Whether you're working at a software company or a creative agency, you probably know very well that projects don't end when someone pushes the final commit to the code base or when the client replies with "looks...
When you’re managing an agency or a software company where your team works on multiple projects at a time, it may be challenging to keep up with everything. Even if you’re managing a single project as a project manager, you may often struggle with monitoring various elements of it.
If only there was a way to get an informative overview of the project’s health without having to dig through your PM app for a long time.
Fortunately, project dashboards offer an opportunity to do just that—they act as the one place where you can check critical KPIs and assess your project’s progress. They also become a single source of truth regarding your project’s status—something you can easily share with your client or managers. Typically, a project management dashboard consists of multiple widgets—graphs, data points, or tables—that concern different elements of the project.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you a little bit more about project dashboards’ benefits and give you some tips on how to build one.
Why would you build a dashboard for your project?
First of all, having a project management dashboard is a massive time-saver for people that use it. For instance, as a team leader, you usually have to check multiple reports/screens in your project management tool to get the big picture of how a given project is doing. On the other hand, project managers often have to spend hours every week drafting project status reports and compiling key performance indicators. Dashboards make it easy to have an auto-updating “report” with real-time data and insights tailored to a specific audience.
Speaking of tailored insights, it needs to be said that while project and resource management apps are usually designed to provide their users with valuable information, they still need to cater to many teams’ needs. As a result, the default dashboards or reports offered within these apps may not be particularly useful for your team. It’s beneficial to create a custom project management dashboard or even a couple of them—each prepared to serve a specific purpose. For instance, your company’s CFO might be interested in different metrics than the client.
Client-facing project dashboards will also be very convenient for you. Not only can you save time on preparing new reports every now and then, but project stakeholders can take a look at scannable dashboards and easily understand what’s going on in the project. On top of that, a well-designed dashboard will make your company look very well in the client’s eyes.
Finally, analyzing a project dashboard is a great chance to identify improvement opportunities that you might otherwise miss. A bird’s eye view of different project aspects can make you think of solutions you haven’t considered yet. Say that your project dashboard includes insights about resource utilization and completed tasks. This enables you to compare the two and, for example, notice that some tasks are behind, but not all of the team members are utilized optimally, and they could easily take on more assignments.
Best practices of building project management dashboards
When putting together a custom project dashboard, you should remember some key characteristics of effective dashboards.
For starters, truly powerful dashboards contain only relevant information. That’s why it’s beneficial to start with a list of metrics/elements you really need to display or answers you want the project management dashboard to answer. Otherwise, it may be tempting for you to add a couple of extra colorful charts to make the dashboard look more “professional”. Unfortunately, it won’t help your team members to tell valuable insights from the noise. Again, keep in mind that you can prepare different types of dashboards designed for different audiences and containing only the elements that matter to them the most.
Your project dashboard should also be easy to scan. When preparing the individual widgets or charts that will appear on the dashboard, always make sure that they are readable. The information should be clear at a glance without having to read through complex tables or do some mental math. You can always ask a team member for feedback regarding the dashboard’s scannability.
Always pay attention to whether or not your dashboards contain accurate data. If not, the whole purpose of a dashboard is lacking. Use only reliable data sources and, if possible, design the project dashboard so that it presents real-time insights.
Tools that allow you to build project management dashboards
You might be wondering: how to build a project dashboard? Do I need to invest in a dedicated dashboard tool?
In fact, there are a couple of options you may follow:
- Get a data dashboard app. There are several dashboard apps on the market that make it possible to create custom data dashboards, including project management ones. Such tools usually give you great flexibility when it comes to designing your dashboard. However, you have to determine whether the data sources you rely on are available in a given app. Tools you may want to try: Geckboard, Klipfolio.
- Use your project management software. Many project management apps will come with features that allow you to create a dashboard to monitor the project status. Tools you may want to try: ClickUp, Monday.
- Use your resource management software. Companies use resource management tools to plan and manage their teams’ work. As such, they contain plenty of valuable information concerning the projects’ and resources’ well-being. Teamdeck is a resource management app we’ve built, and in the next section of this blog post, we’ll show you how to use it to create a robust project dashboard.
Build a custom project dashboard with Teamdeck
By default, Teamdeck comes with a personal dashboard available to every user with manager-level permissions, where you can check basic details like:
- how many hours you tracked this month,
- how many vacation days you took,
- what’s the utilization of your team.
To create a custom project management dashboard, you have to build a report. Teamdeck’s reports work like dashboards in the sense that you can use different elements to create a real-time data-driven story. Plus, you can generate a link and share your report with the client or other project’s stakeholders.
Here are some examples of elements that could be displayed in your team’s project dashboard/report:
- Overtime report. Makes it easy to see how many extra hours your employees tracked in a given time range.
Learn how to build this chart with Teamdeck – read our guide to project status reports.
- Estimated vs. actual hours/costs tracked by your team. Such a chart will help you see at a glance whether your project’s budget is still under control or not.
Learn how to build this chart with Teamdeck – read our blog post about project cost tracking.
- Billable utilization. See how much of your team’s time has been devoted to billable activities. It will help you verify whether a given project is genuinely profitable.
Of course, you can build many different types of charts and tables using Teamdeck. You can try the app yourself by signing up for a free trial here. Alternatively, you can schedule a call with our customer success expert. Joanna will show you Teamdeck’s different capabilities when it comes to presenting the data about your team’s performance.