and not gut instincts.

PMO is the abbreviation for the Project Management Office, which sits at an organisational level to manage all projects. A PMO dashboard is a business tool used to monitor and manage projects, projects’ performance at a portfolio level.

The PMO dashboard is a powerful management tool for project reporting and portfolio management. It provides a high-level overview of all projects and their progress and the status of key performance indicators (KPI) that are important to the business.

The purpose of a PMO dashboard is to empower decision-makers with high-level project information that will help them make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and which projects to direct their focus.

We can use PMO dashboards in many ways: tracking and monitoring; budgeting; reporting; forecasting; reporting on team performance, highlighting risks and opportunities.

PMO getting the basics right first

Before developing your awe-inspiring PMO dashboard, you need to ensure the correct business process is in place to enable it. Without standard processes that ensure projects are managed and reported on similarly, it is challenging to leverage meaningful insights across a portfolio of projects.

At GagaMuller Group, we are regularly faced with this challenge when asked by our clients to produce PMO dashboards and executive-level reporting. Invariably, we must deep dive into the business to fix legacy processes and standardise the use of information. Getting the small things right is the key to unlocking a company’s success at the portfolio level, which requires a good understanding and balance between people, processes and technology within the business.

5 Key Tips to Creating an Effective PMO Dashboard

1. Standardisation of data

Alignment between departments and projects across the business is critical to ensuring the standardisation of data and will significantly improve the reporting process. It will save substantial time on data cleaning and improve the level of insights that can be leveraged from your data.

Things to consider to improve data standardisation;

Standard methods for naming things like work packages, work breakdown structures (WBS), building elements, construction stages, inspection forms, issues types and statuses.

2. Define meaningful key performance indicators (KPI’s)

Senior management must agree on what metrics are essential to the business. This is no easy task and is usually the point where most organisations fail. Knowing what metrics impact a project’s performance takes experience.

How these impact business at a portfolio level takes a deep knowledge of the company as a whole. Getting the right balance of what to measure and what not to, takes time and experience and is critical to delivering an effective PMO reporting process

3. Be clear about what you want to report on

Know your target audience and design your report to show what is important to them. At an executive/portfolio level, less is more, so knowing what is important is critical.Focus on the important metrics and provide context to the numbers to enable the viewer to gauge what is good or bad.

One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use past data and indicate changes from previous periods (weeks/months/quarters). If you are working towards a goal, include the target as well as the current metric.

4. Good visualisation design

It is imperative to position your data visualisations in a logical order. Place the most important information to the top left, where people tend to focus on first.

Grouping related metrics next to each other makes them easy to find — and makes your dashboard’s design more attractive. Combining this with clever use of colour and size to demonstrate data hierarchy and relationships will further improve your dashboard’s visual appeal and readability. An excellent book on data visualisation design concepts is “Storytelling with Data” by Nussbaumer Knaflic .

Poor visual design to good design using the same data.

5. Provide good filtering and grouping of your data

Having well-structured data that is clean and consistent is critical to creating a good PMO dashboard. Getting this right at a project level can be challenging, but getting it correct at an organisation portfolio level is extremely difficult and requires good business processes and governance.

Organising your data into structured data models such as star schema will make grouping, filtering and leveraging business intelligence from your data far easier. This may sound more complicated than it is. Essentially this requires creating relationships between long lists of data(FactTables) and short lists (Dimension Tables). This could be a long data table of issues or tasks that have been created in the field on a construction site. You then link this to short tables (picklists) such as status or category so you can group and filter the data easily. You’ll see this concept used very well in the sample portfolio dashboard below.

Sample construction project portfolio dashboard

This sample dashboard created by GagaMuller Business Analytics is an excellent example of a multi-project dashboard that communicates a considerable amount of data and information on a single page.

The dataset is from construction data generated from a cloud-based field application such as BIM360 Field / Procore / Field View / Aconex. The data has been captured from over 20 live construction projects and represents over 100,000 line items of data captured over 2 year period.

All data has been categorised into primary project management functions for safety, quality, project management and design team. Several filters on the page allow users to filter the data by project type, construction stage, reporting month, and report categories. This will enable users to quickly pivot the data to show what is important to them.

The page has been divided into clear sections for specific reporting functions to show KPIs, trends, task causes and filtering.


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